Stability Related Defects
Many rollover accidents begin with the driver making a sudden emergency avoidance maneuver, such as swerving to avoid an accident or road obstruction. In the process of performing this maneuver, or because they subsequently overcorrect, drivers can lose control over the vehicle. If the vehicle is defectively unstable, these simple emergency maneuvers can cause a serious rollover accident. The propensity to roll during sudden changes of direction is particularly prevalent in SUVs and pickup trucks that tend to have more stability-related design defects.
Engineers have understood for decades that vehicle stability during emergency maneuvers is crucial to preventing rollovers and protecting vehicle occupants from serious injury. Two of the most common design defects that make a vehicle unstable are a narrow track width and a high center of gravity. On flat, dry pavement, a vehicle should slide out, not roll over. If the vehicle has a high center of gravity and a narrow track width, however, it will be prone to roll rather than slide. The weight of an SUV also increases its propensity to roll.
A vehicle’s stability is typically measured by its stability index (“SI”). The SI of a vehicle is the average of front and rear track width, divided by its center of gravity height. The higher the SI rating, i.e., the wider the track and lower the center of gravity, the more stable the vehicle is.
Relatively simple design modifications to a vehicle, such as widening the track width, changing the suspension or lowering the position of the engine, can drastically improve its stability during emergency maneuvers. Further, the inclusion of certain advanced technology components in the design of a vehicle, such as Electronic Stability Control (ESC) devices, could greatly improve safety.
Regrettably, the constant focus on profit over safety has led many manufacturers to delay or decline altogether the implementation of such changes. As a result of this greed, thousands of people have died or become permanently disabled in rollover accidents.
If one of these tragic accidents has affected you or your family, contact the Brady Law Group for assistance. We will use the full weight of statutory and common-law jurisprudence to force improvements in automotive industry behavior and get you the compensation you need to move forward with your life.