When picking out a car or SUV from the lot, many Georgians choose vehicles with the best safety features. Front and side curtain airbags are fairly standard in all new vehicles nowadays. Other safety options are available as well, such as side view cameras, advanced cruise control, and pre-collision systems that alert the driver to look at the road if inside cameras sense their eyes are turned during an emergency situation. However, one of the biggest safety features is driving in a big vehicle. In a two-party collision, the survival rate for the occupants of the larger vehicle is much higher than those in the smaller vehicle. While the chances of survival and less severe injuries are greater for larger vehicles in multiple party accidents, fatality rates are actually raised in single-vehicle accidents. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, occupant fatality of SUVs, vans, and pickup trucks is higher than small vehicles when there is only one party involved in the wreck. This is mainly due to rollovers, which larger, taller vehicles experience more often than sedans and smaller vehicles. While rollovers only account for three percent of all vehicle accidents, they are responsible for 30 percent of all traffic fatalities, according to Consumer Reports.
High Center of Gravity, Narrow Wheel Base, and Too Many Passengers
The taller the vehicle and the narrower its wheelbase, the more likely it is to rollover when taking a curve at speed or swerving while on the highway. SUVs are at particular risk of rollover due to their weight up high and narrow wheelbases. Over the last 10 years, many models of SUVs have become safer in terms of rolling over, though SUV rollover rates overall are still much higher than sedan rollover rates.
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15 Passenger Vans and Fatal Rollovers
One specific type of vehicle has not grown safer of the years. Fifteen-passenger vans have the highest rate of fatal rollovers of any vehicle. This is because of their very narrow wheelbase in proportion to their length, their high center of gravity, and the fact that the last two rows of seating reside behind the rear wheel axle. And, when 15 passenger vans are loaded to the maximum capacity, they are three times more likely to roll over, according to CBS News. The stability of these vans is greatly compromised when driven at highway and freeway speeds. This is a tragic case of poor design, especially when one considers the fact that so many 15 passenger vans are used to transport school children, sports teams, and youth and church groups. What also increases the likelihood of fatality during a rollover is that many rear seat passengers don’t wear seatbelts and become ejected from the van when it rolls.
Another Variable in Rollovers: the “Trip.”
A single-vehicle rollover is generally not caused solely by a steering error. While the initial mistake may have been to swerve or lose control of the vehicle due to distraction or excessive speed, up to 95 percent of rollovers occur from a trip. A trip is defined as an obstacle that the car hits such as a pole, the soft patch on a roadside shoulder, or a curb. It is considered to be a trip rollover when the sidewall of the tire deforms (blows) and the rim hits the pavement. If you have been involved in a traffic wreck of any kind, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced Georgia car accident attorney today at the Law Offices of Roger Ghai, P.C. Give us a call today at 770-792-1000 to discuss your legal options for compensation.