US regulators have proposed road test standards for measuring rollover risk in new vehicles, a key feature of government requirements to improve vehicle safety after the Firestone tyre debacle, Reuters reported.
Reuters said the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration (NTHSA) plans to put as many as 100 different vehicle types through two turning manoeuvres at different speeds to simulate rollover hazards.
In most cases, a car or truck will leave the road and “trip” on a ditch or soft dirt, Reuters said, adding that the government will test “untripped” events most commonly initiated by sharp manoeuvres on normal pavement.
Reuters said that US government crash data shows that over 9,800 people are killed annually in an estimated 270,000 rollover crashes involving light trucks – pickups, sport utility vehicles and minivans – types of vehicle more likely to roll over than passenger cars due to their higher centres of gravity.
Currently, the government analyzes vehicle design data to calculate rollover risk and rates models with an NHTSA star rating, Reuters said, but is looking at either combining design analysis and road test results in a single rating for each model or rating design criteria and road tests separately.
Congress made new standards compulsory in 2000 after fatal rollovers and other crashes linked to failures of Firestone tyres installed mostly as original equipment on Ford Explorer SUVs and a subsequent recall of millions of the tyres, Reuters noted.