A rollover is an automobile accident most generally associated with sport utility vehicles, and involves the vehicle flipping over onto its side or roof. Rollovers can lead to severe injury, property damage, vehicle damage, and death. Over the years, there has been a great deal of attention on rollovers because of class action and single lawsuits against major automobile manufacturers over the lack of safety in these multi-passenger vehicles.
There are a variety of reasons that a SUV will rollover, but the most common is turning too fast. As the pressures of inertia and gravity battle against the tires of the vehicle, eventually the vehicle will turn over because of the top-heavy nature. Because SUVs are taller, wider and generally larger, their proportions in regard to height and weight leave plenty of room for error. As the vehicle’s center of mass is higher, so increases the chance of a rollover.
Other causes of rollovers include collisions, tripping and rough terrain. Rollovers aren’t limited to just SUVs; any automobile is subject to the possibility that the wrong collision, bump in the road, or other impact of any kind could cause a flip. However, despite improvements in the past few years, SUVs are at the greatest risk of rolling over in an accident.
In cases of collision, a SUV can rollover or flip based on the speed of the struck vehicle, the speed of impacting vehicle, and the angle at which the SUV is hit. When vehicles with high centers of mass are traveling at higher speeds, their stability is compromised, which means that almost any sort of collision will allow the possibility of a rollover.
According to the National Highway Safety Administration, 95 percent of single-vehicle rollovers are caused by tripping, which means that the vehicle slides sideways and disallows the tires to continue in their projected path.
Because of the necessity of passenger space and cargo room in SUVs, most SUVs are not built with roll cages, which would eliminate a greater amount of concern with fatalities and severe injuries. Because of the lack of these protective cages (commonly found in Jeep Wranglers and most stock car racing vehicles), when a SUV or truck completely rolls over onto its roof, the chances of a fatality are much more serious because of the high possibility of crush injuries, especially to the head. This factor also complicates the ability for passenger and drivers to escape. At least when a vehicle rolls onto its side, the passengers can still access the windows of one side. When a vehicle is completely rolled over onto its top, door and window frames can become crushed to the point that they hinder escape, or they can completely collapse and leave no room for escape.
Rollovers are commonly the greatest vehicular causes of head injuries and ejections in traffic collisions. They can also lead to abrasions, bruising, burns, concussions, crush injuries, dislocations, fractures, and lacerations. Rollovers are also a cause of severe whiplash.
SUVs including the Ford Explorer, Ford Bronco and Bronco II, Toyota 4 Runner, Isuzu Rodeo and Trooper, and Honda Passport are among the vehicles that have experienced accidents, injuries and fatalities due to rollovers.
SUVs will experience rollovers more than 75 percent more than regular cars. Furthermore, the NHTSA reports that despite great improvements in standards between 2006 and 2009, the safest SUVs are still more likely to rollover than the least safest sedans or coupes.
In 2000, 10,108 people died because of traffic collisions that led to SUV rollovers. More than 62 percent of all SUV fatalities happen because the vehicle experiences a rollover.
Rollovers are incredibly dangerous and lead to more fatalities than almost any other types of traffic violations. In 2002, there were almost 11 million traffic collisions reported in the U.S., as per the NHTSA. While only 3 percent of those collisions involved a rollover, they accounted for more than 33 percent of traffic fatalities that year. More than 10,000 people died because of vehicle rollovers, and 72 percent of them neglected to wear their seatbelts.
By 2006, seven out of every 10 SUV manufactured featured an electronic stability system to help deter rollovers. Only 43 percent of SUVs manufactured the previous year included this new technological asset. Thirty-nine models of SUV received a four-star rollover resistance rating from the NHTSA that year, the highest ever up to that point.
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