A rollover is a motor vehicle accident in which a car, truck or SUV tips over and lands on its roof. It is a particularly violent type of crash that poses a particular threat of death, traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries to the vehicle’s occupants, passengers as well as drivers.

Rollover crashes are complex with many possible contributing factors. Here are some of the most significant factors that may be at play in a rollover crash.

1. Location

Under the right conditions, rollover crashes can occur anywhere. However, approximately 75% of fatal rollovers occur on rural highways. It may be because these roads frequently do not have barriers to prevent crashes.

2. Speed

Approximately three-quarters of fatal rollovers occur in areas where the speed limit is at least 55 miles per hour. Excessive speed is a factor in nearly half of all fatal rollovers.

3. Type of vehicle

Pick-up trucks, vans and SUVs have a higher center of gravity because they are narrower and taller than other vehicles. This puts these vehicles at greater risk for a rollover than vehicles with a lower center of gravity. With that said, a rollover accident can occur in any type of vehicle.

4. Impairment

Impairment of a driver’s vision, judgment and muscular coordination can all have a negative effect on his or her ability to control a vehicle. A blood alcohol concentration greater than 0.00% can impair these capabilities to some degree even if it is below the legal limit. Alcohol is a factor in nearly half of all fatal rollover crashes.

There may not be data available indicating how often impairment with other substances, such as illicit drugs or prescription medications, are a factor in rollover crashes. However, research demonstrates that these substances also impair driving ability.

5. Distraction

There is no hard data indicating how often inattention and distraction are factors in rollover crashes. However, the fact that over 90% of rollovers occur during routine driving maneuvers suggests the significant role that driver behavior has to play.