Which Vehicles are Most Susceptible to Rollover Accidents?

Categories: Vehicle Accidents

California Rollover Accident Lawyer

The characteristics of a roadway certainly make a difference when it comes to the likelihood of a rollover accident. Consider how many rollovers take place on the Ortega Highway (SR 74) in Orange County. The sharp turns and highway speeds along this mountain route are infamously dangerous. But have you ever noticed that a disproportionate number of Ortega Highway rollovers involve pickup trucks? Why is this?

Other factors aside, pickups and other top-heavy vehicles are more likely to overturn in an accident. We know this because the government tests new vehicles for rollover susceptibility. Car buyers should review these test results before making a purchase. After all, you may not be able to choose the characteristics of the roadways in Southern California, but you can choose to own a vehicle with a good rollover safety rating.

Below you will find a description of the government’s testing methods and results. If you were involved in a rollover and the cause is unclear, this information may prove to be important to your case. We encourage you to contact your nearest Neale & Fhima office in Dana Point, Los Angeles, San Francisco, or San Diego to learn more.

NHTSA Rollover Testing and Ratings

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the federal agency in charge of enforcing vehicle safety performance standards. The agency’s efforts began almost 40 years ago, when it started using crash test dummies to measure the effect of frontend collisions. In the early 2000s, NHTSA turned its attention to rollover accidents. The method it developed for gauging rollover susceptibility is still used today.

The test is a three-step process:

Step 1: NHTSA calculates the “Static Stability Factor.” This is purely a mathematical exercise that assigns a score based on:

  • How high the vehicle’s center of gravity is from the ground.
  • How much space there is between the vehicle’s right and left tires.

Vehicles with low centers of gravity and wide wheel tracks score more favorably in step one.

Step 2: NHTSA performs a “Dynamic Stability Test.” This involves a 50-mph road test in which the vehicle’s steering wheel is moved side-to-side to simulate a driver swerving and overcorrecting. If the vehicle tips, meaning its wheels lose contact with the pavement, then it fails. If not, it passes.

Step 3: NHTSA combines the results from the first two steps to arrive at a percentage. The percentage score represents approximately how likely it is that the vehicle will roll over in a single-vehicle traffic accident. Stars are then assigned as follows:

  • 40% or greater chance = 1 star
  • 30-39% chance = 2 stars
  • 20-29% chance = 3 stars
  • 10-19% chance = 4 stars
  • 10% or less chance = 5 stars

This table lists the rollover resistance of various classes of passenger vehicles from worst to best. The sample vehicles representing each class were chosen from among the most popular makes and models within that class. You can see results for your vehicle by visiting the NHTSA website.

Class of Vehicle Sample Vehicle (2017 model) NHTSA Rollover Rating
Full-size Vans Nissan NV3500 2 Stars (no tip, 30.60%)
Full-size Pickups Dodge Ram 3 Stars (no tip, 23.70%)
Mid-size Pickups GMC Canyon 3 Stars (no tip, 21.20%)
Station Wagons Subaru Outback 4 Stars (no tip, 17.50%)
Luxury SUVs Lexus RX350 4 Stars (no tip, 16.40%)
Compact SUVs & Crossovers Nissan Rogue 4 Stars (no tip, 16.40%)
Compact/Economy Cars Honda Fit 4 Stars (no tip, 14.70%)
Minivans Chrysler Pacifica 4 Stars (no tip, 11.60%)
Family Sedans Toyota Camry 4 Stars (no tip, 11.10%)
Premium Sports Sedans Cadillac CTS-V 5 Stars (no tip, 10.10%)
Coupes & Convertibles Mercedes-Benz E-Class 5 Stars (no tip, 9.70%)
Hybrids & Electrics Chevy Volt 5 Stars (no tip, 9.30%)
Sports/MuscleCars Ford Mustang 5 Stars (no tip, 8.10%)

Orange County Rollover Accident Lawyers

Purchasing a safe vehicle reduces your chances of being injured in a rollover, but the risk still exists. Dangerous highways, weather, and other drivers in Southern California can all contribute. If you or a loved one was injured, contact Neale and Fhima today.