In 2011, it is estimated that 32,310 people died in traffic accidents nationwide; of that number, 2,067 people died in Texas in motor-vehicle accidents. According to the Insurance Institute, “half of the fatal passenger vehicle crashes that occur each year involve a single vehicle.” Single vehicle car accidents are the most dangerous on road collision. One in five crashes in the United States is a single vehicle accident. “Time and again the statistics show that the collision that kills more of us than any other is the single-vehicle, off-the-road collision,” according to Bob Schaller, an editor for RoadTrip America.
The most dangerous risk SUV, minivan, and truck drivers face is the potential for rollover accidents. Every year there are more than 280,000 rollover accidents, taking more than 10,000 lives annually.
Rollover accidents are connected to the vehicle’s stability system, which is related to the vehicle’s center of gravity, and its track width. Fast turns, slippery road conditions, sharp changes in direction, and soft shoulders/drop-offs can all cause a vehicle with a high center of gravity and a narrow wheel base to transition from a skid into a rollover. Oversteering, when coupled with sudden brake application, often results in vehicle rollovers.
Electronic Stability Control systems, such as GM’s Stabilitrack, and BMW’s Electronic Stability Program, are designed to improve vehicle safety and increase driver confidence. If a car begins to slip and fishtail, the Electronic Stability Control system activates, applying breaks on one side of the car to stabilize the vehicle and help the driver to regain control. Sensors and a microcomputer monitor how well the vehicle responds to the driver’s commands, and selectively applies the brakes as well as modulating the engine power to ensure the vehicle keeps the course directed by the steering wheel. The brake application can help compensate for a driver’s oversteering and understeering in the event of skidding–to correct the car’s direction and forward momentum.
ESC systems also help prevent vehicle rollovers by effectively neutralizing the conditions that lead to these types of accidents, such as slippery roads, soft shoulders and drop-offs. As of 2012, the Federal Motor Vehicle Standards requires this system to be installed in all vehicles and trucks of a certain weight class.
Electronic Stability Control systems have another benefit: “losses under collision are about 15% lower for vehicles with ESC than for predecessor models without it.” However, it does not have a great effect on liability claims filed with when an at-fault driver damages somebody else’s car.
ESC systems were first introduced in 1995, and studies have repeatedly shown that ESC systems help reduce rollover and loss-of-control accidents in almost all automobile or vehicle types, although these systems are most effective in SUVs. Stability Control systems have proven to help reduce single car accidents by half, and have potentially reduced the number of rollover accidents by 70%. Although vehicle rollover accidents only represent 3% of all car accident types, they are responsible for one-third of motor-vehicle, accident-related fatalities.
Technology has substantively changed cars and driving over the years, where vehicles have evolved into increasingly safer means of transportation. In 1961, seatbelts became a mandatory safety feature for all vehicles. 42% of passenger vehicle occupants who were killed in 2007 were not wearing seatbelts. Since their transition from airplanes to cars in the late 1960s, anti-lock brake systems have effectively proven to reduce crash involvement by 6-8% with all vehicle types, and also reduce fatal collisions with pedestrians, bicycles and pets. Electronic Stability Control systems continue the evolution of safe driving, but we are far from a completely safe vehicle, which is able to avoid all possible collisions–particularly those resulting in injuries. With this in mind, it’s important to remember that nothing can replace a few basic rules:
- Don’t speed
- Don’t drive drowsy
- Don’t text/talk and drive
- Don’t drink and drive
- Don’t drive distracted
- Wear a seatbelt
- Be cautious, be safe
The Texas car accident attorneys at Tate Law Offices (with offices in Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston) discourage all drivers from treating safety features as complete measures to insure safety. Focused, careful operation of vehicles is the most important aspect of safety on the road. We see enough car, truck, motorcycle and pedestrian accidents to know this reality well. And, we are here to serve victims of careless or negligent driving on the part of others. If you or someone you know has been injured in a vehicle collision in the state of Texas or anywhere in the US, we are here to provide a free consultation for accident and injury cases of all types. Please don’t hesitate to call us at 888-662-3892, use or contact form or chat feature. You may contact us any time 24/7, 365 days a year to speak with someone about your case.