A rollover is a type of vehicle accident in which a vehicle tips over onto its side or roof. Rollover accidents are complex crashes that are often extremely violent. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, rollover crashes account for nearly 33% of all deaths from passenger vehicle accidents, even though only about 2.1% of all passenger vehicle accidents result in a rollover. More than 280,000 rollover accidents are reported each year, resulting in the deaths of more than 10,000 people per year.
More than any other type of crash, rollovers are a result of the interaction of the driver, road, vehicle and other environmental factors. The following factors all contribute to the cause of a rollover accident:
- Vehicle type: Although all types of vehicles can rollover, taller, narrower vehicles such as SUVs, pickups, and vans have higher centers of gravity, making them more susceptible to rollovers when involved in a single-vehicle crash.
- Speed of the Vehicle: The speed of the vehicle can contribute to a rollover. Fatal rollover crashes are speed-related more often than fatal non-rollover crashes. Approximately 40% of fatal rollover crashes involve excessive speeding . Additionally, nearly three-fourths of fatal rollovers take place where the posted speed limit was 55 miles per hour or higher.
- Driver Alcohol Consumption: Nearly half of all fatal rollover crashes involve alcohol . Driving Impairment result from any blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above .00 . Even a small amount of alcohol can negatively affect the driver’s judgment, muscular coordination, and vision, making the driver more likely to lose control of the vehicle.
- Location of the Vehicle: Roads in rural locations are often undivided and without barriers protecting the vehicles from oncoming traffic. These types of roads are more likely to be the location of a fatal rollover.
- Routine Driving: NHTSA data has indicated that over 90 percent of the vehicles in fatal, single-vehicle rollover crashes are involved in routine driving maneuvers (going straight or negotiating a curve) at the time of the crash. This data may indicate that driver behavior, including being distracted, inattentiveness, speeding, and impaired driving) plays a significant role in rollover crashes.
- Single Vehicle Rollovers: NHTSA data shows that nearly 85 percent of all rollover-related fatalities are the result of single-vehicle crashes. This means that the majority of rollover crashes and fatalities do not involve any other vehicle other than the vehicle that rolled over. This data further suggests that driver behavior plays a large role in rollover crashes.
Surprisingly, the government has not mandated standards directly involving a vehicle rolling over. Instead, the government has issued a public-education program that rates rollover propensity. This education program does not necessarily mean it’s a performance standard, which would require some level of occupant protection when a rollover happens. To help predict which vehicles might have a greater likelihood to overturn in single-vehicle accidents, NHTSA introduced a rollover rating system in 2001. Reported on a five-star system, the rollover ratings are based on an engineering analysis of each vehicle’s center of gravity and the width between the front tires. Rather than performing testing on a moving vehicle, the government also relies on a “roof-crush” rule based on testing vehicles when they are stationary. Roof integrity is important, as a collapsing roof can kill or injure people whether or not the occupants are otherwise restrained. NHTSA has estimated that a collapsing roof causes around 600 deaths and injures about 900 people every year, even if wearing a seatbelt.
If you or a loved one has been hurt as a result of a rollover crash or other automobile-related accident, learn about your legal rights from an experienced New Orleans car accident attorney by filling out our free, no obligation case review form located on this website.