Rollover car accidents are among the deadliest types of collisions that you could experience. Fortunately, rollover accidents are relatively rare. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that only about two percent of all motor vehicle accidents are rollover collisions.
However, rollover accidents account for about 30 percent of all traffic fatalities in the United States. According to the NHTSA, there are about 7,600 rollover fatalities on U.S. roadways every year. That high rate shows the disproportionate level of danger that rollover accidents pose.
Speed Is a Dominant Factor in Rollover Accidents
Motorists who make errors while driving are the single greatest cause of rollover accidents. The faster the vehicle is going, the more likely an error will result in a rollover accident.
Highways and freeways that have speed limits of 55 miles per hour and above are where most rollover accidents occur. Traveling at high rates of speed makes it more likely to drive off of the shoulder or catch a tire on the edge of the roadway. One or more tires could catch on the edge of the road or suddenly be slowed by soft soil or a steep shoulder. That makes it very easy for a vehicle to roll onto its side or roof.
When a tire catches on the roadside and causes the vehicle to pitch violently, this is called “tripping.” Tripping accounts for 95 percent of all rollover accidents that involve just one vehicle.
Overcorrection Contributes to Rollover Accidents
While tripping accounts for the vast majority of rollover accidents involving one vehicle, so does driver error. Many drivers also overcorrect when their vehicles trip on the edge of the roadway. When a driver steers too hard and overcorrects, that can push the vehicle sideways and cause it to roll. The softer the shoulder, the more likely that overcorrecting with the steering wheel will lead to a rollover accident.
A lack of familiarity with local roads can add to the dangers of a rollover accident. When driving up a steep hill or around a blind turn, it is very easy to drive off of the roadway. If you do and overcorrect, that could lead to a rollover accident.
Driving Under the Influence Makes a Rollover Accident More Likely
Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs can cause a rollover collision. Drinking alcohol, smoking marijuana, or consuming other intoxicating substances can slow your reaction time. They also could make it more difficult to estimate distance and speed. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a crime, but many motorists still drive while intoxicated.
Taller Vehicles Have a Higher Risk of Rollover Accidents
Rollover accidents are more common when you drive vehicles that have higher ground clearances and taller centers of gravity. SUVs, pickups, and minivans are more prone to rolling over during an accident than typical passenger cars. Passengers in light trucks are the most vulnerable to suffering fatal injuries in an accident. The NHTSA states that rollover accidents account for 47 percent of passenger fatalities in light trucks. That compares to 22 percent of passenger fatalities in passenger cars.
Fortunately, the auto industry is proactively working to reduce the potential for rollover accidents and fatalities. Advancements in auto safety are helping reduce the potential for rollover accidents. Electronic stability control, lane-keeping assistance, and roll stability control are helping prevent rollovers and other accidents. These systems help maintain vehicle stability while tripping and taking turns too quickly. Improved stability makes it less likely that a rollover accident occurs.
Seat Belts Are the Best Protection
According to the NHTSA, ejection from a vehicle is the single biggest factor that determines whether a rollover is deadly or survivable. Most fatalities occur when an occupant is thrown from the vehicle during a rollover accident.
If you are thrown from your vehicle during a rollover accident, you have no protection against catastrophic or fatal injuries. The vehicle could land on top of you, or you could land on the hard pavement or dirt and suffer fatal injuries.
Seat belts are the best defense against a potentially deadly vehicle ejection. When you wear a seat belt, they help hold you in place during any type of accident. You might have an open window or a door that flings open during a violent rollover or collision. The seat belt could keep you within the confines of the relatively safe passenger cabin.
Passenger cabins in virtually all vehicles are designed to protect occupants against injuries. They are like a safe room inside your vehicle. However, if you do not wear a seat belt, the cabin cannot protect you as well as intended.
Side curtain airbags also help prevent ejections from vehicles during rollover accidents. There are many advancements that help protect against injuries suffered in rollover collisions. However, a negligent motorist still could cause you to suffer serious injuries in a rollover accident. If you have injuries because of a negligent driver, you should speak with a lawyer for assistance.
Hazlet Car Accident Lawyers at Mikita & Roccanova Help Hold At-Fault Parties Liable in Rollover Collision Cases
If you have injuries because of a rollover collision, one of our Hazlet car accident lawyers at Mikita & Roccanova can help. Call us at 732-705-3363 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. From our offices in Hazlet and Highland Park, New Jersey, we proudly assist clients in Ocean County, Sussex County, Neptune, Middlesex County, and Pennsylvania.