By Marcus Fernandez
Any type of car accident can cause serious personal injuries to drivers, passengers and pedestrians. However, rollover accidents seem to be particularly deadly according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. While rollover crashes account for only 2.1% of the car, SUV, van and pickup collisions occurring throughout the United States, they are the cause of 35% of the fatalities. Consider what this means in Florida where the latest crash data reveals almost 402,000 roadway accidents annually that resulted in 3,185 fatalities.
Rollover accidents happen when a collision with another vehicle, contact with a curb or other object, or external forces, such as gravity, cause a car to roll over. It is a simple description of what is, in reality, a very complex event that may be caused by multiple factors. For example, a car may be subjected to lateral forces when a distracted driver suddenly changes lanes at high speed to avoid crashing into another vehicle. Those forces may result in a loss of control over the car and a rollover crash.
Most rollover accidents involve only one vehicle, which appears to point toward the driver as a contributing factor in causing them. Here are some tips to reduce the risk of being involved in a rollover accident.
Choose a vehicle with a low center of gravity
When shopping for a car, choosing one with a low center of gravity may reduce the risk of a rollover. Any vehicle may, given the right circumstances, roll over. However, vehicles that are tall and narrow have a higher center of gravity that make them likely rollover candidates. For example, SUVs have a higher center of gravity. Make sure to do your research before purchasing a new car.
Slow down for turns and curves
Making a turn or rounding a sharp curve at a high speed subjects a car to powerful forces that could make it unstable, which, in turn, may cause it to roll over. Slow down for turns and curved, winding roads to avoid a crash.
Pay attention to traffic and road conditions
The forces that may cause a fast-moving car to become unstable in a turn may also affect it when a driver must make a sudden maneuver to avoid a collision. Tailgating, talking on the phone and texting while driving may take your attention away from the road and force you to suddenly change lanes or swerve to avoid crashing into other vehicles or obstructions in the road.
Try not to panic and overreact in emergency circumstances. Oversteering can cause you to lose control of your car and cause it to roll over.
Avoid driving on the shoulder of the road
Uneven surfaces, sand, ruts and rocks may cause your car to tip or lean to one side and cause it to flip over. Some roadway shoulders drop off into steep slopes that may cause your car to become unstable and roll over. If you must pull onto the shoulder of the road, pay attention for surfaces that may create an unsafe situation.
Check the condition of your tires
Something as simple as checking the air pressure in the tires of your car may prevent a rollover accident. Too much or too little air in its tires may cause a blowout. Tire failure at high speeds can destabilize a car and cause a rollover crash. Check the tread on the tires for wear and replace them as needed.
Have your car serviced regularly
Most cars have electronic stability control (ESC) systems to help prevent rollover accidents. Have the ESC, steering, brakes and other mechanical systems serviced to ensure they will function properly to prevent an accident.
Wear seat belts and shoulder harness
Of the people who lost their lives in rollover accidents, more than two-thirds of them were not wearing seatbelts or shoulder harnesses. Children should be in car seats or boosters as recommended for their age.
Be careful when loading your car
The roof of your car, even with a roof rack, is not the safest place to carry heavy objects. Doing so may make the car unstable and difficult to control in an emergency or around turns. Just because something fits on the roof of your car does not make it safe.
Check the owner’s manual that came with your vehicle for the maximum recommended load. Avoid putting heavy objects in the trunk, which add to stability issues. Instead, put heavy loads in the center of the car preferably in the rear floor area rather than the roof or the trunk.
Get advice from a personal injury attorney
You may be entitled to recover compensation for injuries suffered in rollover accidents. A consultation with a Tampa personal injury attorney may offer options for pursuing a claim against a negligent party. Call to speak to an experienced Kinney, Fernandez, and Boire Lawyer or fill out this form to get a free case evaluation.