A higher center of gravity makes SUV’s, trucks and minivans more prone to rollover accidents than typical cars. According to the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), more than 280,000 rollover accidents are reported each year and claim over 10,000 lives annually. Of the nearly 9.1 million passenger cars, SUV, pickup and van crashes in 2010, only 2.1% involved a rollover but rollovers accounted for nearly 35% of all deaths from passenger vehicle crashes.
What Causes Rollover Accidents?
The direct correlation to rollover accidents is the stability of the vehicle in turns. The relationship between the center of gravity and the track width (distance between the left and right wheels) influences the stability of the vehicle. A vehicle becomes more unstable when a high center of gravity and a narrow track come together. The vehicle is more unstable during fast turns or sharp changes in direction. The odds for a rollover increase when the vehicle starts to skid sideways and starts to tip over. Rollover accidents are more pronounced in SUV’s and 4-wheel-drive pickup trucks because they have a ground clearance that is higher for driving off-road. Rollover accidents occur with drivers that are males under the age of 25 and alcohol is almost always involved. These accidents occur mostly on weekend nights. To add to the that, three out of four of rollover accidents that are fatal have victims ejected from the vehicle, which leads to the assumption the were not wearing a seatbelt. While there isn’t a federal rollover standard for cars and trucks, more and more vehicles are equipped with roll-stability control systems to prevent rollover accidents. The NHTSA introduced a rollover rating system in 2001 to help predict the likelihood that a vehicle will overturn in single-vehicle accidents. The rating system is reported on a five-star system. An engineering analysis is done on a vehicle’s center of gravity and the width between the front tires. These results are compared with accident reports for verification. A vehicle with a 5 -star rating means that the vehicle has a rollover risk of less than 10 percent and a one-star rating indicates a greater than 40 percent rick of a rollover.
Preventing Rollover Accidents
There are things you can do to lower the chances you’ll be in a rollover accident that could be deadly.
1. Choose a vehicle that has a low center of gravity and stable base. Cars that are lower to the ground are more stable.
2. Wear a seat belt and make sure all the passengers do too. This is a no brainer when it comes to safety.
3. Slow down when you are turning. Driving too quickly in a turn increase the chances for a rollover.
4. Drive according to the road conditions. Slow down when road conditions are bad to avoid an accident.
5. Make sure tires are balanced. Unbalanced air pressure can make you vehicle unstable so check them on a regular basis.
6. Don’t drink and drive. Another no brainer. Intoxication makes you a more erratic driver and more likely to get into an accident.