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Why do vehicles flip over?

You've probably seen movies where people miraculously walk away from violent rollover crashes, but when a car rolls over, the results can be catastrophic and fatal for anyone inside.

What the movies never address is the fact that the occupants of vehicles frequently get ejected, especially if they're not wearing a seatbelt. The bodies inside the car - when not secured or strapped down - will find any avenue of exit that's available and the g-forces will send people out of the car. Suffice it to say, everyone should (1) wear their seatbelts, and (2) try to avoid flip-over crashes at all costs. But why do cars flip over in the first place?

The reason for rollover crashes

Any vehicle can flip upside down, but the narrower and taller the car is, the more at risk it is of flipping. As such, the vehicles most at risk of rollover crashes are SUVs, vans and pickups. These vehicles have their centers of gravity higher, making them top-heavy.

When sideways forces are applied to a car, like when it goes around a curve or tries to take a rapid change in direction, it can induce a rollover. Imagine, for example that an SUV is driving rapidly down the interstate and another vehicle clips it laterally so the wheels go off track with the forward momentum. This can cause the car to flip over in no time flat. This is how most flip-over crashes happen.

Vehicles don't usually roll over due to a steering maneuver alone. They have to trip over something, like getting nudged by a car as described above, or hitting an unexpected pothole or the shoulder of the road. Government analysts estimate that approximately 95 percent flip-over events happen because of these kinds of "tripping" incidents.

Was your vehicle unnaturally prone to flipping over?

Vehicle accidents can happen because of negligent car design. When negligent vehicle design results in a rollover event or some other kind of injurious crash, victims may want to investigate their legal rights and options. In some situations, negligent vehicle design proves sufficient cause to pursue a personal injury action.

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