Generally speaking, the size and weight of an SUV should provide some level of security for the driver and passengers. However, having a larger vehicle such as an SUV, truck and minivan does not protect drivers from rollover accidents, which sometimes do not even involve a second vehicle.
Rollover accidents are among the worst things that can happen while driving. Although they only occur in approximately 3 percent of all accidents, they account for more than 30 percent of all deaths caused by car crashes. Technically, any vehicle can rollover under specific circumstances. However, SUVs, trucks and minivans are particularly vulnerable to rollover accidents because they have a higher center of gravity and are more top-heavy than most cars. Additionally, the narrow width between the left and right wheels adds to the stability, especially when heavy cargo and extra passengers are loaded into the SUV.
What Causes SUV Rollover Accidents?
A rollover accident can be either “un-tripped” or “tripped.” A tripped rollover can happen when a vehicle slides sideways, often because the driver turned a corner too sharply while driving at a high speed. When this occurs and the SUVS’s tire hits a curb, guardrail or digs into soft soil, the vehicle is more likely to tip over. Additionally, if the SUV is traveling at a high speed down a hill that is so steep, it can’t remain upright, it will likely tip forward. Tripped rollovers happen in approximately 95 percent of all rollover accidents.
The additional 5 percent of rollover accidents are un-tripped, which usually occurs when the vehicle swerves to avoid a collision going at a high speed. The sharp turn causes the vehicle to rollover. Typically, speed in addition to alcohol causes these types of rollover accidents
How to Avoid a Rollover Accident
While SUV manufacturers are working to make improvements to increase vehicle stability, the number of deaths has not changed much over the years, even with the improved survival rates. However, with a little common sense and a good vehicle maintenance schedule, you can decrease the risk of a rollover accident. The following steps can help you:
- If you’re purchasing an SUV, choose one with an updated safety system, especially one with side-curtain airbags and electronic stability control
- Wear a seat belt at all times
- Check your tires regularly. All replacement tires should be as similar as possible to the original set
- Do not overload the vehicle
- Do not speed
- Be extra cautious on country roads, as almost 75 percent of fatal rollover accidents happen in rural areas, where roads can be winding and the speed limits are higher
The Washington, D.C. personal injury attorneys at Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP can help you with a product liability claim if you have been injured in an SUV rollover accident. Contact us today to speak to one of our attorneys.