A quick look at www.safercar.gov sheds lights on the significant dangers of “rollover” automobile accidents, information particularly relevant for Nevada drivers, especially those who do a lot of driving in the mountains or on rural roads.
Rollovers are not the most common type of automobile accident, but they often cause the most serious injuries. While rollovers account for only 3% of accidents, nearly 33% of fatalities in passenger vehicle accidents are caused by rollovers.
In 2002, over 10,000 people died in rollovers. Of those 10,000, 72% were not wearing seatbelts.
What Causes Rollovers?
SUVs have a reputation for causing rollover accidents, and with reason. The taller and narrower a vehicle, the more likely it is to rollover. SUVs, pickup trucks, and vans fit this description.
However, vehicle type is not the only factor leading to rollover accidents. All vehicles can rollover, and driving behavior plays the largest factor. 85% of rollover fatalities were single vehicle accidents.
Speeding: 40% of fatal rollovers involved excessive speeding, and almost 75% of fatal rollovers occurred in speed zones of 55 mph or greater.
Alcohol: Nearly 50% of fatal rollovers involve alcohol.
Rural roads: Rollovers are more common on rural roads, especially those with a speed limit of 55 mph or greater.
Minimizing Your Risk
The site lists some tips to minimize the risk of rollover and minimizing injury:
MAINTAIN YOUR TIRES
Improperly inflated and worn tires can be especially dangerous because they inhibit your ability to maintain vehicle control, the most important factor in reducing the chance of rollover. Worn tires may cause the vehicle to slide sideways on wet or slippery pavement, sliding the vehicle off the road and increasing its risk of rolling over. Improper inflation can accelerate tire wear, and can even lead to tire failure. It is important to maintain your tires properly, and replace them when necessary.
LOAD VEHICLES PROPERLY
Consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual to determine the maximum safe load for your vehicle, as well as proper load distribution. If you’re using a roof rack, pay special attention to the manufacturer’s instructions and weight limits. Any load placed on the roof will be above the vehicle’s center of gravity, and will increase the vehicle’s likelihood of rolling over.
AVOID PANIC-LIKE STEERING
Many rollovers occur when drivers overcorrect their steering as a panic reaction to an emergency–or even to a wheel going off the pavement’s edge. At highway speeds, overcorrecting or excessive steering can cause the driver to lose control, which can force the vehicle to slide sideways and roll over.
For more information, check out www.safercar.com
Steve is the Managing Shareholder of Steven J. Klearman & Associates, a civil litigation law firm located in Reno, Nevada. He practices primarily in the areas of civil litigation and injury law, and has authored one of the definitive guides to Nevada civil law that is widely used by Nevada judges and attorneys, his book entitled Elements of Nevada Legal Theories.