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Truck Rollover Accidents

Truck and SUV Rollover Attorney/Lawyer/Law Firm

Representing those dealing with injuries or deaths due to rollovers accidents in Kansas City, Johnson County, Wyandotte County, Kansas, and Missouri

"There is something wrong with the Ford Explorer."
— John Lampe, CEO, Bridgestone/Firestone Corp., before the Protection Subcommittee of the House Commerce & Energy Committee.

Results. Considering rollovers in all types of crashes, in 2004 2.7% of occupants who were in passenger vehicles that rolled over were fatally injured, compared to 0.2% of occupants killed who were in passenger vehicles that crashed but did not roll over. The same year, 33% of passenger vehicle occupant fatalities were in vehicles that rolled over. The rollover rates were higher for light trucks, as opposed to passenger cars; and for males and for younger drivers.

Considering the probability that a vehicle rolled over given involvement in a single-vehicle crash, we find the following. We generally find that sport utility vehicles (SUVs) were more likely to have rolled over than pickups, which in turn were more likely to roll over than either vans or passenger cars. Vehicles that were more likely to roll over were older, were driven by younger, unbelted drivers, had more occupants, and were in speed-related crashes on roads with higher speed limits, in nonintersection areas. Alcohol involvement increased the probability of rollover. Vehicles that were more likely to roll over were passing as opposed to turning prior to the crash, and the drivers in such vehicles attempted to steer when they realized that the crash was imminent; the first harmful event in the crash was either the rollover itself or striking an embankment.   In single-vehicle rollovers, SUVs had the highest rate of total ejection. Unrestrained occupants had more severe injuries and were totally ejected at a higher rate than restrained occupants. Older occupants had a higher fatality rate than younger ones; males had a higher fatality rate than females.

In single-vehicle rollovers, occupants who weighed more and who had a higher Body Mass Index (BMI) appeared to have received fewer benefits from seat belts. People who weighed less, were taller, and had a lower BMI tended to be overrepresented in fatalities as compared to the general population, regardless of seat belt use. Thus, while heavier individuals received fewer benefits from seat belts, they might also have been at a lower risk of fatality given involvement in a single-vehicle rollover regardless of seat belt use.

In 2004, for the United States as a whole, 31,693 passenger vehicle occupants were fatally injured in crashes of all types, 10,553 were fatally injured in rollovers, and 8,565 were fatally injured in single-vehicle rollovers. This means that 33% of passenger vehicle occupant fatalities were in vehicles that rolled over. State-by-State, this percentage ranged from 10% for the District of Columbia to 67% for Montana. There were some factors that increased both the probability that a vehicle rolls over given that it is involved in a single-vehicle crash and the probability of an occupant fatality given that the occupant was in a vehicle that rolled over, while other factors increased the probability of one while decreasing the probability of the other. For example, if a vehicle was turning as opposed to going straight right before the single-vehicle crash occurred, that decreased the probability that the vehicle rolled over, and it also decreased the probability of occupant fatality if it did roll over. The same was true for the speed limit. A higher speed limit both increased the probability that a vehicle rolled over given that it was in a single-vehicle crash and it increased the probability of occupant fatality given that the occupant was in a vehicle that was in a single vehicle rollover.

On the other hand, light trucks had a higher probability of rolling over than passenger cars, but being an occupant in a light truck decreased the probability of a fatal injury given a single vehicle rollover. Similarly, higher vehicle occupancy increased the probability of a vehicle rolling over given involvement in a single-vehicle crash, but at the same time it decreased the probability of occupant fatality given that the vehicle was involved in a single-vehicle rollover.

In 2004, passenger vehicles traveled 2,719 billion vehicle miles (Vehicle Miles Traveled - VMT). This means that there were an estimated 10.1 vehicles that have rolled over per 100 million VMT. This rollover rate has decreased by 7.3% (= [10.9 – 10.1] ÷ 10.9) since 1994. Since 1994, 2004 had the lowest rollover rate per VMT. There were 223,214,000 registered passenger vehicles in 2004, making the rollover rate an estimated 123 vehicles that have rolled over per 100,000 registered vehicles. This rate, again, was the lowest since 1994. Finally, there were a total of 198,889,000 licensed drivers, making an estimated 139 passenger vehicles that have rolled over per 100,000 licensed drivers in 2004. Unlike the rollover rates per VMT and 100,000 registered vehicles, the licensed driver roll rate was slightly higher than that in 1994.

Occupants. Now, consider the same information at the occupant level rather than the vehicle level. In 2004, there were an estimated 393,545 occupants in passenger vehicles that rolled over, as compared to 358,933 occupants in 1994, a 9.6% increase, as shown in Table 2. Since there were an estimated 14,099,883 occupants in passenger vehicles that crashed, 2.8% of occupants in crashes were in vehicles that rolled over. There were an estimated 14.5 occupants in vehicles that rolled over per 100 million VMT, 176 per 100,000 registered vehicles, and 198 per 100,000 licensed drivers. In 2004, the rates per VMT and per registered vehicles were the lowest that they have been since 1994. The last column of Table 2 uses information presented in Table 1 to calculate the average number of occupants per rollover. Thus, for example, in 2004, there were an estimated 1.43 (= [393,545 ÷ 275,637]) occupants per rollover.

Injury Outcomes. As Table 3 shows, in 2004, of the estimated 393,545 occupants who were in passenger vehicles that rolled over, 10,553 occupants were fatally injured. Thus, the probability of death given involvement in a rollover was an estimated 2.7% (= [10,553 ÷ 393,545]). The number of occupants killed in passenger vehicles that rolled over increased from an estimated 8,981 in 1994 by 17.5% (= [10,553 - 8,981] ÷ 8,981). By comparison, when a passenger vehicle did not roll over in a crash, the probability of fatality was an estimated 0.2%. The number of those killed in vehicles that crashed but did not roll over has actually decreased by 3.6% from 1994 to 2004.

