The problems with the instability of SUVs are well-documented and have been the subject of much litigation in the United States and in particular South Florida. SUVs generally have a high center of gratuity, along with a narrow track width which makes them subject to vehicle instability and thus rollover events. Examples of SUVs that have a high propensity to rollover and have been the subject of much litigation include the Ford Explorer, Chevrolet Blazer and the Jeep Liberty.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), SUVs are 75% more likely to be involved in a rollover accident than other standard vehicles. Astonishingly, NHTSA found that the safest SUV is still more likely to rollover than the least safe sedan on the market.
A vehicle's stability depends on a number of attributes including the height, weight, width, center of mass, suspension, tires and wheels, aerodynamics, steering, electronic stability control (ECS), and numerous other characteristics. Based on these characteristics, some vehicles are manufactured to be much more stable than others. Generally speaking, sedans and sports care have much better stability, while SUVs and large vans tend to have more instability issues.
An ideal center of mass for vehicle stability is a weight distribution of 50/50, which means the center of mass is half-way between the front and rear axles, more typically found in sedans and other traditional automobiles. ECS is a device used to help control the stability of a vehicle by detecting and preventing skids by applying brakes when it detects the vehicle is skidding.
Today many of the newer SUVs on the market have safety devices as standard equipment that makes the vehicles more crashworthy and less likely to rollover. This includes the above described ESC, and rollover bars and cages, as well as generally lowers centers of gravity.
At Halpern Santos & Pinkert, P.A., we have dealt with instability cases involving many different vehicles, manufacturers and theories If you or someone you know is injured as a result of vehicle instability or a rollover event, please do not hesitate to contact us so that we may analyze and assist you with your case.