According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration there are over 280,000 rollover accidents annually, and drivers in Missouri and Kansas certainly experience their share. Rollover accidents are responsible for over 10,000 deaths per year with the largest percentage of rollover accidents occurring in Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs), Minivans and trucks. Most rollovers are single-car accidents, occurring on weekend nights, with male drivers under the age of 25 and alcohol is usually involved.

Why Are SUVs Prone To Rollover Accidents?
Most rollover accidents are directly related to a vehicle’s stability in turns.  SUVs are especially prone to accidents because of their inability to maneuver effectively in emergency situations.  Specific components that contribute to SUV rollover accidents are:

  • Short wheel base compared to height causes SUV's to be top-heavy
  • Tire Tread Failure
  • Tread Separation
  • Weak Brakes
  • Poor Suspension

In addition to being prone to rollover accidents, SUV occupants often face more problems once a crash occurs.  Roofs that collapse, defective seat belts, fires from fuel leaks, unsafe windows and windshields and doors that open during a rollover wreck often become responsible for injury or even the death of the driver or passengers.  All of these issues may be because of defective design of the automobile.

On February 8, 2000, in a motor vehicle crash that is still present in the minds of many of those in Missouri and definitely those who were in Kansas City at that time, 33 year old Kansas City Chiefs football superstar Derek Thomas was killed when his SUV rolled over and the roof of his SUV was crushed. As an aside, Thomas was not wearing a seat belt on that tragic day and aside from vehicle design issues the crash served as a reminder to wear seat belts and stepped up the seat belt wearing habits of many of those who witnessed the publicity of the incident in Kansas City.   

How to Prevent a Rollover Accident from Occurring
Prevention is always a key factor when dealing with potential accidents.  These safety considerations can significantly reduce your risk of being involved in a rollover accident.

  • Maintain the posted speed limits – speeding is one of the main causes of a rollover accident.
  • Driver Behavior – following the rules of the road, driving sober and paying attention all play an important role.  Approximately 85% of all rollovers are single-vehicle accidents and many of these are caused by inappropriate driver behavior
  • Car Maintenance – Maintaining the vehicle, particularly tire maintenance, is key in preventing any type of accident
  • Understanding Vehicle Response – most rollover accidents occur off the roadway or in rural areas.  Knowing how to respond when the vehicle leaves the road by slowing down and not over-correcting is important
  • Technology and Safety – Utilizing seat belts in one of the most important safety features in any vehicle.  Automotive designers continue to improve vehicle safety. The use of side impact head airbags, variable ride-height suspension (VRHS), which senses changing road conditions and can automatically lower the height of the vehicle, and other technological safety features being added either reduce rollovers or increase safety in the event of a rollover

Rollover Rating System
In an effort to protect consumers, the NHTSA developed a rollover rating system to provide consumers a means of evaluating vehicles. This system, a 5-Star rollover resistance rating system, is based on data from over 86,000 single-vehicle rollover accidents.  Ratings are the combination of two measures:  how well-balanced a vehicle is when it is stationary and how the vehicle performs in high-speed accident avoidance maneuvers.  The star ratings are defined as follows:


5 Stars = 10 percent or less chance of injury
4 Stars = 11-20 percent chance of injury
3 Stars = 21-35 percent chance of injury
2 Stars = 36-45 percent chance of injury
1 Star =  46 percent or greater chance of injury

Have You Been Injured In A Kansas City Area Car Accident?

If you've been injured in a car accident you need to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule your free consultation.

James Roswold
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James Roswold is a Kansas & Missouri personal injury, workers comp, and medical malpractice attorney.