According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHF), rollover accidents are not common. In fact, they only make up three percent of vehicles in police-reported crashes. However, because they are so serious they make up 20 percent of vehicles in fatal crashes. The IIHS reports that in 2004, 10,511 passenger vehicle occupants died in rollover crashes.
A rollover accident involves a vehicle either tipping on its side or on its roof during a crash. SUV rollovers are particularly deadly because they often result in occupants of the vehicle being fully or partially ejected. Ejection from a vehicle actually increases the likelihood of serious injury or death.
Often, SUV rollovers occur for a number of reasons. One of the main causes of SUV rollovers is that a driver turns too sharply at too high a speed. Additionally, drivers often over-correct when they lose control of their vehicle, which can lead to a rollover. The IIHS reports that SUVs are more likely than cars to be in fatal, single-vehicle accidents.
The IIHS says that SUV rollovers are far more common than car rollovers, and even more common than pickup truck rollovers. The organization reports that in 2004, sixty-two percent of SUV fatalities were in vehicles that rolled over. Only 23 percent of car fatalities were in rollovers. For trucks, the percentage was 45.
SUVs have a high center of gravity which increases the likelihood of rolling over. Other things that affect center of gravity include additional passengers and hauling a lot of cargo. The IIHS suggests that people in SUVs may be more aggressive in hazardous weather than drivers of other vehicles. As well, SUVs are more likely to be driven on rural roads, where rollovers are more frequent.
Consider the following deadly accidents:
- On September 5, 2006, a young woman was killed when her 1998 Jeep Cherokee rolled over. According to police, the young woman drove her car off the east side of an Indiana road, overcorrected for her mistake, and then drove of the west side. At this point her SUV rolled over and she was ejected from the vehicle. She died at the scene of the accident.
Manufacturers are also changing SUVs to decrease the chances of a rollover. Technology such as Electronic Stability Control (ESC), which helps prevent sideway skidding, is becoming more common.
If you own an SUV, drive carefully. Don't be too aggressive and be careful not to take corners too quickly. And always wear your seatbelt.