A number of cases over the past decade regarding the Ford F150, F250, and F350 forces potential and current customers to ask themselves a serious question: Can my truck withstand the force of a rollover accident? Many may assume when they buy their truck that it can, due to aggressive marketing campaigns by Ford, but it is becoming increasingly apparent that they, in fact, may not.

A prime example of this lack of transparency occurred when a college student in Texas rolled his 2002 Ford F150 into a ditch in an attempt to avoid another driver that had abruptly pulled from a driveway into the student’s path. The roof collapsed onto the boy’s head, pinning his chin to his chest and leaving him unable to breathe properly. He was deprived of oxygen for several minutes before emergency medical personnel could assist him. He slipped into a coma shortly after being transported to the hospital. He died a week later.

In another tragic example, a border patrol agent named Luis Pena was driving his Ford F250 to a narcotics incident. The truck flipped and the roof collapsed, causing him major spinal injuries and rendering him a quadriplegic. Court documents express that Ford did not conduct “real world” safety testing on the subject’s model of the truck, including drop tests and dynamic rollover tests.

In general, trucks are more prone to rolling over because their center of gravity is not as low as other vehicles on the road. External entities have put pressure on Ford and other vehicle manufacturers to cut weight from automotive designs. This effort to make them lighter will make the trucks more fuel efficient and attract potential customers. Manufactures have taken off some of this weight by hollowing out the pillars that connect the roof to the rest of the truck. This, of course, makes the top more likely to be crushed in the event of a rollover, and also makes front airbags useless in the event of such an accident.

When buying a truck or car, check to make sure that it is equipped with side airbags, cushioned seats and headrests, and has a functional electronic stability control (ESC) sensor. This sensor helps to adjust braking on certain wheels, which is especially helpful in the event of a tire blowout. They are standard in most new cars.

There are 220,000 rollover crashes in the United States every year. Many are fatal.

Timing is a factor in rollover litigations. Parts of the trucks must be preserved for forensic analysis.

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