Roof crush injury is most often the result of rollover automobile accidents. Each year in the United States there are approximately 250,000 rollover crashes. Roof crush injury kills 10,000 people on the roads every year. More serious roof crush injury occurs when roof strength in a vehicle is inadequate. This can result in a roof crush that leaves minimal passenger survival space and opens up portals through which a person can be ejected from the vehicle. Experts report that nearly half of all ejection fatality victims first suffered roof crush injury.
Roof crush injury risks are higher in vehicles with a greater propensity to rollover. Because they are taller and narrower, SUVs, or sports utility vehicles, are three times more likely to rollover in an accident than are other passenger cars. In 2003 alone nearly 4,500 people were killed in SUV rollover accidents and many of these victims suffered roof crush injury.
In 1973 the government passed the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 216, creating a standard roof strength test to measure the integrity of roof structure in motor vehicles. This test was to apply to motor vehicles weighing six thousand pounds or less. Many SUVs are built to weight more than this, exempting them from compulsory safety standards that may be crucial to preventing roof crush injury. In light of SUV roof crush injury risks, consumer advocacy groups have urged the federal government to modify standards so that they include any vehicle weighing ten thousand pounds or less.
Overall federal safety standards fail to provide roof strength requirements that adequately protect people from suffering roof crush injury in a rollover automobile accident. Despite federal standards, many vehicle roofs will easily crush a foot or more during a rollover accident. A dynamic and more stringent testing standard must be employed if the government hopes to adequately protect people from sustaining serious roof crush injury in automobile accidents.
Rollover accidents are regarded as highly survivable events, providing that the roof structure remains intact and the occupant compartment is not severely compromised. Windshield reinforcement is a crucial component of vehicle design that can prevent roof crush injury in a rollover accident. When a windshield is destroyed in the course of an accident the strength of the roof is instantly reduced by 33 percent. When the windshield blows out it makes roof crush injury much more likely by compromising the strength of the roof and creating a large space through which a person can be ejected from the motor vehicle.
Roof crush injury most often results in serious spinal cord, head, and neck injuries. This type of roof crush injury proves more fatal than other injuries sustained in an auto accident. Experts estimate that the cost of improving roof strength in vehicles is minimal; less than $50 per vehicle in most cases. This protection against roof crush injury is often forgone for the sake of greater vehicle profits.