Roof Crush

The amount of weight a car's roof can handle is known as its "roof crush resistance." Since rollover accidents often leave cars flipped over – sometimes for long periods of time – having a high roof crush resistance is important to your safety.  In a roll, pressure is applied to one side, weakening the roof. Then, as the roll continues, more pressure is applied to the other side.

If you've been injured in a rollover accident where the roof didn't protect you, contact our attorneys today. You may have a case.

Being in a rollover accident can be scary enough. When the roof starts giving way, it can cause serious trauma. The roof of your car is supposed to protect you, not worsen your injury.

Most roof crush injuries involve the brain, head, neck, and shoulders. These may include:

  • Spinal cord injury
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Wrongful death
  • Quadriplegia/Paraplegia

How Much Roof Crush Resistance Should My Car Have?

Roof crush is similar to crashworthiness, a way of rating a vehicle's ability to protect people in a crash. Roof crush specifically refers to how much weight a roof can handle.

In the United States, a car's roof must be able to withstand a minimum of 1.5x its own weight. However, a law passed in 2009 requires all cars to handle at least 3x their own weight by 2017.
The old standard required a roof to withstand pressure equal to one and a half times the vehicle’s curb weight. However, that weight — applied by a metal plate on one side of the roof — could not exceed 5,000 pounds.

Under the new standard from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the roof must withstand three times the curb weight of the vehicle, and there is no longer a 5,000-pound maximum. Furthermore, pressure will be applied first to one side and then the other side of the roof. For years, some safety advocates have asked for a two-sided test. They have argued that it better duplicates what happens when a vehicle rolls.

Automakers must start phasing in the new roofs in September 2012, with the full fleet in compliance by the 2017 model year. Designing those stronger roofs is expected to cost about $54 per vehicle. Meanwhile, added weight will increase the lifetime cost of fuel from $15 to $62.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration went so far as to say roll over accidents are one of the most harmful accidents that can take place. In fact, roughly 10,000 people die every year in rollovers, many as a result of being ejected from the vehicle.

The primary cause of the extensive damage is the lack of sufficient roof-crush protection. As the accident name implies, a rollover places a high level of pressure and weight on the vehicle's roof. Some auto companies recognize this safety risk and design their cars, SUVs, and trucks to handle a rollover accident; others don't.

The National Transportation Safety Board has noted that large passenger vans, designed to carry 12 to 15 people, do not have to meet the standard and have problems with roof crush. Over the last few years, N.H.T.S.A. has repeatedly warned that those vehicles, like the Ford E-Series, have tricky handling and are prone to rolling over.