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Vehicle Rollovers

Frequently Asked Questions about Vehicle Rollovers

Q: Are SUVs more prone to rollovers than passenger cars?

A: SUVs, while they appear to be quite sturdy and can make their drivers feel powerful, are more vulnerable to rollovers than smaller passenger cars. This is because most SUVs have higher centers of gravity and narrower track widths. Forty percent of Americans believe, however, that SUVs are safer than passenger cars.

Q: How do SUVs fare in other types of crashes?

A: In head-on and side-impact crashes, SUVs are safer than passenger cars — for the occupants of the SUVs. The people in the smaller cars, however, often suffer more severe injuries than if the collision had been between two passenger cars.

Q: Why are vehicle rollovers a serious problem?

A: Vehicle rollovers are a serious problem because of the disproportionate injuries they cause to drivers and passengers. They have the highest fatality rate of any type of vehicle crash. The roofs of many vehicles are not properly designed to withstand the force of a rollover crash.

Q: What can a driver do to reduce the risk of rollovers?

A: Take curves at a reasonable speed. Be aware of dangerous driving conditions like ice, and be prepared to react calmly if other drivers behave erratically; do not turn the wheel suddenly. If you are driving an SUV, keep in mind that its center of gravity is probably higher than that of a passenger car; in addition, SUVs take longer to stop. Make sure that if your vehicle is carrying a heavy load, the load is secured and spread evenly. Keep your tires properly inflated and replace them when they are worn. As always, do not drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs or if you are drowsy. And, of course, it is best to wear your seat belt for your protection.

Q: What does the NHTSA's rollover resistance rating mean?

A: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) rates SUVs based on a static stability factor (SSF), which measures the center of gravity of the vehicle, and a dynamic maneuvering rollover test, which measures whether the vehicle's wheels lift during an emergency maneuver. SUVs are given a rating between one and five stars; a one-star SUV is four times more likely than a five-star SUV to roll over during a single-vehicle crash.

Q: What should I do if I have been in a rollover accident?

A: The first priority is to get the medical help you need. Keep in mind that the vehicle involved in the crash will be crucial evidence, so it is of the utmost importance to ensure that it is not destroyed or discarded. Contact an attorney who can advise you of your rights and options right away.

Q: When did SUVs become so popular in the US?

A: The popularity of SUVs boomed in the 1990s, although they had been around for decades. SUVs were originally designed for off-road use, however, and some of them have not been properly adapted for city and highway driving. Their size and power can create a false sense of security in drivers, but they are more prone to rollover accidents than passenger cars, and the occupants are vulnerable to serious or fatal injuries during such accidents.

Q: Even if I think the rollover accident was my fault, can I take legal action against the vehicle manufacturer?

A: It depends; every case is different. Vehicles are supposed to be designed for the possibility of accidents, and that means that they should protect their occupants to a reasonable degree when a crash or rollover occurs. An attorney can advise you of your rights in your particular situation.

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