Beginning in the early 1980's, American roads saw an explosion in the number of sport utility vehicles (or "SUVs"). Originally intended as off-road vehicles, these trucks were higher off the ground than normal passenger vehicles and were, as a result, more susceptible to dangerous tip ups and rollovers. That flaw however, did not stop car companies from marketing SUV's to everyone from teenagers to soccer moms for use as everyday transportation. By the late 1970's, public research by consumer and government groups showed that SUV's - which were then poised to take over America's highways - were going to cause serious injuries to the people that used them.
Notwithstanding those early warnings, car companies went on to sell SUV's in record numbers and with record profits. Unfortunately, those soaring SUV profits came along with an alarmingly high number of rollover accidents, serious injuries and deaths.
In some cases, the car company's own engineers discovered problems during testing and development of SUV's. Those engineers then told their employers how to minimize rollovers and also how to make roofs stronger so that when SUV's did roll they were less likely to injure occupants.
Tragically, even though automobile manufacturers knew exactly how to cure many of SUVs' dangerous problems, it took decades for car companies to act. Some manufacturers have started to fix SUV defects by using the very same alternative designs suggested by their own automotive engineers many years ago. Those fixes include; increasing roof strength, using laminated glass and/or inflatable side curtain air bags to prevent ejection; and utilizing several alternative suspension designs which help minimize SUVs' obvious stability problems. Other manufacturers unfortunately still lag far behind the state of the art.
In addition to stability and roof strength, for decades car companies have known that seat belt fit and geometry is an important part of vehicle safety during rollovers. The better a seat belt can hold a person in their seat, the better they will do in an accident. This is especially true in SUVs which are far more prone to rollover than other vehicles. One way to achieve a better fitting seatbelt is to mount it into the seat itself. That way, even if the vehicle is upside down, the person is restrained in the seat, and slack is less likely to form in the belt. Even though that more effective seat design was examined and tested by several manufacturers, it wound up only being used in a very limited number of models.
More information regarding rollover SUV defects can be found here:
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