What You Need to Know About Rollover Accidents

More than 30,000 Americans are killed in automotive accidents each year, a staggering number that has actually decreased dramatically over the years. Indeed, traffic fatality rates peaked at 54,589 in 1972, but fell to 32,367 some 40 years later, attributed to cars that are better built and equipped with safety features such as airbags. However, one accident category still averages 10,000 deaths per year. That would be rollover accidents, what the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says can be prevented by keeping in mind the following information.

Rural Highways Are Deadly

Approximately 75 percent of rollover deaths are due to accidents on rural highways. These roads are typically two lanes, with no center divider, and usually without side barriers. When cars leave such roads, ditches or soft soil can cause vehicles to flip, injuring or killing the occupants. If you get in an accident, the reach out to a personal injury attorney, such as the Joye Law Firm for assistance.

You can prevent rural road accidents by maintaining your speed, slowing down when road conditions are less than ideal, maintaining enough distance between vehicles in front and behind you, and remaining alert to possible deer strikes and other motorists that may not see you coming.

Tires and Load Factors Matter

When was the last time that you checked your tires? Tires should be properly inflated, rotated on a regular basis and should be replaced when the built-in tread wear indicators begin to appear in the grooves of your tires.

You should also know that your vehicle should never be overloaded. Every car, truck, van, and SUV has a payload rating, which is the amount of weight over and above the car’s vehicle weight that it can carry. For instance, if your sedan has a payload of 1,610 pounds, then the weight of the passengers, luggage and other materials must come in below that number. Your tires may have a higher payload rating, but more weight means a greater chance of a blowout, one that can lead to a rollover accident.

Steering and Maneuvering

If your car runs off the road, the way you react can have a profound impact on whether your vehicle stays upright or flips over. Drivers tend to overcorrect their steering, a panicked response with deadly consequences.

The NHTSA advises drivers when leaving the road to gradually reduce their speed and begin steering the vehicle back to the road. Reduce your speed by tapping the brakes, then carefully moving back to the road when you have control of the car. With proper maneuvering, you can avoid a rollover.

Safety Considerations

There are additional safety and logistical matters that drivers should consider before heading out on the road.

First, always wear your seat belt. If you are not secure in your seat, then you may not be able to control your vehicle.

Second, load your vehicle with care. Evenly space goods in your trunk and if you are carrying heavy materials in your truck bed, tie these down. A sudden shift in weight can cause a rollover where one might not happen in the first place.

Third, understand that rollover risk increases in vehicles with a higher center point of gravity. SUVs and pickup trucks plus cars with items stored on the roof rack fall under this category.

Fourth, never drive when you are fatigued or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Taking to the road when you are anything less than sharp can contribute to an accident including a rollover.

Death by rollover may be exacerbated on rural roads where help is not nearby. Even the best driver can find himself battling to get his car under control, therefore remaining calm can help you avoid a deadly accident.

See AlsoIIHS Crash Testing and Your Insurance Premiums

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Author: Matthew Keegan
Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.