There are two main problems with debunking auto-related misconceptions. First, not everyone is ready, willing or able to confront the truth. Second, once you debunk something, it doesn’t stay debunked. TTAC’s Bob Elton dealt with the roof crush standard issue in his editorial “The Counterintuitive Truth About Roof Crush Standards” back in June 2006. He argued that increasing roof strength only increases the number of rollover accidents. Common sense: the higher a vehicle’s center of gravity, the more likely it will roll. Elton also revealed that “In 74% of cases, roof intrusion was not a factor. Rollover accidents are fatal because the occupants are usually ejected, or partially ejected, during the crash.” And that’s because… they’re not wearing their seat-belts. And yet, The Detroit News reports that “The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety [IIHS] said Wednesday it will require automakers to dramatically increase the strength of vehicle roofs to receive its top safety pick ratings.” The road to hell? You don’t know the half of it…
As we’ve pointed out numerous times, the National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA) is one of America’s best governmental agencies. When it comes to new regulations, they move slowly because they move carefully.
A great deal of road safety is counter-intuitive (e.g. “sobriety checkpoints” are less effective at removing drunk drivers from the the road than roving patrols). The NHTSA doesn’t rush to judgement to avoid exactly the kind of unintended consequences described above. And here goes the industry lobby group, once again, subverting science and pretending to stick-up for their customers’ safety.
In January, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration unveiled a proposal to require a vehicle roof to withstand a force equal to 2.5 times the vehicle weight while at the same time maintaining sufficient head room for a buckled-in, average-size adult male to avoid being struck. That’s up from the current standard of withstanding a force equal to 1.5 times the vehicle weight. But NHTSA hasn’t finalized its regulation.
Lund said starting in the fall IIHS will require automakers to have a 4.0 rating to win a top safety pick.
“We see significant safety benefits in stronger vehicle roofs,” Lund said.
“The government is moving slowly and they are going to continue to move slowly.”
He said NHTSA has “clearly undercounted” the number of injuries and deaths that can be prevented by stronger roofs.
How? And how can The Detroit News repeat such a viscious slur without asking for proof? Show me the benefits.
You know me folks; I don’t blindly accept the word of any auto industry pressure groups of any stripe on anything. But on this one, I reckon the Auto Alliance has got it right. The IIHS’ roof crush standard would decrease fleet wide mpg and increase costs to the consumer– without adding significant demonstrable safety to motorists.
“Drivers and passengers are better served by a system of enhancements including improvements in vehicle stability, ejection mitigation, roof crush resistance as well as road improvement and behavioral strategies aimed at consumer education,” alliance spokesman Wade Newton said.