Car Accidents: The Dangers of SUV Rollovers

About the Author: Neil Murray is a preeminent Philadelphia personal injury attorney and partner at the law firm of Sheridan & Murray. As a former Philadelphia Assistant District Attorney, Neil is passionate about protecting the rights of victims. He is an advocate for automobile safety and provides legal counsel to those affected by these dangerous and defective vehicles.

Many factors go into the decision to purchase a car. Since the late 1990’s, the popularity of the sport utility vehicle (SUV) has risen. Buyers have been drawn to the SUV’s large cabins, higher seat height, and the perception that these vehicles were safer than other types of cars. This perception of safety is not always accurate. SUVs are more susceptible to rolling over during an accident compared to other vehicles. SUVs can be more prone to rollover due to a higher center of gravity caused by a higher ground clearance and a wheel base not wide enough to balance the vehicle during sharp maneuvers.

Drivers and passengers alike can sustain significant and permanent injuries during an SUV rollover. One cause of these injuries is the ejection of a person’s body through the window of an SUV during the rollover. A person can be severely injured even if only part of their body is ejected through the window. According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 10,000 people died each year in rollover accidents for the last decade. This accounts for 25% of all fatal traffic accidents. However, in January 2011, the NHTSA announced that automakers will be required to take steps to prevent unbelted passengers from being ejected in vehicle rollovers.

The regulation, which will become effective in 2013, will require vehicle manufacturers to develop a countermeasure for light passenger vehicles under 10,000 pounds that prevents the equivalent of an unbelted adult from moving more than 4 inches past the side window opening in the event of a crash. Side curtain air bags will be made larger to cover more of the window opening, more robust to remain inflated longer, enhanced to deploy in side impacts and in rollovers, and made not only to cushion but also made sufficiently strong to keep an occupant from being fully or partially ejected through a side window. All newly manufactured vehicles will be required to provide this protection by model year 2018.

“Rollover crashes are the deadliest of all crash types and this is another important step in our efforts to reduce fatalities and serious injuries that result from them,” said David Strickland, of the NHTSA in a recent press release. “Safety is our highest priority,” said US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a press release. “This new standard will help save lives and reduce injuries by requiring vehicles to have a safety system that keeps occupants in the vehicle in a rollover crash.” If you have been injured or tragically lost a family member or loved one in a rollover accident, contact the firm of Sheridan & Murray to let our team investigate your claim. A design defect or flaw may be the cause of your accident, and we committed to holding the responsible party accountable.

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