A fatal SUV rollover accident is tragically common, and the numbers look even worse when comparing them to the crash rates of cars and trucks. Even though sports utility vehicles are involved in about 10,000 fatal rollover crashes every year, they are only involved in 3 percent of all fatal and nonfatal accidents. That’s an alarming statistic that demonstrates just how prone these vehicles are to tipping over and causing serious harm. Worse yet, the vehicles’ critical flaws could be fixed, or at least mitigated if manufacturers were interested in doing so. However, the industry’s continued resistance against mandatory safety reform and additional regulations suggests that it isn’t all that interested in making these vehicles safer. In 2003, the industry enacted some voluntary safety controls, but some consumer agencies believe that this is just lip service to stall major changes.
Sport utility vehicles are inherently dangerous due to their design and due to their intended purpose. They are built taller, which raises their center of gravity, and they have narrow base widths. This makes the vehicle top-heavy and prone to swaying when turning or when contacting debris or poor road conditions. This is true even at low speeds, and these accidents are common in neighborhoods, where drivers are normally traveling at 30 mph or below. Even something as small as a rock in the road can cause a sports utility vehicle to tip if it rolls over the rock during a turn. It’s also common for these vehicles to tumble when the driver attempts to avoid something in the road.
Another problem with these sports utility vehicles is that they are designed and marketed as heavy duty transport. They can carry a lot of weight, ferry a lot of passengers, and even go off-road when the driver chooses. However, adding a lot of weight or passengers to the vehicle exacerbates the stability issues, as the weight makes it even more top-heavy, and if the weight or passengers shift around turns, it can be just enough to pull the vehicle onto its side.
Finally, an SUV rollover accident often involves loss of life because these vehicles are underequipped for safety. For example, the vehicle was originally designed for off-road use, so initial models were built with rollover bars, which would keep the top of the cabin from caving in under pressure. When the vehicle was adapted for family use, though, these bars were taken out. That’s why cabin failure is so common during a sports utility vehicle accident, and why injuries tend to be much more severe. And though manufacturers had an opportunity to alter the design and make it safer, they have refused to do so, in general. In short, the sports utility vehicle marketed to families is an off-road vehicle without the appropriate safety features. That manufacturers have not corrected their callousness is negligence, and families hurt by their poor vehicle designs must be ready to fight for their legal rights. Manufacturers are frequently found at least partly responsible for these accidents, and this compensation can go a long way to helping the victims recover.