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Rollover crashes on Santa Barbara area streets lead to more safety warnings for drivers

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Whether it's a distraction, speed or another factor, rollover traffic collisions have been seen in high numbers in the last 18 to 24 months on surfaces streets in and around Santa Barbara.

Often they involve more than one vehicle, and generally one that is parked based on NewsChannel 3 coverage both during daytime hours and in the overnight.

Santa Barbara Police are advising drivers to be aware of just how rollovers take place, and it doesn't have to be an unusual occurrence.

It can also happen at slower speeds.

"Yea absolutely and we have seen it at low speeds from 15-25 miles per hour, maybe even 30 miles an hour is ideal speed conditions to cause that type of rollover," said Santa Barbara Police Sgt. Ethan Ragsdale. He has extensive training in traffic accident investigations.

Simply clipping the back quarter panel of a parked car can careen your vehicle on three wheels, and pushed by the physics of driving you could find yourself in a vehicle that is on its side of the upside down.

"It has a lot to do with the exact right angle, at the exact amount speed and striking a fixed object or a parked car at just the right direction, this can cause any vehicle to easily roll over," said Ragsdale. That type of hit can sometimes be like a "launching ramp."

At high speeds, occupants can sustain serious injuries or die. Seatbelts can help reduce injuries and ejections during a crash. Airbags do not always go off in a rollover. "A lot of times these airbags do not deploy in a rollover accident that doesn't involve a high-speed front end collision."  

Often firefighters arrive to find someone trapped and in need of a special extrication plan.

Some of the issues linked to rollovers include an impaired driver through drugs or alcohol, a driver who is drowsy due to lack of sleep, a distracted driver with the use of electronics or due to other people in the car, and also an under-maintained vehicle, such as one with a low or flat tire.

High-profile vehicles, or SUVs, can also have an easier time rolling over by their design.

Santa Barbara traffic engineers also monitor crash scene data and look at modern or innovative solutions where they see a potential problem. They are "always analyzing speed limits on surface streets, coming up with traffic signal lights or better visibility for pedestrian crossings at intersections," said Ragsdale. "They do an absolutely phenomenal job with making the city and its streets safer."

Lifestyle / Santa Barbara - South County / Traffic / Travel / Video
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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT NewsChannel 3. To learn more about John, click here.

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