When I first started to drive, cars didn’t have any of the safety features we see today and yet in some ways, the cars were built stronger, which made a difference in an accident. However, over the past few decades, the auto industry has been making vehicles lighter and cheaper, creating a greater need for all of the many safety devices we see today – seat belts and numerous air bags in front and to the sides. Safety is a main feature and every year we see listings for the safest and least safest vehicles on the road. The emphasis on safety makes me wonder why auto makers are still allowed to make vehicles with sun roofs.
Visit some of your local car dealerships and you’ll see some vehicles with sun roofs, which often cost extra. A number of television commercials also advertise sun roofs and make them look so great.
I’ve not seen any reported deaths or serious injuries due to sun roofs, but then deaths by alligator or rattlesnake attacks are rare, but great measures are taken to prevent them.
Had we had a sun roof in our SUV back in 2005, I would not be here today to write this.
My wife and I worked at the same place and were heading home from work. She was driving and I was riding in the passenger seat. We had just transitioned from one interstate to another and we moved over safely to the left high-speed lane and were cruising at about 65 mph, keeping up with others in the same lane. The interstate was busy with the start of the evening rush hour.
Two lanes to the right, a teenager was driving a sedan with 5 other teens inside. They had a portable television they were watching, as I could see the screen. The girl driving tried to change lanes to her right and realized there was another car there, so she swerved sharply to the left. Her quick reaction was too much and her car fishtailed and then shot straight into our SUV. It hit our vehicle right where I was sitting.
The impact caused our vehicle to spin and then start to turn over towards the driver’s side. The front driver’s side tire buckled, causing our SUV to bounce and go airborne. We landed upside down and skidded about 100 feet down the pavement before coming to a stop.
I took the full impact of landing upside down. The roof caved in, shoving my head down into my body and to my left shoulder. As the SUV slid upside down, I could feel the grinding of the metal roof against the pavement.
When our vehicle stopped sliding, everyone was amazed that we both crawled out. Doctors and paramedics were amazed we weren’t killed and even more amazed that my neck didn’t break and leave me paralyzed. It turns out that I lost 1 ¼ inches in height instantly due to damage to my neck and upper back. I was left with 3 herniated and 2 bulging discs in my neck and 5 discs right between the shoulder blades, compressed down to nothing. I also ended up with a wedge compression of a vertebrae in the middle of my back.
Thankfully, my wife sustained less injuries, but still has problems with her hip, lower back and sciatic nerve.
A couple days ago, I was watching a baseball game and saw a car commercial that featured a car with a sun roof. It made me realize that if we had a sunroof, it would have shattered when we landed upside down and instead of the metal roof grinding against the pavement as we slid down the interstate, it would have been my skull, surely killing me.
There is a reason construction workers wear hardhats instead of baseball caps. There is a reason football players wear hard helmets instead of the old-time leather helmets. There is a reason baseball players wear hard batting helmets instead of the normal baseball caps.
If you apply the same logic to your vehicle, doesn’t it make sense to have something hard and protective over your head like a metal roof instead of glass that can easily shatter and leave your head vulnerable during an accident?
Besides, sun roofs are known to leak in rainy weather and explode out during hot summer days.
Someone told me that accidents like ours are so uncommon that it shouldn’t be an issue, but over the past couple of years, I’ve seen a growing number of local news reports where a vehicle ended upside down on the road, so they aren’t as rare as some may think.
Some manufacturers install air bags for sun roofs, but they are no match for the grinding effects of a road.
The frequency of accidents with vehicles getting flipped and landing upside down, coupled with what happened to us and common sense, compels me to warn everyone NOT to buy any vehicle with a sun roof. If you do, you may be risking your life or the lives of your family. Is a little sunlight above worth that?
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.