With the advent of SUV’s we ushered in a new type of vehicle accident known as the “rollover accident”. A rollover accident happens when a vehicle turns over onto its side or roof. As you might imagine, these types of accidents can be extremely dangerous if not fatal. The cause of a rollover accident can be anything from taking a turn to fast to simply colliding with another vehicle. SUV’s account for 25% of all vehicles on the road today. The popularity of these vehicles, ironically, is due in large part to the perception drivers have that they are safer. Because of their size, people inherently feel safer driving them. While their size may, indeed, provide you with more protection in a head on, rear end or side impact collision, that same quality may make you more vulnerable to rollover accidents. In fact, your chances of a fatality in an SUV rollover are significantly higher. Single-vehicle rollover crashes accounted for nearly 50 percent of driver deaths in SUVs in 2002, compared with 36 percent of fatalities in pickups and 20 percent of deaths in cars. In recent years, over 10,000 died each year in SUV rollovers.
So what makes the risk of a rollover so much higher in an SUV? SUV’s are more susceptible to rollover accidents because their center of gravity is higher. In many civilian SUV’s the suspension has been raised in order to accommodate 4 wheel drive. This makes the center of gravity high enough to dramatically increase the chance of a rollover in some cases. Additionally, SUV’s were originally designed as off-road vehicles and not necessarily intended to carry a significant amount of weight. However, since their introduction into the American market, they have become the new minivan – carrying as many people as you can fit inside the vehicle. This additional weight can actually increase the risk of a rollover. Studies have also found that the chance of being ejected from the vehicle in a rollover accident is significantly higher than in other types of collisions. As you can imagine, being ejected from the vehicle also greatly increases the risk of serious injury of fatality.
One of the first vehicles to come under fire for rollover accidents was the Suzuki Samurai back in the late 80’s and early 90’s. People started dying from rollover accidents almost immediately after the vehicle was introduced into the market. The Samurai was just the beginning though. Since then, a variety of other SUV’s have been involved in rollovers including the Ford Explorer, Toyota 4 Runner, Isuzu Rodeo and the Honda Passport to name a few. While automobile manufacturers are working to make SUV’s safer and less inclined to rollover, the risk remains. If you are considering purchasing an SUV, do your homework. Check the safety rating and the incidences of rollover for the vehicle you are considering. If you own an SUV, make sure you wear your seatbelt at all times. This is even more important in an SUV to reduce the risk of being ejected in the event of a rollover.
If you have been involved in a rollover accident and would like further information, contact the law offices of Ledger & Associates at 1-800-300-0001 or visit us at www.ledgerlaw.com.