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Five things that can make a rollover crash a deadly one

Did you know that rollover crashes account for approximately 30 percent of passenger fatalities in the United States each year? In fact, according to the most recent data available to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), this equates to around 32,000 deaths each year.

Occurring most often in vehicles with high centers of gravity like large semi-trucks and SUVs, rollover crashes are considered one of the most deadly crash types for a variety of reasons. Today, we'd like to point out just five factors that can make this type of crash a fatal one.

1.) Seatbelt use

According to crash data from the year 2000, the most recent year in which data was collected, "72 percent of occupants who died in rollover crashes [that year] were not using [a seat belt or restraint device]." In these cases, drivers and passengers were often thrown from the vehicle, causing fatal injuries including severe head traumas and internal organ damage.

2.) Flying glass

As you can imagine, rollover crashes can cause the windows of a vehicle to break, sending shards of glass flying around the cabin of the vehicle. Even if a passenger is restrained by a seatbelt, they could still suffer severe lacerations and serious injuries. Depending on the extent of these lacerations or how the passenger is struck by flying glass, fatal injuries are possible.

3.) Vehicle safety features

While many newer vehicles now offer curtain airbags that inflate in rollover crashes to stop glass from flying about the cabin, not all newer vehicles are equipped with this safety feature. Indeed, not everyone has a newer vehicle, meaning a driver might only get the steering wheel and passenger airbag we're so used to seeing. As these airbags do little to prevent passengers from getting struck by glass and flying debris, fatal injuries are still possible.

4.) Speed of the vehicle

As you can imagine, the speed a vehicle is traveling just before rolling over can have a major impact on the injuries passengers suffer. High speed crashes can cause a vehicle to roll several times before coming to a stop, putting immense forces on passengers who may easily suffer fatal head, neck and spinal cord traumas as a result of this violent accident.

5.) Involvement of other vehicles

Although the NHTSA admits that most rollover crashes involve only one vehicle, it's possible for a rollover vehicle to collide with another vehicle or be struck while at rest by another vehicle. Whatever is the case, the involvement of more passengers increases the chance for fatalities, especially if any of the factors above are present.

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