Car accidents often involve complex interactions between drivers, vehicles, the road, and the weather. Accidents are traumatic events that can leave a lasting impression on the individuals involved, particularly if the accident included a rollover. When one or more vehicle rolls over during an accident, it can result in serious injuries and even death. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, almost one percent of all crashes result in a rollover, and rollovers account for nearly one-third of all accident-related deaths.
What Causes a Rollover Car Accident?
There are two common reasons why vehicles roll over during an accident. First, drivers may lose control of their vehicles and drift off the roadway; second, drivers may engage in high-speed, risky driving. While there are other causes for rollover accidents, including collisions with other vehicles or obstructions in the road, the aforementioned reasons are the most common. Below we discuss some of the causes of rollover car accidents:
- Driver control. The most common cause of a rollover accident is a driver losing control of a vehicle. Falling asleep at the wheel, using a phone, and other distracted driving all may cause a driver to lose focus and control. Striking a curb or other obstruction in the roadway may throw off a vehicle’s center of gravity. The forward momentum may cause the vehicle to roll over onto its side or top.
- Risky maneuvers. Another common cause of rollovers is aggressive driving, including risky maneuvers like taking turns or swerving at a high rate of speed. Quick maneuvers like this can cause friction between the tires and the surface of the road causing the vehicle to tip to the side and flip over. This is especially the case for vans, trucks, and heavily loaded vehicles.
- Multi-vehicle crashes. Most often, rollovers are single-vehicle accidents; multi-vehicle rollovers are less common. However, if a vehicle is hit side-on and pushed over by the force of the oncoming vehicle, it may roll. In many instances, a vehicle will strike a guardrail or other object that creates a ramp and results in a rollover.
How Do I Avoid a Rollover Car Accident?
Whenever you get behind the wheel of a vehicle, or in the passenger seat, there is always a risk of an accident. Although you cannot control every situation, like the driving conditions, the weather, or other drivers on the road, you can take certain safety precautions to reduce your chances of being involved in an accident. You should remain in control of your vehicle at all times, stay sober, and remain focused and alert at all times when driving. Abide by the following best practices to help protect yourself against a rollover accident:
- Always drive sober. Drinking and driving is never a good idea. It puts you and everyone else at serious risk, and it’s simply not worth it. Even a small amount of alcohol can impair your judgment, coordination, and vision. Taking a turn too quickly when you’re sober is a problem, and if you’re intoxicated, it’s infinitely more difficult and more dangerous. Remember that almost 50 percent of fatal rollover accidents involve alcohol.
- Understand your vehicle. Every passenger and commercial vehicle has the potential to roll over under the right conditions. According to the NHTSA, it’s more likely for an SUV, van, or pickup truck to roll over than a sedan. The higher center of gravity and weight of the larger vehicles means that they easily become unstable and that sideways momentum is difficult to stop. If you drive a vehicle with a high center of gravity, be aware of the tipping potential.
- Control your speed. Excessive speed is a factor in 40 percent of all fatal rollovers, according to NHTSA. Furthermore, the vast majority of rollovers happened in areas with posted speed limits of 55 MPH or faster. The lesson here is simple: don’t speed. Remember that the posted speed limit is not necessarily a safe speed, depending on the conditions. Adjust your speed according to the conditions.
- Focus on the road. When you’re driving, that’s all you should be doing. Always stay focused on the road and nothing else. Driving isn’t the time to text, talk on the phone, eat, read, or engage in any other activity that’s not directly related to driving. This is especially true when driving down rural roads, where the speed limit is 55 MPH or more. These roads are especially dangerous; nearly 75 percent of all rollover accidents on rural roads are fatal.
What If I Am Involved in a Rollover Accident?
The fact that rollover car accidents are most often single-vehicle accidents, and that they often occur on rural roads, makes them especially scary. In these circumstances, you must take initiative in calling for emergency services, which may be located far away and need time to respond. Below are some important tips for individuals involved in rollover car accidents:
- Stay calm. After the dust settles, and you’re sure the vehicle has stopped moving, take a moment to calm yourself. You just went through a serious event, and while you’ve got every right to be scared, you need to remain calm.
- Assess yourself. Do a quick pat down and check of your body, face, hands, and feet. You need to determine if you’re injured in a way that will hinder your movement. You also need to make sure that you aren’t trapped in your vehicle.
- Check on all passengers. If anyone else is in the vehicle with you, call out to them and make sure they’re alright as well. If you can, reach out and touch them for reassurance, and keep communicating with one another until help arrives.
- Exit the vehicle. If possible, you should exit your vehicle. It will be easier for you to assess your situation, survey the damage, and help your passengers if you are out of your vehicle. It will also make it easier to flag down help.
- Call for help. If you can find your cell phone, call 911 and request that they send immediate help. The problem is, you might be unsure of exactly where you are, what happened, or how long ago it was. That’s normal—and rest assured help will arrive even with limited directions.
What Happens After a Rollover Accident?
Cases that involve rollover accidents may prove complex. While driver inattention, distraction, and poor judgment may cause rollovers, they certainly aren’t responsible for every crash. As discussed above, different types of vehicles are more prone to rolling than others, causing injury and death to consumers. Also, roadways that aren’t properly designed and/or maintained can contribute to rollover accidents.
If you were in a rollover accident, and you think that your vehicle was especially prone to rollovers or that the conditions of the roadway contributed to your accident, you should consult an attorney. Mounting medical expenses and lost wages can cause stress, but you may be entitled to seek compensation for your injuries. Call Aitken * Aitken * Cohn at (714) 434-1424, or contact us online, to speak with one of our experienced attorneys about your case today.