The Electronic Stability Control (ESC) System: Is it Enough to Stop Rollover Accidents?

Next to head-on collisions in the most number of deaths and grave injuries in the U.S. is rollover accidents. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), close to 10,000 deaths and more than 24,000 cases of serious injuries every year are due to rollover accidents.

A rollover accident, wherein a vehicle rolls onto its side or roof, can involve any type of vehicle, but most especially: vehicles that have tires that are worn out as these can easily lose traction; those that have a greater tendency to oversteer, or turn farther than it was meant, or understeer, that is, turn lesser that intended; and, SUVs due to their design of having a higher center of gravity from the ground.

It was in the 1990s, when the production of passenger vans increased and SUVs were introduced, when the number of injuries and deaths due to rollover accidents suddenly increased.The NHTSA says that two factors have consistently emerged in 75% of all fatal rollover crashes: vehicle speed above 55mph and intoxication due to alcohol. Driving while drunk is already totally dangerous; doing it at fast speeds is suicidal.

An SUV, more so a speeding SUV, can easily slide sideways when cornering too sharply. When this happens, it can skid off the road and its tires trip on a curb, dig into soft or muddy soil, or hit a guardrail, resulting to a rollover. In another instance, it could be due to failure to remain upright while driving down a steep slope.

While drunk-driving, speeding, driver distraction, reckless driving, etc., can cause an SUV (or any other vehicle) to rollover, the NHTSA and car manufacturers see this vehicle’s inability to remain stable to be the real cause of the problem. To correct this fault in design, three giant car manufacturers, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Toyota introduced in 1995 the Electronic Stability Control (ESC) system. ESC, also called dynamic stability control (DSC) or electronic stability program (ESP), is a computerized technological safety device designed to improve vehicle stability through detection and reduction of skidding or loss of traction. It actually consists of sensors that are able to sense loss of vehicle control. When loss of control occurs, ESC automatically applies brakes on each wheel to allow the driver to regain control of the vehicle and put it back on track. ESC also helps maintain vehicle stability during abrupt turns, eliminates any likelihood of oversteering and understeering, and improves traction and vehicle control on road shoulders, gravel patches and slippery or icy roads.

“Advances in technology and increased awareness of the importance of safety on the roads have, in recent years, reduced the threat posed to public health and safety by car accidents. Nevertheless, car accidents remain one of the leading causes of serious injury and wrongful death in the United States each year, and the sad truth is that far too many of these accidents could easily have been prevented.” (http://www.rrs-law.com/practice-areas/car-accidents/)

Tucson car accident lawyers of Russo Russo & Slania “believe that victims of car accidents in Tucson should not have to pay for the consequences that they may face if someone else was to blame for their injuries. Fortunately, through the protections afforded by personal injury law, victims may not have to. In fact, they are often entitled to financial compensation and justice that allows them to better deal with the aftermath of a car accident.”

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Personal Injuries Due to Rollover Accidents: Injuries which Ought to be Compensated

The continuous increase in the number of motor vehicles on US roads seems to give rise to the increase in the number of vehicular accidents annually too. This number exceeds five million every year, leaving more than 2 million seriously injured and 40,000 dead.

There are two main types of motor vehicle accidents: the first is that which fall within the driver’s control, like speeding, reckless driving, driver error (such as failure to use signal light) and the many different forms of driver distraction; the second type lies outside of the driver’s control, such as road defects and car defects which can be blamed on the manufacturer.

Either type can result to (head-on, angle or side impact, run-off-road, and rear-end) collisions, with the extent of damage and severity of injuries usually dependent on the speed of either or both vehicles. Besides collisions, there is another accident, which is much more damaging, to which both types can result to – rollover accident.

Rollover accident is the next deadliest type of road accident after head-on collisions. It almost always results to high rates of severe injuries and fatalities due to collapsing vehicle roofs, leaving the driver and passengers crushed inside. Among all types of vehicles, SUVs are the ones most prone to rollover accidents as their center of gravity is higher from the ground compared to cars. For this reason, manufacturers have introduced devices, like the electronic stability control system (ESC), which would give drivers more control of the vehicle, reducing the chance of a rollover.

The usual causes of roof collapse that result to the vehicle’s occupants being crushed inside are roof pillar failure, defective roof materials, faulty vehicle design or roof pillar placement and intrusion of the roof into the occupants’ space. All these causes can be attributed to manufacturer’s fault or negligence, while the injury (or death) that they cause is called personal injury.

A personal injury is any harm sustained due to someone else’s negligent or reckless behavior. Victims who suffer personal injuries would find the information found on National Injury Law Center‘s website really helpful and a relief as the site says that civil law provides innocent victims of others’ negligence the opportunity to pursue action in the form of a personal injury claim; this is to allow victims to receive from the guilty party the compensation that they legally deserve. Generally, the guilty party’s auto insurance will cover personal injuries caused by their driving, but that depends on their policy. The website of Habush Habush & Rottier S.C. ® has more information on this subject.

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