Large Truck Accidents | Featured Articles
November 12 2004 - SUV Rollovers Stabilized
General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co., responding to growing concerns about the safety and stability of sport utility vehicles, and following a stream of rollovers, said Thursday they will make anti-rollover technology standard equipment on 1.8 million SUVs next year.
The moves by the nation’s two largest automakers mark the evolution of the automotive industry’s focused effort to field questions of safety dogging SUVs.
General Motors Corp. said it would make electronic stability control systems standard on 1.3 million sport utility vehicles, including the popular Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon. The technology will be available immediately on full-size SUVs, and on midsize models for 2006.
Ford said more than 500,000 of its SUVs will be equipped with its anti-rollover system by the end of next year.
Ford pioneered the system on the Volvo XC90 SUV and recently made it standard equipment on the 2005 Explorer, Mercury Mountaineer, Lincoln Aviator and Navigator SUVs. Ford also plans to license its system to other automakers.
Developed in the mid-1990s, stability control systems use sensors on a vehicle’s accelerator, brakes and steering wheel to calculate a driver’s intended path. If the vehicle is veering off the road, a computer adjusts the speed of one or more wheels to help the driver regain control.
The federal government estimates SUV rollover accidents killed 2,639 motorists in 2003.
Last month, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released a study that said stability control systems could save up to 7,000 lives each year if they were standard equipment on all vehicles.
“Except for the growing use of seat belts, we have rarely seen a technology that brings such a positive safety benefit to the driving public,” said Gary Cowger, GM North America president.
The Ford system helps avoid a rollover by activating when a vehicle starts to lean, automatically slowing the engine and applying the brakes.
Until now, the two automakers had offered stability control mostly as an option, often in a package of luxury equipment. As a result, automotive suppliers say, the spread of stability control in the United States has been much slower than in Europe or Japan.
Toyota Motor Corp. made stability control equipment standard on all SUVs, including the entry-level RAV-4, more than a year ago.
Honda Motor Co. included stability control as part of a campaign to make key safety features standard on every vehicle it sells. The Japanese automaker pledged to have vehicle stability assist system standard on 84 percent of its U.S. model line by the end of this year, and on all vehicles by the end of 2006.
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