AAJ: New Roof Crush Regulation a Good Start

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For Immediate Release: April 30, 2009

Contact: Jen Fuson or Kerri Axelrod
202-965-3500, ext. 369
media.replies@justice.org

AAJ: New Roof Crush Regulation a Good Start

Removal of Bush Preemption Language a “Win” for Consumers

Washington, DC – Today’s announcement by the U.S. Department of Transportation requiring vehicle roofs to withstand three times the weight for vehicles weighing up to 6,000 pounds is a good start, but does not go far enough to protect consumers, according to the American Association for Justice (AAJ). The roof crush standard addresses the safety of vehicles’ roofs to withstand pressure when involved in rollover accidents.

“Under the Bush administration, NHTSA had been stalled on rollover crash protection standards for far too long.  This new standard puts the issue in gear, but we would have liked to see the Administration go farther to protect consumers,” said Gerie Voss, Director of Regulatory Affairs for AAJ. 

The Bush administration proposed a roof crush standard that increased the ability of a roof to withstand a force equal to 2.5 times the unloaded vehicle’s weight, a standard already met by 70 percent of U.S. auto manufacturers.  The proposed rule also had language that preempted state tort claims.  The final rule today does not include the Bush administration preemption language.

“Government regulations aren’t perfect and can’t anticipate every safety problem; the civil justice system provides consumers an added layer of protection,” added Voss. “Removing the preemption language proposed by the previous Administration is a win for consumers.”

Rollover accidents are the most deadly, killing one person every hour in the United States, according to industry experts.  The roof standard had been in place since 1973, before SUVs were a common mode of consumer transportation.

Currently, there are no roof crush standards for motorcoaches and commercial trucks. 

The new standard excludes commercial vehicles which weight starts at 10,001 pounds for interstate, and typically 26,001 for intrastate commercial vehicles. It is estimated by the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration more than 12,000 lives could be saved by having commercial vehicle roof crush standards.

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