Warning to SUV Owners: Most Sport Utility Vehicles Don’t Handle Like Sports Cars

We’re not ones to tell people what they should or should not do, but there are instances when we prefer to remind people what may be prudent versus what we feel is an unadvised activity or pastime. For instance, although we know that people can more easily be killed on a motorcycle, we also believe that everyone has the right to choose their own mode of transportation. Just be aware of the risks ahead of time.

When it comes to passenger cars, many people decide to purchase a sport utility vehicle because they feel safer riding in a more massive motor vehicle. Aside from the extra storage space or towing capability, SUVs are useful in a number of ways. However, most sport “utes” are not primarily designed to handle like sports cars. In fact, with a higher center of gravity and greater average suspension travel than even a standard sedan, one would be hard pressed to expect “extreme” passenger car handling from the average SUV.

Yet, every year, dozens upon dozens of people are injured or killed in rollover-type accidents mostly involving SUVs, minivans and other light trucks. The problem, it would appear is that a percentage of SUV drivers don’t understand the potential limitations that a sport utility vehicle presents in situations where emergency maneuvers may be required. Driving “on the edge” in an SUV can and does lead to tragic results when the vehicle cannot perform in a manner the driver expects.

One example of the negative results of a sport utility vehicle being pushed to its handling limits was reported in a news article a while back. According to those reports, a Baltimore driver was severely injured in a single-vehicle traffic accident along a stretch of Rte 100 near Odenton, MD. According to police reports, 19-year-old Mary Amrine was behind the wheel of a 2002 Nissan Pathfinder, which was allegedly tailgating other vehicles and switching from and to lane in what news articles described as an abrupt manner.

Apparently, this activity eventually led to the woman losing control of her SUV and crashing the vehicle sometime around 8pm on a Tuesday evening. When Anne Arundel County police arrived on the scene of the wreck, officers found the Nissan with severe damage from reportedly hitting a dividing wall. Emergency personnel tended to the young woman who was lying on the pavement, apparently having been thrown from the vehicle during the crash event.

EMS crews apparently treated the woman and then transported her to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center with a number of serious, though not life-threatening injuries. According to witnesses interviewed by police, the driver had apparently overcorrected the SUVs steering, which likely caused the vehicle to become unstable and then go out of control.

While this seems to be a clear-cut case of aggressive driving coupled with a loss of control from the driver exceeding the handling limits of her vehicle, there is always a chance that some mechanical problem could have exacerbated the situation and contributed to the crash. As Maryalnd personal injury lawyers, we know that a full police investigation would likely reveal any kind of failure of the steering system or other critical component, such as a tire or suspension part. In any case, it is lucky that no other vehicles were involved.

Woman Seriously Hurt in Crash on Route 100, Patch.com, April 25, 2012

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