Top Heavy SUVs and Vans Are Prone To Rollovers: What Are Car Companies Doing to Prevent This?

July 26th 2010 by

Electronic stability controls (ESC) in your SUV or van could easily prevent it from rolling over in an accident, but most car makers do not install this safety device in their SUVs.

According to the NHTSA, few types of traffic accidents are as dangerous as the rollover. Every year, more than 40,000 people lose their lives on America’s streets and one-fourth of these victims have been in an SUV or van that has rolled over. That’s possibly 10,000 lives that could be saved if auto makers would install ESC in all their vehicles.

Rollover accidents are currently the most active area of litigation when it comes to car defects. Most SUVs — and to a greater extent 15-passenger vans — have a high center of gravity that makes them prone to roll over. They have a center of gravity so high and a track width so narrow that they are subject to loss of control, and rollover dangers, in simple minor accidents, but even more so at highway speeds.

The lower a car is to the ground, and the wider its track width, the less likely it is to flip over. This is exactly why SUVs and vans have such a high risk for rollover crashes. A simple stability-control feature could be installed in these higher-center-of-gravity vehicles to prevent them from rolling over so easily. And, it wouldn’t cost the car makers very much to install it.

Some newer model SUVs have undergone updates to their stability design. The wheelbase has been widened and the center of gravity has been lowered to a small degree. Some models even include stability-controls that apply braking to individual wheels when the technology senses the vehicle could roll over. Unfortunately, this ESC safety feature has not been installed in all SUVs and vans.

Electronic stability controls are designed to electronically manipulate the power and braking inputs of a vehicle whenever it begins to lose control. The net effect of this ESC technology is that it helps to correct the two main problems with SUV designs — over steering and under steering.
In September of 2006, the NHTSA ruled that all new SUVs and vans will be required to have anti-rollover technology installed by the year 2012. This new regulation is estimated to save 10,300 lives and prevent more than a quarter-million injuries each year. So, why have so few auto makers installed ESC controls in their cars? Simply put … car makers are more concerned with profits than with saving lives.

Read more about auto safety litigation and what you can do to protect your family. You may be surprised by what you find out.

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