The Orlando Sentinel reports that a 54-year-old man from Altoona was driving southbound through the Ocala National Forest on State Road 19 on Saturday night, June 11, when he lost control of his Ford pickup truck at about 8:30 p.m. According to the article, the man died at the scene while his 40-year-old female passenger was taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center in serious condition. The fatal Florida car accident happened just north of CR 445. There is no word from this article why the driver suddenly veered off the road onto the west shoulder, but he reportedly then overcorrected the steering trying to get the pickup back on the road to the left. Instead, he crossed to the east shoulder where the left front of the pickup hit a tree, then another tree, causing the pickup to rollover onto its roof.
Our condolences are extended to this man’s family for his sudden, tragic passing.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that rollover accidents kill more than 10,000 people a year. Like the design for the sport-utility vehicles (SUV), pickup trucks have a high center of gravity, a defective design that makes them about three times more likely to roll than any other passenger vehicle.
Another aspect of defective design is an inadequate roof strength that allows the roof to collapse during a rollover, potentially causing traumatic head injuries or the passenger to be ejected. Finally in 2009, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) required manufacturers to strengthen the roof-crush standard, but that will not begin until the 2012 model year and will be phased in fully beginning with the 2017 model year. However, even then the standard is inadequate.
Heavier vehicles weighting more than 6,000 pounds, which were previously exempt from the roof-crush standard, will have to withstand only 1.5 times their weight when applied to the roof, rather than three times the vehicles weight for lighter vehicles. The NHTSA turned down a request by safety groups to have the higher standard apply to vehicles weighing more than 6,000 pounds.
Sources: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/os-fatal-crash-sr-19-lake-20110612,0,6252256.story; http://www.safercar.gov/, http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/pdf/2010-7908.pdf and http://news.consumerreports.org/cars/2010/04/nhtsa-declines-to-revisit-roofcrush-standard-.html