Why Do SUV’s Rollover
Rollovers can happen in any type of vehicle. However, sport utility vehicles (SUV’s), because of their higher centers of gravity, have been shown to be particularly vulnerable to such crashes. SUV’s are typically narrower and higher off the ground than other vehicles, making them top heavy and more prone to rollover accidents.
In a Frontline piece on SUVs and rollover accidents, it was noted that SUVs were involved in 36 percent of fatal rollovers. Pickup trucks accounted for 24 percent of the deadly accidents, and vans were involved in 19 percent. Cars were involved in 15 percent of all fatal rollover accidents that year.
Most reported rollover SUV crashes are the result of the vehicle running off the road. Poor weather conditions, speeding, uneven pavement, poorly maintained roads, or other hazards often cause SUV’s to fishtail. As the driver overcorrects the steering, many vehicles will run off the roadway and rollover.
Unnecessary Rollover Accidents are Often Profit Driven
Car manufacturers are always faced with the decision of how much safety testing is required to protect the public. In addition, selling their vehicles for a profit requires a safe vehicle design to prevent unnecessary injury to consumers. However, the desire to increase shareholder profit often cuts safety design and testing short, resulting in the sale of unnecessarily dangerous vehicles.
Sport utility vehicles represent a class of vehicles that receive countless complaints from rollover accidents. SUV rollover accidents unnecessarily cause more than 10,000 deaths each year. If you have been injured or lost a loved one in an SUV rollover crash, you are entitled to reimbursement for your harms and losses.
SUV Rollover Safety Standards
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducts on-road rollover tests on most new sport utility vehicles, minivans and pickup trucks. These tests are designed to put the vehicle through various handling maneuvers in order to develop a Rollover Rating for the vehicle.
Due to increasing rollover injuries and deaths, a federal rule was enacted which requires that all cars built after Sept. 1, 2011, must incorporate anti-rollover technology. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently revealed that this technology, known as electronic stability control, reduces the risk of a fatal crash by 18 percent.
The 2011 rule is long overdue. In 2007, the NHTSA finalized the regulation requiring stability-control technology in vehicles: By 2008, 55 percent of the new vehicles made were required to have anti-rollover technology. In 2009, more than 80 percent of vehicles but less than 50 percent of light trucks had electronic stability control. By September 2010, 90 percent of all vehicles were required to have the technology. Finally, in 2011, the rules was extended to all vehicles.
Electronic stability control monitors several factors that predict excessive speed and loss of traction. If indications of a crash are imminent, the stability control applies the brakes in such a way as to prevent fishtailing or overcorrection.
The NHTSA’s studies have found that the new technology saves lives and helps prevent rollover accidents, but this doesn’t mean that dangerously designed SUVs have been taken off the road — only that some new vehicles are statistically safer.
The mandate for anti-rollover technology is good news for drivers of new cars and will undoubtedly help reduce the number of yearly traffic injuries and deaths. There are unfortunately still plenty of sport utility vehicles and other cars on the road that are at high risk of rollover.
Ford and Firestone Rollover Accidents
The Ford Explorer is an extremely prevalent SUV. The Ford Explorer has been for sale on the market in the United States since 1990. Internal documents from Ford show that their engineers recommended various changes to the vehicles to prevent rollovers prior to its market introduction. However, other than minor adjustments, no changes were made and they instead attempted to remove air from their tires to fix the problem. As a result, tread separation resulted in rollover accidents. Because the Ford Explorer was sold with Firestone tires, Ford and Firestone have long blamed each other for the problems.
Hundreds of deaths have been blamed on the instability of the Ford Explorer from its defective design. In addition, similar vehicles, such as the Ford Bronco, Mazda Navajo and Mercury Mountaineer have faced similar ongoing complaints. Toyota has also recalled the Sienna and Lexus GX460 for rollover dangers.
Rollover Accidents Often Cause Roof Crush Deaths
A rollover crash often results in extreme forces to the roof of a vehicle when it rolls. Historically, auto manufacturers conducted little safety testing to the roof of SUV’s prior to their sale. As a result of inadequate testing and improper roof strength, numerous people have unnecessarily lost their lives.
Prior to 2009, auto makers were only required to perform one roof strenght test. That test required a force be applied to the edge of one side of the roof while stationary. The vehicle was required to withstand 1.5x the vehicle weight, up to a max of 5,000 ponds. Larger vehicles were often exempted from this testing.
However, in 2009 the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard was revised. The new rule requires vehicles that weigh 6,000 pounds or less to withstand a force equal to 3x vehicle weight. The new roof crush rule also requires the force to be applied alternatively to both sides of the roof. In the test, the roof cannot move so much that it would come into contact with a medium male test dummy.
How to Prevent a Rollover Accident
There are several safety measures which will help reduce a rollover crash. While these safety measures will not eliminate the hazard from a dangerously designed SUV, they will help reduce the risk of a vehicle rolling over for other reasons.
- Watch your speed, especially when turning.
- Wear your seat belt.
- Evenly distribute the load when carrying cargo or numerous passengers.
- Check your tires to ensure proper pressure and safe tire treads.
- Pay extra attention on country roads due to the many bends and curves.
- Newer SUV’s are showing better safety ratings than older SUV’s.
How to Hire a Rollover Lawyer
If you have been injured in a rollover crash or roof crush accident, or lost a loved one from a similar tragic event, it is important to hire an attorney as soon as possible. The vehicle involved must be preserved for expert inspection. If the vehicle is taken to a junk yard and destroyed, determining the cause of the crash is nearly impossible.
Our rollover lawyers are available to discuss your case for FREE. We operate on a contingent fee basis. This means there is no cost to you unless we successfully recover reimbursement for your harms and losses. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling (855) 402-7274, or (314) 409-7060.