What Causes Vehicles to Roll Over, and How to Avoid It

Any type of car accident can be potentially deadly, but vehicle rollovers are among the most dangerous. While they are relatively rare, accounting for only about three percent of all crashes, they account for about 30% of people who are killed while riding a vehicle. Many people believe that rollovers only affect SUVs and large vans, but a rollover can happen in any vehicle under the right circumstances.

How it Happens

As we said above, any vehicle can roll over but these types of crashes are much more common to tall, narrow vehicles like SUVs, vans, and trucks because these vehicles have higher centers of gravity than sedans and coupes. Rollovers are most common in turns because what happens when a car rolls over is essentially a pendulum effect. When a car makes a turn, sideways forces shift the center of gravity to one side. The faster you’re driving, the stronger these forces are. If these forces become too strong, they can cause a vehicle to roll over.

A few specific factors that can go into a rollover crash include:

  • Speed: Because speed affects the lateral forces at work on your car, driving in excess of the speed limit can play a big role. Roughly 40% of rollover crashes involved excessive speeding.
  • Alcohol: Nearly half of all fatal rollover crashes involve alcohol.
  • Location: Rollover crashes are most common on roads that are undivided, lack barriers, and have posted speed limits of 55 miles per hour or over, such as in rural areas. Almost 75% of fatal rollovers occur in these areas.
  • Routine driving: The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration found that over 90% of vehicles in fatal rollover crashes were involved in routing driving maneuvers, such as going straight or making a turn. This suggests that driver distraction, speeding, and impaired driving play a significant role in rollover crashes.

How to Avoid Them

Fortunately for drivers, there are things that you can do to avoid a rollover accident. These include the following:

  • Drive the speed limit: Driving in excess of the posted speed limit demands more driver attention and skill and greatly enhances the risk of rolling over
  • Check your tires: Make sure the tires of your vehicle are in good shape. Worn tires do not grip the road as securely as new tires, making rollovers more likely.
  • Watch your load: Overloading a vehicle, especially SUVs and pickup trucks, decreases the stability of the vehicle and shifts the center of gravity, especially if you’re storing anything on the roof of the vehicle. Stay within the load ratings of your vehicle’s manufacturer and store the heaviest cargo on the floor and as close to the center of the vehicle as possible.
  • Beware of country roads: Because the vast majority of rollovers occur on rural roads, pay extra attention to driving in these environments
  • Wear a seat belt: This goes without saying. About 75% of rollover crash fatalities occur when an occupant is thrown from the vehicle.

Contact an Atlanta Auto Accident Attorney Today for a Free Case Evaluation

If you’ve been involved in a rollover accident and suffered injuries, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the attorneys at Slappey & Sadd for a free consultation to discuss your case by calling 404.255.6677. We serve the entire state of Georgia, including the following locations: Fulton County, Cobb County, Gwinnett County, and DeKalb County.

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