In 2004, an estimated 15,312 occupants in vehicles that rolled over were totally ejected from their vehicles. This constitutes 3.9% (= [15,312 ÷ 393,545]) of all the occupants who were in vehicles that rolled over were completely ejected from the vehicles. By contrast, of the occupants who were in vehicles that crashed but did not roll over, only an estimated 6,207 occupants were totally ejected. There were thus 2.5 times (= [15,312 ÷ 6,207]) as many total ejections in vehicles that rolled over as there were in vehicles that crashed but did not roll over.

Vehicles by Type. Table 4 gives counts and rates of vehicles that have rolled over by two vehicle types: passenger car and light truck. Light trucks include vans, pickups, sports utility vehicles, and other light trucks. In 2004, of the two types, light trucks had the higher number of rollovers at an estimated 150,802 rollovers – 59% of the passenger vehicles that rolled over were light trucks. They also had the higher increase in rollovers from 1994 to 2004: 57%, as compared to a decrease of 15% for passenger cars. In 2004, light trucks also had the higher rate of rollovers per 100 million VMT at an estimated 13.8 as compared to 6.5 for passenger cars. The rate for light trucks was 2.1 times as much as it was for passenger cars. In 1994, the rate for light trucks was 1.6 times of what it was for passenger cars. This increase in the rates ratio is primarily due to a decrease in the rate for passenger cars, as the rate for light trucks has remained about the same.

Drivers by Sex. As seen in Table 5, in 2004, an estimated 251,804 passenger vehicle drivers with known sex were in vehicles that rolled over. Of these, an estimated 159,808, 63% of the total, were male, and 91,996, or 37%, were female. In 2004, of the drivers of passenger vehicles that crashed but did not roll over, an estimated 5,406,097, or only 56%, were male. There were 99,571,000 licensed male drivers, which makes the rate in 2004 an estimated 160 male drivers (=[100 * 159,808 ÷ 99,571]) in rollovers per 100,000 licensed male drivers. By contrast, there were only an estimated 93 female drivers in vehicles that rolled over per 100,000 licensed female drivers. Note that to obtain these rates, we are dividing the number of passenger vehicle drivers in rollovers by the number of licensed drivers of all vehicle types.

Drivers by Age. Considering drivers who were in vehicles that rolled over by age groups, of the age groups considered in Table 6, the group with the highest number of drivers in 2004 is the 16-to 20-year-old group, with an estimated 67,366 drivers. Let us consider the rate of drivers of passenger vehicles that rolled over per 100,000 licensed drivers by age group. For example, in 2004, there were 12,485,000 licensed drivers between the ages of 16 and 20, making the rate for this group an estimated 540. The rate decreased with increasing age. Thus, for drivers 75 or older, the rate in 2004 was only 22, about 25 times less.

Discussion. The crash avoidance tables show that, in the years under consideration, light trucks were more likely to roll over than passenger cars. They also show that male drivers were more likely to be in vehicles that rolled over than female drivers, and that drivers who were younger were more likely to be involved than drivers who were older.

Rollover Propensity This section considers passenger vehicles that have rolled over given that they were in a single vehicle crash. Single-vehicle crashes are crashes that involve only a single vehicle in transport, not counting legally parked vehicles. The reason that we only consider single-vehicle crashes is that we wish to study the propensity of each vehicle itself to roll over. Single-vehicle crashes are often considered in studies of rollover propensity. See, for example, Dalrymple (2003). Also, a vehicle characteristic used by NHTSA, called the Static Stability Factor (SSF), has been found to highly correlate with the probability that a vehicle rolls over given that it is involved in a tripped single-vehicle crash (Walz, 2005; Committee for the Study of a Motor Vehicle Rollover Rating System, 2002). Thus, focusing on single-vehicle crashes makes the data more relevant to studies related to SSF.

The tables in this section show annual data for 2004, the latest year for which data is available, 2003, the previous year, and 1994, which is 10 years prior to 2004. The data in all the tables come from the GES database. Note that the percentage tables in this section show the proportion of vehicles that have rolled over as a percent of all vehicles that were in single-vehicle crashes. Thus, the percentages in the tables do not, and are not intended to, add up to 100%.

Vehicle-Related Factors Vehicles by Type. As Table 7 shows, in 2004, an estimated 980,463 passenger cars were in single-vehicle crashes, of which an estimated 94,836 passenger cars rolled over. This means that in 2004, the probability of rollover for passenger cars given involvement in such a crash was 10% (= [94,836 ÷ 980,463]). In 2004, the highest probability of rollover given involvement in a single-vehicle crash was for sport utility vehicles at 23%. This probability was 2.3 times (= [23% ÷ 10%]) as great as for passenger cars. Likewise, the probability of rollover for pickups was 1.7 times higher than the probability of rollover for passenger cars. From 1994 to 2004, the probability of rollover for passenger cars had remained about the same at 10%, but had decreased slightly for light trucks. For example, for pickups, it went from 19% in 1994 to 17% in 2004.

Vehicles by Age. Since vehicle age is not given in the databases, we follow Morgan (1999) and define vehicle age as the difference between the year in which the crash occurred and the model year of the vehicle. Note that this does not give the exact vehicle age as some vehicles may be sold as early as the year prior to their model year. This fact can result in a negative vehicle age, as measured by this calculation.

