33-year-old Killed in SUV Rollover on Route 128

Matthew M. Cox, a 33-year-old from Westwood, was killed in an SUV rollover on Route 128 Wednesday. The rollover occurred around 4 p.m. when his Ford Explorer, which was travelling in the left lane, veered to the right and hit a guardrail. Cox was ejected from the SUV and declared dead at Needham’s Beth Israel Deaconess-Glover Hospital. He hadn’t been wearing a seatbelt, according to police.

Boston Globe, One killed in rollover on Route 128 in Needham

This is one of many rollovers that have happened in recent weeks. Notably, Ford Explorers have been the subject of design-defect controversy in the past, given the frequency of Explorer rollovers, but NHTSA reported that Explorers are no more likely than other SUVs to roll over.

When a rollover happens after hitting a guardrail, as here, it is called a “tripped rollover.” Of all rollovers, 95% are tripped rollovers.

This story raises the issue of driver/occupant ejection. When persons are ejected from vehicles in accidents, they are three times more likely to die than persons who are not ejected. They are also far more likely to suffer catastrophic injuries like traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries. Here, Cox was not wearing a seatbelt. Sometimes, though, even those who wear seatbelts are ejected from their cars and trucks because of seatbelt defects. Defective door latches can also cause occupant ejection.

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