According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, vehicle rollovers do not occur as frequently as other types of crashes. However, when they do occur, the result is often serious injury or death. According to NHTSA's statistics, rollovers accounted for more than 10,000 fatalities in the United States in 1999, more than side and rear crashes combined. They also resulted in thousands of serious injuries. Many of these rollovers, and the tragic injuries that result, are preventable if consumers understand the roles that the driver, the roadside environment and the vehicle play in causing the rollover.
In an effort to assist consumers in purchasing safe vehicles, the NHTSA has designed rollover resistance ratings for passenger vehicles. This rating is based on static stability factor, which is essentially a measure of how "top heavy" a vehicle is. According to their studies, the NHTSA found that taller, narrower vehicles, such as sport utility vehicles, are more likely than lower wider vehicles, such as passenger cars, to tip and rollover once they leave the roadway.
There are actions which drivers can take to reduce the risk of rollover and subsequent injury:
- Always wear seatbelts. Regardless of vehicle choice, the consumer and his or her passengers can dramatically reduce their risk of being killed or seriously injured in a rollover crash by simply using their seatbelts.
- Avoid conditions that lead to loss of control. Drivers should be particularly cautious on curved rural roads and maintain a safe speed to avoid running off the road and striking a ditch or embankment and rolling over.
- Avoid extreme panic-like steering. This condition may cause a rollover when a driver overcorrects the steering as a panic reaction to an emergency or to something as simple as dropping a wheel off the pavement. This is most important in a tire failure situation. The driver should gradually reduce the vehicle speed and then ease the vehicle either completely off the roadway or back on the roadway if the vehicle is intact and it is safe to do so.
- Maintain tires properly. Improperly inflated and worn tires may cause a vehicle to slide sideways on wet or slippery pavement, resulting in the vehicle sliding off the road and increasing the risk of rolling over.
If you have any questions concerning vehicle rollover, please contact the attorneys at Alley, Clark & Greiwe.