According to Table 8, in 2004, an estimated 27,905 passenger cars that were less than 5 years old rolled over when they were in single-vehicle crashes, compared to an estimated 66,687 that were 5 years old or older. For all four vehicle types, the probability of rollover for the older vehicles was slightly higher than for the newer vehicles. For example, the probability for older sport utility vehicles was 26%, compared to 20% for newer sport utility vehicles.

Driver-Related Factors Speed-Related. If speed is judged by the police to be a contributing factor to the cause of the crash, the crash is called speed-related. We use the GES variable SPEEDREL and the classification in Lindsey (2006) to determine if the crash was speed-related. As Table 9 shows, in 2004, an estimated 249,151 single-vehicle car crashes were speed-related. In these crashes, an estimated 40,744 passenger cars rolled over. This made the probability of passenger car rollover in speed-related crashes 16%, compared to 8% for crashes that were not speed-related. Passenger cars were 2 times (= [16 ÷ 8]) as likely to roll over in speed-related crashes as in non-speed related crashes. This probability ratio was highest for vans, at 3.1 (= [22 ÷ 7]).

Younger Drivers and Passengers. Here, we consider single-vehicle crashes in those cases in which the vehicle had two occupants, including the driver; we consider the crashes by the age of both the driver and the passenger. Note that younger drivers and younger passengers are defined slightly differently. As before, younger drivers are defined as driver between 16 and 24, inclusive. Younger passengers are any passengers who were 24 or younger.

According to Table 12, the presence of a younger passenger did not seem to have a clear association with the rollover rate. Consider the situation with older passenger car drivers. In 2004, when the passenger was younger, the rollover rate was an estimated 13% whereas when the passenger was older, the rate was an estimated 7%. Thus, in this case, younger passengers were associated with a higher rollover rate. However, in 2003, the relationship was reversed, with a 7% rate with younger passengers and 9% rate with older passengers.

For example, for sport utility vehicles with younger drivers and older passengers, the rollover rate was an estimated 25% in 2003 and an estimated 8% in 2004. As discussed in the Introduction, such high variability is due to the low estimated counts, which makes the standard error of the estimate high relative to the estimate itself. For instance, in 2003, an estimated 224 sport utility vehicles with younger drivers and older passengers rolled over. The standard error of this estimate is 203, or 91% of the estimate. If the estimate had been 10 times as large, then its standard error would have been only 27% of the estimate.

Sex. In 2004, an estimated 52,824 of the estimated 534,279 male drivers of passenger cars that were in single-vehicle car crashes were in cars that rolled over, which means that the rollover rate for male passenger car drivers was 10%. The rollover rate for female passenger car drivers was, likewise, 10%. From the numbers in Table 13, there did not seem to be a clear relationship between driver sex and the rollover rate.

Alcohol. Whether alcohol was involved in the crash is derived from police-reported alcohol involvement. If any driver, pedestrian, cyclist, or other nonmotorist who was in a crash used alcohol, the crash was classified as having alcohol involvement. Note that simply because a crash had alcohol involvement does not mean that alcohol use caused the crash.

In 2004, there were an estimated 106,934 passenger cars in single-vehicle car crashes in which alcohol was involved. Of these, an estimated 15,618 passenger cars rolled over. In 2004, the passenger car rollover rate when alcohol was involved was thus 15%. When alcohol was not involved, the rate was 9%. This relationship that alcohol involvement was associated with higher incidence of rollover, held for all vehicle types considered in Table 14.

Maneuver Prior to Critical Event. Vehicle maneuver prior to critical event describes a vehicle’s activity prior to the driver’s realization of an impending critical event, or just prior to impact if the driver took no action or had no time to attempt any evasive maneuvers.

As seen in Table 15, by far, most vehicles rolled over while going straight. For example, in 2004, an estimated 56,124 passenger cars rolled over while going straight, compared to an estimated 30,424 passenger car rollovers while negotiating a curve. However, the highest rate of rollover occurred while passing. For example, in 2004, 28% of passenger cars that were passing before a single-vehicle crash rolled over in that crash. For sport utility vehicles, the rate was 58%. The vehicle maneuver associated with the lowest rollover rate was turning.

In 2004, only 3% of passenger cars that were turning prior to a single-vehicle crash rolled over in that crash. Note that the table shows the probability of rollover given involvement in a single-vehicle crash, by type of crash. In other words, the table does not say that passing leads to more rollovers than going straight. Rather, it says that if a vehicle is involved in a single-vehicle crash while passing, it is more likely that it rolls over than if it was involved in a single-vehicle crash while going straight.

Corrective Action Attempted. Corrective action attempted describes actions taken by the driver of a vehicle in response to the impending danger. Of the three actions considered in Table 16, none, braking, and steering, “none” (meaning no corrective action) was associated with the lowest rollover rate given involvement in a single-vehicle crash while steering was associated with the highest rollover rate. For example, in passenger cars in single-vehicle crashes in 2004, no corrective action was associated with a rollover rate given involvement in a single-vehicle crash of an estimated 7%, whereas steering was associated with a rate of an estimated 21%, 3 times as high.

In sport utility vehicles, steering was associated with a 40% probability of rollover given involvement in a single-vehicle crash. Note however that these results do not imply that taking no corrective action decreased the probability of rollover whereas steering increased it. For example, it is possible that drivers chose to steer when, in their judgments, the impending crash had a high severity; and that it is these crashes of high perceived severity that were associated with a high rollover rate.

