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New Roof Regulations Questioned

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Safety advocates, automakers and federal regulators debated proposed new standards for vehicle roof strength Thursday morning. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has proposed raising roof standards from having to withstand 1.5 times the vehicle’s weight to a capability of withstanding 2.5 times its weight.

About 10,000 motorists are killed in rollover accidents each year in the United States, a number both safety advocates and the government are anxious to lower. Automakers contend, however, that the government has not only low-balled the cost of implementing such a change (NHTSA set the price tag at $95 million) but also exaggerated the ability of the structural changes to save lives.

Regulators say roof-crush is responsible for 476 traffic deaths annually, and that improvements to roofs could save 44 lives a year. It should be noted, though, that the cause of death during rollovers is heavily disputed by the auto industry, and that requiring electronic stability control is an effective way to prevent accidents in the first place.

NHTSA said it would review the standards and take comments from the public over the next 45 days, so here’s your chance to participate in a democratic car-safety process.

Safety of Vehicle Roofs in Rollovers is Debated (Detroit Free Press)

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