Car and truck manufacturers have largely ignored the product defects causing insufficient occupant protection and rollover crashes until recently, relying instead on inadequate minimum government standards. However, this is changing in light of increased pressure from a consumer-friendly government coupled with years of having to compensate victims of rollover deaths and personal injuries. These manufacturers are now taking steps to protect the public.
In 2005, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed an upgrade to the 1973 version of the federal roof crush standard for automobile manufacturers. At that time, the standard was so weak that most occupants in a rollover would be severely injured or killed. That standard merely requires a vehicle roof resist a static force of 1.5 times the empty weight of the vehicle or 5,000 lbs., whichever is less. This kind of standard does not reflect the dynamic forces that a vehicle typically experiences in an actual rollover. In virtually every rollover, the roof makes contact with the ground on one side or then the other.
The 2005 proposal would extend the standard of vehicles weighing 10,000 lbs. or less to increase the applied force to 2.5 times the vehicle’s unloaded weight and to eliminate the current limit on the amount of roof crush (5 inches). The proposed rule would require enough head room to accommodate an occupant whose height measures in the 50th percentile of American men. Follow this link for more information on the proposed standards.
A final upgrade at roof strength standard was scheduled for fall 2008, but NHTSA did not complete the final rule and asked for an extension until December 15, 2008. No rule has been adopted as of now.
For over 30 years Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Chicago auto accident cases and Illinois product liability cases, serving areas in and around Cook County such as Glenview, Elmhurst, Orland Park, and Calumet City.