Large SUV's built on truck chassis present a serious danger to others (DTO) on the road. A truck-based SUV provides about 5% greater safety for its occupants than a car does in a front, rear, or side crash, and deals about a 300% greater risk of death to the people in any vehicle it hits. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety looked at deaths per million miles driven and found that large SUV's involved in two-vehicle accidents inflict far more damage on other vehicles and their occupants. The reason is simple physics.
Full size SUV's and pickup weigh about 1000 pounds more than the average car. A vehicle that weighs a half ton more delivers a far greater destructive force on impact. Add to that a significant difference in the vehicles' construction. SUV's and pickups are built with stiff frame rails. When an SUV or truck rams another vehicle, it does not give. It transfers the force of impact to the other vehicle. Cars, minivans, and small SUV's built on car frames are designed with energy-absorbing structures. They're built to absorb and the force of impact, and because the SUV is not, the smaller, more flexible vehicle absorbs more force.
SUV's are taller than cars, with higher road clearance, and their height makes them more dangerous to other cars. The modern car bumper is a superbly designed energy absorption system. But in front and rear end collisions, the tall SUV is likely to ride up over the other vehicle's bumper. When the SUV rides over the bumper and pushes its way into the engine compartment or the trunk, the bumper's energy absorbing value is lost. In side crashes, the SUV's height means it can ride over the car's door-frame and T-bone directly into the passenger compartment.
In rollovers, SUV's are also DTS, danger to self. Large SUV's are at much higher risk of rollovers than other vehicles. Again, it's simple physics. Its height and resulting high center of gravity make it much more likely for the vehicle's rear end to fishtail, or slide sideways in a tight turn or an emergency braking maneuver. The SUV's height and high weight distribution means that once the vehicle is moving sideways, it's much easier for it to flip and roll over once or multiple times.
When a pickup or SUV rolls, it poses its occupants to much more danger of roof crush, the collapsing of a roof under the weight of the vehicle. Physics again: The vehicle's weight, including that extra thousand pounds, is now on top, crushing down on a roof that too often is simply not designed to support it. Most pickup and SUV roofs are not unibody construction. The incremental cost of a unibody roof and sturdier metals would run about $ 50 per vehicle, but manufacturers have chosen not to make this simple improvement.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured, or your loved one has been killed in a crash involving an SUV, you will want to consult with an experienced SUV crash attorney to determine whether you may have a case against the manufacturer. It is important to do this as soon after the crash, to insure that the SUV involved is not destroyed, as it will be vital evidence in your case.
Your SUV attorney will want to have an automotive design safety expert examine the vehicle. In rollover cases, particularly consultants and experts help your attorney put together the most accurate and case for presentation to an arbitrator or a jury.
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