Rollover Accidents Still Happen
In the 1980s, consumers became more aware that the recent popularity of light trucks, minivans and SUVs was leading to more rollover crashes. In fact, utility vehicles were more than five times as likely to be involved in a rollover accident than cars were.
Manufactures have made major vehicle design improvements since then, but unfortunately, rollover accidents still happen. In fact, while cars—or, as is still more likely, SUVs and trucks—only tip over in 1 percent of all crashes, those crashes account for one-third of road deaths, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
So why do vehicles tip in the first place, what makes these crashes so dangerous and what can drivers and manufactures do to help address the problem?
The tipping point: why rollover crashes happen
When a vehicle goes into a slide, it can easily get caught up on even a minor obstacle. A curb, a guardrail or uneven ground essentially “trips” the vehicle, causing its center of gravity to shift and rollover. Rollover crashes are often the result of poor handling—a driver maneuvering his or her vehicle too aggressively considering vehicle type, road conditions or speed.
Rollovers are so much more common in trucks and especially in SUVs because of these vehicles’ higher center of gravity. They’re built higher up off the ground, so they’re inherently less stable than a coupe or sedan riding low to the road.
What are car manufactures doing to address rollovers?
Over the years, car manufactures have made tremendous improvements in vehicle design when it comes to preventing rollover accidents in the first place. The static stability factor, or SSF, measures a vehicle’s ability to stay stable. The SSF is determined by calculating the vehicle’s track width (the distance between right and left tires) divided by the height of its center of gravity.
Electronic stability control can also help prevent rollover crashes by using automatic brake application to stop a car from going into a skid. It’s standard in all new cars, including SUVs, and is also present in many used models.
What drivers can do to stay safe
Whether you’re buying a new SUV or making the best of what you already have, there are certain steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of a rollover crash or avoid catastrophic injuries.
Before choosing a new vehicle, check its safety performance at sites like safercar.gov or Consumer Reports. If you’re buying an older model, it’s worth seeking out one that has electronic stability control and side curtain airbags.
Always use your seatbelt and proper child restraints. Most deaths in rollover crashes occur when an occupant isn’t properly restrained.
Choose tires that are the right fit for your vehicle and maintain them. Good tires can help you avoid entering a skid and avoid a “trip” that will tip your vehicle.
Don’t overload your SUV. Remember that the center of gravity is already higher than many other cars. If you piles loads of camping gear or heavy furniture on top, you’ll be more likely to tip.
Remember the inherent risks of an SUV or truck. Even an SUV with a good SSF rating is still less stable than a sedan. Don’t mistake its off-roading capabilities or good handling as an invitation to drive aggressively—especially in inclement weather.
If you’ve been involved in a rollover crash, you need a car crash lawyer to help. The Macon car accident lawyers at Buzzell, Welsh & Hill will help ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us for a free consultation today.