Current roof-crush regulations require all cars sold in the U.S. to support 1.5 times their weight on their roofs on one side of the car. New rules proposed by the NHTSA would have the entire roof required to support 2.5 times the car's weight. Strong opposition is arising in the U.S. Senate, with senators making the issue a matter of states rights because of riders attached to the bill that would limit suits over failed roofs from being brought in state courts.

The costs of the increased requirements are expected to be high, but with more than 10,000 people dying in rollover accidents - nearly a third of all vehicular deaths - despite only 3% of crashes involving rollovers, the government agency feels the price of upgrade is worth it. Nevertheless, a 2005 report by the NHTSA said increasing the rollover standard to 2.5 times the vehicle weight would only save 13-44 lives and 800 injuries per year, according to the Detroit News.

Earlier this year a California court awarded a woman paralyzed in a Ford Explorer rollover $82.6 million in damages. The award was later confirmed by a California judge after a review performed at the request of the U.S. Supreme Court. A class-action suit brought by owners of Explorers for the decreased value brought about by the huge rollover verdict in the previous case ended in settlement in April. The case had been filed in at least five states.

The NHTSA's proposed changes would make it harder for suits to be brought against automakers at the state level, moving the claims instead to the Federal level, where rules are more uniform and not always as favorable to the consumer as state courts may be.