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What Every Driver Should Know About Rollover Collisions: Safety Awareness, Risk Minimization, and Injury-Fatality Prevention

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The Law Office of Alba & Yochim P.A. takes note of the unique nature of roll-over accidents, in comparison to nearly every other type of motor vehicle collision. In an effort to aide in the reduction of accidents, injuries, and fatalities involving vehicle rollovers, our Gainesville attorneys provide the following commentary regarding some of the most critical issues associated with rollover crashes, which, every motorist should be aware of.  For explanatory purposes, relevant factors will be discussed by delineating between three key categories: (1) Driver action; (2) Vehicle factors; and (3) ‘Other.’

Driver Action, involving an initial harmful event, such as being struck by another vehicle or traveling off a roadway, is an important consideration in terms of causation in rollover crashes. However, many drivers are unaware of the significance that subsequent motorist action can play in reducing the possibility of a vehicle rollover. As reported by the NHSTA, and demonstrated in a visual demonstration provided by safercar.gov, driver actions such as ‘panic steering’ and ‘improper maneuvering’ are common factors associated with vehicle rollovers.

An example of both panic steering, as well as improper maneuvering can be found in an Alachua County accident that occurred along I-75 on May 26th. As reported by the Gainesville Sun, “Barbara Frampton, 51, of Lake City, was driving a 1999 Honda Civic behind McArthur Myrick’s car in the right lane. Frampton traveled off the road and overcorrected back to the left, losing control of her vehicle and striking Myrick’s vehicle, the report said.” As a result, “Linda Myrick, 63, of Wauchula, died after being ejected from the 2005 Nissan Titan that McArthur Myrick, 69, was driving.”

Vehicle Factors associated with rollovers can be better understood by distinguishing between factors such as the type, condition, and safety features of vehicle involved. With regard to vehicle type, SUVs rollovers are 2.5X more likely to result in injury and nearly 2X as likely to result in fatality, than vans or standard passenger vehicles. Injury and fatality rates for rollovers involving pickup trucks are not far behind those for SUVs.

The condition of a vehicle, particularly factors associated with tire maintenance, can greatly impact the potential for a rollover collision. It is important, not only to replace worn tires, but also to ensure proper tire pressure—keeping in mind that both under-inflation and over-inflation-can contribute to a rollover. In addition, motorists are encouraged to regularly check for recalls associated with their vehicle.   Proper vehicle loading, particularly with rollover accidents involving trucks, whether pick-up, semi, or other truck with attached trailer, is another important consideration.

Safety features, such as roll-bars or airbags, can also play a role in the extent of injury sustained in a collision. While airbags can provide remarkable protection, the safety benefits that airbags offer in rollovers is often dependent on whether the vehicle is equipped with single-driver, dual-passenger, and/or side-impact airbags. There are also variations in bags or curtains that protect specific areas in particular types of collisions, and can potentially reduce catastrophic injury. In addition, newer technology, such as Electronic Stability Control (ESC) or Variable Ride-Height Suspension (VRHS), can also reduce the potential for a rollover.

Other factors associated with rollovers—our third categorical delineation—includes things such as traveling speed, roadway conditions, angle of impact, as well as location (rural vs. city), division (divided vs. undivided), and type (highway vs. nonhighway) of roadway involved. Seatbelt use, particularly with regard to the risk of ejection from a vehicle, is another important factor to take into consideration.

In conjunction with the aforementioned factors, reducing rollover accidents and resulting injuries or fatalities, can be achieved by ensuring that Florida residents are adequately informed of factual data associated with rollover collisions. A good starting point, for motorists that are either selecting a new vehicle or simply wish to learn more about their current vehicle, is checking on current vehicle safety ratings.   In addition, NHSTA  provides a variety of consumer resources associated with vehicle safety and accident prevention, both at national and state levels.

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