In spite of ever-improving vehicle safety technology, hundreds of people die in car crashes in Texas each year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in accidents where a vehicle runs off the road, rollovers are among the most dangerous outcomes, whether the vehicle ends up on its side, roof or wheels.
One of the more significant factors in rollover resistance is a vehicle’s static stability factor. This has to do with the vehicle’s center of gravity height and its track width. The New Car Assessment Program rates vehicles based on the SSF, but this rollover rating is only for consumer information purposes. Manufacturers are under no obligation to use the data to improve vehicle safety. The NHTSA uses the NCAP rating in its own star safety rating program.
Experts divide rollover crashes into “tripped” and “untripped” events. When the only cause for the rollover is the friction between the tire and road, the rollover is untripped. These types of traction-related crashes are relatively rare, making up roughly 5% of all rollover events. In about 95% of cases, rollovers are the result of a vehicle leaving the road and “tripping” over a curb, soft shoulder or ditch.
Vehicle speed is another critical factor in the equation determining whether a vehicle will roll over or remain upright, according to Kineticorp, LLC. Researchers recreating rollover crashes conducted tests ranging in speed between 13.5 mph and 42.9 mph on a loose gravel shoulder. The lowest speed at which the test vehicle tripped was 21.2 mph. At 23.0 mph, the vehicle rolled onto its side, and at 42.9 mph, the vehicle rolled all the way over once.