This morning, a young man named Austin Livesay, according to news reports, was driving his Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) along Interstate 70 when he drove off the road onto the shoulder, and as he moved the SUV back onto the highway somehow things went awry and the SUV tipped and rolled over several times. Luckily, Mr. Livesay escaped without serious harm.
Interstate 70 Rollover Reminds of Dangers of Rollover Crashes
However, this rollover today offers a great opportunity to shine some light on the real and continuing problem of rollover accidents in this country. And, unfortunately, many Americans are not as lucky as the Zionsville man who escaped his SUV rollover on Interstate 70 today with his life and non-life threatening injuries.
Risk of death in a rollover crash is 35%.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the risk of death in an accident that involves a rollover is a lot higher than other types of crashes. According to federal studies, rollover accidents are responsible for around 35% of deaths in passenger car accidents. Sadly, a high majority of these rollover victims died in a crash where they weren’t wearing a seat belt (69%).
There are some kinds of vehicles that are notorious for rollovers: for example, several years ago PBS’s Frontline reported that the Ford Explorer Sport Utility Vehicle was “…16 times as likely as the typical family car to kill occupants of another vehicle in a crash” and at that time, the Ford Explorer was the most popular SUV being sold.
Over the years, the risks of Pick Up Trucks, SUVs, and Minivans overall have become known as vehicles whose higher centers of gravity make them at a higher risk of rolling over while being driven on the road.
- Things like snow, ice, fog, and rain are weather hazards that can contribute to rollover accidents.
- How fast the vehicle is being driven can be a factor in a rollover crash. According to the Department of Transportation reports, over 40% of fatal rollover crashes happened when the driver was speeding, and 75% of rollovers where someone dies happened where the speed limit was 55 MPH or higher.
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol has been shown to be involved in almost half of rollover crashes in the United States.
- Rural roads are more dangerous for vehicles that are at risk of rollovers.
- NHTSA reports that almost all rollover deaths (90%+) in single vehicle rollover crashes happened not in complicated traffic situations but instead when the driver is handling routine driver tasks like driving along a curve in the road.
If you have a vehicle that is designed with a higher center of gravity — be it a minivan, a pickup truck, an Sport Utility Vehicle — then it’s important for you to remain wary and alert to the special dangers of driving these rollover prone vehicles. Wear your safety belt, don’t speed, and drive carefully in bad weather conditions.
Rollover Causes Outside the Driver’s Control
However, also be aware that driving these rollover- risky vehicles means that other factors outside of your control can put you at greater risk of rollover (and death). Hazards on the road, other drivers’ bad actions (like forcing you into soft soil on the shoulder of a rural road, for example), improper maintenance of rental vehicle (low tire pressure, etc.), can mean that the actions or negligence of other parties may result in a rollover crash.
Improper design of the vehicle or the tire itself can also cause rollover crashes.
In these instances, victims of rollovers and their families will have legal claims against those who have contributed to the accident and its tragic results. Serious personal injury and wrongful death damages will be available under state law for these rollover victims.
Be careful out there.