While every car or truck accident has the potential to result in those drivers and passengers involved suffering serious, debilitating, or fatal injuries; rollover accidents are among the most deadly. This is often particularly true in cases where a vehicle occupant isn't wearing a seat belt and is ejected from or comes into contact with the roof of a vehicle. However, even when a driver or passenger is buckled-up, injuries resulting from often violent rollover crashes can be significant and leave an individual with painful and debilitating injuries.
Many people believe that only taller vehicles like trucks, vans, and SUVs are at risk of rolling over in an accident. While taller vehicles are more likely to rollover if involved in an accident, every vehicle is at risk and much depends on the speed at which a vehicle is traveling, the terrain, and obstacles a vehicle encounters.
As the popularity of SUVs increased, so too did the number of rollover accidents. In fact, during 2013, "50 percent of SUV occupants killed in crashes were in vehicles that rolled over." In an effort to make SUVs and all other light-weight personal vehicles less likely to rollover, car manufacturers began equipping vehicles with what's known as electronic stability control systems. Today, all new vehicles must be equipped with ESC.
In addition to ESC systems, car manufacturers have also taken steps to improve the overall durability and strength of motor vehicles' roofs. When examining rollover accidents, studies have linked stronger roofs with reduced rates of occupant injury and ejection. Starting in 2013, federal standards began requiring that car manufacturers ensure a vehicle's roof is able to withstand "an applied force equal to 3 times the vehicle's weight." Additionally, 2014 model vehicles must pass federal standards related to the size and scope of side curtain airbags with regard to Ejection Mitigation.
Despite all of the safety technologies being employed to prevent rollovers and rollover-related injuries and deaths, for example, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration that an average of 5,500 "rollover fatalities per year would still occur in a fleet fully equipped with ESC."
Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute, "Rollover crashes," Sept. 2, 2015