In the late 1950’s Ford Motor Company introduced the Lifeguard options package. This optional package provided the Ford owner with seat belts and a dished steering wheel. Seat belts were a novelty at the time. The dished steering wheel was Ford’s method of stopping the then common occurrence of drivers in a crash becoming impaled on their own steering column! It is amazing to think how far vehicle safety has come in the last 55 years.
However, today’s vehicles are still far from perfect. All car makers today are concerned with their vehicles’ crashworthiness. Crashworthiness is the science of preventing or minimizing serious injuries or death following an accident through the use of vehicle safety systems. There are five crashworthiness principles:
1. Maintain survival space
2. Provide proper restraint throughout an accident
3. Prevent ejection of any body part
4. Distribute and channel energy properly
5. Prevent post-crash fires
One crashworthiness issue that often arises is roof crush damage in a rollover accident. When a vehicle rolls over, if the roof structure is weak and inadequate, the roof will crush downwards and reduce the survival space. Serious injuries and death often result from these types of crashes. The technology has existed since at least the 1930’s to build car roofs that are capable of surviving multiple roll-overs with no crush damage. However, since 1970, U.S. deaths and catastrophic injuries due to roof crush and rollover have increased each year. These two facts beg the question of why these tragedies are still occurring.
If a lawsuit is to be made relating to a defect in vehicle design, the car must be preserved immediately after the accident. Therefore, if you or someone you know has suffered an injury relating to roof crush damage, it is important to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.