Federal studies have determined the tendency that a vehicle has to rollover. This tendency has been converted to a number rating for the vehicle based upon the gravitational force required to roll the vehicle. The higher the rating, the LESS likely a vehicle is to present a roll over hazard.
Fully loaded 18 wheel vehicles have a rating of 0.4 or lower. Compare this to a full sized passenger car rating of 1.3, 1.1 for pick up trucks and 0.8 for many SUV's. Since no car is capable of generating 1.3 g's during a cornering maneuver, the likelihood of a roll over is a full size vehicle, absent some other factor, is virtually nil.
On the other hand, an 18 wheeler can easily generate 0.4 g's going around a corner too fast. This is especially true if the rear tires strike an object like a curb during the cornering maneuver. When a slope is involved or the rear tire strikes a curb during cornering, the rig can roll over at speeds as low as 5 miles per hour.
Regardless of the proper driving techniques of the driver, rubber tires on big rigs track outward when the vehicle turns above certain minimum speeds. With a long trailer, the trailer axle may be as much as two feet outside the steering axle.
Rollovers frequently happen when a driver attempts to recover after putting a tire off of the pavement. When the tire trips over the separation between the pavement and the soft ground, it can rut causing a rollover. Thus, it is recommended that if a wheel is put off the pavement or onto a shoulder with paved separations, the driver should straighten the rig and bring it to a stop without attempting to return to the road at speed.
If the driver does attempt to return to the road, he should do so at a slow speed and at a shallow angle. Although thousands of drivers have successfully returned their rigs to the road following a tire removal from the roadway, but may others have died in the attempt when the rig rolls over. It is recommended that a wrecker be called in questionable situations.
The tendency of a road maneuver to roll a big rig is even more likely with double and triple trailer operations. These longer trailers make the center of gravity more likely to roll the rig. Even a sudden lane change can roll these types of vehicles.
Since most big rig cabs in this country have no protection to keep the cab roof from crushing during a roll over, many of these accidents result in serious injury or death of the driver. Some drivers have saved themselves by jumping out of the rig before it goes over, but you risk the truck rolling over on top of you if you jump in the same direction as the rolling truck.
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