How To Drive an SUV Safely To Prevent Rollover Accidents
It’s no secret that SUVs are becoming an increasingly popular vehicle choice for American drivers. In 2018, LMC Automotive estimated that by the year 2022, the overwhelming majority of vehicles sold by General Motors, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler will be trucks and SUVs. In addition to the extra room they offer over smaller sedans, studies by organizations such as the IIHS have frequently shown SUVs to have a good track record of protecting drivers and passengers in the event of a car crash.
However, even as automotive safety features become more advanced, SUVs still do have their safety flaws, one of the biggest being a higher risk of rollover accidents. All types of vehicles can potentially roll over, but since SUVs have a taller design, that makes gives them a higher center of gravity and makes them more top heavy. While rollovers are a relatively rare type of car accident, they’re often more dangerous. According to Consumer Reports, Rollover accidents only account for about 3% of all serious car crashes, but about 30% of all passenger vehicle fatalities involve rollover accidents. Since SUVs show no signs of going away anytime soon, what can people do to stay safe while driving them?
Since SUVs have a higher center of gravity, one of the simplest ways you can try to prevent a rollover accident is to avoid using the roof rack as much as possible. We understand that the extra storage a roof rack offers can be a very attractive feature and when you see commercials for SUVs, you’ll often see the roof loaded up with things like bikes and canoes. But adding extra weight to the top of a vehicle that already has a high center of gravity can make the car more prone to rolling over. If using the roof rack is essential, be very careful when doing things like turning corners, going around curves, and changing lanes.
Another simple thing you can do to stay safe while driving an SUV is watch your speed. It’s very dangerous for any type of vehicle to be speeding, but research from the NHTSA has found that about 40% of fatal rollover crashes involve excessive speed and that approximately three-quarters of all fatal rollovers occur in areas where the speed limit is at least 55 MPH. SUVs have a more difficult time doing things like going around curves or handling sudden driving moves than smaller cars do, so being mindful of your speed will go a long way in protecting yourself and your passengers. Don’t think that just because you’re doing a simple driving maneuver, you’re not at risk for a rollover accident. According to the NHTSA, over 90% of all fatal single-vehicle rollover crashes involved routine driving maneuvers such as going straight or navigating a curve.
If you’re planning to get your first SUV, make sure you take some time to really get familiar with how it handles. Being behind the wheel of an SUV isn’t quite the same experience as being behind the wheel of a sedan, so it’s a good idea to take your SUV out to a quiet, open area like an empty parking lot and practice doing things like braking at different speeds and making turns. If possible, try to do this as weather conditions change so that you can get a better idea of what to expect on rainy days or when roads are snowy or icy.
If you’ve been injured in a rollover accident involving another car, don’t hesitate to contact a car accident lawyer as soon as you’re able to. At Goodwin & Scieszka, we have lawyers who are highly experienced in handling Michigan car accident cases and have helped many people just like you. Contact us today to start getting answers to your questions.