Sport Utility Vehicles, or “SUVs,” are popular modes of transportation that allow the driver to carry many passengers and haul items. Accidents most associated with SUVs are rollovers. The vehicle flips or rolls over onto its side or roof.
SUV rollover accidents are more severe than most other types of crashes. Indeed, rollover accidents account for about 35% of fatalities. 25% of theses deaths are occupants of cars and minivans, but jumps to 59% in Sport Utility Vehicles. Injury and fatality are more likely in SUV rollover accidents because they lead to partial or full ejection of passengers from the vehicle.
SUVs have a tendency to rollover due to their high center of gravity and ground clearance. Additional cargo and passengers will increase an SUV’s center of gravity making it more prone to flip over.
Most rollover accidents occur when a driver losses control and slides sideways then hits an obstacle like a guard rail, uneven pavement, or a curb. This causes the SUV to “trip” and rollover. Aggressive, fast turns can also cause rollover accidents.
SUVs have become safer to drive over the years. In 2001, the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) started giving vehicles rollover resistance ratings. This caused manufacturers to design newer models with better safety features.
Since 2012, all cars have to include electronic stability control (ESC). The system helps to prevent loss of control when skidding. It uses sensors, engine control modules, brakes, and a microcomputer. The computer monitors the driver’s steering and the vehicle’s response. If the vehicle leaves the intended line of travel, the system will apply break pressure and reduce speed to bring it back on track. Notably, the ESC reduces car accident fatalities by 49%. Above all, it reduces SUV rollover fatalities by 75%.
A study in 2008 found that stronger roofs greatly reduce injuries and fatalities in rollover accidents. The development of rollover sensor and side curtain shield airbag systems has helped to reduce the possibility of occupant ejection.
Safety belts remain one of the most effective ways to reduce injury and death in rollover accidents. Belts keep occupants from ejecting from the vehicle. In 2014, 66% of people who died did not wear a seat belt.
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