As summer vacation continues, families and friends pile into cars to escape everyday routines and enjoy the sun by the beach, river or lake. However, one should consider the safety implications when deciding which car to drive to this year's vacation hotspot.
Each year there are 280,000 rollover accidents resulting in 10,000 fatalities. Rollovers cause thirty-three percent of all passenger vehicle fatalities. Eighty-five percent of rollovers are the result of single-vehicle accidents.
Tire failures, tire tread defects, poor stability and suspension design, speed and inadequate brakes contribute to rollovers. Dangers during a rollover include weak roof support, defective or ill-fitting seatbelts, fuel fires or lack of headrest or head restraint device.
Rollovers are the deadliest risk facing SUV, minivan and truck occupants. All cars are susceptible to rollovers, but SUV rollovers occur three times more than sedans or minivans. The higher center of gravity (based on ground clearance) and decreased track width (the distance between the right and left tires along the axle) raise the SUV rollover rate. The additional passenger capacity also multiplies the likelihood of a rollover by making the SUV more top heavy.
To protect oneself from a rollover, review the crash test and rollover ratings before you purchase a new car and look for SUVs with rollover protection and side-impact head airbags. Always wear your seat belt to prevent ejection from the car. Finally take turns slowly and avoid quick maneuvers that might tip the vehicle.