Over the years, the car industry has seen significant improvements in technology, rideability, and comfort. Vehicles equipped with a sunroof, or the larger panoramic sunroof, have become almost standard. Although they are aesthetically pleasing, it is fair to wonder if they do more harm than good in the event of an accident.
When sunroofs began to rise in popularity in the 1970s and 1980s, crash experts discovered that sunroofs were not very safe, particularly in rollover crashes. The structural integrity of a vehicle’s roof has been compromised as well. Tests would show that the sunroof would shatter and the roof would collapse at impact. If the person did not wear their seat belt, the injuries would often be severe or deadly. Other injuries that a sunroof could cause include:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs): Damage to the brain or skull that can lead to permanent disability or death.
- Neck or spinal cord injuries: Neck and spinal cord injuries can include slipped discs, nerve damage, whiplash, and sprains. More severe injuries can have broken bones in the neck or spine, causing paralysis.
- Broken or fractured bones: Broken bones can occur in a rollover accident, even when your seat belt is secured.
- Lacerations and soft tissue injuries: More minor accidents can still cause lacerations or soft tissue injuries.
Although rollover accidents account for only two percent of all car accidents in the United States, they make up over 35 percent of all passenger vehicle deaths, which is more than 10,000 fatalities per year.
One of the main dangers of a rollover accident, other than shattered glass or trauma suffered because of impact, is being ejected from the sunroof. The best way to prevent this is to wear your seat belt, which keeps every passenger in place while the surrounding airbags and outside crush zones protect them. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), passengers who do not wear their seat belts are ten times more likely to be ejected from a car.
Sunroofs in the Modern Vehicle Are Safer
Through rigorous testing and research, car manufacturers began finding solutions to sunroof injuries. In 2011, when the NHTSA began regulating manufacturers to produce ways to prevent side window ejections in rollover accidents, they did not apply to sunroofs. This changed over time, however, as many car manufacturers took it upon themselves to make the sunroof safer.
Because of this, improvements made with sunroof technology have increased dramatically over time, making it much safer. Government test results have found that the modern sunroof no longer impedes the roof’s strength. Vehicles with sunroofs are now made with pillars crafted from high-strength steel. Even the glass itself is made with laminated glass instead of tempered glass. Laminated glass is two panels fused with plastic, rendering it almost shatter-proof.
Sunroof improvements continue. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety now provides safety ratings for car models according to their roof strength. Some car manufacturers are also implementing roof airbags in their vehicles. This, combined with side curtain airbags, can help prevent injuries caused by ejection, impact, and broken glass. Furthermore, most vehicles come equipped with electronic stability control (ESC) technology, which helps prevent rollovers.
Media Car Accident Lawyers at Eckell Sparks Help Accident Survivors Who Have Been Injured in Rollover Accidents
Although many safety improvements have been made in vehicle technology, injuries still occur. If you have been injured in an accident because of another’s negligence, speak with our Media car accident lawyers at Eckell, Sparks, Levy, Auerbach, Monte, Sloane, Matthews & Auslander, P.C. Call us today at 610-565-3701 or complete our online form for an initial consultation. Located in Media and West Chester, Pennsylvania, we serve clients in Delaware County, Chester County, and Montgomery County.