Sub-standard Roof Pillars: Cause of Easy Roof Collapse during Rollover Accidents

Jul 22, 2013 by

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. And though any vehicle can roll over, taller and narrower ones, such as pickups, SUVs, vans and buses are those more prone to roll over due to their heavy tops.

Many vehicles are designed with a reduced strength and size of roof and supporting structure in an attempt to lessen vehicle cost and weight; this, however, also significantly diminishes the safety of the driver and other passengers. To lessen weakness of roof structure, which is the main cause of car roofs crushing down on the driver’s head and spine, the government has 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.

One of the main reasons for roof collapses is roof pillar failure. Car pillars are the vertical structures that support the roof of a car. A car usually has six roof pillars, which go in pairs: the A-pillars, B-pillars, and C-pillars. As these pillars’ main functions are to support the vehicle and keep the roof from crushing down on you during a rollover accident, these serve as part of your best protection, therefore.

The B-pillars are that vertical supports placed between the front and rear doors, while the C-pillars are those that join the rear side windows to the rear window. The A-pillars, which plays a key function in driver safety, anchors the windshield, the beginning of the roof and the front side windows; these also serve as channels for electrical wiring for overhead lighting and lights at the rear of the vehicle, contain curtain airbag tethers and other tether attachments, provide a sturdy area for SUV and big pickup’s grab handles and may even integrate speakers for the vehicle’s audio system.

Though required to ensure reliable strength from the outside, inside, it must provide a soft design that will offer much protection to unbelted car occupants during head impacts. Despite the many functions of the A-pillars, manufactures ought to ensure that these do not move during rollover accidents to help ensure the greatest protection to occupants. Keeping people safe in the event of an accident is one of many things car manufacturers have to be concerned with. For drivers, this risk might manifest itself in auto insurance premiums. According to auto accident attorneys, passengers in safer cars are statistically less likely to be severely harmed in an accident.

Various road safety agencies hold manufacturers liable for pillar collapse during rollover accidents because such accidents are typically a result of poor-quality materials, faulty vehicle design and the manufacturers’ failure to properly test the reliability of the roof pillars they have produced, making them totally answerable for every injury and death their sub-quality standard products result to.

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