Faulty Manufacturing Design: The Major Cause of Rollover Accidents

Every year, 10,000 deaths and 24,000 cases of serious injuries, all due to rollover accidents, are reported to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). A rollover is one type of accident wherein a vehicle rolls onto its side or roof. Like head-on collisions, it can be life-threatening, especially if the vehicle’s roof collapses and crashes down on the driver’s head and spine, as this can easily result to serious head and spinal injuries.

Though rollover accidents have always occurred, their frequency had not been as often as in the 1990s, the decade when the production of passenger vans increased and SUVs where introduced. These vehicles, especially SUVs, are designed with a high ground clearance (or a high center of gravity) and a narrow track width which is shown by the shorter distance between their left and right wheels. Compared to cars, vehicles designed this way are less stable and their steering capacity greatly reduced and still reduced further if the weight of cargo and/or the weight of passengers is/are not equally distributed.

While any type of vehicle may rollover, including cars, especially when these are hit with great force on it side, more prone to this type of accident are SUVs, passenger vans and pick-up trucks. Still increasing these vehicles’ susceptibility to rollover are speed above 55mph and an alcohol-impaired driver. But while speed and alcohol increase the risk of rollover accidents, these, according to the NHTSA, are only secondary factors, as the major cause of the accident is the vehicle’s faulty manufacturing design.

If a vehicle with a narrow track width and high ground clearance is driven down a steep slope at fast speed, or if its driver makes a sharp turn without slowing down, then there is a possibility for it to fail to remain upright or slide sideways and rollover. The same thing happens when it digs its tires into soft soil or strikes an object, such as a guardrail or a curb, as it slides sideways after leaving the roadway.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, while the 2014 car occupant death rate has gone down to 51 percent since 1975, death rates for pick-up truck and SUV occupants have gone up to 15% and 9%, respectively; death rates of pick-up and SUV drivers have also increased. In 2010 alone, at least 7,600 people died in rollover accidents.

Rollovers have a higher fatality rate than other types of motor vehicle crashes. For survivors of this type of accident, however, the website of Houston Taxotere lawsuit attorneys  says that, besides the physical and mental trauma that victims may suffer, the process of recovery can also very much impose significant financial burdens on them and their families.

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