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Most serious automobile accidents involve vehicle rollovers. The National Highway Transportation Safety Association (NHTSA) has recognized that sport utility vehicles are particularly prone to rollovers; the fatality rate per million vehicles is between two and three times greater for sport utility vehicles (SUV), particularly Ford Bronco II’s, Geo Trackers and Suzuki Sidekick. Almost 36,000 occupants of light duty vehicles died in the calendar years 1991 through 1994 in rollover crashes; twice the rate for all vehicle types combined. In 1995, the single-vehicle rollover death rate in SUVs (146 deaths per million registered vehicles) was more than eight times the rate in the largest cars. Amazingly, the particular design defects that cause all of this death and injury could be designed out of the vehicles. HD&H has been handling this type of case since the 1980s. At present we are focusing on numerous cases involving Ford Explorers, Toyota 4-Runners, Ford Bronco II’s, Suzuki Sidekicks and Geo Trackers.
Typically, rollover accident scenarios involve a driver swerving to avoid an obstacle; such as child darting into the street, a driver veering onto the shoulder of a road and then applying a sudden steer input to come back to the original position; next the SUV driver experiences a loss of control followed by the vehicle rollover.
“At present we are focusing on numerous cases involving Ford Explorers, Toyota 4-Runners, Ford Bronco II’s, Suzuki Sidekicks and Geo Trackers."
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Rollover accidents involve two distinct categories of defects. First, there are those design defects that actually cause the rollover, such as dynamic instability, handling and steering. Second, there are crashworthiness defects that are unrelated to the cause of the rollover, but produce or enhance the injuries of the vehicle occupants. These “crashworthiness” defects include: inadequate roof structure that intrudes into the occupant space, seat belts that do not perform properly, windshield and windows, door latches, unforgiving interior components and general substandard occupant protection in a collision. We, as consumers, are entitled to expect the vehicles that we purchase and use for our families to be as safe as technologically possible. At a very minimum, any vehicle ought to be able to slide sideways on dry smooth pavement without rolling over. This can be achieved by simply making the track width wider and/or lowering the center of gravity.
Our experts say it is an absolute travesty that the SUV manufacturers that market these vehicles to the American consumer are able to get away with putting us all in danger, due to a lack of regulations like we have on passenger cars. Moreover, these vehicles are frequently targeted to those that are the most inexperienced in driving, the country’s teens. Only when brave people that have been wronged by car manufacturers come forth and take them to task will the manufacturers be held accountable and safety changes be made.
If you have any knowledge of rollovers or questions about this issue, please call our office.
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