Besides head-on collisions, another motor vehicle-related accident, which always results to severe injuries or even wrongful death, is roof crush or roof collapse during a rollover accident. Rollover crashes severely injure at least 24,000 individuals and kill up to 10,000 in the US every year. Though any vehicle can roll over, taller and narrower ones, such as pickups, SUVs, vans and buses are those more prone to this type of accident due to their heavy tops and higher center of gravity.
It is true that most vehicles are designed with a reduced strength and size of roof and supporting structure. While this strategy will surely lessen vehicle cost and weight, it will also significantly diminish the safety of a driver and his/her passengers because weak roof structure is actually the main cause of car roofs crushing down on a driver’s head and spine. To protect vehicle occupants from getting injured due to a crushing roof, the government established the following roof crush resistance standards:
- Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 216 (FMVSS 216)/49 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) 571.216 – for multipurpose passenger vehicles (MPVs), passenger cars, buses and trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) or gross vehicle mass (GVM) of 2,722 kilograms (6,000 pounds) or less;
- Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 216a (FMVSS 216a)/49 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) 571.216a (upgraded standard) – for multipurpose passenger vehicles (MPVs), passenger cars, buses and trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) or gross vehicle mass (GVM) of 4,536 kilograms (10,000 pounds) or less. This does not apply to school buses, some convertibles, trucks built in two or more stages, and some others).
Roof pillar failure is the main reason behind roof collapse. Car pillars are the vertical structures that support the roof of a car. A car usually has six roof pillars which come in pairs: the A-pillars, B-pillars, and C-pillars. As these pillars’ main function is to support the vehicle and keep the roof from crushing down during a rollover accident, these serve as the best protection, therefore.
Outside, roof pillars should ensure reliable strength, while inside, it must provide a soft design to provide protection to unbelted car occupants. Various road safety agencies hold manufacturers liable for pillar collapse during rollover accidents. As explained by a Massachusetts personal injury attorney, when making a vehicle purchase, most customers don’t take into account the potential risks they may face as a result of their purchase. Indeed, most people reasonably expect that newly manufactured vehicles have been properly designed and tested before these become publicly available. Unfortunately, in far too many circumstances, defectively designed vehicles can and do make it onto the market, placing the lives and well-being of consumers in danger.
Defectively designed vehicles can cause a wide range of injuries, or even death. Because of the serious repercussions that many people suffer due to defective vehicles, personal injury lawyers believe that the manufacturers of these products should be held liable for the consequences faced by consumers. Fortunately, many people who are harmed by defective vehicles are able to hold the manufacturer or distributor responsible and get much-needed compensation due to product liability laws.