Other Factors Vehicle Occupancy. According to Table 17, in 2004 an estimated 825,888 passenger cars in single-vehicle car crashes had one or two occupants, counting the driver. Of these, an estimated 81,509 passenger cars rolled over, making the passenger car rollover rate given involvement in a single-vehicle crash when there were one or two occupants 10%. When there were three to five occupants, again, counting the driver, the rate increased to 13%. For all vehicle types under consideration, higher occupancy was associated with a higher rollover rate. For example, pickups with six or more occupants had a probability of 54% of rolling over given involvement in a single-vehicle crash. The result that higher occupancy is associated with higher probability of rollover in a single-vehicle crash is confirmed by multivariate analysis later in this report, as well as by other analyses, such as Subramanian (2005). One possible reason for this is that higher occupancy raises the vehicle’s center of mass, which makes it less stable.

Speed Limit. As Table 18 shows, in 2004 when the speed limit was 30 mph or less, there were an estimated 201,660 single-vehicle car crashes, an estimated 6,889 of which resulted in a rollover. Thus, at these speed limits, the probability of passenger car rollover given involvement in a single-vehicle crash was 3%. The probability increased with increasing speed limits. At a speed limit of 60 mph or higher, the probability for passenger cars was 16%, which is 5.3 times (= [16% ÷ 3%]) as much as it was at 30 mph or less. At a speed limit of 30 mph or less, the probability of rollover given involvement in a single-vehicle crash for utility vehicles was 15%, which was about twice as high as it was for pickups (at 7%), almost four times as high as it was for vans (at 4%), and five times as high as it was for passenger cars (at 3%).

Road Type. As seen in Table 19, in 2004, most single-vehicle car rollovers occurred on undivided two-way traffic ways, with an estimated 59,962 rollovers. The highest rollover rate,  however, was on divided highways, with an estimated 12% of all single-vehicle car crashes involving a rollover. This higher probability of rollover on divided highways could have been due to several reasons. It could have been due to the road type itself, or due to some other variable. For instance, it could have been due to the fact that divided highways generally have higher speed limits. Another interesting issue is the high rollover rate that occurred on one-way roads. For example, in 2004, the rate for sport utility vehicles was 31%. Addressing these two issues requires multivariate analysis, such as logistic analysis presented later in this report. See there for a further discussion.

Relation to junction. By “relation to junction,” we mean whether the first harmful event of the crash occurred in an interchange and whether it occurred in an intersection. These categories are based on the REL_JCT variable in GES. The variable is classified into the interchange/noninterchange and intersection/non-intersection categories following NHTSA c (2004) and Lindsey (2006). In particular, NHTSA c (2004) classifies some values of the variable as referring to an interchange and others as referring to a non-interchange area. Lindsey classifies “intersection” and “intersection-related” as intersection, and all other values that are not unknown as nonintersection. Interchange is an area with roadways on different levels, such as a cloverleaf; noninterchange is an area in which all roadways are on the same level.

An intersection consists of two or more roadways that intersect at the same level. According to Table 20, given involvement in a single-vehicle crash, rollovers were more likely to occur in non-intersections as opposed to intersections. For example, in 2004, the rollover rate for passenger cars given involvement in a single-vehicle crash in non-interchange intersections was only an estimated 3%; compare this to an estimated 11% rate on non-interchange nonintersections.

event in a crash as judged by GES coders based on police crash reports.

In 2004, there were an estimated 37,953 passenger cars in single-car crashes for which the first harmful event was a rollover. Considering the other first harmful events shown in Table 21, the highest rollover rate for passenger cars given involvement in a single-vehicle crash was associated with striking an embankment, at an estimated 30%, followed by hitting a culvert, curb, or ditch, at an estimated 17%. Striking an embankment had the highest rollover rate for the other vehicle types as well. For example, for pickups in 2004, striking an embankment was associated with a rollover rate given involvement in a single-vehicle crash of 52%.

The lowest rollover rates were for other non-collisions and for striking an object not fixed. It is also interesting to note striking a guard rail or a barrier as the first harmful event resulted in a higher rollover rate for pickups (an estimated 13%) and utility vehicles (15%) than for passenger cars (5%) and vans (8%).

Discussion. The rollover propensity tables show the probability that a vehicle rolled over given that it was involved in a single-vehicle crash. These tables generally show that, given involvement in a single-vehicle crash, sport utility vehicles were more likely to roll over than pickups, which in turn were more likely to roll over than either vans or passenger cars. Vehicles that were more likely to roll over were older, were driven by younger unbelted drivers, had more occupants, and were in speed-related crashes on divided highways with higher speed limits, in non-intersection areas. Alcohol involvement increased the probability of rollover.

Vehicles that were more likely to roll over (a) were passing as opposed to turning prior to the single-vehicle crash; (b) had drivers who attempted to steer when they realized that the crash was imminent; and (c) had the first harmful event in the single-vehicle crash of either rollover or striking an embankment.

Injury Outcomes This section considers injury severity and ejection status of occupants who were in vehicles that rolled over in single-vehicle crashes. The tables show annual data for 2004, the latest year for which data are available, 2003, the previous year, and 1994, which is 10 years prior to 2004, or the earliest year available if it is later than 1994. Since all the data in this section is occupant level, it comes from a combination of the FARS and the GES databases. Specifically, the data on occupants who were fatally injured is from the FARS database, while the data on occupants who were not fatally injured is from the GES database.

Rather than considering occupants in single-vehicle rollovers, one logical possibility was to consider occupants in crashes in which rollover was classified as the most harmful event. The most harmful event is the most severe property-damaging or injury-producing event for each vehicle as judged by FARS analysts and GES coders based on police crash reports. However, Griffin et al. (2002), which studied vehicle fires, found that the most harmful event variable in FARS was coded very inconsistently across States. For example, the paper found that in some States, whenever a vehicle fire occurred, the most harmful event was classified as fire; whereas in other States, the most harmful event was never classified as fire, even though there were plenty of vehicles in the FARS database for that State in which fires have occurred. The paper concluded that such extreme variation across States was most probably due to variations in the reporting procedures related to the most harmful event variable. It is for this reason that we do not use the most harmful event variable.

