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Weak Roof Pillars: The Cause of Easy Roof Collapse that can Result to Serious Injuries or Death

Other than head-on collisions, roof crush or roof collapse during a rollover accident is another motor vehicle-related accident that can result to severe injuries or even wrongful death. Rollover crashes severely injure at least 24,000 individuals and kill up to 10,000 in the U.S. 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 this type of accident due to their heavy tops.

Many vehicles have been designed with a reduced strength and size of roof and supporting structure. This is in order to lessen the weight and the cost of vehicles. Weak vehicle structure, however, also significantly diminishes the safety of the driver and other passengers. In fact, weak roof structure easily causes car roofs to crush down on the driver’s head and spine – the major cause of fatality during rollover accidents.

To make a cars’ roof structure stronger, the government 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, however, does not apply to some types of vehicles, like school buses, some convertibles, and trucks built in two or more stages.

One reason why car roofs collapse 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 function is to support the vehicle and keep the roof from crushing down on vehicle occupants during a rollover accident, these then serve as the driver’s and passengers’ best protection.

Many road safety agencies hold manufacturers liable for pillar collapse during rollovers. As explained by a Milwaukee car accident lawyer a vehicle’s structural defects are difficult or impossible for consumers to identify before they become apparent in an accident. This means that a driver will have little or no opportunity to take precautionary measures to account for the flaw. Now, in the event of an accident, any car accident lawyer will agree that automakers should be held accountable for the harm that results from their failure to build a structurally sound vehicle.

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