IIHS Call for Stronger SUV Roofs Could Increase Roll-over Risk
Current federal regulations require that car and truck roofs support 1.5 times their vehicle's weight. According to The Detroit Free Press, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is recommending that this standard be upgraded to 2.5 times the vehicle's weight on the driver's side. The industry-sponsored safety campaigners released a study concluding that the strongest existing SUV roofs reduce the risk of injury by 39 to 57 percent. The Chevy Blazer fared the worst in their roof crush test, while Nissan's X-Terra, Jeep's Liberty and third-gen Ford Explorers scored the highest. (Both the Explorer and the Grand Cherokee showed significant improvement in newer models vs. previous generations.) The new study does not deal with the impact of seat belt use (or lack thereof)– judged by "real world" analysis to have greater impact on rollover deaths than roof strength. Also, as TTAC's Bob Elton pointed out back in '06, reinforcing SUV roofs would raise the vehicle's center of gravity, potentially increasing the likelihood of a rollover. Although the IIHS called for active handling for all SUVs, the laws of physics cannot be ignored– or revoked.
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