Stay Safe in SUV
- Stay alert and stay on the road. That sounds elementary, but remember that most SUV rollovers occur when the vehicle goes off the shoulder, down a hill, into a ditch, or any of the other places where its high center of gravity puts it at high risk for rollover. You’re more likely to stay on the road if your full attention is on your driving. Talking on your cell phone, even with a hands-free device, arguing with passengers, putting on makeup, shaving, or arguing with the talk-radio speaker are all significant distractions. If you need to make a phone call or settle the kids in the back seat or finish getting dressed, find a place to pull over safely. Take care of business. Then get back to the business of driving with your full attention.
- Know how your SUV handles. If it’s an older model, 2005 or earlier, or if it’s a very large one, it’s probably built on a pickup truck chassis, and it’s going to handle like a pickup truck: high center of gravity, not great on curves, not as nimble as a passenger car. Don’t ask it to take curves at high speed, and allow more time for all steering maneuvers.
- Remember that SUV’s are heavier than passenger cars. The heavier your vehicle is, the longer it needs for braking and stopping. Have your brake pads checked for wear at regular service intervals. Test your SUV’s braking capacities on an empty stretch of road, and learn the timing you need to brake at highway speed. This exercise will take you less than ten minutes and it could save your life.
- Buckle up. In a rollover your seat belt could save your life. In rollovers many serious injuries and fatalities result from people being thrown from the vehicle. If you’re driving a vehicle with a high risk of rollover, you’ll want all the protection you can get
- Choose the safest SUV you can. SUV’s have a higher risk of rollover because they’re top heavy. Their center of gravity is higher than that of a passenger car, and a vehicle with a high roof line and a narrow wheelbase are the worst combination. Look for an SUV that’s built low and has a broad wheelbase. If you’re not driving off-road on a regular basis, you won’t miss that extra height, and in an unstable situation the lower, wider profile can mean the difference between staying upright and flipping.
- Consistently check your tires. Be sure they’re in good shape, with plenty of tread, and keep them inflated to the manufacturer’s specifications. A strong, properly inflated tire is more able to handle curves, pot-holes, ditches and other road hazards that lead to rollovers