by Lauren Fix, The Car Coach
Vehicle Rollovers have to be one of the scariest accidents to see or experience. It starts off so innocently. The vehicle ever-so-slightly coasts onto the shoulder and the first thing that comes to mind is to steer that vehicle back on the road, or maybe apply the brakes. It seems like the right thing to do, but the next thing you know the vehicle is off the road rolling over and over in a nightmare scenario.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
1. Vehicle rollovers account for nearly1/3 of the roughly 43,000 deaths that occur each year from passenger-vehicle crashes
2. Nearly 85% of all rollover-related fatalities are the result of single-vehicle crashes.
3. Over 90% of the vehicles in fatal, single-vehicle rollover crashes were involved in routine driving maneuvers (going straight or negotiating a curve) at the time of the crash.
Here are some important tips to prevent vehicle rollovers:
• Slow Down! The first thing you want to do is take your foot off the accelerator and allow the vehicle to slow down gradually. Overcorrecting the steering is what causes many drivers to lose control, which can force the vehicle to slide sideways and roll over. According to NHTSA, Fatal rollover crashes are speed-related more often than fatal non-rollover crashes. Some 40% of fatal rollover crashes involved excessive speeding . Additionally, nearly ¾ of fatal rollovers took place where the posted speed limit was 55 miles per hour or higher.
• Don’t Panic! Think “black ice” and this may help you to resist panicking. Do not slam on the brakes. You want to ever-so-lightly apply the brakes using very soft application until you bring the vehicle to a safe speed or a complete stop. Once you have reduced to a safer speed, slowly and gently steer the vehicle back onto the road surface.
• Buckle Up! It is imperative that everyone has on a safety belt! Rollovers are multifaceted, brutal and ugly. Statistics prove that wearing a safety belt has the greatest effect on reducing the chance of fatality—occupants are 75% less likely to be killed in a rollover crash if they are wearing their safety belt!
• Check your Tire Pressure! Tires low on air or worn-out reduce your ability to control a vehicle in an emergency situation. Tires that are low on air can increase tire wear and adversely impact steering, braking and can even cause tire failure. Worn out tires don’t grip the road as well especially in wet or slippery conditions. They can also cause hydroplaning, a problem that can begin at about 5/32” of tread remaining.
• Don’t overload your roof rack! Any thing you put on your roof increases the vehicle’s center of gravity. Make sure your read your vehicle's owner’s manual to determine how much you can carry and how to distribute the weight! Do Not Go Over The Weight Limit, even if you are only going a short distance down the road!
• Pay attention! Concentrate on your driving rather than on personal problems or work. Scan ahead, around and behind you for any kind of road hazards. Be attentive to what you are doing, and what other drivers are doing. Be on the lookout for pedestrians, animals or anything entering the roadway unexpectedly.
Driving an automobile is part of this modern world. Why not take some of the tension out of driving by slowing down and paying attention! Driving at reduced speed increases your ability to keep your vehicle under control in a wider range of situations. Then you can have years of trouble free driving!