Driving at high speeds causes a very high number of rollover accidents, which can be particularly dangerous in light trucks that may not have the roof strength to protect occupants. According to one study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 45% of the rollover accidents they examined were caused by speed in one way or another. In New York, where road conditions can be affected by adverse weather, it is even more important to understand how to maintain safe control of a vehicle and avoid rollover accidents.
High speeds in and of themselves do not typically cause rollover accidents. Instead, it is a combination of speed that is unsafe due to the height or load within a truck and secondary factors. About two-thirds of rollover accidents related to speed are due to curves in the road and how drivers handle them. In most instances, drivers simply misjudge the speed at which they can safely take a curve, which results in a rollover. A fair number of times, drivers in a hurry knowingly disregard the safe speed for a curve, and end up rolling over, while anger can also lead a driver to drive too fast on a curve. In some rare cases, a driver simply misses posted speed limits for a curve, which illustrates the importance of knowing road conditions and traffic laws.
Almost one-fourth of rollover accidents due to speed involve heavy or unusual loads in a vehicle. Anything that changes the weight or size of a vehicle, especially a truck that may already be top-heavy, needs to be factored into safely driving it. Failure to adjust to such factors can result in a rollover. Almost 14% of rollover cases involving speed in the study were due to failure to adjust for brakes that were worn or in poor condition. Drivers should always know the condition of their vehicle and drive accordingly, as well as have regular maintenance on the vehicle.
Road conditions impacted about 10% of the cases the FMCSA studied where speed caused the rollover. Too often, drivers fail to adjust for poor road conditions, especially rain, and drive at speeds that are too fast. Intersections, and sharp turns required to turn at one, were involved in about 10% of rollovers due to speed. Drivers should typically treat intersections like curves in a road, and approach them with a respectful caution.
Fewer than 5% of cases involved a failure to adjust speed to vehicles around the driver, and a few were due to worn tread on tires and driving too fast for them. This reinforces the importance of knowing the condition of a vehicle, and driving in a way that is appropriate for it. Only 2 cases involved sight distance, when a truck approached the top of a hill too quickly and found traffic on the other side that resulted in a sudden swerve and rollover.
While excessive speed is the biggest cause of New York rollover truck accidents, understanding how other factors make those high speeds dangerous helps make such crashes more avoidable. If you or a loved one was injured in a rollover truck accident, our experienced lawyers at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP would like to help. Call us today at (212) 986-7353 to talk about your case and discuss your options.