Another accident happened this week on an already busy Orange County freeway. An SUV has rolled over and injured its passengers. Unfortunately this type of accident happens across the country every day, injuring over 280,000 people each year. Over 24,000 have serious personal injury and tragically these accidents kill over 10,000 occupants annually. The accidents are usually twofold; first the rollover occurs and then the roof area crushes in and seriously injures the occupants.
American auto makers continue to deny that roof crush, usually in conjunction with a rollover, causes injuries, but their internal document say just the opposite. In fact the automobile industry has known that these types of accidents can produce serious personal injuries for over 39 years and only recently are gradually changing their designs, thanks to stronger government standards for rollover safety and litigation pressure.
Currently, 40% of SUV’s and light trucks on the road today have a fairly new technology called electronic stability control. Presently it is only an option, but in model year 2009, many automakers plan to make it a standard feature. The government’s crash tests have been so positive that they are mandating that all vehicles have this technology installed by 2012.
Why are these vehicles so prone to rollover accidents? Specifically, mini-vans, SUV’s and trucks are predisposed by the connection between the center of gravity and the track width (the distance between the left and right wheel). A narrow track and high center of gravity can make a vehicle unstable while performing fast turns or sharp turns.
New government proposed legislation will require all trucks and SUV’s to have stronger roofs and for the manufacturers to pass more rigorous tests. In particular, a roof would have to withstand 2.5 times the vehicle weight without bending. This would prevent any occupant from contact with the roof and therefore reducing serious head trauma. In addition, seat belts will also change to better hold the passengers in place in case a rollover occurs. Lastly and the most controversial of proposed legislation is the setting of lawsuit limits against automakers. This means that some crush roof accidents would be dismissed without trial because of this type of federal law. Something tells me that this one will not pass anytime soon.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a rollover accident, don’t hesitate to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as practical.
If you own an SUV, light truck or mini-van, there are a few things you can do to limit your risk or a rollover.
· Be aware that your vehicle has a high center of gravity and is more top-heavy than other cars. Don’t take turns at high rate speed and avoid sudden corrective action.
· Always use a seatbelt. Large numbers of SUV fatalities are drivers and passenger being ejected from the vehicle during a rollover.
· Obey traffic laws and avoid alcohol while driving. A large demographic of rollover accidents involve young men between the ages of 18-25 and alcohol consumption.
If you choose to purchase a new car in the future, check out the new crash test and rollover ratings at www.safercar.gov/ .Their rating scale will assist you in your new car purchase.