Sunroofs are loved by an increasing number of car-driving Americans. Over the past 6 years, the number of cars equipped with sunroofs has risen to reach 40% of 2017 total sales, versus 33% of 2011 total sales.
Sunroofs are also getting larger with each passing year.
But sunroofs can also be dangerous. Closed sunroofs were responsible for 230 deaths each year between 2002 and 2012, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data. Closed sunroofs injured 500 people annually in the same period.
Being ejected from either an open or closed sunroof killed roughly 300 people each year between 1997 to 2008, and injured 1,400.
Is Sunroof Regulation Needed?
The number of accidents is as high as it is because, somewhat surprisingly, there is no safety regulation that mandates that sunroofs must be constructed to keep people inside the vehicle. That point was litigated in a case in which a young woman had been paralyzed as a result of being ejected out through a sunroof in a car accident.
The car manufacturer successfully argued that it had not violated any government regulation in making the sunroof.
There are a number of potential safety features that could be added to sunroofs to make them safer.
One potential solution is to make them out of laminated safety glass, like that used in windshields. Most sunroofs are made of tempered glass, which is more prone to give on impact.
Many automotive manufacturers have argued against this, however, on the grounds that laminated safety glass would increase head and neck injuries, potentially catastrophic ones, from accidents.
A second solution would be a device that holds the sunroof in place, so it can’t pop out.
A third solution, developed in Asia, is an airbag for the sunroof, similar to airbags currently installed in cars.
The NHTSA has been considering augmented safety regulation for sunroofs for a number of years. Regulation has not been enacted for a number of reasons, including the manufacturers’ contention that some solutions, such as the laminated glass, would have negative safety implications.
Many car manufacturers, such as Volvo, have voluntarily developed sunroofs with laminated glass.
But there is also a growing consensus among consumers that the time has come for regulation.
Speak with a Car Accident Lawyer Bergen County Trusts
Sunroofs post a danger of ejection from a vehicle in the event of a crash. But they are far from the only dangers faced on the roads every day. All too many automobile accidents injure and kill residents of Bergen County ever year.
We have been serving the legal needs of New Jersey and New York residents for more than 40 years. If you or a loved one has been injured or even killed in a car accident, Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman invites you to speak with a car accident lawyer Bergen County has put its trust in for decades. All consultations are completely free of charge, and there is never any obligation.
More information on the potential dangers of sunroofs:
- ABC7 Chicago. “Shattered sunroof complaints investigated by NHTSA.” August 7, 2015. http://abc7chicago.com/news/shattered-sunroof-complaints-investigated-by-nhtsa-/911871/
- Jensen, Christopher. “Sunroofs Are Growing in Size and Popularity. Rules Haven’t Kept Up.” New York Times. February 22, 2016. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/22/business/car-sunroof-safety.html