Of all the ways you can be involved in a motor vehicle crash, rollover collisions are the deadliest. Even when not fatal, they can result in serious injuries. In a rollover crash just outside of Cleveland last year, a man had to be cut out of his car before being taken to the hospital in serious condition.
This is just one case. Rollovers make up only 3% of all motor vehicle collisions but accounted for 31% of people killed in motor vehicle collisions in 2016. In previous years, the fatality rate for rollover crashes was even higher.
About 1,000 fatal crashes occur in Ohio every year. Cuyahoga County alone accounts for between 7-10% of fatal crashes in the state, with 91 fatal crashes occurring just last year. Although local crash statistics compiled by the Ohio State Highway Patrol don’t indicate whether a vehicle crash was a rollover or not, they do tell us whether some of the top contributing factors for rollover collisions — speeding or driving under the influence — were involved.
Types of Rollover Collisions
So, why are rollover crashes so deadly?
When a vehicle rolls over, occupants may be thrown from the car or crushed if the roof collapses on them. Often, the car may roll over repeatedly, and each time this happens, it is a separate impact.
There are two types of rollover collisions:
- Tripped rollovers are when a vehicle leaves the roadway and slides sideways. They are caused by conditions outside the vehicle, such as a tire hitting a curb or a guardrail or digging into soft soil. Misjudging a steep slope may also cause a tripped rollover.
- Untripped rollovers occur when instead of an object acting as a tripping mechanism, the driver’s speed is usually the issue. For example, a driver might cause an untripped rollover by speeding through a corner or jerking the wheel suddenly to avoid a collision. Any sudden move by a distracted driver or speeding driver might result in a rollover.
Tripped rollovers are by far the most common type of rollover collision. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 95% of single-vehicle rollovers are tripped. Untripped rollovers mainly occur to top-heavy vehicles.
Contributing Factors in Ohio Rollover Crashes
Almost 85% of all rollover-related fatalities are from single-vehicle crashes. This suggests that driver behavior plays a major role in rollover collisions, since there are no other vehicles involved.
However, let’s look at some contributing factors in both single- and multiple-vehicle rollovers in Ohio.
Vehicles with High Centers of Gravity
SUVs, certain light trucks, minivans, and other tall, narrow vehicles with high centers of gravity are more prone to rollover accidents than other vehicles.
Speed is frequently a contributor in both tripped and untripped rollovers. If you hit a curb (tripped) or suddenly jerk the wheel to avoid an oncoming car (untripped) while you are speeding, it is much easier to shift the vehicle’s center of gravity and cause a rollover.
Fatal rollover crashes involve speeding more frequently than other types of fatal crashes, at about 40%. Many rollover incidents could have been avoided had drivers just slowed down. It is significant that approximately 75% of fatal rollover accidents are in locations with speed limits of 55 mph or higher.
Alcohol is involved in many types of motor vehicle collisions, and rollovers are no exception. Alcohol consumption is a contributor to approximately 50% of fatal rollover crashes. In Ohio, OVI (Operating a Vehicle Impaired) arrests occurred most frequently in Franklin, Lucas, and Cuyahoga counties in 2016, with more than 1,000 arrests that year and Cuyahoga County and double that in Franklin County.
If a person is sober, they can think better and their reflexes are quicker and more precise. If they are drunk, they may easily do something that can cause a rollover, such as jerk the steering wheel because they did not notice an obstruction in time or hit a guardrail with a bumper and fail to guide the vehicle properly to correct that error.
Location and Type of Road
Undivided roads with no barriers, such as rural roads, are particularly likely to be the location of rollover crashes. About 75% of fatal rollover crashes happen in rural locations where the speed limit is 55 mph or higher.
What to Do After a Rollover in Ohio
As with other motor vehicle collisions in which you are not at fault or are only partially at fault, you can be compensated for your injuries, loss of income, pain and suffering, and property damage after a rollover. For example, if you are forced to sharply jerk the wheel to get out of the way of a drunk driver and your car rolls over as a result, the person who came into your lane or ran the red light is responsible. This is true even if the other vehicle did not hit yours.
If you or a loved one are injured in a rollover crash in Ohio, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced Cleveland personal injury attorney to learn more about your rights. Plevin & Gallucci has been helping victims of motor vehicle collisions for over 40 years. Contact us today for a free legal consultation.