Rollover crashes remain over represented in land transportation around the world and in particular, the Oil and Gas industry, (OGP) when compared to other crash categories. The realities of this crash type is that within the USA alone it represents one in 33 car crashes each year, but it claims more than three of every ten lives lost on the nation's highways - 10,000 fatalities a year! As a crash type it is now responsible for more than a quarter of a million injuries, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) (NHTSA, 2009)
This alarming reality remains a very real exposure to land transportation safety within the OGP. In response, a variety of mitigation measures have been designed and installed worldwide. In the opinion of the authors, these traditional mitigation measures have become outdated and obsolete. Current research lends new insight into what causes injuries in rollovers and how to mitigate against those causes.
With the distinct lack of structural roof strength in most vehicles combined with the insubstantial crash performance criteria in vehicle roof design within the automotive industry, OEM's are not compelled to ensure that the structure of their production vehicles are reinforced suitably to maintain occupant survival space in a rollover crash. Unfortunately this results in the vast majority of vehicles used within the industry today requiring some form of roof reinforcement to ensure that occupants are protected during a rollover crash.
Within the OGP today, a wide variety of Roll Over Protection Systems (ROPS) structures (both internal and external) are usually designed, purchased, manufactured, installed and maintained locally and with very little (if any) expert consultation. This has resulted in a wide variety of designs emerging with an alarming variance in the "assumed" effectiveness of each. Couple this alarming trend with the risk of rendering the existing intrinsic safety features ineffectual on modern vehicles, such as side air bag curtains and seat belt pre-tensioners, has resulted in vehicles with inadequate crash safety performance.
This paper describes how roof crush intrusion and intrusion speed into the occupant compartment can be minimized to an inconsequential amount using innovative design to externally retrofitted roof strengthening systems based on an understanding of road crash data, empirical evidence, and innovative state of the art testing and analysis to provide effective external ROPS structures for the OGP.