Drivers and owners of SUVs should be aware that the growing popularity of those popular SUV model vehicles also has unveiled new and dangerous problems. SUVs are more prone to rollover accidents because of their shape. Rollover accidents are more likely to result in fatalities than other types of single vehicle crashes. Rollover accidents that involved SUVs from 1991 to 2002 more than doubled, which is a rate higher than that of other classes of light trucks.
SUV Rollover Accidents
Safety in an SUV has two areas of concern. First, in an accident, the SUVs are more likely to tip and rollover, which can result in fatalities. Secondly, when the SUVs are involved in accidents with smaller vehicles, they are more likely to cause fatalities to occupants of the other vehicle.
Part of this issue is design of the SUV. Compared to other types of larger vehicles like sedans and station wagons, the center of gravity is higher in an SUV. They also can carry more weight. When they are loaded with extra weight of passengers, equipment and luggage, it causes the SUV to become less stable than other types of vehicles, due to their higher center of gravity. This makes tipping over happen more easily with the SUV.
- Accident Rates – Fatalities occur most often in single-vehicle rollover accidents, totaling about one-quarter of all deaths each year. In the year 2000, SUV rollover accidents had the highest percentage of fatalities, 36 percent, compared to pickups (24 percent), vans (19 percent) and cars (15 percent). SUVs took the lead in rollover rates as well, at 12 percent, compared to pickups (12 percent), vans (4 percent) and cars (3 percent).
- Fatalities – During 1999, SUV rollovers accounted for 63 percent of all deaths. Estimates for the year 2002 projected that 70,000 rollover accidents involving SUVs would happen, and that 2000 persons would did in those accidents. In recent years, those predictions were far less than actual events. Fatality rates in 2014 SUV accidents were reported to be 4,097, slightly down from the highest rate of 4,973 in 2006.
- Product Issues – The design and weight distribution of SUV models affects their overall accident and fatality rates. Because they have a high center of gravity, SUVs are more prone to rollovers. They can easily flip when they hit a guardrail, run off the road, down a steep slope, or when they are hit by other vehicles. When they do rollover, a roof crush is likely because most of the weight is then above the roof.
- Collisions – While SUVs do offer their own occupants better protection from collisions with other vehicles, due to their size and weight, when an SUV hits another vehicle, it is more likely to cause fatalities to the occupants of that other vehicle. For example, the Ford Explorer is reported to be 16 times more likely to kill occupants of another vehicle than would a typical car. Other equipment failures may be harmful to SUV occupants. Tire, brake or airbag failures can result in accidents that cause loss of control and harm to drivers and passengers.
- Safety Issues – SUVs are a sporty vehicle, and they are popular with many families because they can hold passengers and a good amount of cargo. Safety issues that have been noted in SUV vehicle crashes include lack of seat belt use, excessive speeding and drivers that are intoxicated.
SUV – Safe Driving Practices
Recent SUV fatality rates are going down from a peak in 2006, when 4,973 passengers and 3,347 drivers of SUVs died. In 2014, 4,097 passengers and 2,939 drivers were killed in SUV accidents. Safe driving practices are the best way to avoid becoming part of these statistics. SUV drivers and passengers should always follow these safe driving practices:
- Wear seatbelts
- Do not speed; avoid conditions that could create loss of control
- Do not drink our use drugs and drive, or drive when you are tired
- Use extra caution on rural roads
- Do not panic-steer if your SUV does go off the roadway
- Maintain tires for maximum safety and replace when necessary
- Load weight in the SUV properly
Weight and SUV Rollover Accidents
SUVs have a design that is different from other vehicles. The center of gravity is higher, as the vehicle is generally taller and longer than a typical car or pickup truck. Even smaller sized SUVs have this type of design. Most of the weight of an SUV is below the center of gravity, so when it tips even slightly, the vehicle is likely to rollover or up on two wheels. This instability can panic a driver and they may overcompensate with quick steering, thus causing additional stress on the wheels and it could lead to a rollover. When drivers have a high BAC from drinking or drugs, they are more likely to panic and fail in their attempts to get the SUV under control.
SUVs are often used for vacationing or travel that also involves carrying extra passengers and/or addition weight of luggage or equipment. This also adds to the weight of the vehicle. While passengers and drivers have more protection in an SUV in a front or side collision, any time the SUV tips and rolls on its side or top, that extra weight can cause more harm to the driver and passengers. An SUV rollover accident may also cause roof crushing, due to the force of the tipped over weight above it. This can easily cause fatalities to occupants. When passengers neglect to wear their seatbelts, they also may be ejected from the vehicle and thrown into other objects or vehicles, or become trapped or crushed in the rollover of the SUV.
Personal Injury Attorney
Many vehicle accidents result in legal action by those who are harmed or by survivors of people killed in accidents due to negligence or product failures. An experienced Personal Injury Attorney knows how to investigate and gather the evidence needed to build a strong case and to help you deal with insurance companies and the court system. If you or a loved one has been in an SUV accident, there may be options for pursuit of fair compensation for injury and damage claims.
Rollover SUV accidents can cause great personal injury and property damage. You may be able to recover monetary compensation for expenses like work loss, medical care and some property damage claims. Consult with our Personal Injury Attorney to determine what course of legal action will bring you best results. When injury is caused by negligent behavior or product defects, this is your best method to obtain justice. Call today to arrange a free consultation.