Do a search for "roof regulations" on Autoblog and the No. 1 result will be a post written back on August 19, 2005. That's how long it's been since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposed the latest increase to the 35-year-old federal requirements that govern the strength of a vehicle's roof. The proposal was to increase the current standard of a roof being able to hold 1.5 times the vehicle's weight to 2.5 times.

Despite this being a very time sensitive issue, the proposal has been delayed yet again. The Detroit News reports the NHTSA says it will not be able to rule on the new standards by the prior set date of August 31st, but will instead write up a "revised preliminary proposal" by the end of September and finalize it by July of 2008.

[Source: The Detroit News]

There are a lot of pieces in play here that affect what the new proposed standards will be and when they'll be put into law by Congress. For one, making roofs stronger adds cost and weight to a vehicle, both of which the automakers are opposed to. While adding between $17 and $88 to the price of a vehicle to save some lives is diffficult to argue against, adding additional weight to the top of a vehicle inceases its center of gravity and could make some significantly less stable. In many cases, sophisticated electronic stability control systems currently on the market can prevent many rollovers from happening in the first place. On the other hand, safety advocates argue that the 35-year-old standard and inadequate testing methods of the NHTSA are the real danger. Either way, both sides will have another year to argue over who is right.


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