What Causes a Car to Rollover?

Rollover accidents carry a higher fatality rate than any other type of crash.  While vehicles rolling over is not common in car accidents, rollovers still account for nearly 200,000 accidents in a year.  

There is no way to absolutely rule out rollovers, but there are certain risk factors that you can avoid to make a rollover less likely.  It is significant to note that more than 80% of rollovers are single vehicle accidents.  As you will see in the list that follows, this is directly tied to the fact that the majority of risk factors for rollovers are irresponsible driver behaviors. 

  1. First, the majority of fatalities in rollover accidents involved persons who were not wearing seatbelts.  This is true for any type of collision, but it bears repeating that the first line of defense in an accident is a buckled seatbelt.                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
  2. Second, almost 50% of all rollover crashes involve alcohol.  Again, this is true for preventing any type of collision, but driving drunk is a behavior that endangers the drunk driver as well as innocent passengers and other drivers.  It has been well documented that reaction times, decision making, and coordination are all impaired when the driver is under the influence of alcohol.                                                                                                                                                                                              
  3. Third, roughly 40% of all rollover crashes involved excessive speed.  Most of the accidents happened where the posted speed limit was 55 mph or above.  Again, this is a risky driver behavior that can endanger the life of not only the driver, but also his or her passengers.                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  4. Fourth, the majority of rollovers happen in rural locations where roads are more likely to be narrow without separation between lanes or barriers, and the speed limit is more likely to be 55 mph or above.  Further, rural roads are often winding with twists and turns and poor visibility.                                                                                                                       
  5. Fifth, certain vehicle designs are more likely to rollover when involved in a single vehicle crash.  Generally those include tall and narrow vehicles such as SUV's, pickups and vans. These vehicles have a higher center of gravity which makes them less stable and more prone to rollover.  If you are concerned that your vehicle may be more likely to rollover, please search for information provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at https://www.nhtsa.gov/ratings.   

For your safety and the safety of others, please take note of these risk factors.  Drive sober, avoid distractions, and watch your speed.