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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