North Carolina Products Liability: Tougher Roof Strength Standards Will Provide Better Rollover Crash Protection, Says US Department of Transportation

May 6, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is doubling its roof strength requirement for light vehicles weighing up to 6,000 pounds and introducing an actual requirement for vehicles weighting 6,000 to 10,000 pounds. According to US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, these tougher standards will offer passengers greater protection during rollover accidents.

The current light vehicle requirement is the ability to withstand 1.5 times the force of the vehicle’s weight. The new standard would require that a light vehicle’s roof withstand 3 times the motor vehicle’s weight. Heavier vehicles will now have to meet a roof strength requirement of 1.5 times the vehicle’s weight.

September 2012 marks the beginning of the phase in schedule of these new requirements that must be completed for all vehicles that fall under the applicable weight categories by the 2017 model year. Some 10,000 people are killed in rollover accident each year.

Kinds of Rollover Accidents:
Tripped Rollovers: When a vehicle trips over an object, like a guardrail, a curb, or a steep slope.

Un-Tripped Rollovers: Can occur when the driver is driving at a high speed and tries to avoid getting involved in an auto collision.

While driver negligence can lead to rollover accidents, auto manufacturers must make sure that they make sport utility vehicles and other autos that are designed in such a way that they prevent rollover accidents from happening. In the event of a rollover collision, then the motor vehicle must offer vehicle occupants the proper safety protections needed to minimize injuries and prevent deaths.

Other safety precautions that auto makers can include in their motor vehicles:

Electronic Stability Control: Helps drivers stay in control of the auto so that it doesn’t go off road or skid out of control.

Rollover Air Bags: Side-impact head air bags can prevent occupants from getting ejected during a rollover accident.

Seat Belts: Use of seat belts improves survival chances in a rollover crash by 75%.

Auto makers must make sure that their vehicles are free from defects and come with the proper safety precautions. When a rollover accident occurs and a person gets hurt of dies because a vehicle part was defective or the vehicle malfunctioned, the car manufacturer can be held liable for North Carolina products liability or wrongful death.

U.S. DOT Doubles Roof Strength Standard for Light Vehicles, NHTSA, April 30, 2009


Related Web Resource:
Read the NHTSA Final Rule (PDF)


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