Tragic Walton County SUV Rollover Accident Emphasizes Key Lessons


July 30, 2011

A recent tragic SUV rollover accident in Walton County serves as a grim reminder that despite improvements in SUV safety standards, the risk of suffering serious injury or death from SUV rollover accidents persists. The State Patrol indicated that a 2001 Dodge Durango was transporting 10 people when it rolled over.

Eight of the passengers were ejected from the vehicle when it rolled over several times. Two of the children ejected from the vehicle suffered extensive injuries. The accident is under investigation to determine if alcohol was involved in the SUV rollover collision. Fortunately, no one was killed in this accident but it highlights a number of issues regarding SUV accident safety in Georgia including:

Seat Belts Are Essential: When the SUV rolled over the only passengers that remained in the vehicle were two children in booster seats. The eight occupants not belted in where ejected from the SUV. Vehicle ejection is one of the most serious dangers during an SUV rollover accident. Vehicle ejection causes 63 percent of all SUV rollover fatalities and serious brain injury to many others according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). SUV rollover accidents pose a higher risk of vehicle ejection because if the roof is crushed during an SUV rollover accident the doors of the vehicle will often be thrust open so that the passenger is ejected. Seat belts are indispensable because they keep SUV occupants within the protective structure of the vehicle.

Alcohol and SUVs Do Not Mix: It is never safe to drink and drive, but drivers who commit DUI while driving an SUV pose an exceptionally serious risk because SUVs are prone to rollover due to their high center of gravity.

Older SUVs Lack Important Safety Features: This Walton County SUV rollover accident was a textbook SUV tripping accident. The driver apparently had the vehicle tires drop off the road onto the shoulder and overcorrected when steering back onto the roadway. This type of accident referred to as an SUV “tripping accident” is common when an SUV goes off the roadway and drivers overcorrect by steering hard in the opposite direction. The edge of the roadway can literally trip the vehicle causing it to rollover. Many new SUVs have improved safety equipment to reduce the risk of serious injury from this type of accident including:

  • Electronic Stabilization Control: These systems have a number of versions, but generally apply the brakes to individual wheels when a driver over-steers to assist the driver in maintaining control of the vehicle.
  • Improved Roof Strength: The NHTSA has repeatedly emphasized the importance of improved roof strength in mitigating the risk of roof crush injuries and vehicle ejection by improving roof strength.
  • Stronger Door Latches: The NHTSA has also identified stronger door lock strength as an effective way to mitigate SUV rollover accident ejection risks.
  • Side Window Airbags: These airbags that are installed in many newer SUVs inflate to provide a barrier to help keep unbuckled vehicle occupants from being ejected through a broken out window.

Rollover crashes continue to account for 61 percent of all SUV vehicle fatalities based on NHTSA data. It is tragic that many serious injuries including traumatic head injuries and fatalities could be avoided by simply avoiding alcohol and buckling up. However, there is some reason to be encouraged that improvements in safety standards for SUVs are resulting in many new SUVs being manufactured safer. However, purchasers of SUV's should still understand the inherent risks presented by a vehicle with a higher center of gravity. And this does little to reduce the risk posed by the many SUVs still on the road that predate many of the newest safety improvements designed to reduce the risks associated with SUV rollovers.

If you or someone you love has been injured or you have lost a loved one in a fatal rollover accident involving a car, truck or SUV, the experienced SUV rollover accident lawyers at Montlick and Associates have been representing Georgia SUV rollover accident victims for over 27 years. OurAtlanta auto accident lawyers are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at our main law firm website at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Personal Injury

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