Motor Vehicle Rollover Accidents

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January 10, 2013
Edward Smith

Motor vehicle rollover accidents are accidents in which the motor vehicle ends up on its side or on its back. In other words, there is no contact between the wheels of the vehicle and the ground. Unfortunately, 2.7 percent of occupants of a motor vehicle were killed in a rollover compared to 0.2 percent of occupants in non-rollover accidents. A total of 33 percent of all fatalities that are related to motor vehicle collisions occurred in rollover accidents as opposed to those accidents where the vehicle does not roll over.

Rollover rates seem to be higher in light trucks and SUVs. Rollovers are less common for the average passenger vehicle and/or minivan. More than any other demographic, male young drivers were the cause of the majority of these type of accidents. Vehicles that roll also tended to be older vehicles carrying multiple occupants. Sadly, many of the rollover accidents were noted to often contain unbelted passengers. Besides the age, sex and type of vehicle demographic, high speed rates at the time of the incident was another component contributing to these accidents.

The study showed that alcohol increased the chance of a rollover accident. Vehicles that resulted in a turnover were more likely to be passing another vehicle. SUV’s were more likely than any other vehicle to be involved in a single-vehicle rollover accident. Unrestrained occupants died more often than restrained passengers. Older riders died more often than younger people and men had a higher rate of fatality when compared with women.

In the US, a significant number of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), spinal injuries and deaths come from motor vehicle rollover accidents. Many deaths result from a relatively small number of actual crashes.

One recent study looked at adult crashes involving belted, non-middle seat passengers involved in a rollover accidents from 1992 to 2006. They looked at the relationship between the extent of roof crush and the severity of the injury. Mortality was also looked at. In particular, spinal injuries and traumatic brain injuries were evaluated.

They found that the risk of dying, having a traumatic brain injury and having a spinal injury increased with the degree of roof crushing. Mortality was especially prominent if the roof crushed in at greater than 15 cm. The same was true of spinal cord injuries.

Rollover accidents involve tumbling of the vehicle and are therefore more likely than other types of accidents to cause ejection of the individual. Ejection can happen in an rollover accident whether or not a person is restrained by a seatbelt. Occupants in a rollover accident also are exposed to the complication of windows shattering and breaking which can cause skin lacerations, cuts, infection of skin wounds, bleeding, and vision problems.

At times, other factors related to rollover accidents include the condition of a road or highway, said highway having potholes or the existence of uneven pavement, wet roads, and improperly maintained roads. High speeds while making a sharp turn can also the cause of a rollover accident. More than 75 percent of rollovers occurred when the motor vehicle was traveling at speeds of 55 miles per hour or more.