A rollover crash is a serious vehicle accident in which an involved vehicle rolls over onto its side or its roof. For the driver and passengers inside the vehicle, the collision is a very violent event. Vehicle rollovers are often complex incidents involving some combination of factors such as driver action and reaction, road conditions, vehicle characteristics, weather, and lighting. A large number of rollover
crashes – 85 percent — are single-vehicle accidents.
Rollover crashes are among the most dangerous of all vehicle wrecks. They account for more than 10,000 fatalities each year, the highest fatality rate of all accident types. Rollover crashes have become more common as taller and narrower vehicles have become more popular on our roadways. Passenger vans, lightweight trucks and SUVs, for example, are taller than the traditional passenger car, they are narrower in proportion to their height, and the center of gravity is higher. Large trucks are also susceptible to rollover crashes.
The most common cause of a rollover crash is a driver losing control of a vehicle due to
- Snow or ice on the.
- Drifting or swerving onto a soft shoulder.
- Unexpected contact with a curb or a guardrail after loss of traction.
- Colliding with an animal or an object in the road.
Often, after losing control, the driver over-corrects and leaves the pavement again. Of surprise to many people is the fact that 90 percent of single-vehicle rollover crashes occurred during “routine” driving (going straight or negotiating a curve). This suggests that other factors or behaviors contribute to the crashes.
- Speeding – According to safercar.gov, 40 percent of fatal rollovers involve excessive speed. Further, almost 75 percent of fatal rollovers occur in zones with posted speed limits of 55 mph or more.
- Alcohol is a factor in almost half of all rollover crashes.
- Location/road type – Rural roads are more likely to be the scene of fatal rollovers. In fact, nearly 75 percent of rollover crashes occur on rural roads.
- Distracted driving.
Rollover crashes account for only about 2.1 percent of all vehicle crashes, yet they account for almost 35 percent of all deaths from passenger vehicle crashes. According to SaferCar.gov, 69 percent of people killed in rollover crashes were not wearing a seatbelt.
Drivers and passengers involved in rollover crashes are particularly susceptible to head and neck injuries. Most of those injured in these crashes suffer multiple injuries, including injuries to the chest, abdomen, arms, and legs. The injuries often range from broken bones, cuts, bruises, and scrapes to spine and traumatic brain injuries. These injuries are caused by impact with the inside of the vehicle or the force of the impact with another vehicle, injuries caused by impact from unsecured items in the vehicle, or from being thrown from the vehicle. Any of these injuries can have serious long-term effects ranging from impaired or amputated limbs, mental impairment, blindness or loss of hearing, paralysis, chronic pain, and other internal damage to organs.
The fact that rollover crashes typically occur during routine driving events is a powerful argument for remaining alert and focused at all times when driving, especially when driving on rural roads. Always wear your seat belt and insist that your passengers wear them, as well. Remain particularly attentive if you are driving a high-profile vehicle.
With the beginning of hunting season, it is especially important to be alert for frightened animals running onto roads and to scan fields, wooded areas, and other surrounding ground areas for potential danger.