Roof crush causes over 10,000 fatal injuries each year in rollover crashes. Roof crushes are most often caused by a vehicle rollover. Vehicles are designed to have a structural support system by creating a survival space in order to protect the occupants that are in a crash from being injured due to a roof crush. Roof crushes can cause serious and fatal injuries, including disabling head or neck injuries. Automotive defects cause the roof strength of the vehicle not to have the proper roof pillar strength and that will cause the roof to cave into the passenger compartment.

Safe roof structure designs have been documented from as early as the 1950’s that could reduce the number of roof crush accidents. Despite safer designs and structures that have been created, manufacturers claim it is the force of the impact that leads to injuries and death, despite the fact that the relationship between rollover crashes and injuries from roof crush has been observed and noted since as early as 1932. The safer roofs are equipped with strong roof pillars and full-length closed-sections, windshield headers and side sections, internal baffle plates, strong tubular cross-members, and reinforcing gussets at the connections, and some use rigid foam within the tubular cross-members to help strengthen the structure. These different safety precautions can significantly minimize the fatal results of roof crush.

Roof pillars appear strong to the average consumer but most of them consist of just sheet metal that is hollow on the inside at the cross sections. When an accident occurs involving roof structures with a filled inner space, the outcome has been shown to be safer due to a lesser amount of roof crush. Pillars filled with high-density foam can reduce the severity of a roof crush significantly, saving lives and reducing serious injuries.

Injuries from roof crush accidents are very serious. A common roof
crush injury is neck fracture and other injuries involving the neck.
Sometimes a brain injury may result from the roof crushing in on the
vehicle occupant. These head and neck injuries can cause paraplegia,
quadriplegia, or other life altering conditions.

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Roof Crush Resistance

This notice is a request for comments to assist NHTSA in upgrading the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 216, "Roof Crush Resistance," to reduce injuries and fatalities in passenger cars, pickup trucks, vans and multipurpose passenger vehicles resulting from roof intrusion during rollover crashes. It asks the public for its views and comments on what changes, if any, are needed to the roof crush resistance standard. NHTSA will consider all such comments in deciding what regulatory changes, if any, may be appropriate for upgrading the standard. Concerns presented in a petition for rulemaking from the law firm R. Ben Hogan, Smith and Alspaugh requesting that dynamic testing be used to validate the strength of vehicle roof structures, instead of the current quasi-static procedure, are also addressed in this notice.