In the FARS and GES databases, injury severity, as taken from Police Accident Reports (PARs), is given on the KABCO scale. In the tables and discussions below, fatality corresponds a K (“Fatal Injury”) on the scale, incapacitating injury to an A (“Incapacitating Injury”), other injury to a B (“Non-incapacitating Evident Injury”), C (“Possible Injury”), or U (“Injured, Severity Unknown”), and no injury to an O (“No Injury”). Note that the percentage tables in this section show the proportion of people with each possible type of injury. Thus, the percentages in the tables do add up to 100%.

Injury Severity by Vehicle Type. As Table 22 shows, in 2004, for the vehicle types considered, passenger cars had the highest number of occupants killed in single-vehicle rollovers, at 3,640 occupants. The next highest fatality count was for sport utility vehicles, at 2,331. The fatality rate given involvement in a single-vehicle rollover was similar for all four vehicle groups, between 2% and 3%. However, the rate of no injuries was higher in pickups and sport utility vehicles than it was in passenger cars and vans. For example, the “no injury” rate given involvement in a single-vehicle rollover in sport utility vehicles was an estimated 43%, compared to an estimated 39% for passenger cars.

Injury Severity in Fatal Single-Vehicle Rollovers by Vehicle Type. In Table 23, we consider the same information as above, but restrict it only to fatal crashes. A fatal crash is defined as a crash that involves at least one fatality, whether occupant or nonoccupant. It may be of interest to consider fatal crashes as opposed to all crashes since fatal crashes are more severe. One should be cautious when considering probabilities of injury in fatal crashes, since, by definition, the probability of death in a fatal single-vehicle crash with a single occupant and no nonoccupant fatalities is 100%. As vans might have generally had more occupants than other vehicle types, it is not surprising that the probability of death in a fatal crash was lower for vans than it was for other vehicle types.

In 2004, 4,777 occupants were in passenger cars that were involved in fatal single-vehicle rollovers. Of these, 3,640, or 76%, were fatally injured. By contrast, the fatality rate given involvement in a fatal single-vehicle rollover in vans was 43%. Since this table only uses the FARS database, it contains actual counts, not estimates. Note that a few of the counts of non-fatally injured occupants were zero. This is simply because the table is restricted to fatal rollovers. As we see from the percentages, the overwhelming majority (in the case of passenger cars and pickups) or at least a very sizable minority (for vans and sport utility vehicles) of occupants died in such rollovers.

Ejection Status by Vehicle Type. Ejection status considers whether an occupant was totally ejected from the vehicle. For years 1990 – 1994, GES does not code total ejections. Therefore, all tables involving ejection status begin in 1995 rather than 1994.

As seen in Table 24, in 2004, an estimated 91,320 occupants were in sport utility vehicles that were in single-vehicle rollovers. Of these, an estimated 5,050 occupants were totally ejected from their vehicles, making the total ejection rate given involvement in single-vehicle rollover for sport utility vehicle occupants 6%.

Restraint Use by Vehicle Type. Restraint use is as reported by the police. It may reflect self reporting by occupants of vehicles that crashed, and might thus be a biased estimate of actual restraint use.

According to Table 25, the rate of restraint use has gone up over the years in all four vehicle types under consideration. For example, in 1994, an estimated 64% of occupants of passenger cars in single-vehicle crashes used restraints. This rate was an estimated 77% in 2004. It is interesting to compare these restraint use rates for occupants of vehicles involved in single vehicle rollovers to restraint use rates for occupants of all vehicles. According to Glassbrenner and Ye (2006), which uses the National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) database, in 1994, an estimated 58% of vehicle occupants across the United States used vehicle restraints. In 2003, the use rate was an estimated 79%; in 2004, it was an estimated 80%.

Injury Severity by Occupant Restraint. As Table 26 shows, in single-vehicle rollovers in 2004, 949 passenger car occupants who used restraints were killed. As there were an estimated 108,748 restrained passenger car occupants in single-vehicle rollovers, the fatality rate for restrained occupants was 1%. By contrast, 2,487 unrestrained passenger car occupants were fatally injured in single-vehicle rollovers; the fatality rate for unrestrained passenger car occupants was thus an estimated 13%.

Ejection Status by Occupant Restraint. The contrast between restrained and unrestrained occupants was even greater when considered by ejection status rather than fatality outcome. As seen in Table 27, in 2004 single-vehicle rollovers, an estimated 1% of the restrained passenger car occupants were totally ejected, as compared to an estimated 22% of the unrestrained occupants. In sport utility vehicles, a very small percentage of the restrained occupants were totally ejected; the rate for unrestrained sport utility vehicle occupants was 33%. Note also that the total ejection rate for unrestrained occupants has increased dramatically for all vehicle types from 1995 to 2003. For example, in 1995, the rate for van occupants was an estimated 10%, while in 2003, it was an estimated 24%.

Ejection Status in Fatal Crashes by Occupant Restraint. According to Table 28, even in fatal crashes, ejection status was strongly associated with restraint use. In fatal single-vehicle rollovers that occurred in 2004, 5% of the restrained passenger car occupants were totally ejected, as compared to 55% of the unrestrained passenger car occupants. Likewise, the total ejection rate for restrained sport utility vehicle occupants was 9%, compared to 65% for unrestrained sport utility vehicle occupants.

