Surviving Car Rollovers

SUV rollovers, truck rollovers, and bus rollovers are quite common due to the low center gravity on these larger vehicles. However, even traditional sedans and passenger vehicles can be subject to rollovers in extreme conditions. Stopping a car suddenly, for example, or going over an incline can cause a rollover. Surviving a car rollover involves minimizing possible head injuries, spinal cord injuries, and other possible serious injuries while increasing your chances of survival. To do this:

1) Brace your body by placing your legs against the sheet metal behind the pedals of your vehicle. Press hard with your muscles, extending your legs as far as possible while pressing your back far into the seat. Tensing your body into the seat will help protect you for the impact. If you have time, grab the wheel tightly while pushing out with your arms. Keep your elbows tucked close to your body, and secure your neck and head by pushing it very far into the head rest. Your body is safest when it is pushed far into the seats.

2) If after the rollover your engine continues to run and your car has landed upright, try to move your car out of the way of traffic and call for assistance. This will be most common with passenger car. SUVs and buses are more likely to land on their roof, due to their low center of gravity.

3) If after the rollover your car is on its roof, turn off your engine. Many newer cars automatically stop fuel flow. Use your feet and hands to position yourself against the roof of your car before slowly removing your seat belt. You will have to be cautious about any airbags which may have deployed during the accident.

4) If your doors are in working condition, carefully exit the vehicle. If you cannot open your door, try crawling through a window. Try rolling down your window and if you cannot do so, break the glass on the passenger window and crawl through. Avoid trying to break the windshield glass. It is often too thick and secure to break by yourself. Once you are free of the vehicle, run away as quickly as you can. In the event of a fuel leak, the car could explode, leading to fatalities and burn injuries. Try to get everyone away from the car as well.

Of course, safety seat belts can help prevent fatalities. In rollovers, occupants who are without seat belts are often thrown from the vehicle, where they can sustain fatalities or serious injuries. Passengers who do wear seatbelts at the time of a rollover are most likely to sustain injuries to the arms and the head. Most head injuries occur when the passengers hit roof supports, which is why tensing the muscles against the car is so important. Injuries to the arms most often occur when the passengers’ arms are thrown out of the window by the force of the rollover. This too can be prevented by tensing the body against the car and pushing the body as far back into the seat as possible.

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