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Tennessee Rollover Crashes Pose Heightened Fatality Risks

Recently, near the Tennessee border in Kentucky, two people – including a passenger from Knoxville – were critically injured in a rollover crash on Interstate 24 near mile marker 79.

Our Tennessee auto accident attorneys understand that the 25-year-old driver for reasons unknown lost control of his vehicle, crossed the median, became airborne and rolled several times before landing upright in the median.

The driver and his passenger were flown by helicopter to a nearby hospital in Tennessee, and their injuries were believed to be life-threatening. Another vehicle rollover, this one in Nashville, reportedly snarled multiple lanes of traffic on Interstate 40 near mile marker 223. Tennessee transportation officials reported an overturned sport utility vehicle in the roadway, though thankfully there were no serious injuries.

Rollover incidents like these happen every single day in Tennessee, and they pose an increased risk of serious injuries or fatalities. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) reports that while any kind of vehicle has the potential to rollover, narrower, taller vehicles have a greater propensity for it. These would be vehicles like vans, pick-up trucks and SUVs, which have higher centers of gravity.

In looking at the overall causes of rollovers, however, human error is almost always a factor. The DOT reports that fatal rollovers are more frequently attributed to excessive speed than fatal crashes that don’t involve rollovers. It’s estimated that approximately 40 percent of all deadly rollover crashes are the result of high speed. What’s more, three quarters of all fatal rollovers happened on a road where the posted speed limit was higher than 55 miles per hour.

Another troubling trend involves alcohol. The DOT posits that almost half of all rollover crashes resulting in death somehow involved alcohol, even though not all of those technically crossed the 0.08 percent BAC legal threshold for intoxication.

While one might think that highways would be the most frequent site of rollover crashes, in fact rural roads are the more common location. That’s likely because these roadways have no barriers or dividers that would serve to stop a vehicle from tipping over should it leave the roadway. In fact three-quarters of all fatal rollover crashes happen on rural roads.

Rollovers also tend to be more fatal than other types of crashes. Of the more than 9 million traffic accidents recorded in 2010, only a little more than 2 percent involved a rollover. And yet, rollovers accounted for approximately 35 percent of all passenger vehicle deaths that year. That is more than 7,600 people who lost their lives in rollover crashes.

By far the most common type of rollover is called a “tripped” rollover. This is when the vehicle leaves the road and slides sideways after the tires either strike an object or dig into soft soil. If this is done at a high rate of speed, the sheer force can cause the vehicle to roll multiple times.

In addition to being cautious about your vehicle’s rollover rating, prevention is often just as simple as slowing down, refraining from drinking behind the wheel and avoiding distraction and driving in inclement weather.

If you are involved in a Tennessee traffic accident, contact Hartsoe Law Firm, P.C. at (865) 524-5657.

Additional Resources:
Vehicle Rollover Accident on I-24, Feb. 11, 2013, Staff Report,

More Blog Entries:
Knoxville Crash Involving 4 Cars Began With Disabled Vehicle, Feb. 8, 2013, Tennessee Car Accident Lawyer Blog

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