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U.S. Senate Hearing tomorrow on 'roof crush' issue

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The U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Automotive Safety will convene tomorrow, June 4, for a hearing on the issue of “roof crush” in relation to driver and passenger safety in vehicle rollover accidents. The hearing is scheduled for 10-11:30 a.m. ET in Washington, D.C. Sen. Mark Pryor, chairman of the committee, called for the hearing after meeting with representatives of the non-profit People Safe in Rollovers Foundation, a citizen action group. He was particularly impressed with the group’s Kevin Moody, whose son Tyler was killed in a vehicle rollover accident in 2003 as a result of roof crush.Under debate is an upgrade to the Federal Motor Safety Standard No. 216 (FMVSS 216), proposed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The proposal would require that a roof withstand an applied force equal to 2.5 times the vehicle’s weight while maintaining sufficient headroom for an average size adult male, and extends coverage to vehicles with gross weight ratings up to 10,000 pounds.The current requirement is that the roof withstands an applied force equal to 1.5 times the vehicles weight, with a limit of 5,000 pounds for cars. The current standard also applies only to vehicles with ratings up to 6,000 pounds, which exempts nearly 45 percent of the SUV and pickup trucks currently on the road.People Safe in Rollovers Foundation is opposed to the NHTSA proposed standard because they say it is not strong enough. They believe it will not protect from the crushing of the roof into the occupant’s survival space in the event of a rollover accident, yet would protect automobile manufacturers from liability in the event of a roof crush injury or death, if the car were manufactured according to this standard. Their proposal calls for a standard that roofs withstand 3.5 times the vehicle’s weight.Scheduled to testify are one representative each from NHTSA, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, Advocates for Highway Safety, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Public Citizen, and quadriplegic roof-crush victim Dr. David Garcia.