ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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NHTSA Proposes New Roof Crush Standard

New York, Aug 23, 2005

Under the direction of Congress, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued a proposal for revised standards affecting the roofs of large sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks and their performance during rollover crashes. The proposal would extend roof strength requirements to all vehicles weighing up to 10,000 pounds to withstand direct pressure of 2.5 times the vehicle weight, increasing the current rule of 1.5 times the weight; the current standard only applies to vehicles up to 6,000 pounds.

The improved roof strength is one aspect of a comprehensive NHTSA plan to reduce deaths and injuries among belted occupants in rollover crashes. It also would seek new information on other ways to protect occupants in rollovers, including potential use of improved seat belt technology. Safety advocates, however, dispute the effectiveness of the standards and argue that even stronger safety standards are needed to address the effects of roof collapse on seat belt performance.

NHTSA will accept comments on the proposed rules no later than November 21, 2005. NHTSA also is seeking comment on other aspects of its rollover protection strategy, including the possible use of improved safety belt technology to better hold a belted occupant in place during a rollover crash.

"It will take a comprehensive strategy to reduce the staggering number of rollover deaths on the nation’s highways", said NHTSA Administrator Jeffrey Runge, M.D. "Improving roof strength is an integral part of that plan."

The agency estimates that, among belted occupants, about 807 serious injuries and 596 fatalities annually are caused by contact with a collapsed roof during a rollover crash. About 10,000 people die annually in rollover crashes; approximately 60 percent are unbelted. NHTSA estimates the new roof crush standard will annually prevent between 13 and 44 deaths and 500-800 injuries when fully implemented. The estimated cost per vehicle would be $11.81. The total average cost per year would be $88-$95 million.

“The long-delayed roof crush rule proposed today by NHTSA fails to comply with new safety mandates issued by Congress just last month. The highway funding bill requires roof strength be tested both on the driver and passenger sides of a vehicle. However, the proposed rule tests roof strength only on one side,” said a statement made by Public Citizen president Joan Claybrook.

“Ensuring that occupants can survive when vehicles roll over is probably the single most effective step that the automotive industry and NHTSA can take to reduce the unacceptable carnage on our highways. The agency should go back to the drawing board and develop a far more stringent test.” Claybrook served as the head of NHTSA from 1977-1981.

For more information on submitting comments, visit the Federal Register notice by clicking here.

View the full NHTSA proposal here

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