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Understanding and Avoiding Vehicle Rollovers

In April, a 23-year-old Hastings woman was critically injured when the Toyota 4Runner she was driving rolled several times on southbound Florida 207. Also in April, a 24-year-old Tampa man lost control of his Ford Explorer that rolled on I-75 and came to rest on its top. The young man died at the scene.

Both of these accidents involved single, high-profile light utility vehicles. Each accident caused severe injury or death. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports more than 10,000 people per year are killed in rollover crashes, accounting for 33 percent of all passenger car fatalities.

If you drive a high profile vehicle — or even if you do not — knowing some basic facts about these types of accidents may reduce your chance for a rollover accident or save your life if one occurs. Consider these points:

  • There are two types of rollovers, tripped and untripped. Accounting for about 95 percent of all rollover accidents, a tripped rollover is an accident caused when your car strays off the roadbed onto the shoulder, into a guardrail or onto a slope. Much less common, untripped rollovers usually occur at higher speeds and result from a sudden correction, or a series of correction maneuvers.

  • Tires and cargo contribute to rollovers. When replacing tires on a sports utility vehicle (SUV), purchase tires similar to the original equipment. Tires that grip too much or too little contribute to rollovers. Unevenly loaded cargo, or weighty cargo on the roof of the vehicle shifts the center of gravity of an SUV. Keep cargo low, toward the middle of the vehicle and spread it out.

  • Excessive speed and impairment by alcohol or drugs are leading factors in rollover fatalities.

Single car accidents account for 85 percent of all rollover accidents. Keep your car and tires maintained, follow the rules of the road and never drive impaired by alcohol, drugs or fatigue.

Accidents happen. If one happens to you, seek experienced legal counsel.

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