Any auto accident can be a traumatic event for those involved, but a rollover crash can be one of the more severe things that can happen to you on the road. While vehicle rollovers occur in only approximately 3 percent of all serious crashes, 33 percent of passenger deaths occur because of rollovers. Additionally, more than 10,000 people die a year in rollover crashes, according to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Rollovers can happen in any number of situations; however, there are some common traits that contribute to rollover accidents. Top-heavy models like SUVs, pickups and vans are more likely to roll as they have a higher center of gravity. In this situation, if the vehicle takes a turn too rapidly, when the lateral forces (side movement) increase with the speed and the rapid change of direction, the force kind of creates a pendulum effect, or a back and forth swing. This can lead to a loss of control of the vehicle with it tilting too far to one side and rolling over. However, usually a single-vehicle rollover occurs when the car runs over something like a curb, pothole, or a soft roadside shoulder, not from a sharp steering maneuver.
Additionally, tire grip plays an important part in rollovers. For example, too much tire grip on the road can allow for excessive sideways forces to build up until the vehicle flips over. Therefore, sliding is actually better than tipping over; however, sliding too can put the vehicle at risk of hitting something, like a curb, during the slide, and thus rolling anyway.
Common Injuries in a Rollover
According to a study in Orthopaedic Proceedings, which used statistics from the National Automotive Sampling System Database, during a rollover accident the five main areas of the body where injuries normally occur are the head and neck, thorax, abdomen, upper limbs, and lower limbs. The majority of rollover crash victims sustain multiple injuries, but statistically the head and neck are the most vulnerable areas.
Some of the most common injuries in a rollover accident include:
- Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI),
- Spinal Cord Injury,
- Broken Bones,
- Cuts, Scrapes, and Bruises.
10 Tips to Prevent a Rollover
While a newer vehicle is better as it will have been built from higher quality materials and with newer safety systems, there are other precautions to prevent you from getting into a rollover crash. Consider these tips:
- Make sure your vehicle is up-to-date on all safety regulations. If there are any recalls on your vehicle, regardless of what they may be, you need to address those. Failing to fix any safety recalls puts you in danger on the road and possibly more likely to roll your vehicle.
- Check your tires often. Make sure all of your tires are in shape. That means that they have the proper tread and tire pressure.
- Never overload your vehicle. Please, consider the weight of your vehicle. If you overload a vehicle you can decrease its stability. This is very common with SUVs and pickup trucks. Put your heaviest cargo somewhere low on the floor and far from the tailgate. You want to keep the weight close to the center of gravity of the vehicle.
- Don’t speed. Speeding vehicles have a tendency to roll, and the injuries sustained in one of these crashes can be quite severe.
- Pay Attention. Avoid distractions while driving as they can cause you to veer and swerve, and thus, potentially cause your car to roll.
- Take corners carefully and at slower speeds. Speeding around a corner increases your chance of tipping you vehicle.
- Beware on rural highways. It turns out almostthree-quarters of fatal rollovers occur in rural areas on roads with undivided highways without barriers and where the speed limit is 55 mph or more. Be extra cautious on these roads.
- Don’t panic or overcompensate when steering. The best thing for you to do is to remain calm if your car starts to get off balanced. Don’t make any jerky movements or try to over-correct as you may end up tilting too far in the other direction. It’s best to turn the wheel in the same direction your vehicle is tilting.
- Always wear your seatbelt. You’re 75% less likely to die in a rollover if you wear your seatbelt.
- Never drink and drive.
Rollover Air Bags
All modern cars include air bags for the driver and front seat passenger nowadays. However, there are also side-impact head air bags as well. These are often known as “curtains,” and can be very helpful for car occupants in preventing serious injuries or being ejected from a car during a rollover crash. However, according to the NHTSA, not all side-impact air bags operate as rollover air bags, they may not deploy in that situation. So, if your car has side-impact air bags check to see which ones you have.
When a rollover is detected, the rollover air bag is triggered along with seat belt retractors to remove slack from the seat belt and keep the occupant firmly in the seat. Most side-impact head air bags deploy downward from the roof, very close to the side windows. When deployed as rollover air bags, side-impact head air bags will stay inflated longer to help protect the heads of the occupants during the rollover. This requires a rollover sensing system in the vehicle. The air bags also keep the occupants from being thrown from the vehicle. It can especially help in situations where they fail to wear seat belts. The intention of these air bags is to help reduce serious injuries; however, not all vehicles are equipped with them. So, please, always remember to wear your seat belt.
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