Are There Still Too Many Old SUVs On The Road?

Vehicles on US Roads Are Older Than Ever – Averaging 11.4 Years

In 2002, almost 11,000 people died in rollover accidents. of which 61 percent occurred in sport-utility vehicles. Due to its high center of gravity and the short distance between its right and left wheels, the vehicle is top heavy, causing it to be less stable. SUVs are becoming statistically safer according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, but the dangers are still present.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety announced in 2011 that modern SUVs were now the safest vehicle to drive due to changes in design by lowering the center of gravity and making the vehicle more stable. Driver death rates have dropped due to the installation of electronic stability control. One out of four new vehicles sold in the United States is an SUV, making it among the most popular types of vehicles.

A study conducted by IHSA revealed that the average age of light trucks and vehicles in operation in the United States has increased in the past year and are now older than ever. Mark Seng, global aftermath practice leader and director at IHSA recently said there has been a gradual increase in the age of vehicles on the road which can be attributed to factors such as the economy.

IHS projects the average age of vehicles will remain at 11.4 years through 2015 and then gradually rise to 11.7 years by 2019. It is clear from the founding of the research that many SUVs in operation in the country were manufactured before the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported in 2011 that SUVs were one of the safest vehicles. Dangerously designed sport-utility vehicles manufactured prior to 2011 are slowly being taken off the roadways.

On June 9, 2014, Samuel Vasquez from Fort Collins died in a 1999 Toyota SUV rollover accident on Red Mountain Granite Canyon Road near Fort Collins. The SUV overturned on a curve in the road and came to rest on its roof. Passenger Moriah Leclair of Fort Collins and driver Nathaniel Holt of Livermore suffered moderate injuries and were flown by helicopter to the Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland.

SUV Rollover Accidents

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration introduced a rollover rating system in 2001 to help predict which vehicles might have a greater chance to overturn in single-vehicle accidents. The ratings were based on an engineering analysis and police accident reports. The result for sport-utility vehicles was 1.0 to 1.3 out of a score of 5. Most rollover accidents happen when the SUV tripped on something such as a roadside shoulder or when it swerved into a curb. In a rollover accident, the roof of the vehicle often collapses inward and causes serious injuries such as spinal cord injury, brain injury and wrongful death.

According to Consumer Reports, as of 2009 SUV safety had improved and there were fewer driver fatalities. The new rule in 2009 specified that vehicles weighing 6,000 pounds should be able to withstand a force equal to three times its weight applied to the right and left sides of the roof. Heavier vehicles determining weight between six and ten thousand pounds need only to withstand 1.5 times its weight.

The president of Public Citizen, Joan Claybrook, says the revised roof-crush rules fail in several ways such as roofs should support about four times the vehicle weight and the safety belts do not prevent people from falling toward the roof. Many vehicles on the road today still lack adequate roof support.

Safety Measures to Prevent Rollover Accidents

Always respect road conditions and drive with caution. Snowy, wet or icy roads are often slick and a huge risk for rollovers. A rollover crash sometimes leads to serious injury. The hazard from a dangerously designed sport-utility vehicle cannot be eliminated by safety measures, but it can reduce the risk of accidents. It is important to distribute the load evenly when carrying a cargo.

When you are on country roads, ensure you slow down when approaching curves and bends. Ensure that all, passengers and driver, are wearing seatbelts. Keep a safe distance from other vehicles and be sure to give yourself enough room to react if drivers near you make sudden or unpredictable moves. Do not drink and drive. Making sharp turns and swerving between lanes often lead to a deadly rollover accident.

Dangerously designed sport-utility vehicles manufactured prior to 2011 have not been taken off the road. Considering a vehicle with a low center of gravity and stable base might not be a bad idea.

Christopher Dixon

Personal Injury Attorney at The Dixon Injury Firm
Christopher R. Dixon is the managing attorney and founder of The Dixon Injury Firm. The Dixon Injury Firm has helped injury victims recover over $35,000,000 through verdicts, settlements and judgments. Chris is recognized as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers Association, and among their Top 40 Under 40 Trial Attorneys. Recognized as a Lifetime Member of Million Dollar Advocates Forum, Chris aggressively fights for those injured through the careless, negligent and intentional conduct of others. Call today for a FREE consultation by calling 314-409-7060 or toll-free 855-402-7274.

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