One third of all light vehicle fatalities are in rollovers

Crashworthiness / Roof Crush

About Roof Crush

One third of all light vehicle fatalities are in rollovers. In rollovers, roof crush is caused by weak roof pillars and windshield header that are not strong enough to hold up the weight of the vehicle as it hits the ground, so it intrudes into the occupant space. In rollovers, roof crush causes side window failures creating ejection portals for occupants to be thrown from the vehicle. The largest number of casualties in rollovers is from ejection. Roof crush also causes a significant number of head and neck injuries: typically the most severe consequences of rollovers.

SUVs have the highest rollover rate and rollover fatality rate. Most rollovers occur when a driver loses control of a vehicle, and it begins to slide sideways. When this happens, something can cause the vehicle to “trip” and cause it to roll over. A few explanations could be a curb, guardrail, tree stump, or soft or no shoulder on the side of the road. Rollovers also can happen when the driver tries to turn a vehicle too forcefully and at a high rate of speed or with a tight turning radius. Under these circumstances frictional force between the tires and road surface can cause the vehicle to tip up and then roll over.

While many rollovers are single vehicle crashes, a collision may precipitate a rollover by initiating the rolling motion in a vehicle that is traveling or has been redirected sideways, such as in a t-bone.

Large trucks are probably most vulnerable to rollover because of their relatively high center of gravity, particularly when loaded. However, these vehicles are almost always driven by experienced professionals who are well aware of their potential instability. Light trucks, sport utility vehicles, and vans (including minivans) are much more likely to rollover than passenger cars because of their higher center of gravity.

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