Rollover accidents, in which vehicles tip over and roll, are the second most likely type of collision to result in injuries and fatalities, behind full-frontal vehicle collisions. Most rollover accidents involve pickup trucks and sports utility vehicles (SUVs), which have a rollover rate two to three times higher than passenger cars. Why does this happen? It has to do with the relative centers of gravity of the different types of vehicles.
The center of gravity is the secret to maintaining balance. It's the point where gravity acts on an object as a whole, rather then one part more than another. The closer an object is to the ground, the stronger gravity's pull will be on its base, and the more stable the object will be. Similarly, the wider a base an object has, the harder it will be to throw it off balance. SUVs have a high center of gravity and a narrow wheel base, compared to conventional cars, so sharp, sudden turns or stops can easily disrupt the vehicle's balance, causing it to tip. If it tips over far enough, gravity will start to pull on the top of the SUV, and the vehicle will roll over.
Carmakers have tried to reduce the risk of rollovers for SUVs by lowering their centers of gravity and broadening their wheel bases. But drivers still over-correct at the wheel, and overload their vehicles, both of which can also lead to rollovers. This mainly happens when a driver must take emergency action when steering in one direction, then being forced to rapidly correct in the opposite direction.
Six Ways To Reduce Rollover Risks:
- If your SUV has anti-lock brakes, maintain firm and constant pressure on the brake pedal when making a quick stop.
- If your SUV doesn't have anti-lock brakes, pump the brakes to avoid locking the wheels and losing control of the vehicle when making a sudden stop.
- Always wear your seat belt.
- Observe posted speed limits.
- Every extra bit of weight increases the risk of a rollover, so be careful not to overload your SUV.
- Buy an SUV with electronic stability control.