Automobile and SUV Rollovers
While rollovers represent only about 3 percent of all crashes in the United States, they represent more than 30 percent of highway deaths according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In 2004, 10,553 people died in rollover accidents. 114,819 people died in rollover accidents in the years 1991 to 2002. Sports utility vehicles (SUVs), trucks and 15-passenger vans are more prone to rollover accidents than other types of vehicles following a collision, tire blowout, or emergency maneuver because of their higher center of gravity.
With the increase in the amount of high center of gravity vehicles like SUV and crossovers comes the potential for higher rates of rollover. The science is proven, and there are components that automobile manufacturers can place on the vehicles to help prevent rollovers like electronic stability control. The inquiry in rollover incidents boils down to this question: Did the manufacturer adequately lower the risk of the rollover and reduce the risk of injury from rollover through engineering and design?
15-Passenger Van Rollovers
One of the most dangerous vehicles on the road today is the 15-passenger van. The vehicles are unsafe for several reasons. First of all, they have a high center of gravity, especially when they are loaded with 15 people and their luggage. Secondly, many have rear ends that extend as far as four feet beyond the rear axle, which increases instability when this area of the van is loaded. Because of the weight of 15-passenger vans when loaded, the vehicles are also highly subject to tire blowouts caused by improperly inflated tires. For these reasons and more, the vehicles are susceptible to both loss of control and rollover accidents.
While federal law now prohibits the sale of 15-passenger vans for the transportation of students of high school age and younger, other organizations continue to use the vehicles to transport young people. These vans are frequently used by churches, colleges and other organizations to transport groups of people to and from events.