What is a Rollover Accident?

depiction of a rollover accident where a car has landed on its side

Rollover car accidents are one of the most deadly forms of crashes. Although statistically rare, they account for nearly 30 percent of traffic fatalities. In 2021 alone, 7,640 people were killed in a rollover accident. Let’s take a closer look at why these types of crashes are so deadly and what you can do to stay safe. 

What Counts as a Rollover Accident?

An accident is considered a “rollover” when the vehicle tips onto its roof or sides during the crash. Most rollover accidents are preceded by another event, such as an impact with another car or stationary object. However, about ¼ of cars rollover without impacting anything at all. 

Why Are Rollover Crashes So Dangerous?

A rollover increases the likelihood of serious injury and death  for several reasons:

Ejection from the Vehicle

During a rollover crash, passengers are more likely to be ejected from the vehicle. This is especially true if the car leaves the roadway, or if the passengers were not wearing safety belts. The fatality rate for individuals that are partially or fully ejected from a car during a rollover is 5 times higher than those who remain in the car. 

More Severe Injuries

Within the vehicle, passengers are more likely to sustain greater and more deadly injuries due to the force of impact. What’s more, airbags may fail to deploy during a rollover accident, since the initial point of impact may have been the roof or sides of the vehicle. 

Flying Debris

Rollover accidents can cause significant damage to the vehicle, which exposes passengers to hazards such as broken glass and other debris. 

Roof Crush

Roof crush occurs when the top of the vehicle collapses in on the occupants during a roll over. This not only puts the driver and any passengers at greater risk for head and neck injuries, it also increases the risk of ejection from the vehicle. 

What Can Cause a Rollover Accident? 

There are many ways a vehicle may become involved in a rollover accident. The number one cause, however, is simply driver error. For example, 40 percent of all fatal rollover accidents involve speeding. Other ways the driver may contribute to a rollover include:

  • Distracted driving
  • Driving while intoxicated
  • Aggressive driving
  • Turning too quickly
  • Drowsy driving

Of course, it is not always the driver’s fault. Environmental and mechanical factors may also contribute to a rollover crash:

Type of Vehicle

Statistically speaking, larger vehicles are more likely to roll over in the event of a crash. Their larger center of gravity puts vans, SUVs, and pickup trucks at greater risk of a roll over than smaller cars.

Hazardous Road Conditions

Uneven pavement, slippery roads, poor signage, and other unsafe road conditions may lead to a rollover accident. 

Location of the Vehicle

A study by the NHTSA found that most rollover accidents occur on rural roads where the speed limit is greater than 55 mph. The reasons for this vary, but it is likely due to a combination of poor visibility and uneven or unpaved roadways. There may also be a greater incidence of wildlife on rural roads, resulting in driver’s swerving or braking to avoid them. 

How to Avoid a Rollover Accident

Practice Responsible Driving

The most important thing you can do to avoid a rollover accident or any other type of motor vehicle accident is to drive safely and predictably. This includes avoiding distractions, such as cell phones and food in the car, and driving while fully alert. Keep in mind that most fatalities in a rollover crash involve some level of intoxication. Don’t drink and drive, it simply isn’t worth it. 

Avoid Rural Roads and Night Driving

Again, most rollover accidents occur on rural roadways where the speed limit exceeds 55 mph. They also occur most often at night. Whenever possible, avoid rural roads and, if you must drive at night, choose a route with adequate lighting.

Wear a Seatbelt

Sometimes, a rollover accident is beyond the driver’s control; but you can still reduce the risk of death or serious injury with one simple step: wear your seatbelt. Approximately 70 percent of those killed in rollover accidents in 2021 were not wearing a seatbelt. Remember that most fatalities in a rollover happen when someone was ejected from the vehicle. Among other things, seat belts help keep you inside the car.  

When to Hire an Attorney for a Rollover Accident

If you or someone you know was involved in a rollover accident that was not their fault, you should contact an experienced accident attorney.  For example, if your accident happened because another driver acted irresponsibly, or the owner of the roadway failed to properly maintain it, you may have grounds for legal action. 

These types of injuries can be catastrophic, even resulting in wrongful death. In Colorado, Dave Roth handles all types of motor vehicle accidents. He understands how physically and emotionally devastating a rollover accident can be, and he will work to ensure you are compensated accordingly. Call or go online today to schedule your free consultation.