Vehicle rollover accidents

Vehicle rollover accidents occur when a vehicle flips over onto its side or roof, often caused by a sharp turn made at high speed. More than in other types of car accidents, rollover accidents involve the driver’s handling, the road and environmental factors that affect road conditions.

What are the causes of vehicle rollover accidents?

Supported by data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are six main factors that contribute to the risk of vehicle rollover accidents.

Type of vehicle

While any type of vehicle could be part of a vehicle rollover, SUVs, pickup trucks and vans are at increased risk because of their height and shape; they are taller and narrower than most other types of vehicles. The higher center of gravity that accompanies the height and shape puts these drivers and passengers at increased risk for a rollover accident if they are involved in a single-vehicle crash.

High speed

Approximately 40 percent of fatal rollover car accidents involve excessive speeding. Fatal rollover car crashes more often involve speeding than other types of fatal car accidents. Of particular note is that almost 75 percent of fatal rollovers took place on roadways with a posted speed limit of 55 miles per hour or higher.

Driving while intoxicated

Almost half of all fatal rollover crashes involve a drunk driver. Even a slight impairment can be enough to reduce muscle coordination and reflexes and blur vision, which increases the chance of losing control of your vehicle.

Rural roads

Roads with clear divisions and barriers help to decrease the risk of rollover accidents but rural roads tend not to have these safety measures. As a result, almost 75 percent of fatal rollovers happen on rural roads and in rural areas with a typically posted speed limit of 55 miles per hour or higher.

Routine driving

NHTSA data suggests that more than 90 percent of fatal, single-vehicle rollover crashes involved a driver doing routine driving maneuvers like driving straight ahead and taking a curve or turn in the road. From this finding we may be able to infer that driver behavior such as distracted or impaired driving, type of vehicle and road conditions play the biggest roles in the risk of rollover accidents.

Single-car crashes

According to NHTSA data, almost 85 percent of all rollover accident deaths are the direct result of single-vehicle crashes. What this means is that the vast majority of rollover accidents only involve one vehicle.

Rollover fatality statistics

Rollover accidents are scary and dangerous; they carry a higher fatality rate than other kinds of car accidents. On the bright side, rollover crashes are relatively rare: of the almost 9.1 million motor vehicle accidents that occurred in 2010, only 2.1 percent involved a rollover. The problem is that rollover accidents accounted for a disproportionate amount of deaths; a whopping 35 percent of all deaths from passenger vehicle crashes. In 2010 alone, over 7,600 people died in rollover crashes. It must be noted that 69 percent of these drivers/passengers were not wearing seat belts.

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