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Rollover crashes are relatively rare when compared to the total number of vehicle crashes, but are extremely deadly. In fact, they account for about 30 percent of deaths from crashes.
There are an endless number of factors that could contribute to rollover accidents, but here are a few of the most common causes.
The risk of rollover crashes is heavily influenced by the shape of the vehicle. Taller, narrower vehicles tend to tip over more easily. Think about the difference between tipping over a tall, skinny drinking glass compared with a short, stocky glass. The tall, skinny glass is much more easily tipped. The same is true for taller, more narrow vehicles such as SUVs or pickup trucks. They are generally more quickly pushed to their limit and tipped than a shorter sedan. This does not mean that shorter vehicles cannot rollover. All vehicles are at risk, but taller, narrower vehicles are more likely to roll over.
Speed is a huge factor in many rollover crashes. About 40 percent of fatal rollover crashes involve speeding. As was stated above, all types of vehicles can be involved in a rollover crash, but all types can be safe. This difference almost completely depends on the behavior of the driver. Excessive speeding in any vehicle, but especially a taller, narrower vehicle, can quickly cause it to roll over. In fact, almost 75 percent of fatal rollover crashes occurred in speed zones of 55 miles per hour or more.
Rural roads are the site of many rollover accidents due to the lack of medians and guardrails. One of the most common scenarios occurs when a vehicle begins to leave the road, then, because of the lack of guardrails or other barriers, rolls down into a deep ditch or down a hill. Another factor occurring on many rural roads is higher speed limits. These roads are not as equipped for high speeds as roads such as interstates or freeways, but their speed limits are often 55 miles per hour. That, in addition to the sharp curves and steep hills that are common on rural roads, is a major cause for rollover accidents on higher-speed rural roads.
Alcohol is often a factor in many crashes, and rollovers are no exception. Any amount of alcohol in the blood can negatively affect a driver’s performance. It specifically affects judgment, reaction time, and coordination, which all contribute to the likelihood of a rollover crash. For instance, if an intoxicated driver needs to slow down to go around a sharp curve, but realizes it too late or uses poor judgment, the curve will be made at a higher speed which could result in a rollover crash.
About 85 percent of rollover crashes only involved one vehicle and routine driving conditions. In other words, abnormal or dangerous circumstances were not usually involved, such as weather or poor health of the driver. This means that most of these crashes were caused by the behavior of the driver. Either the driver was distracted, intoxicated, speeding, or something else that would cause unsafe driving.
Rollover crashes cannot always be prevented, but their likelihood can be greatly reduced. While having a shorter vehicle can help to avoid rollover crashes, it is not completely necessary. Safe driving by simply knowing and avoiding the common causes of these crashes can help to avoid these accidents.
Reduce speed. When in doubt, and especially when driving a vehicle prone to rolling over, slow down. In some cases, it may be necessary to drive below the speed limit. This is especially true on rural roads that are curvy and steep. This will greatly increase the stability of the vehicle when making turns and going around curves.
Never drink and drive. This is a cliché, but is so true. Drinking and driving do not mix. Another cliché, buzzed driving is drunk driving, is also true. In fact, Recovery Worldwide reports that a blood alcohol content of just 0.02 (far below the legal limit of 0.08) results in “Lack of judgment, increased relaxation, slightly increased body temperature, mood swings, decreased visual functionality, [and] inability to multi-task.” Just slight impairment can result in a devastating end.
Focus on driving. When you are driving, the most important thing you are doing is driving. Do not allow distractions in the vehicle. Silence the phone, if needed, but do not operate it while driving. Also, focus on driving safely, not on trying to reach your destination on time. Cover the clock if necessary, but trying to drive too quickly can easily result in rollover accidents. You may be late for an important meeting or your child may be late for school, but it is much better than potential injury or even death.
Rollover accidents are very deadly, but they can usually be prevented. Basically, all the tips to avoid rollover accidents can be summed up in knowing and practicing safe driving habits. Don’t drive while intoxicated, don’t rush, and use good judgment.
However, not all rollover crashes can be prevented. The good news is that car companies are greatly improving their vehicles to protect drivers and passengers in a rollover crash. This is especially true in SUVs. A lot more SUVs have been purchased in the last few years, so this is particularly crucial.
Although there have been advances in rollover protection, don’t use it as an excuse for risky driving. Crashes can always be fatal, so do everything in your power to prevent them. It is the best way to keep you and your family safe, no matter what type of vehicle you drive.
If you have been involved in a rollover crash in West Virginia and have questions or need legal help, don’t hesitate to contact our office today. 304.594.1800
Robinette Legal Group PLLC 211 Everhart Dr, Ste 200 Morgantown, WV 26508 (304) 594-1800
Consumer Reports https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2012/02/rollover-101/index.htm
Recovery Worldwide https://www.alcoholrehabguide.org/alcohol/crimes/dui/