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Frank Bailey
Frank Bailey
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New Roof Crush Tests: Volvo XC90 vs. Ford Explorer

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Beginning in 1970, the auto industry fought efforts by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to issue a dynamic roof crush standard that protects occupants in rollover crashes. Why would the auto industry take such a position?

During that time, the number of deaths to occupants in rollover crashes climbed from 1,400 to over 10,000 each year while total occupant fatalities declined from 43,200 to 33,300. What accounts for that amazing increase in deaths from rollover crashes?

Although numerous federal courts have upheld the dolly rollover test as a reliable dynamic test, NHTSA has stuck with the ineffective, quasi-static roof crush standard issued in 1971 even though it initially was to be phased out by 1977.

In other major crash modes, front and side impacts, NHTSA has issued effective dynamic crash test standards that have reduced death and serious injury, but why not roof crush tests?

Public Citizen now has the results of dynamic roof crush tests on the Jordan Rollover System (JRS). The tests were sponsored by the Santo Family Foundation on a Volvo XC90s. State Farm donated the vehicle. This is one time that I applaud State Farm for doing something right.

Ford Motor Company (Stock at $3.11 today) has obtained Protective Orders in 24 courts prohibiting the public from seeing the test. Wonder why? Roof crush tests show Volvo XC90 occupants escape serious injury in multiple rollover crashes while Ford Explorer occupants suffer serious injury.

In a multiple two roll test, the maximum roof intrusion in the XC90 was only 2.6 inches and the peak roof intrusion velocity was less than 4 miles per hour. In contrast, the Explorer had maximum roof intrusion of 11.5 inches and peak roof intrusion velocity of nearly 12 miles per hours. This exceeds known thresh holds for death or serious injury.

Examination of actual accidents from NHTSA shows only one Volvo XC90 in a rollover crash. Like the XC90 in the JRS test, this Volvo had minimal roof intrusion and the two occupants suffered no serious injury. In sharp contrast, the NHTSA files revealed multiple cases of severe roof crush in other vehicles that tested poorly in the JRS.

After 35 years of increasing rollover fatalities due to weak roofs and weak standards, it is time to issue a dynamic roof crush standard using the JRS to match the lifesaving dynamic standards NHTSA has for front and side impacts.

Call or email your representative today and ask that they put aside their love for the auto industry and start putting the safety of their constituents first.