This past Tuesday morning, Iowa law-enforcement officers were among those who watched an S-U-V swerve off the road, roll out of control and crash violently, and they didn’t lift a hand to help. They were at a training seminar in Nebraska to study what happens in rollover crashes and how to investigate them. Lieutenant Greg Vandenberg at the Nebraska State Patrol says the regional session was organized because rollovers are among the most violent and deadly of all traffic mishaps.
Unbelted passengers inside are “literally tumbling around inside the vehicle like clothes in a clothes dryer,” he says. That unrestrained movement, and the sudden force of the stop, often cause fatal injuries. An occupant who isn’t buckled in securely can be partly thrown out, which means they’re likely to be crushed between the vehicle and the ground.
Or if they’re completely ejected during the rollover, they hit the ground at a speed the human body isn’t designed to survive. Four professionals from the Collision Safety Institute set up the remote-controlled crash of an S-U-V, which was filled with instruments to measure the force of the rollover, the speed G-Force of the crash.
All the data downloads to a computer, and the officers compared the results with the physical evidence at the scene, applied some “old-school” methods of estimating speed, and compared them. Among officers from eight states participating in the seminar, Vandenberg says there was a state trooper from Iowa City and a deputy from the Story County sheriff’s office.