Don’t Roll Your Car This Summer


The white Tahoe sat in the median between the north and south lanes of the freeway. Personal belongings were scattered for dozens of feet in all directions. The rear window was broken out, and about 10 people milled around inspecting the damage.

This could have been any of the accidents that are unfortunately all too familiar on American Interstates, except this particular vehicle had come to rest on its roof.

Yesterday was clear and warm with nothing but blue skies, dry pavement, and light traffic. I don’t know how the Tahoe rolled over or what circumstances led to the accident, but it appeared that it happened just moments before I passed. No other vehicles were involved.

How can a single-vehicle rollover happen on such a perfect day for driving?

Any car, regardless of make or model, can flip under the right conditions. Heck, my mother-in-law rolled one of the hardest vehicles to flip, a Porsche 911. (She escaped without injury, but the 911 did not.)

Consumer Reports has looked extensively into the phenomenon of rollovers and said:

A single-vehicle rollover is usually not caused by a steering maneuver. Instead, the vehicle usually has to “trip” on something, such as when it swerves into a curb, pothole, or a soft roadside shoulder. The government has estimated that 95 percent of rollovers result from trips. Some observers say that number is too high. If a vehicle leans in such a way that a tire’s sidewall deforms and the wheel rim strikes the pavement and provokes a tip-up, then the government counts that as a tripped rollover.

The area of the accident yesterday didn’t have a soft shoulder, and there was no curbing to hit that would flip the car. It was a mostly straight section of highway, so the cause was probably not due to taking a corner too quickly. The accident was probably either the result of an evasive steering maneuver or, more likely, a tire or wheel giving out on the highway.

With summer driving ahead of us, I mention this as a reminder to take precautions and to be as safe as possible on the roads. Don’t excessively speed, don’t drive on tires that are bald or under-inflated, obey the speed limit, and be mindful of your car’s load capacities.

Yesterday’s accident in perfect weather proved that a rollover can happen to anyone at anytime. Please be safe out there.

Have you ever been in a rollover accident?


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