Motor vehicles account for about one-in-ten "tow-away" accidents, however; they are responsible for one-in-three of all fatalities. In response to these disproportionate numbers, Congress instructed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to study rollover risk and devise a system to address it. NHTSA responded with Special Report 265 which this post will briefly summarize.
NHTSA determined that all accidents are caused by the interrelation of three factors: driver decisions, environmental conditions, and the vehicle. NHTSA noted that many rollovers occur due to poor driver decisions, such as drinking and driving. Additionally, many rollovers are caused by environmental factors, such as inclement weather and curved roads.
NHTSA devised the study to control for these factors and study the primary factor, the rollover risk of the car. NHTSA reviewed the "static" factor of the car or its ability to maintain its center of gravity versus a variety of factors including traction, height, and other issues. Once the study was completed, NHTSA devised a five-star rating system. A one-star rating denotes high rollover risk, and a five-star rating denotes a very low rollover risk.
As expected, NHTSA gave most SUVs and vans a two or three-star rating and many passenger cars received a four-star rating. The goal behind the five-star system is to inform the consumer. The theory is that as the consumer gains more information, they can make more informed decisions and the free market will serve as the impetus to spur development of safer cars.
Despite the great strides in car safety technology, many people continue to suffer severe injuries in car accidents. If you were seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident, you should contact a lawyer; you could have an actionable claim for personal injury. The problem with many insurance policies is that their limits do not cover the medical bills for catastrophic injuries. Often, insurance companies will give low-ball offers to scare victims into accepting a settlement that does not cover their bills. A lawyer can watch your back and prevent you from getting taken advantage of.