Sunroof & Moonroof Rollover Ejections
Safety experts agree that large panoramic sunroofs or moonroofs intensify the risk of serious injury or death via vehicle ejection during a rollover accident. Studies show when a sunroof shatters during a rollover it decreases the roofs strength compared to cars without those added features. Curtain airbags have helped to improve keeping passengers from being ejected out the side windows during a rollover but relatively ineffective at preventing ejection through the sunroof.
Factors Affecting Ejection Risk in Rollover Accidents and Crashes
Seatbelt use, rollover severity, vehicle type, seating position, roof crush, side curtain airbags, glazing type, and occupant age, gender, and size are all factors that affect the risk of ejection during a rollover. Seatbelt use is commonly viewed as the number one preventative of partial ejection and complete ejections. A much greater number of passengers were ejected through the sunroof or moonroof compared to side windows. Despite vehicle improvements and features like electronic stability control, injuries and deaths due to rollover ejections remain a serious problem for the motor industry.
Studies suggest that even though a side curtain airbag deployment is likely to prevent a driver or passenger from being ejected through the side window nearest to them covered by the airbag, the occupants are still at a significant risk of ejection through the sunroof. In fact, side curtain bags can and do increase the risk of a complete ejection through the sunroof. This is because the side curtain airbags helps to deflect the occupant towards an alternate exit such as the panoramic sunroof. While effective at curtailing partial ejections during rollover accidents, side curtain airbags can be equally dangerous in helping guide passengers through the roof resulting in high fatality risk full ejections.
In 2011, NHTSA toughened standards to prevent occupants from being ejected through side windows during rollovers but declined to toughen the standards for sunroofs. This is highly unfortunate for consumers because as research shows, if manufacturers were to all use laminated glass it would reduce ejections and decrease the amount of sunroof shattering during accidents. Laminated glass is two panes of glass that are then fused with a sheet of plastic which allows the glass to hold its form much better, even if it shatters. Some of the leaders in vehicle safety, like Volvo, have recognized this and use laminated glass sunroofs in all their applications because they “provide superior protection in rollover situations.”
Defective Sunroofs and Moonroofs
Increasing the risk of sunroof ejections are defective sunroofs that lack the strength, the quality of brackets, or lack of lamination allowing them to shatter and fail during a rollover accident. Ford Explorer rollovers were prone to faulty and defective sunroof brackets. The sunroof brackets allowed a separation of the sunroof allowing a portal of ejection and combined with defective seatbelts that could spool out, this lead to ripe conditions for full ejection during a Ford Explorer rollover.
More and more vehicles today are coming with panoramic sunroofs or moonroofs. The auto industry is failing its customers by not keeping the roof strength and glass strength standards up to par by using tempered glass vs stronger laminated glass. Complete ejections could be virtually eliminated with the use of laminated glass that doesn’t shatter and the use of seatbelts and deployed curtain airbags. Unfortunately, they have calculated the cost benefits and know the profit margins for their vehicles are better with the cheaper materials, passing on the increased injury and death risk to you. When purchasing a new vehicle, always inquire to the dealer about the glass type used if the vehicle contains a panoramic sunroof or moonroof. Experts agree that panoramic sunroofs intensify the risk of partial or complete ejections during rollover crashes. If you or a loved one……