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New Study: Stronger Roofs Will Save More Lives

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That headline might sound like a no-brainer, but a study released today gives major ammunition to safety advocates when it comes to the importance of stronger car and SUV roofs. The report, conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, looked at 22,817 rollover crashes in 12 states between 1997 and 2005 and found that midsize SUVs with strong roofs had a lower risk of injury than SUVs with weaker roofs.

How much less? The injury risk was 39-57% less in the stronger-roofed SUVs. This is big news because rollover accidents claim nearly 10,000 lives a year. They’re especially lethal in SUVs, where 59% of all crash deaths are in rollovers.

The study only targeted midsize SUVS and doesn’t take into account non-seat-belted passengers, but the sheer size of the sample should compensate for the omissions. An automaker trade group representing GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota and six other companies calls the study flawed and is trying to prevent the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from raising roof standards, requiring automakers to build roofs that will withstand 2.5 times the vehicle’s weight, versus the current 1.5 times it requires now.

The debate is open to the public. If you want stronger roofs mandated by NHTSA, contact the organization via this link. The deadline for comments is March 27. Let us know what you think as well in the comments below.

Study finds stronger car roofs raise survival rate (Detroit News)

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Former managing editor David Thomas has a thing for wagons and owns a 2010 Subaru Outback and a 2005 Volkswagen Passat wagon. Email David Thomas

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