Potholes, tire trips and devastating rollovers

Given the perfect storm of circumstances, any vehicle of any size can roll over. However, the taller, narrower vehicles are most at risk since their center of gravity is higher.

No matter what kind of vehicle the accident involves, statistics show that “trips” are the cause of most rollovers. What does this mean?

Trips explained

According to Consumer Reports, the U.S. government estimates that “trips” are responsible for about 95 percent of all rollovers. A trip occurs when a vehicle’s tires become caught in something—a pothole, for example, or the soft shoulder of the road—causing the vehicle to swerve. In many instances, the driver overcorrects in trying to steer the vehicle back on track, and it rolls over as a result. The government also defines a trip as a situation where the vehicle leans to a degree that a sidewall deforms, and the wheel rim hits the pavement, causing a tip-up.

A dangerous situation

Rollovers only account for 3 percent of all major vehicle crashes. However, they are responsible for about 30 percent of all fatalities among people who are riding as passengers. One of the main issues is that those who are not wearing seat belts can be thrown around violently during a rollover, and ejection from the vehicle often causes fatal injuries.

Safety precautions

In addition to wearing seat belts, safety precautions include checking the tires for proper air pressure before heading out. It is also important to load the vehicle carefully; overloading decreases stability. Placing the heaviest cargo inside rather than on top of the roof, and as close to the center as possible, is the safest way to secure a load.

Speed and country roads

Drivers should watch their speed. The government says that about 40 percent of all rollover fatalities involve excessive speed. These crashes often happen on rural roads where the speed limit is at least 55 miles per hour.

Determining fault

Drivers and passengers who survive rollovers may experience life-altering injuries requiring costly medical bills, loss of employment and other issues. A legal team investigating the crash may engage outside specialists who can help determine who was at fault. There could be multiple parties who were negligent, such as the vehicle manufacturer and the county that neglected to fill the pothole that tripped the vehicle, causing the rollover.