Many of the luxury cars and SUVs purchased in Massachusetts and around the country feature panoramic sunroofs. These laminated glass panels create a more pleasant environment for vehicle occupants, but do they compromise safety? Logic would suggest that they do. After all, steel is stronger than glass and does not break into shards in an accident. However, researchers who have conducted crash tests for the federal government and road safety groups like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have found that vehicles with sunroofs are just as safe as vehicles with steel roofs.
Passenger vehicle occupants are protected in a motor vehicle accident by a robust safety cage. This safety cage includes four thick pillars that support the roof. Steel and glass panels keep the elements out, but they provide little protection in a crash. While not as strong as steel, the panels in a panoramic sunroof are made out of laminated glass that have been engineered not to shatter in an accident.
Risk of ejection
Opening the large glass panels of a panoramic sunroof improves the traveling experience for passenger vehicle occupants, but it also increases their chances of being ejected in a serious accident. However, these risks can be all but eliminated by using seat belts. Being ejected from a motor vehicle in an accident often causes death and almost always leads to serious injuries, but being properly restrained reduces these risks by 90% according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Panoramic sunroofs look good and make traveling in a motor vehicle more enjoyable. Crash tests have not shown that cars with panoramic sunroofs are any more dangerous in an accident, but having a large glass panel that opens does increase the chances of being ejected from a motor vehicle in a serious collision. Fortunately, this is a risk that you do not have to worry about too much if you buckle up before every trip.