About 4,500 people die in SUV rollover accidents every year. Although rollovers are relatively rare compared to other types of accidents, rollovers are much more likely to result in serious injury or death. Rollovers can be either single vehicle accidents (not involving a collision with any other vehicles), or multi-vehicle accidents (involving multiple vehicles). In some cases a minor rear-end collision of an unsafe lane change collision can result in a more serious rollover accident. Rollovers most commonly occur on highways, but can also occur on urban streets and at intersections.
SUV Design Defects
Although any vehicle can potentially overturn given the right conditions, sport utility vehicles are more likely to overturn than a passenger vehicle or even a pickup truck (the second most rollover prone type of vehicle). The heightened risk of rollover in sport utility vehicles can be attributed to a narrow track width, heightened center of gravity, added weight, and other defective parts, includingdefective seat belts, defective seat backs, defective tires, lack of safety glass, and lack of roll protection.
Roof Crush Injuries
Roof crush is a major problem in SUV rollovers accidents. Although the design and integrity of a vehicle’s roof does not cause an accident, it can cause a very serious injury (such as a skull fracture, broken neck or spinal cord injury) or death in a rollover. Most SUVs do not have roll bars to support the roof and prevent it from being crushed or caving in during a rollover. Weak roof structures cause thousands of deaths every year, and countless more catastrophic injuries.
SUV Rollovers and Fuel Fed Fires
With any rollover accident that disrupts or damages the fuel system, there is a risk of a fuel-fed fire. If the rollover accident alone does not result in injury or death, a fuel-fed fire can cause serious burn injuries or death. A fuel leak always greatly increases the risk of a fire. Fuel fed fires can often be attributed to defective fuel system design or a defective fuel tank or fuel line. Vehicle manufacturers have a responsibility to design and place fuel tanks so that the fuel system maintains integrity during reasonably foreseeable collisions, including rollover accidents.
SUV Rollover Statistics
The following statistics are from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):
- Nearly 3 of every 4 fatal rollovers occurs on a rural road with a posted speed limit of 55 mph or higher.
- One of every three passenger vehicle occupant deaths occur in rollovers.
- About one of every 40 vehicles involved in a police reported crash overturns.
- Excessive speeding is a contributing factor in about 40% of fatal rollovers.
- More than 80% of all rollovers are solo vehicle accidents (they involve no other vehicle besides the one that rolls over).
Preventing SUV Rollovers
If you own an SUV, you can be proactive to reduce the risk of being involved in a rollover. According to NHTSA rollover statistics, four out of every five SUV rollovers are solo vehicle accidents. As the driver, there are many ways you can reduce rollover risk. Here are a few:
- Take Care Of Your Tires: our tires are the only thing between your car and the road. Check your tire pressure regularly and have your tires rotated as recommended by the vehicle’s manufacturer. Underinflated, overinflated or worn tires can reduce your ability to maintain control of your vehicle. Always replace your tires when necessary.
- Don’t Drive Too Fast: Know the speed limit, and keep in mind that it is not the recommended or minimum speed; it is the maximum speed. If visibility is reduced due to fog, rain, sun glare or darkness, remember that this decreases your reaction time. Driving too fast increases your likelihood of losing control of your vehicle, which could trigger a rollover.
- Don’t Make Sudden Maneuvers: Sudden steering maneuvers at highway speeds can cause a rollover. If for some reason your vehicle goes off the road, slow down gradually and then ease the vehicle back onto the roadway gradually. Don’t stomp on the brakes or jerk the steering wheel.
To further protect yourself, always wear your seat belt. Although buckling up doesn’t prevent an accident and a certain number of accidents are not survivable, you can decrease your likelihood of being ejected and increase your chances of survival by wearing a seatbelt.
Protecting Your Legal Rights
If you or a family member has been seriously injured or killed in an SUV rollover accident, contact Estey Bomberger today to discuss your case. We have successfully handled rollover accident cases against a number of major automakers. Our California traffic accident attorneys can help you recover compensation for your personal injuries or the wrongful death of a family member from whoever is responsible for your accident.