The U.S. Department of Transportation has issued a modification of its proposed new roof crush standard to request public input on whether both sides of a vehicle roof should be tested and meet minimum forces.
If adopted, the two-sided testing would require manufacturers to design vehicle roofs that withstand at least 2.5 times the weight of the vehicle on both sides of the roof rather than testing just one side, as a proposal announced in August 2005 would require. The proposed roof strengthening would apply to vehicles weighing up to 10,000 pounds.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters says that although rollover crashes constitute a relatively small number of overall crashes, they account for a disproportionate number of deaths approximately 10,000 a year.
She notes that the amended roof crush proposal is part of a comprehensive program to reduce rollover fatalities and injuries, and includes mandating new technologies such as electronic stability control, which can save an estimated 9,600 lives a year, and stronger door locks. Peters says that using seat belts remains the most effective way to prevent fatalities and injuries in all types of crashes, including rollovers.
Nicole Nason, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), says that the earlier roof crush proposal was being amended because extensive research conducted since August 2005 indicates that the double-sided testing procedure is now a viable alternative approach to improve vehicle roof strength.
Nason says that NHTSA was releasing all the testing the agency has done since August 2005, including a series of one- and two-sided test results, as part of the supplemental proposal. NHTSA sought comment following the announcement plans to issue a final rule by summer.