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The Most Common Reasons for Vehicle Rollovers

Do you know what puts your vehicle at risk for a rollover accident? No one wants to wind up in an accident where their car flips over.

While there are some things out of the driver’s control that can cause a rollover accident, staying focused, adjusting speed, and proceeding with caution around any turns and curves are critical for reducing the danger.

It’s important to realize that while rollover accidents can happen anywhere, certain circumstances make them more likely than others. Knowing your risks can help you decide whether driving is worth the risk or can encourage you to use caution in these conditions.

Inappropriate Speed and Turns

When you see road signs that encourage you to slow down for an upcoming road issue, like a hairpin curve or steep grade, take them seriously. This is especially true if you’re driving a vehicle like an SUV that typically have a higher center of gravity.

Driving too fast in general or in specific road conditions can be very dangerous because of your limited opportunity to correct your driving patterns and behavior.

High Winds

Your own vehicle could potentially roll over in very high wind conditions, but you could also become the victim of an accident when a semi-truck flips due to that same weather. In addition to its high profile and center of gravity, high winds can heighten the risk for semi-trucks, including:

  • Lack of balance due to no cargo
  • Sudden movement that increases tip risk
  • Inclines on the road in conjunction with a sudden wind burst
  • Steep grades on the road
  • Improper truck maintenance
  • Tired drivers not paying attention to shifting road conditions
  • A winding road or sharp curve

Vehicle Types and Defects

Some types of vehicles, like SUVs and 18 wheelers, are already at higher risk of a rollover because of their high center of gravity. However, most SUVs are extremely safe so long as the person driving the car exercises caution.

SUVs can be more unstable in high wind conditions, so it’s key for any driver to recognize the potential for a rollover and to avoid any other risk factors like overinflated tires or overcorrections. Tall, narrow vehicles, like vans and pickups, also have a higher center of gravity.

More often than not, a one-car rollover accident is not caused by the driver doing something inside the car. Instead, it’s when the car hits an outside force like a pothole or soft roadside shoulder because this shifts the total balance of the car.

One or more common defects, such as spinning tires, steering wheel issues, stalled brakes or issues with the electrical system, can cause a rollover accident in your vehicle. Furthermore, if there’s any kind of defect in your car, a rollover could be the outcome. If you suddenly find yourself unable to control the car and aren’t sure what happened, an investigation might be necessary to determine whether or not a vehicle defect caused the accident.

Over-inflated Tires

You know that under-inflated tires increase your chances of getting a flat, but did you know there are also dangers of inflating your tires too much? If you have problems keeping your current tire pressure consistent, you might assume there’s no big risk in adding a little bit of extra air.

When tires have too much air inside, there’s less tire surface to grab the road, which means rollovers can happen. All the wear on the tires also goes to the inner tracks of the tire rather than being distributed throughout the entire tire. Keeping tires overinflated also means they could be more easily punctured or damaged when you hit any debris in the road, so it’s important to keep an eye on your optimal tire pressure numbers and to review your tires regularly.

If you don’t use a pressure gauge to see the current pressure of your tires, you should be on the watch for strange wear patterns on the rubber of the tire. This can be your first indication that tires are underinflated or overinflated.


The way you drive is one factor that you can control. It’s important to remain calm and steady when you drive. A sudden action or over-correction can throw off the balance of your vehicle and tip it over.

Rollovers can be caused when your vehicle strikes an object like a median or a guard-rail which may be a result of swerving to avoid hitting another vehicle, road debris or an animal. If you swerve or start to drift into another lane of traffic or near the edge of the road, your reaction might be to correct that swerve or drift immediately.

However, jerking the wheel suddenly could force your wheels to grab onto the road thereby creating traction that prompts a rollover. Most rollover accidents only involve one vehicle; however, attempting to avoid a multi-car pileup could force one or more cars to roll over. If a vehicle gets hit on the side with a lot of force, it could trigger a roll.

According to Safer.gov, up to 40% of fatal rollover crashes involved someone driving too fast. Furthermore, nearly 75% of those fatal rollover accidents happened in places where the posted speed limit was 55 miles per hour or greater.

Striking a guardrail is one cause of rollover accidents, but there are many other reasons they occur. In fact, many fatal rollovers happen in rural areas where the combination of driving at high speeds on poor road conditions can increase the likelihood of rollovers.

What Should I Do if I’m in a Rollover Accident?

If you end up in a rollover accident, try to stay calm. Turn off the engine, and contact the authorities for help. Proceed carefully when removing your seat belt, and exiting the vehicle. Check for the safest exit near you, such as a window, or other opening, where glass or other metal debris can be avoided. Once you have exited from the vehicle, move away from the vehicle and make your way safely to the side of the road and away from traffic.

File a police report in connection with the accident and work with your insurance company. If you believe that something or someone else caused the accident, this information should be shared with a personal injury lawyer. At Dunnion Law, we’ve helped many clients who have sustained injuries because of preventable rollover accidents. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help when you find yourself in this difficult situation.