Smarter Driver: New innovations in roof design
Smarter Driver: New innovations in roof design
3:37

Smarter Driver: New innovations in roof design

Auto Tech
Now, two major good things happen when your roof is strong and stays intact. First of all, the roof doesn't intrude and injure passengers or kill them inside the vehicle. But secondly, the belt, the airbags, the windows, and the windshield have a strong base so they can stay in place and do their job keeping you from leaving the car which is a big problem in rollovers. Only about 2 percent of the nation's roughly 9 million annual car accidents are rollovers, but they typically account for an astonishing 33 percent of fatalities. So, say hello to a tougher roof standard. Now, new federal standards for roof rollover strength were passed in 2009. They started phasing in September of 2012 and full phase-in across the entire fleet of new vehicles sold in the U.S. as of 2017 model year cars. Now, before these new standards had kicked in 2012, we go back to 1973 for the last time roof crush specs were set, and back then, the federal standard was only that it had to withstand one and a half times the weight of the vehicle. Today, that's a poor rating. That would not even be a passing grade. Now, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awards those coveted rollover standards based on a test where they come right here with a big machine that tries to deflect this part of the roof, 5 inches total deflection. The question is, "How much weight does it take?" That's where they come up with a ratio based on the car's weight. To get a good rating, which is the best, there has to be a 4:1 ratio. In other words, the roof can support four times the car's weight of an impact. Now, there are some downsides to all these additional roof strength performance, a couple trivial ones, and that is, there's an estimate that it costs maybe $54 more in your car's MSRP to create all this stronger structure and $16 to $62 in additional fuel consumption due to some added weight. Those are small numbers, but there is a bigger concern. And that is this. As these pillars get stronger, they're getting thicker. Add to that, the airbags that are in them, the padding here for federal head-impact standards, and the increasing slope for aerodynamics, and you've got a visibility problem. University of Michigan did a study that found these increasingly thick pillar designs make invisible for a substantial time a pedestrian who could be in your path during a typical left turn at an intersection, let's say. In the EU, such outward visibility is regulated. In the U.S., it's not. The IIHS has roof-crush ratings by car model on its site, and since these new standards are being phased in, it pays to double check. So, bottom-line, when you look at your car next time and see the roof and the pillars and think you're just seeing something that keep the rain out and keep the glass in place, you're looking at some pretty serious engineering that has come a long way in a few years toward saving your life.

Up Next

Crash Testing New Electric Cars Proves They're Typically Safer
ev-crash-tests-00-02-09-11-still260

Up Next

Crash Testing New Electric Cars Proves They're Typically Safer

See What Makes the Best Tire for Your Electric Car
ion-evo-as-suv-ih01a-motion-graphics-mp4-00-02-48-12-still001

See What Makes the Best Tire for Your Electric Car

Why Are So Many Electric Cars, Scooters and Bikes Burning?
ev-battery-fires-00-02-02-15-still243

Why Are So Many Electric Cars, Scooters and Bikes Burning?

Seen the New 2023 Prius? Here's Why It's Turning Heads
2023-prius-reveal-b-roll-toyota-mp4-00-00-39-19-still001

Seen the New 2023 Prius? Here's Why It's Turning Heads

The Bestselling EVs of 2022
best-selling-evs-2022-00-02-00-17-still233

The Bestselling EVs of 2022

Best Dash Cams: A Buying Guide
cnet-buyers-guide-dashcams-2022-00-00-27-07-still086

Best Dash Cams: A Buying Guide

GM's Electric Pickups Head On: Comparing the Sierra EV to the Silverado EV
b-roll-gmc-sierra-ev-denali-edition-1-gmc-mp4-00-03-33-14-still003

GM's Electric Pickups Head On: Comparing the Sierra EV to the Silverado EV

Meet a Mind-Bending Hybrid: The Sono Sion Solar-Grid EV
sono-sion-00-09-01-10-still220

Meet a Mind-Bending Hybrid: The Sono Sion Solar-Grid EV

These Are the Cars That Qualify Now for the New Tax Credit
large-15747-2023-id-4-volkswagen

These Are the Cars That Qualify Now for the New Tax Credit

Don't Buy an EV Until You See the Most Important Ones Coming in 2023
221007-yt-electrified-best-evs-coming-in-2023-3

Don't Buy an EV Until You See the Most Important Ones Coming in 2023

Tech Shows

The Apple Core
apple-core.png

The Apple Core

Alphabet City
alphabet-city.png

Alphabet City

CNET Top 5
top-5.png

CNET Top 5

The Daily Charge
the-daily-charge.png

The Daily Charge

What the Future
what-the-future.png

What the Future

Tech Today
tech-today.png

Tech Today

Cooley On Cars
on-cars.png

Cooley On Cars

Carfection
carfection.png

Carfection

Latest News

Everything Announced at Microsoft Build 2024
240521-site-microsoft-build-supercut-thumbnail

Everything Announced at Microsoft Build 2024

Sonos Ace Headphones Get Set to Take on the AirPods Max (First Look)
240520-site-sonos-headphones-4

Sonos Ace Headphones Get Set to Take on the AirPods Max (First Look)

Microsoft Announces First Surface Copilot Plus PCs Powered by Qualcomm
240520-site-microsoft-reax-2

Microsoft Announces First Surface Copilot Plus PCs Powered by Qualcomm

Everything Announced at Microsoft's Surface Copilot Plus PC Event
microsoft-event-5-20-24-20-may-2024-02-00-39-pm-00-08-21-09-still001

Everything Announced at Microsoft's Surface Copilot Plus PC Event

Android 15: See New Features in Action
yt-android-15-clean-1

Android 15: See New Features in Action

If Apple Makes Siri Like ChatGPT or Gemini, I'm Done
240516-site-hey-siri-lets-talk

If Apple Makes Siri Like ChatGPT or Gemini, I'm Done

Bose SoundLink Max Review: How Does It Compare to the Cheaper SoundLink Flex?
240514-site-bose-soundlink-max-2

Bose SoundLink Max Review: How Does It Compare to the Cheaper SoundLink Flex?

Hands-On With Huawei's Pura 70 Ultra
240515-winged-pura-70-ultra-00-01-30-05-still001.jpg

Hands-On With Huawei's Pura 70 Ultra

I Tried Three Fitness Apps to Help My Postpartum Recovery
cs-ai-coaching-seq-00-07-22-19-still001

I Tried Three Fitness Apps to Help My Postpartum Recovery

How Many Times Did Google Say AI at I/O 2024?
Every AI Thumbnail

How Many Times Did Google Say AI at I/O 2024?