One in four vehicles purchased in the United States is a sports utility vehicle (SUV). With these statistics, SUVs are extremely profitable for manufacturing companies and dealerships. However, even with such high sales in the US, the standards of design and production safety have been consistently questioned by government and consumer advocacy groups. Since the late 1990’s, SUV manufacturers have marketed these vehicles as exceptionally safe due to their larger size and sturdy structure. Unfortunately, studies conducted by the Insurance Information Institute do not support this claim. In fact, the report indicates that SUVs are responsible for the highest rollover death rate of all vehicles. While SUV accidents make up only 3% of all motor vehicle accidents, fatal rollover accidents involve three times more SUVs than any other type of vehicle. Rollovers cause 63% of SUV fatalities and 46% of SUV injuries annually. SUV’s are also more common in the Northeast and more specifically Massachusetts as we have to deal with very harsh winters and many family’s and businesses have SUV’s to deal with the snow.
High Center of Gravity
One major structural feature making SUVs more vulnerable to rollovers is their high center of gravity. As with large commercial trucks, the tall nature of an SUV often results in extensive damage to the roof-area. Unfortunately, this part of the vehicle is typically most vulnerable to serious damage and collapse. An inward collapse often causes catastrophic injuries, particularly to the victim’s head, neck, and spinal column. Subsequent medical conditions may include permanent brain damage, full or partial paralysis, and lower-cervical neck fractures. The two most common causes of rollovers occur when:
- The vehicle hits a low obstacle, such as a curb.
- The driver reacts to a potential hazard with a sudden turn or swerve.