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It's been almost 35 years since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) enacted its roof strength standards, but come late 2012 the new requirements will be in affect and in addition to saving around 135 lives each year and preventing over 1,000 injuries, it's going to cost automakers around $1.4 billion annually.

The new standards up the current crush force from 1.5-times the vehicle's unloaded weight to 3.0-times, along with maintaining sufficient head-room for an average-sized adult male held in place by a seat-belt. The same standard will eventually extend to vehicles up to 10,000 pounds – from the current 6,000-pound requirement – and eventually, the regulation will mandate that vehicles weighing 6,000 pounds and under should withstand three-times their unloaded weight.

Naturally, the additional strengthening is going to add weight, thus increasing fuel use – another hurdle automaker will have to overcome when striving to achieve new CAFE standards. The phase-in will begin in September 2012, with total compliance required for all new vehicles in 2017.

[Source: Detroit News]


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  • 41 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Its amazing the gov't is still allowing us to drive convertibles.
        • 5 Years Ago
        And motorcycles!
      • 5 Years Ago
      where did that 1.4B comes from ? i heard somewhere it cost $10 per car to make the roof safe and for sure the auto maker did not give us that $10 for free.

      I am all for safety, but this 1.4B? It all sounds cheap if that happen to you, but let's face it, there are countless accidents per day and from a bigger picture standpoint, the money might be best spend elsewhere. I would venture to guess that head/neck injure due to roll over caused the most payout money, may be that why they want to 'protect' you (them) from it (your claim).
      • 5 Years Ago
      rollbar it,,,,
      • 5 Years Ago
      If they sold nothing but convertibles they wouldn't have to worry about it!
      • 5 Years Ago
      this is retarted they sell millions or cars a year and they are worried about something that will only statistically not even 150 people? does that not make sense to anyone else?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wouldn't it just be cheaper to swap the Firestones out :-D
      • 5 Years Ago
      Yay, heavier cars! Thank you NHTSA!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Somebody, please, tell the NHTSA that each additional pound increases fuel consumption and kinetic energy of a moving car, thus increasing energy created at the impact. That, in the process, makes accident more dangerous.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The lighter the rest of the car is the easier it is for the roof to support 3x the weight, so it actually penalizes manufacturers for making overly heavy cars.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You need to read into conservation of energy buddy.
        Energy isn't created during a car crash, the kinetic energy from a moving vehicle must be transferred to another mass if it is to stop, otherwise it will just keep on movin'
        • 5 Years Ago
        Jake B, slow down. Using word "create" is legitimate in the context of energy "created" at the collision of two objects. I could have used words such as release, transform etc.

        Object in motion "has" its kinetic energy that's proportionate to speed and the vehicle's mass. A 1500 kg vehicle travelling at 100 km/h will have higher kinetic energy than a a 1300 kg vehicle travelling at 100 km/h. Consequently, impact will be heavier.

        Energy created at the impact will be the sum of energies of colliding objects - even if one object is stionary, it still has energy. Kinetic energy of the moving object will be transformed into, for example, thermal energy, etc... My point was that the heavier vehicles create higher kinetic energy at a given speed by the virtue of their mass.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I wouldn't worry, Kitko--this seems like an awfully reactionary bit of reporting. The best-performing SUVs in last month's IIHS roof testing were also some of the lightest SUVs in the class (Jeep Patriot, Subaru Forester, Honda Element). The heaviest ones actually performed worse, with the exception of the VW Tiguan.

        Which makes sense--heavier carcasses require stronger roofs to support 3x their weight. This news could just as easily be interpreted as pressure for automakers to lower curb weights rather than doom and gloom.

        and while people are inevitably going to read "roof strengthening" and visualize 500lb pig-iron girders in their A-pillars, the reality is that engineers are simply going to be more careful about structural dynamics. In the IIHS tests, Honda's Element rated "Good" while the CR-V rated "Marginal." Same platforms, same curb weight, same MPG, different shape/structure to the roof.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Agree with ya PJ.
        This could also force companies to build lighter, smaller SUV's.
      • 5 Years Ago
      1.4B to make a roofs stronger but they can't put a car together that gets well over 30 MPG overall.

      Pathetic.
      • 5 Years Ago
      9 times out of 10, if you've put a car on its roof, you should have your license taken away.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Roll cage anyone? Seriously, it wouldn't be that hard to put some kind of roll cage into modern cars and cover most of it up in the interior. It would save way more than 135 lives a year and be way cheaper and lighter and safer than making bulkier cars, with thicker pillars which create gaz guzzling, mile long blind spot monstrosities.
      • 5 Years Ago
      How often to cars roll over? It is really enough to warrant such an increase? Seems a bit superfluous. Why not force people to drive in a big metal box which can withstand 100mph crashes?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Rollovers are extremely common out here in the West. Long boring roads, sleepy drivers... Fall asleep then over correct when they wake up and realize they're about to experience a scary physics lesson first-hand.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I did think it over. Thats the funny part. Assuming the people who were unfortunate enough roll over had actually purchased a new car which adhered to the standards in 2012, then it would prevent 135 deaths. But that is assuming too much. In 2012 what percentage of people will buy new cars? What percentage of people will roll over? Do those two percentages intersect? Probably not.

        Basically, they are forcing a new standard which will most likely hurt handling and gas mileage while saving a few lives from a roll over. I'm not trying to be cold hearted, but 1.4 billion is a bit much for possibly saving a few lives in the next few years and wasting resources at the same time which could be put to better use than allowing someone to to a barrel roll in their car an not die.

        But I guess if they weren't enforcing new standards there wouldn't be much of a use for a NHTSA huh? Guess people still gotta work.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "But I guess if they weren't enforcing new standards there wouldn't be much of a use for a NHTSA huh? Guess people still gotta work."

        You nailed it, shadysi.

        Their product is regulation. If they aren't making up new regulations, they may as well close up shop. Whether last year's regulations worked in the real world is immaterial - this isn't about the real world, it's about justifying their continued funding.

        If the price of that is 1.4 billion dollars of other people's money, so be it.

        • 5 Years Ago
        Apparently cars roll over exactly 135 times a year, killing the driver each time.
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