Every year in the United States, more than 10,000 people are killed in rollover accidents. Consumer Reports says tougher standards and more rigorous testing are urgently needed.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, mandates vehicles undergo a roof strength test. The current NHTSA standard from 1973, now being reviewed, requires a roof to be strong enough to withstand 1 1/2 times a vehicle's weight.
But the publisher of Consumer Reports, Consumer Union, thinks the standard should be raised.
"NHTSA proposes raising the standard to 2 1/2 times the vehicle's weight." said Consumer Reports' Jon Linkov. "We think that may be too weak."
Linkov says government testing also needs to be more vigorous.
"We think that NHTSA needs to develop a dynamic rollover test, which would take into account safety features such as curtain airbags, seat belt pretensioners, and other rollover protection systems," said Linkov.
Consumer Reports says when shopping for a vehicle, make sure it has electronic stability control. When electronic stability control is turned off, a vehicle has greater risk of rolling over.
Consumers Union is calling for the Obama administration to make the upgrade of the 36-year-old NHTSA rollover standard a high priority.
A law written in 2005 had ordered the agency to rewrite the standard by 2008, but that date has come and gone-and so far the regulation upgrade has been postponed three times.