Rollovers occur whenever a vehicle flips onto its side or the roof, and they are a particularly deadly type of car accident. These accidents are relatively rare, but the fatality rate is higher for them than for other collisions, like sideswipes or fender benders. Many people suffer serious injuries in rollovers because they are not wearing a seatbelt and can be thrown from the vehicle or land on their necks. But rollovers are dangerous accidents even for those who are properly buckled up.
Many rollovers are caused by driver error, but sometimes a problem with the vehicle or the road can contribute to a crash. Below, our Virginia Beach auto accident lawyer highlights the 5 most common causes of rollovers.
Vehicles with a High Center of Gravity
Vehicles with a higher center of gravity are more prone to flipping over than others. You can visualize why. Imagine putting a baby in a highchair and having the child rock back and forth. The chair is inherently unstable because the center of gravity is so high. Now increase the length of the legs and the chair becomes even more likely to flip over after a sudden movement. The same is true of vehicles.
Consequently, SUVs, vans, and pickup trucks are more unstable because they are taller and narrower than the typical passenger sedan. There is good news, however. According to Consumer Reports, SUVs have improved their safety over the years. In fact, a 2012 report found that SUVs had improved the most and had lower fatality rates than all other vehicles.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drunk drivers were involved in about 50% of all fatal rollover accidents. This is not surprising. Intoxicated drivers are more prone to making errors of judgment. They also lack the coordination and the reflexes necessary to keep control of their vehicle, so they are more prone to leaving the road, where a vehicle can flip after “tripping” on soft soil or a guardrail.
Driving too fast is another common cause of rollover car accidents. According to NHTSA, about 40% of fatal rollovers also involved speeding. The faster a person is going, the more likely they are to lose control. This is also true if the person tries to take a corner while driving too fast. Taking corners while going uphill or downhill is especially dangerous and can cause a vehicle to flip.
A motorist who is not paying attention could drift into oncoming traffic or off the road entirely, where the vehicle could roll over if it is struck or goes onto the soft shoulder. Sometimes, a driver overcorrects, such as tugging on the wheel too hard, and this sudden movement could also contribute to a rollover. There are many sources of distraction today, but cell phones must be near the top. Drivers who are reading or sending texts will not see where they are going.
There is an interesting fact in the NHTSA data. About 3 out of 4 fatal rollovers happen on rural roads. Why? The government doesn’t offer any speculation, but we think it might be because there are fewer barriers on these roads that keep vehicles from sliding off. Rural roads also have higher speed limits, which increases the risks as mentioned above.
Contact a Virginia Car Accident Attorney
If you have been injured in a rollover accident, you might qualify for compensation. To learn more about your legal options, contact us today. You can meet with our lawyer at Barney Injury Law for a free consultation. We serve Virginia Beach including the Oceanfront, Chesapeake, and Norfolk, Virginia.