In the United States, sports utility vehicle (SUV) rollover accidents injure and kill approximately 6,000 to 10,000 people per year. As most people are aware, SUVs – due to the nature of their design – are more likely to tip and rollover than other types of vehicles. While only 3% of all types of accidents involve rollovers, these nonetheless account for more than 30% of occupant deaths. Otherwise stated, SUV rollover accidents do not typically involve just injuries – oftentimes, our car accident lawyers in Miami find they have fatal results. In fact, rollover accidents are responsible for about 58% of all deaths in SUVs.
In light of the above, how do SUV rollover accidents happen? Under the right set of circumstances, any vehicle, such as a car or motorcycle, can roll over. However, SUVs, being taller and narrower than many other types of vehicles, are more vulnerable to rolling over since their center of gravity is higher, making them extremely top heavy. As an SUV rounds a curve, its center of gravity shirts to one side, which can dramatically affect its balance and result in a potential rollover accident.
Due to the frequency of SUV-related rollover accidents, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, conducts an on-road rollover test on most types of SUVs. As part of the testing process, the NHTSA rates each vehicle in terms of their propensity to rollover, the results of which can be found at www.safercar.gov. Here, you can see the lists of all tested vehicles with a given class (i.e. passenger vehicle, SUV, etc.) and also, determine how your SUV fared during testing.
Despite the severity of the issue, new and safer SUVs are currently being developed to reduce the likelihood of rollover accidents. Specifically, from 1998 to 2009, SUV rollover-related fatalities decreased from over 40 per million to 12. Nonetheless, SUV rollovers still account for thousands of death per year, hence there is still a considerable amount of work to do. In this view, it is important to know, through common sense and perhaps a bit of routine vehicle maintenance, how to increase your odds of walking away from an SUV rollover accident:
• The newer, the better. According to government data, newer SUVs have a much lower rate of fatality than older models. These improvements may be due to the fact that manufacturers are building safer vehicles or, people are simply buckling up more than in the past. Whatever the reasons, it makes sense to choose an SUV that is equipped with the most up to date safety features. These include side impact airbags and electronic stability control devices.
• Wear a seatbelt. As simple as this sounds, many people fail to do so, unnecessarily predisposing them to injury and death. Being belted in, without a doubt, prevents you from getting thrown around within an SUV should it rollover. With about half of rollover fatalities involving people who are either partially or fully ejected from their vehicles, it makes sense to wear a seatbelt at all times.
• Check your tires. Make sure that your tires are in good shape and inflated properly. Should they be either under or overinflated, have little tread or steel showing, or weak sidewalls, this can lead to potential rollover accidents.
• Do not overload your vehicle. SUVs, like any type of vehicle, can only hold so much. When an SUV is overloaded, it decreases its balance and stability. Keep in mind that overloading the top of an SUV is especially dangerous, and could cause it to tip over even at slow speeds.
• Watch your speed at all times. Speeding definitely makes an SUV more prone to tipping over and causing serious accidents. With approximately 40% of SUV rollover fatalities involving excessive speed, it is important to always follow the speed limit. Speed on curves on in inclement weather is also a major cause of roll over crashes.
• Look 10-15 seconds ahead on the roadway. Study what the traffic in front of you is doing. If you can anticipate another vehicles sudden movement, the likelihood of your having to take emergency action which may cause a rollover, will be greatly reduced.
If you or someone you love has been injured in an SUV rollover accident Florida, please contact our Miami Car Accident Attorneys at 1-888-499-9700 or 305-595-2400 for a FREE Consultation. Our legal professionals are available 24/7 through e-mail or answering service. Do not wait to obtain the representation you deserve – let us help you fight for your rights and protect your interests, every step of the way.