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.
There is a common misconception that more weight adds stability to a vehicle. Because of the high center of gravity of SUVs, the opposite is actually true. With SUVs weighing up to four tons, damage to smaller vehicles is extremely common. In addition to increased weight due to the “sturdier” build of an SUV, the extra space for additional passengers and equipment adds even more weight, further increasing the risk of rollovers.
False Sense of Security
The Opinion Research Corporation reports that 39% of Americans feel safer riding in an SUV than in smaller vehicles. This belief has been fueled by manufacturers marketing SUVs as safe and sturdy. With this false understanding of the top-heavy physics and weak roofs, drivers may be driving recklessly without realizing it. The more SUV safety education is offered, the lower the risk of accidents. Educated drivers will be better prepared to choose the safest vehicle, demand the safest design from manufacturers, and learn safe maneuvering techniques.
Atman & Altman, LLP – Boston’s Premier SUV Accident Attorneys
SUV accidents can be catastrophic. Sadly, they often result in severe head and spinal damage, sometimes leading to death. If you or a loved one has been injured in an SUV rollover or any other type of motor vehicle accident, contact the Boston car accident lawyers of Altman & Altman, LLP today. Our highly skilled accident and injury attorneys will evaluate every detail of your case to determine the best strategy for moving forward. If the accident was caused by your SUVs low safety standards or poor design, you may have a product liability claim. Whatever the circumstances, we will ensure that you understand your rights and options from the very beginning. Our legal team will be with you every step of the way. Contact us today for a free consultation about your case.