While rollover crashes account for only about 2 percent of all auto accidents across the United States, they often result in victims suffering serious injuries or death. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 10,000 people die in rollover accidents each year in the United States.
For that reason alone, it’s important to know about this serious type of accident, and the most common factors contributing to them.
The 2 Types of Rollover Accidents
A rollover accident occurs when a vehicle tips onto its side or roof. Rollover crashes are scary and serious, and they have a much higher fatality rate than any other type of collision. Obviously a motor vehicle’s wheels are not supposed to leave the ground at any time, but when this does occur, the results can be devastating.
There are two types of rollover accidents: tripped and untripped rollovers. The more common type of rollover is a tripped rollover. This happens when a car is sliding sideways, or the tires hit a curb or crash into another vehicle and cause the car to tip over. The more rare type of rollover are untripped rollovers. This requires the vehicle’s inertia and gravity to push a car over with no outside force contributing. Untripped rollovers can occur when a vehicle goes through a curve too quickly or a load causes the center of gravity to shift.
Common Causes of Rollover Crashes
Nobody puts their keys in the engine of their car and expects to be involved in a rollover accident. But being aware of the contributing circumstances in these crashes and how to avoid them can go a long way toward keeping you and your family safe. While accidents will continue to occur every day in the United States, we believe many of these unfortunate crashes are preventable.
Here are the factors that contribute toward many rollovers:
- Speeding: Research has shown that approximately 40 percent of fatal rollover crashes are caused by excessive speed. Further, almost 75 percent of fatal rollovers took place on roads where the posted speed limit was 55 miles per hour or higher.
- Vehicle type: Some vehicles with a high center of gravity, specifically SUVs, minivans, and large trucks, are designed in a way that makes them susceptible to rollovers. These can happen in situations when other vehicles would not be at risk for rollovers.
- Overcorrection: When a driver makes a sudden move with the steering wheel, often at high speeds, a vehicle can find itself unstable and rollover.
- Tire defects: Tires that are worn out or defective have less grip with the road. Also, a tire blowout can result in a vehicle losing control and tipping over.
- Road conditions: Clear barriers and divisions on the road help prevent rollovers. So it should be no shock that almost 75 percent of fatal rollovers happen on rural roads.
Rollover crashes also frequently occur when a driver makes a mistake, choosing to get behind the wheel when they have no business doing so. Driver error is the most common cause of rollover accidents, which includes:
- Drowsy driving: Falling asleep behind the wheel is extremely dangerous. Drivers usually veer into another vehicle, a barrier, or off the roadway altogether, causing their vehicle to roll.
- Distracted driving: Texting, eating, or any behavior that takes a driver’s attention away from the road is negligent. In a matter of seconds a driver’s distracted behavior can lead to a rollover.
- Drunk driving: Alcohol causes drivers to lose alertness behind the wheel and gives them a slower reaction time. Drivers may even drive the wrong way and make errors that lead to fatal rollover wrecks.
- Drugged driving: As with drunk driving, drivers under the influence of drugs make poor decisions behind the wheel and are prone to rollover wrecks.
- Aggressive driving:
- Unsecured load: If a vehicle is loaded in an unsafe manner and the center of gravity is shifted, these preventable crashes could easily occur.
- Inexperience: Young drivers or those without proper training may make maneuvers with the wheel that can lead to rollovers.
Fallout from Rollover Crashes
When a vehicle rolls over, the forces involved can be deadly. A rollover crash means the vehicle is hitting the ground several times, while possibly being hit by another car. Passengers can be partially or totally ejected from the vehicle, especially if they are not wearing a seatbelt or the window is open.
Vehicles that rollover almost always cause injuries, many of which are serious and life-changing. Some of the common types of injuries in a rollover include:
By making sure that your vehicle is properly equipped, wearing your seatbelt at all times, and paying attention to the road, you can prevent almost all rollover crashes. However, if you do find yourself involved in a rollover, it is important to first get treatment, then worry about protecting your legal rights.
Your Legal Rights After a Rollover Crash
As you can see, rollover crashes can happen for a variety of reasons and the results are often catastrophic. Whether the rollover accident that injured you or killed someone that you love was caused by drowsy driving, a poorly secured load, or some other factor, you can protect your rights by speaking with a qualified Seattle personal injury attorney right away.
The knowledgeable Washington state attorneys at Davis Law Group, P.S., will sit down with you to learn about your case, explain your options, and help you decide how to proceed. To learn more, call us at (206) 727-4000 to schedule a time to discuss your case.