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Would My Car Roll Over in a Car Accident? Plus, How to Prevent This

Rollover accidents have higher rates of fatality than other types of motor vehicle collisions. Manufacturers design vehicles to withstand impacts from the front, rear, and sides of vehicles. In a rollover, it’s likely that the roof will collapse inward, causing severe head injuries. Passenger vehicles typically don’t have rollover cages to prevent this hazard, as their use would interfere with passenger/cargo space. Rollover accidents can also trap passengers inside the vehicle, making safe escape difficult or impossible.

While only about 2% of all accidents are rollovers, this type of crash accounts for 30-35% of all deaths from passenger vehicle accidents. In the right circumstances, any vehicle can roll over. However, certain vehicles have higher rollover rates than others. The risk of rolling over depends on the overall balance of the vehicle and its ability to maneuver safely at high speeds. Choosing a vehicle with a low rollover rate reduces your chances of involvement in one of these deadly types of crashes. Safe driving practices can also minimize your risk and avoid injury.

Vehicles With the Highest Rollover Rates

A report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety details the vehicles with the highest rates of driver deaths. The list gives rollover data from 2009 to 2012, using this information as part of the equation for a vehicle’s ranking. On this list, the vehicle with the greatest number of multi-vehicle crashes is the Kia Rio, with 96 such incidents in the given time period. The Kia Rio came in at number one on the list of most deadly vehicles, with 149 driver deaths overall. The second vehicle on the most deadly list, the Nissan Versa sedan, held the highest number of single-vehicle rollovers (SV rolls) – 51.

Other vehicles with the highest SV rollover rates include:

  • Dodge Nitro 2WD – 40 SV rolls
  • Chevrolet Camaro coupe – 25 SV rolls
  • Hyundai Accent (two door) – 20 SV rolls
  • Nissan Versa hatchback – 20 SV rolls
  • Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Crew 4WD – 17 SV rolls
  • Hyundai Accent (four door) – 16 SV rolls
  • Kia Rio – 15 SV rolls

The best vehicles for rollover rates are those with excellent vehicle stability and overall safety. The safest vehicle is the Audi A4 4WD, with zero SV rolls and zero overall driver deaths from 2009 to 2012. Eight other vehicles often boasted these stats, including the Honda Odyssey minivan, Kia Sorento 2WD SUV, and the Lexus RX 350 4WD.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has created a rollover-resistance rating system based on data from more than 86,000 single-vehicle rollover crashes. On the NHTSA’s list are SUVs such as the Chevrolet Traverse, sports cars like the Mazda RX-8 4-DR, trucks like the Dodge Ram 1500, and vans such as the Nissan Quest.

How to Prevent a Vehicle Rollover

There are things you can do to minimize the risk of a vehicle rollover. One of the greatest contributors to rollover accidents is overcorrecting. Panic-like steering, such as jerking the wheel to bring a tire back onto the road, can result in a multi- or single-vehicle rollover. Practice proper maneuvering to avoid an emergency: gradually reduce your speed and ease your vehicle slowly back onto the roadway when it’s safe to do so.

Nearly 75% of rollover crashes happen in rural areas, where vehicles can strike ditches and flip over. Practice extra caution while on rural roads. The maintenance of your vehicle also contributes to the likelihood of a rollover accident. Worn or improperly inflated tires can cause loss of vehicle control. Loading your vehicle with improper or unsafe distribution increases the odds of a rollover as well. Always adhere to your vehicle manufacturer’s instructions when loading and maintaining your car.

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