Injury Severity by Ejection Status and Occupant Restraint. Following Digges and Eigen (2003) and Eigen (2005), we consider injury severity by both ejection status and occupant restraint. This allows us to consider the effects of restraint use on injury outcome controlling for ejection status. Alternatively, it allows us to consider the effects of total ejection on injury outcome controlling for restraint use. As Table 29 shows, in 2004, among occupants of passenger cars that rolled over in single vehicle crashes, of those who used restraints and were not totally ejected, one percent were fatally injured. Of the occupants who did use restraints but who were nevertheless totally ejected, the fatality rate was 11%. Of the occupants who were not totally ejected even though they did not use restraints, 7% were fatally injured.   Finally, of the passenger car occupants who did not use restraints and were totally ejected, the fatality rate was 35%. These results illustrate that there was an interaction effect between restraint use and ejection status in determining injury outcomes. In particular, even if an occupant was totally ejected, being restrained decreased the probability of fatality.

Injury Severity by Occupant Age. According to Table 30, in 2004, the fatality rate of single vehicle rollover occupants 4 years old and younger was an estimated 1%. The rate increased with age. For example, for occupants 35 to 44 years old, the fatality rate was an estimated 3%; for occupants 75 and older, the fatality rate was 10%.

Use of Child Safety Seats. In looking at child safety seats, we follow NHTSA b (2004) and only consider occupants who were 4 years old or younger. According to Lindsey (2006), historically, NCSA typically classified a child safety seat used improperly as a child safety seat not used; however, starting in mid 2003, NCSA typically classifies a child safety seat used improperly as a child safety seat used. We follow the more recent practice and classify “child safety seat used improperly” as a child safety seat used for all the years under consideration.

As with general restraint use, child safety seat use has gone up since 1994. For example, as Table 31 shows, in 1994 single-vehicle rollovers, an estimated 56% of the children 4 years old or younger who were occupants in passenger cars used child safety seat. This rate has increased to an estimated 78% in 2004.

Injury Severity by Use of Child Safety Seats. As seen in Table 32, in 2004, of the children 4 years old or younger who were occupants in passenger cars that rolled over in a single-vehicle crash, an estimated 2,784 were using a child safety seat while an estimated 652 were not using such a seat. Of those children who were using a child safety seat, 1% was fatally injured, while of those who were not using such a seat, 3% were fatally injured.

Injury Severity by Sex. According to Table 33, in 2004 there were an estimated 76,517 male occupants of passenger cars and an estimated 59,111 female occupants of passenger cars who were in single-vehicle rollovers. The fatality rate for males was 3% whereas for females it was 2%. On the other hand, 42% of all males suffered no injury, while only 33% of all females did not have any injuries.

Injury Severity by Vehicle Age. As Table 34 shows, in 2004 the fatality rate for occupants of passenger cars that were less than 5 years old and that were in single-vehicle rollovers was an estimated 2%; for older passenger cars, the fatality rate was an estimated 3%. The fatality rates were either 2% or 3% for all four vehicle types under consideration, both for newer and older vehicles, in 1994, 2003, and 2004. Thus, there appears to have been no association between vehicle age and fatal injury outcomes.

Discussion. This section considered injury outcomes in single-vehicle rollovers. The data show that sport utility vehicles had the highest total ejection rate. Unrestrained occupants had more severe injuries and were totally ejected at a higher rate than restrained occupants. There was an interaction effect between restraint use and ejection status in determining injury outcomes. In particular, even if an occupant was totally ejected, being restrained decreased the probability of fatality. Older male occupants had a higher fatality rate than younger female occupants.

Fatalities Only The data used in this section is exclusively from the FARS database and not from the GES database. This is because the variables discussed in this section appear only in FARS and not in GES. Thus, this section only considers fatally injured occupants, and does not consider occupants who were not fatally injured. Data on non-fatally injured occupants from FARS is not used. The tables show annual data for 2004, the latest year for which data are available, and 2003, the previous year. The tables in the Weight, Height, and Body Mass Index subsection also show data for year 1998, the earliest year for which data is available; the tables in the Fatalities by State subsection also show data for 1994, which is 10 years prior to 2004. Weight, Height, and Body Mass Index This subsection considers weight, height, and Body Mass Index (BMI) of fatally injured drivers in single-vehicle rollovers. It considers drivers rather than all occupants because only the data on drivers are available. BMI is a function of weight and height, and is defined below. One reason to consider these variables is that it might be thought that they influence the effectiveness and the use of seat belts. In particular, people who weigh more, are shorter, or both (that is, those with a higher Body Mass Index) are sometimes thought to receive less benefit from using a seat belt and are thought to use seat belts less frequently. McDowell et al. (2005) tabulates various anthropometric characteristics of the U.S. population as it existed between 1999 and 2002. Specifically, it gives certain percentiles of weight, height, and BMI for adults 20 and older, by sex. Likewise, the following tables show fatalities by sex, and only if they were 20 or older at the time of the crash. The tables use ranges such that each range contained 25% of the general population between 1999 and 2002. Every year from 1998, the first year on which weight and height of fatally injured drivers was collected, until 2004 there have been about 5,000 fatally injured drivers 20 or older in singlevehicle rollovers. The following tables only show the drivers with known seat belt use and known weight and/or height, as appropriate. Weight. According to NHTSA d (2004), either the driver licensing files or the coroner’s report may be used to determine driver weight. Table 35 shows fatally injured drivers 20 or older in single-vehicle rollovers by sex, restraint use, and body weight. In such fatalities, there was a tendency for restrained drivers to be heavier than unrestrained drivers. For example, in 2004, of the male drivers who were restrained, 17% were over 212 lbs, while of those unrestrained, only 14% were over 212 lbs. Regardless of restraint use, these fatally injured drivers tended to be lighter than the general population. For example, among unrestrained female driver fatalities in 2004, 32% were 132 lbs or less; by contrast, only 25% of the general female population was 132 lbs or less.

