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What Does Rollover Mean?

A rollover is an incident in which heavy equipment or a vehicle tips onto one of its sides or its roof.

In addition to severe or fatal injuries to the driver or operator, a rollover can also injure anyone in its path, damage transported goods, roads, or result in a spill of hazardous materials.

Rollovers typically take place during cornering, when the centrifugal force causes the vehicle to lean too far to one side.

Safeopedia Explains Rollover

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, over 78% of rollovers are due to driver error. As such, drivers and equipment operators should be trained to recognize the factors that increase the possibility of a rollover and how to apply appropriate corrective measures.

Factors Influencing Rollovers

The most common cause of a rollover is the driver's inability to correctly assess the way heavy loads, speed, and cornering will combine and how much force they will have on the vehicle. If the resulting force acts in a direction beyond the vehicle's outer wheel, it will result in a rollover.

Other factors that increase the risk of a rollover include:

  • The bend radius (how tight the turn is)
  • A vehicle with a high center of gravity
  • Wet road surfaces
  • Driving at high speeds
  • Damaged or uneven roads

Causes of Rollovers

Rollovers can occur due to the following reasons:

  • Adverse weather conditions, such as high winds, rain, snow, or ice. Conditions that inhibit contact between the tires and the road surface increase the risk of a rollover.
  • Avoidance - when a driver makes an abrupt turn to avoid a hazard in their path. This is especially dangerous in vehicles with a high center of gravity, such as car carriers, double-decker trailer units, and liquid or powder tankers.
  • Cornering, especially at excessive speed. A high center of gravity and low rollover threshold increase rollover risks during cornering.
  • Jackknifing when an artifculate vehicle folds. This occurs primarily as a result of equipment failure, wheels locking due to breaking, and poor grip on the road surface from bad weather conditions.
  • Loads that have been improperly loaded or secured can affect the stability of the vehicle.
  • Various other factors, like over-steering, road design, suspension settings, and the condition of the tires.

Preventing Rollovers

Drivers should be adequately trained and educated about the risk of vehicle rollover, recognize hazards that may cause rollovers, and take corrective steps. Drivers should always:

  • Observe proper speed for conditions and never exceed the posted speed limit
  • Maintain a minimum of six seconds of following distance
  • Avoid distractions inside and outside the cab
  • React appropriately to hazards
  • Inspect the vehicle and the load before starting the trip

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