Are Cars With Panoramic Sunroofs Safe in a Rollover Accident?

Nowadays, you can find a panoramic sunroof in many different cars and SUVs in the market. This popular feature effectively improves on the standard-size sunroof by extending a large portion of the glass to give all of the occupants in the vehicle a light and airy feeling. Some of them open, while others – like the one in the new Toyota Venza – do not. Either way, a panoramic roof is basically a large hole in the car’s roof that is covered by glass, so does that mean the car is less safe in a rollover accident?

Panoramic sunroofs are stronger than you think

 A panoramic tilt and slide sunroof.
A panoramic tilt and slide sunroof. | Christopher Evans/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

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While it’s natural to think that a vehicle with a panoramic roof would be less safe in a rollover crash, it’s not. Consumer Reports notes that “government crash test results have shown that the effect of a sunroof is insignificant to the overall strength of the roof.” In fact, it’s the car’s steel frame that keeps occupants safe in a rollover crash, not necessarily the roof itself.

Many cars use high-strength steel A, B, C, and D pillars – which are named based on their locations in the car – to hold up the roof. In a rollover accident, these pillars absorb the energy of the crash, not the roof itself.

Panoramic sunroofs are made of tempered glass

One other concern that some drivers may have about panoramic sunroofs is the possibility of them shattering or breaking in the event of a crash. Fortunately, many automakers use laminated glass in their sunroofs as opposed to tempered glass. Laminated glass uses two panes of glass that are fused together by a sheet of plastic. This design ensures that the glass stays intact when it’s shattered and reduces the risk of passengers being ejected from the car if a crash occurs.

Wearing your seatbelt is important in a rollover crash

A panoramic sunroof on the 2014 Land Rover Range Rover
A panoramic sunroof on the 2014 Land Rover Range Rover | Matthew West/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

The main concern when it comes to having a panoramic roof during a rollover crash is the possibility of any occupants being ejected from the car when it rolls over. However, Consumer Reports also noted that the most important thing that anyone can do in order to prevent being ejected from the car in a crash is to wear a seat belt. Yes, it’s a no-brainer, but you would be surprised at how many drivers and passengers simply fail to do it.

There’s even data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that shows that passengers are 10 times more likely to be ejected from a car when they’re not wearing a seatbelt. So, don’t worry about having a panoramic roof in your car, worry more about wearing your seatbelt. It can save your and your passenger’s lives.

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