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Rollover: Types

Author / Coordinator:  
Minnesota
March 2007

Rollovers occur in one of two ways:

Tripped Rollovers

NHTSA data show that 95% of single-vehicle rollovers are tripped. This happens when a vehicle leaves the roadway and slides sideways, digging its tires into soft soil or striking an object such as a curb or guardrail. The high tripping force applied to the tires in these situations can cause the vehicle to roll over.
One of the best ways to avoid a rollover, therefore, is to stay on the road. Electronic Stability Control is a promising new technology that will help drivers stay on the road in emergency situations.

  • Curbs, soft soil/shoulders, guardrails, pavement surface discontinuities, snow banks, or other objects can cause tripping.
  • Tripping can also occur when a vehicle is traveling forward, typically at a high speed. If one side of the vehicle rides up on an object, like a guardrail, it may be forced to roll over.
  • Tripping can also occur on severe slopes in off-road situations. If an incline’s slope is too steep to keep the vehicle upright, it can topple over.

 Un-tripped Rollovers

Un-tripped rollovers are less common than tripped rollovers, occurring less than 5% of the time, and mostly to top-heavy vehicles. Instead of an object serving as a tripping mechanism, un-tripped rollovers usually occur during high-speed collision avoidance maneuvers.

  • Un-tripped rollovers do not occur on slippery roads. They are the result of normal surface friction.