Height. According to NHTSA d (2004), either the driver licensing files or the coroner’s report may be used to determine driver height. Among male drivers who were fatally injured in singlevehicle rollovers, restrained drivers tended to be taller than unrestrained drivers. For example, as seen in Table 36, in 2004, 33% of the male restrained fatalities were over 71 inches (5 feet 11 inches), compared to 29% of the unrestrained fatalities. This pattern appears to have been weak or nonexistent among female fatalities. Regardless of restraint use, fatally injured drivers in single-vehicle rollovers tended to be taller than the general population. For example, in 2004, 38% of the female restrained fatalities were taller than 65 inches (5 feet 5 inches), compared to 25% of such females in the general population.

Body Mass Index. Body Mass Index is defined as follows. If weight is measured in kilograms and height in meters, it is the ratio of weight divided by height squared. If weight is measured in pounds and height in inches, then it is 703.07 times the ratio. 2 ( )2 703 07 ( ) ( ) ( ) height in . weight lbs height m BMI = weight kg = . Among fatally injured drivers in single-vehicle rollovers, restrained fatalities tended to have a higher BMI than unrestrained fatalities. For example, according to Table 37, in 2004, 16% of the male restrained fatalities had a BMI of greater than 30.4, compared to 13% of the unrestrained male fatalities. Regardless of restraint use, drivers who were fatally injured tended to have a lower BMI than the general population. For example, in 2004, 39% of the female unrestrained drivers had a BMI of 23.1 or less, compared to 25% of such females in the general population. The male unrestrained drivers had the same tendency (28% vs. 24.8%). Finally, drivers with a higher BMI appeared to receive more benefits from wear Discussion. One finding of this section is that among fatally injured drivers, those who were restrained tended to weigh more, be taller, and have a higher BMI than those who were unrestrained. Another interesting finding is that drivers who weighed less, were taller, and had a lower BMI tended to be overrepresented in single-vehicle fatal rollovers. Thus, while heavier individuals received fewer benefits from seat belts, they might also have been at a lower risk of fatality given involvement in a single-vehicle rollover. On the other hand, this overrepresentation of lighter, taller, and lower BMI drivers could be related to age and its relationship to risk-taking.

Logistic Analysis Rollover propensity In this subsection, we model the probability that a passenger vehicle rolls over given that it is in a single-vehicle crash. The dependent variable is a categorical variable that indicates whether a vehicle had rolled over. We consider all the passenger vehicles (all passenger cars and light trucks) that were in single-vehicle crashes between 2000 and 2004, inclusive, and that had a driver at the time of the crash. All the data are from the GES database. We consider the following explanatory variables: Categorical variables: vehicle type, driver restraint use, driver sex, alcohol involvement, vehicle maneuver prior to critical event, corrective action attempted, road type, and whether the crash was speed-related. Interval variables: driver age, speed limit, vehicle occupancy, and vehicle age. One interpretation of the driver restraint use variable is that it is a proxy for driver behavior in relation to traffic safety. It is possible that drivers who chose not to wear seat belts also chose to drive unsafely, which in turn could have lead to a higher probability that their vehicle rolled over given that it was involved in a crash. The results of the regression are consistent with such an interpretation. As Table 39 shows, the odds ratio of a single-vehicle crash being a rollover for unrestrained drivers as compared to restrained drivers was significantly greater than 1, indicating that unrestrained drivers did indeed have a higher probability of being in vehicles that rolled over in single-vehicle crashes than did restrained drivers. As not wearing a seat belt was a symptom of unsafe driving, simply having forced an otherwise unsafe driver to wear a seat belt might not have changed the probability of rollover for that driver. Whether alcohol was involved in the crash was derived from police-reported alcohol involvement. If any driver, pedestrian, cyclist, or other nonmotorist who was involved in a crash used alcohol, the crash was classified as having alcohol involvement. Note that simply because a crash had alcohol involvement does not mean that alcohol use caused the crash. Nevertheless, as the results of the logistic analysis show in Table 39, all other things being equal, if there was alcohol involvement, or if alcohol involvement was unknown, the odds of a vehicle rolling over were higher than if there was no alcohol involvement. Vehicle occupancy is the number of occupants that were present in the vehicle at the time of the crash. Table 39 shows results of the logistic analysis. For categorical variables, results are presented as odds ratios of the odds that the vehicle rolled over for the given category divided by the odds that it rolled over for the reference category. Recall that the odds of an event is the probability that the event occurs divided by the probability that it does not occur; see the Appendix for a further discussion. For example, all other things being equal, the odds that a sport utility vehicle rolled over are 3.60 times the odds that a passenger car rolled over. NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis 400 Seventh St., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20590 79 For interval scale variables, estimated coefficients are shown. A coefficient is the approximate percent change in the odds of rollover for a unit increase in the explanatory variable, provided that none of the other explanatory variables change. Thus, for example, all other things being equal, every additional vehicle occupant increased the odds of rollover by about 10.5%. The confidence intervals shown in the table were generated by the SAS software. The p-values for all the explanatory variables presented in the table are well below 1%. The only exception is Driver Sex, the p-value for which is 15%, which means that it is not statistically significant. Note that the variable has three categories – male, female, and unknown. The odds ratio of unknown versus male is not statistically significant, while the odds ratio of female versus male is, in fact, statistically significant. For this reason, we leave the Driver Sex variable in the model. Also note that for some categorical variables, the difference between two particular categories is not statistically significant. Nevertheless, the variables are overall statistically significant. One example of such a variable is “Driver restraint use” – there is no statistically significant difference between the “unknown” and “restrained” categories, however, the variable overall is, in fact, statistically significant.

