Anyone who has ever witnessed the aftermath of a rollover accident on the freeway knows how violent and destructive these types of crashes can be. Rollover crashes account for one-third of all deaths in traffic accidents, causing more than 10,000 fatalities per year. Most people know that the likelihood of a rollover is highly dependent on particular characteristics of the vehicle involved. However, the occurrence of a rollover crash also depends on the driving characteristics of the motorist. An unfortunate combination of vehicle type and certain driving behaviors can result in a rollover accident.
What types of vehicles are most likely to roll over? All vehicles can roll over, but characteristics of certain vehicles make them less stable overall, and therefore more likely to roll over than others. Most motorists have been warned that SUVs have a greater likelihood of rolling over than small passenger cars. This is because vehicles that are long and narrow have a higher chance of rolling over than vehicles that are shorter and thicker. In addition, vehicles that have more ground clearance are more likely to roll over than vehicles that sit low to the ground. Finally, the number of passengers and their distribution within the vehicle can affect stability. In smaller cars that sit low to the ground, more passengers mean more stability. However, in longer vehicles with higher ground clearance, additional passengers can decrease the overall stability of the vehicle.
What types of rollover accidents occur? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), rollovers are classified as either tripped or untripped. In a tripped rollover, a vehicle runs off the road and slides sideways, hitting soft soil, a steep slope, or an object such as a guardrail. Just as a person may fall on unstable ground or stumble over an object, the vehicle rolls over when its tires are subjected to these tripping forces. The majority of all rollovers are tripped. An untripped rollover is much more rare, and usually occurs with top-heavy vehicles, such as loaded pick-up trucks and 18-wheelers. When these vehicles take a turn too sharply or swerve to avoid a collision, the heavy weight on top causes the vehicle to roll over.
What other factors contribute to rollover accidents? Although the type of vehicle can play a big roll in the likelihood of rolling over, other factors can cause a rollover accident. In over 90% of fatal rollover crashes, the driver was performing routine driving procedures, meaning they were either driving in a straight line or going around a curve. This information implies that the drivers in these crashes were likely distracted by other factors. Therefore, driver distraction likely plays a big role in rollover crashes.The speed of the vehicle and the mental condition of the driver also greatly contributes to the likelihood of a rollover. Excessive speeding was a factor in almost 40% of rollovers that resulted in fatalities, with 75% of these crashes in areas where the speed limit was at or greater than 55 miles per hour. If a driver is impaired by alcohol, he or she is more likely to get involved in an accident. Alcohol is involved in almost 50% of rollover crashes.
To learn more about legal issues surrounding rollover crashes, visit the website of Lake Geneva car accident lawyers of Habush Habush & Rottier, SC