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Why SUVs are at highest risk of rollovers of all types of vehicle

While those who drive either minivans, trucks or SUVs may be under the impression that, in driving a car that is higher up off the ground, they are better protected from prospective motor vehicle crashes than those who drive low-to-the-ground passenger cars, they are not. In fact, those who drive one of these three types of vehicles are more prone to deadly rollovers than any other type of accident.

As a way of understanding the propensity of a driver becoming involved in a rollover crash while driving an SUV as compared to other types of vehicles, a 2003 statistic cited rollovers as being responsible for some 37.5 percent of fatal SUV accidents as compared to only 15.8 percent of passenger car ones. One recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistic additionally shows that of 280,000 rollovers reported annually, more than 10,000 are fatal.

Of the many different factors that can lead to rollover crashes, instability associated with making turns is one important factor. In this case, the car's center of gravity relative to its wheel track, or distance between its right and left wheels, is closely related to risk. If a vehicle sits up high off the ground, then most likely has increased instability, something that puts a driver at increased risk of either losing control of the vehicle when making fast turns or merely changing lanes.

Most prone to rollovers are 4-wheel-drive SUVs. This is because they sit up particularly high off the ground to be able to move about rugged terrain.

Most fatal vehicle rollovers involving this type of SUV occur not only on the weekends and involve alcohol consumption, but most often occur among males 25 years old or younger as well. At least 75 percent of all fatal rollover crashes result from drivers or their passengers being ejected from their SUVs, an indication that its victims neglect to wear seat belts.

To aid consumers in understanding the degree of risk their vehicle poses for sustaining a rollover, the NHTSA developed a risk rating system for vehicle rollovers in 2001. Using this system, vehicles are assigned a rating ranging from 1- to 5-stars, with a score of 5 representing a risk factor of less 10 percent of a rollover occurring.

If you have been injured or know someone that has been killed in a rollover accident, a Houston, Texas, SUV accident attorney will be an indispensable resource.

Source:, "Rollover accidents explained," accessed April 17, 2017

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Brian Jensen

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