Kindelberger and Eigen (2003) modeled rollover of SUVs in crashes as a function of driver age, driver sex, and vehicle age. They found a negative relationship between probability of rollover and driver age, as did we. They found a positive and statistically significant relationship between the driver being male, as opposed to female, and probability of rollover. We found the opposite relationship. Finally, the paper found that, other things being equal, a one-year increase in vehicle age increased the odds of rollover by 3%. We found the increase in odds to be 1.7%. Subramanian (2005) used NHTSA’s State Data System (SDS) database to model rollover of passenger vehicles in single-vehicle crashes as a function of vehicle occupancy, speed limit, and a number of other variables. It found that, other things being equal, the addition of a single occupant increased the odds of rollover by a value between 6% (for passenger cars) and 19% (for sport utility vehicles). We found the increase across all vehicle types to be 11%. The paper also found that high speed limit is statistically significant and was correlated with a higher probability of rollover, as did we. Qualitatively, the results of the multivariate analysis tell basically the same story as the tables presented earlier in the Rollover Propensity section. For example, Table 8 shows that rollover rate increased with increasing vehicle age. This is confirmed by the positive Vehicle Age coefficient in Table 39. One important exception to this is the road type. Table 19 considers three types of roads: divided highway, undivided two-way street, and one-way street. The table indicates that single-vehicle crashes that occurred on divided highways had the highest rollover rate. It also shows that for light trucks, single-vehicle crashes on one-way streets had a higher rollover rate than crashes on undivided two-way streets. The multivariate analysis tells a different story. According to the logistic table, crashes that occurred on undivided two-way streets had the highest rollover rate, followed by divided highways, then one-way streets, and then streets of unknown type, in that order. Results differ between the simple tabulation and the multivariate analysis for the following reason. Multivariate analysis considers the impact of each variable given that all the other explanatory variables in the analysis remain constant. In this particular case, it compares different road types at a fixed speed limit. In other words, the multivariate analysis says that if all road types had the same speed limit, then undivided two-way streets would have had the highest rollover propensity. The simple tabulation, on the other hand, reports past rollover incidence without controlling for other potentially confounding variables. One possible reason that divided highway had the highest rollover incidence is that divided highways tend to have higher speed limits and, as we see from both the tabulation and the multivariate analysis, higher speed limit is associated with a higher rollover rate.

Injury Outcomes In this subsection, we model the probability that a passenger vehicle occupant was fatally injured given involvement in a single-vehicle rollover. The dependent variable is a categorical variable that indicates whether or not a vehicle occupant was fatally injured. We consider all the occupants of passenger vehicles that were involved in single-vehicle rollovers between 2000 and 2004, inclusive. The data are from a combination of the FARS and the GES databases. Specifically, the data on occupants who were fatally injured is from the FARS database, while the data on occupants who were not fatally injured is from the GES database. We consider the following explanatory variables: Categorical variables: vehicle type, ejection status, restraint use, occupant sex, maneuver prior to critical event, corrective action attempted, road type, and whether the crash was speed-related. Interval variables: occupant age, vehicle age, speed limit, and vehicle occupancy. Ejection status indicates whether the occupant was totally ejected. We follow Lindsey (2006) in defining the speed-related variable for the observations taken from the FARS database. In particular, we consider the crash to have been speed-related if the driver in the crash either (a) had a speeding-related driver-related factor; or (b) had a speeding-related violation charged. When the regression was performed with all of the above explanatory variables, the speedrelated variable had a p-value of 57% and the vehicle age variable had a p-value of 19%, indicating that these variables are not statistically significant. Because we had no strong a priori basis for thinking that these variables belong in the model, we removed them from the model. In the resultant model, maneuver prior to critical event has a p-value of 3%; all other explanatory variables have a p-value that is well below 1%. For example, all other things being equal, the odds of fatality were 10.53 times higher if an occupant was totally ejected than if he was not ejected or not totally ejected. For interval variables, coefficients are given. For example, all other things being equal, an increase in the speed limit by 1 mile per hour increased the odds of fatality in single-vehicle rollovers by about 2.0%.

Discussion Considering the two logistic models above, we see that there are some factors that both increased the probability of a vehicle rolling over and increased the probability of occupant fatality given that the occupant was in a vehicle that rolled over, while other factors increased the probability of one while decreasing the probability of the other. For example, if a vehicle was turning as opposed to going straight immediately before the single-vehicle crash occurred, that decreased the probability that the vehicle rolled over (odds ratio is 0.47 < 1), and it also decreased the probability of occupant fatality if a rollover did occur (odds ratio is 0.34 < 1). The same is true for the speed limit. A higher speed limit was both correlated with an increased probability of rollover given involvement in a single-vehicle crash (coefficient is 0.04 > 0) and it was correlated with an increased probability of fatality given involvement in a single-vehicle rollover (coefficient is 0.02 > 0). On the other hand, all light trucks had a higher probability of rollover as compared to passenger cars (odds ratio for sport utility vehicles is 3.6 > 1), but being an occupant in a light truck decreased the probability of a fatal injury given a single-vehicle rollover (odds ratio for sport utility vehicles is 0.72 < 1). Similarly, higher vehicle occupancy increased the probability of rollover given involvement in a single-vehicle crash (coefficient is 0.11 > 0), but at the same time it decreased the probability of a fatality given involvement in a single-vehicle rollover (coefficient is -0.10 < 0).

 

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