With the immense popularity of Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) has come an alarming increase in rollover accidents. These accidents are often blamed on the driver of the vehicle who is accused of over-steering and losing control. However, it is now known that the stability of the vehicle itself has an enormous impact on whether or not it may rollover as designed in foreseeable emergency driving maneuvers. Because the design of SUVs vary greatly, some vehicles are more prone to rollover than others.
When the term “Electronic Stability Control” (ESC) is used, it generally refers to the use of technologies and computer systems that serve to prevent the loss-of-control by drivers of vehicles and reduce rollovers. These systems use sensors and microprocessors to determine when a vehicle is beginning to become unstable and automatically engages the braking system on a wheel-by-wheel basis to help stabilize the vehicle and bring it back under the driver’s control.
When a driver loses control and an accident occurs, it is vitally important to consider whether the vehicle should have had electronic stability control
Each year the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration issues “rollover ratings” for SUV’s (Sport Utility Vehicles), pick-ups, vans and passenger cars. The rating is designed to help consumers identify those vehicles that are the least likely to rollover. In 2006, the SUV with the best “rollover rating” was the Dodge Magnum, which was identified as having only a ten percent likelihood of rolling over. Each year these ratings are updated, and they serve as a helpful guide to consumers. Unfortunately, not all vehicles are designed well, and as a result hundreds of consumers die each year. As a result, the inherent stability of the vehicle must be examined and the possibility of a product defect claim explored when catastrophic loss-of-control accidents occur.
In fact, in any single-vehicle accident involving an SUV manufactured after 1999 where the stability of the vehicle or actions of the driver are implicated, it is vitally important to consider whether the vehicle had electronic stability control. If the manufacturer failed to incorporate electronic stability control-type systems, a potential product defect claim exists.
The effectiveness of ESC as a safety feature to prevent injuries has been heralded as one of the most significant safety improvements since the seatbelt. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that ESC systems reduce the likelihood of fatalities in single-vehicle crashes by 56 percent. The safety benefits of stability control have been known to auto manufacturers since the mid 1990s, but the industry has been slow to incorporate it into every vehicle despite its known benefits.
As Vehicle Stability attorneys we can help
The Didier Law Firm has extensive litigation experience in litigating rollover accidents involving inherently unstable vehicles and the failure of manufacturers to incorporate electronic stability control systems. If we can be of assistance to you in evaluating or pursuing these types of claims, please do not hesitate to contact us.