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Minimize Risk and Injury

Author / Coordinator:  
March 2007

There are many ways to minimize the risk of vehicle rollover, as well as reduce the risk of serious injury should one occur. Statistics prove that wearing a safety belt has the greatest effect on reducing the chance of fatality—occupants are 75% less likely to be killed in a rollover crash if they are wearing them.

Safety belt use has an even greater effect on reducing the deadliness of rollover crashes than on other crashes because so many victims of rollover crashes die as a result of being partially or completely thrown from the vehicle. Use the blue toolbar above to learn even more ways to protect yourself and others while on the road.

1. Avoid Panic-like Steering

Many rollovers occur when drivers overcorrect their steering as a panic reaction to an emergency—or even to a wheel going off the pavement’s edge. At highway speeds, overcorrecting or excessive steering can cause the driver to lose control, which can force the vehicle to slide sideways and roll over.

2. Know Proper Maneuvering

If your vehicle leaves the roadway, gradually reduce speed. Then, when it’s safe to do so, ease the vehicle back onto the roadway.

3. Use Caution on Rural Roads

Rollovers are more likely to occur on rural roads and highways—particularly undivided, two-way roads or divided roads with no barriers. When a vehicle goes off a rural road, the vehicle can overturn when it strikes a ditch or embankment, or is tripped by soft soil. Nearly 75% of all rollover crashes occur in rural areas, so practice caution when driving on rural roads.

4. Tire Pressure and Vehicle Loading

Maintain Your Tires
Improperly inflated and worn tires can be especially dangerous because they inhibit your ability to maintain vehicle control, the most important factor in reducing the chance of rollover. Worn tires may cause the vehicle to slide sideways on wet or slippery pavement, sliding the vehicle off the road and increasing its risk of rolling over. Improper inflation can accelerate tire wear, and can even lead to tire failure. It is important to maintain your tires properly, and replace them when necessary.

5. Load Vehicle Properly

Consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual to determine the maximum safe load for your vehicle, as well as proper load distribution. If you’re using a roof rack, pay special attention to the manufacturer’s instructions and weight limits. Any load placed on the roof will be above the vehicle’s center of gravity, and will increase the vehicle’s likelihood of rolling over.

NCAP Vehicle Ratings

To help you assess the likelihood that a vehicle will roll over, NHTSA provides rollover ratings as part of its New Car Assessment Program (NCAP). To view ratings for individual vehicles, visit www.safercar.gov.

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