In a somber reminder of the heightened danger of driving in the rain, an entire Gwinnett County family was killed in a South Carolina wreck last Thursday. The accident happened with the Alvarez family’s SUV hydroplaned and flipped over into a canal by the side of the highway 145 miles east of Raleigh.
It is known that SUVs are particularly prone to flipping or rolling over when they lose equilibrium. And it is difficult to say whether the accident could have been avoided if they had been driving in a different type of vehicle, or driving a bit more slowly. However, it is critical to remember that this family should absolutely not be held to blame for their choice of an SUV as the family vehicle. Car and truck companies have an unspoken covenant with consumers to only put products on the market that are safe and stable. When this covenant is breached–and sadly, it is far too often–the company responsible must be challenged.
I believe SUV manufacturers have a duty to construct their vehicles in a way that puts the safety of drivers and passengers above all else. It is possible that there was a defect in the SUV that contributed to its propensity to flip over. It also is possible that due to the road conditions there was no other possible outcome than the death of this family, but when automobile makers are honest with consumers and do the utmost to construct their vehicles responsibly, we all benefit. Conversely, when they are dishonest or overlook safety measures, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, or death can be the result.