Are Sunroofs Dangerous?

When you’re shopping for a car, you may be picturing driving in the sun with the wind in your hair courtesy of your new sunroof. Or driving at night with the moonlight streaming into your vehicle. There’s a reason sunroofs are so popular. In 2017 alone, approximately seven million vehicles with sunroofs were sold, representing 40% of all vehicles.  

Sunroofs are a happy medium for many would-be convertible owners who don’t want quite that much sun and wind inside their car. The experience of driving in a vehicle with a sunroof can be incredible, but at the same time, many people have questions about whether or not they are dangerous. 

With the expanding popularity of sunroofs and the advances in their size, however, today’s consumers are paying more attention to the potential dangers of having a vehicle with a sunroof. So how dangerous are sunroofs really? The following examples of the most common sunroof dangers will give you a better idea.  

Sunroof Ejections 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), between 1997 and 2008, 1,400 people were injured and 300 killed from being ejected from sunroofs. In addition, between 2002 and 2012, 500 people were hurt and 230 died when they were ejected through sunroofs that were closed at the time. 

A recent case against Ford Motor Company favored Ford when they made the claim that there are no government regulations that require a sunroof, open or closed, to keep a person inside a vehicle in an accident. Even though Ford knew that laminated glass was safer, they still chose to use cheaper tempered glass in their vehicles. 

Due to such high numbers of injuries and fatalities, the NHTSA is developing a test to gauge the strength of the laminated glass used in sunroofs. Currently, car manufacturers are not required to use laminated glass. However, this type of glass is stronger and will likely become a safety requirement in the future of sunroof design. 

Exploding Sunroofs 

According to Consumer Reports, exploding sunroofs are more common that one might believe. Their research has found that sunroofs have exploded, “every month of the year in every part of the country, in vehicles from all over the world; they have occurred on interstates, on country roads, and even while parked in driveways.” 

Incidences of exploding sunroofs have been increasing. Apparently, the industry has been aware of the potential for a sunroof to explode in such a way for years. However, many consumers are ignorant of the possibility of this happening when they purchase a car with a sunroof. 

Although it is unknown what exactly is causing sunroofs to explode, many experts can agree about the fact that the bigger a sunroof is, the more likely it is to end up in pieces. If you’re driving when it happens you won’t be expecting it, and the element of surprise involved could cause an accident. 

Future of Sunroofs 

The NHTSA has not cracked down on safety regulations for sunroofs. In 2011, they considered the idea when they established rules to prevent side-window ejections. However, sunroofs stayed off of the table.  

Their reasoning was that only three percent of ejection deaths involved sunroofs. However, this statistic does not consider the number of injuries suffered from an ejection, which often causes severe back and spinal cord injuries.  

With the ever-increasing occurrence of exploding sunroofs, perhaps the NHTSA will take another look at the safety of these windows in the roof. However, until then we must weigh the pros and cons and decide for ourselves whether having a sunroof is worth the risk. 

Defective Sunroof Lawsuits 

According to data from Consumer Reports, over a period of 20 years the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration received 859 complaints about shattered sunroofs. The report included 208 models from 35 manufacturers.  

Many of these manufacturers have been taken to court, sometimes in class action lawsuits that accuse them of knowingly selling vehicles with design and manufacturing flaws that can lead to injuries and property damage. Shattered sunroofs have caused damage to: 

  • Roof headliners 
  • Seats 
  • Audio systems 
  • Electrical systems 
  • Upholstery 
  • Carpet 

It is your right to seek compensation, and you can visit this website if you’ve been injured by a manufacturer’s negligence. Filing lawsuits against negligent manufacturers holds them accountable, and at this time it’s the consumers’ best recourse.  

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