A 39-year-old woman died in a Ford Explorer rollover accident Friday on the Interstate 5 in the Willows area of Northern California, according to a news article in the Oroville Mercury Register. The woman, identified as Rhonda Johnson, was driving back home with her two sons – ages 4 and 10 – when she lost control of her Ford Explorer. The sport utility vehicle rolled over and landed upside down in the center divider, the article stated. Johnson was pronounced dead at the scene and her two boys were taken to a local hospital. One of the children was air-lifted while the other was taken by ambulance, the newspaper reported.
Another Ford Explorer tragedy – this time, it snatches a mother away from her two young sons. And what’s even sadder and more depressing is this is not going to be the last time someone dies from such a rollover crash, especially by driving a poorly-designed vehicle. Every year, 10,000 people in the United States die in these rollover collisions. At least 16,000 people suffer catastrophic injuries as a result of such crashes. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates there are at least 40,000 rollovers in United States highways each year.
Could Ford have prevented these statistics from getting on the board? The answer is a resounding “yes.” Auto safety experts and personal injury attorneys, who have represented clients injured in these rollovers, know that the Explorer is an unsafe vehicle that has the propensity to roll over at normal freeway speeds. Those who are trapped in these SUVs suffer severe injuries and are rendered quadriplegic or paraplegic because the weak roof caves in crushing the occupant of the vehicle. Spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries are most common in these rollover and roof crush accidents involving Ford Explorers.
The thing that angers me the most as someone who daily interacts with rollover accident victims, is that Ford probably could have prevented the Johnson vehicle from rolling over. Maybe the state of technology is not advanced enough to totally protect vehicle occupants in every type and severity of accident but it certainly is advanced enough to prevent at least half of the 40,000 yearly rollover accidents. Industry giants Ford and General Motors have had the technology and know-how to strengthen their vehicles’ roofs and prevent most rollovers. But these companies chose profits over safety for their consumers.
Every day in our courts victims and their attorneys are fighting Ford in Explorer rollover cases. Many victims and families of victims are appealing to our federal legislators to toughen the decades old safety standards. However, the strength and offerings of the auto industries lobbyists is not to be denied when it comes to perks and campaign contributions. If we had lost 10,000 troops in Iraq this year, there would be a huge uproar in Congress.
The Johnson family needs to preserve their Explorer (unaltered in any way) until they can consult with a law firm that is expert in auto defect cases, preferably one that has extensive experience in Explorer cases. The best firms will provide a free consultation and analysis of the economic viability of their case, as we do. The Explorer itself is the most important evidence in an auto defect case.