Those Wonderful SUVs

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Those Wonderful SUVs

Sport utility vehicles (SUVs) are gas-guzzlers, and studies show they're more prone to rollover accidents. But there may be yet another reason not to drive a Ford Explorer:
On an Arizona highway, 21-year-old Jacqueline Morris lost her life five years ago. Her Ford SUV flipped down Interstate 10 after she lost control, crushing her inside.

"The seat belt did not hold her because the roof had collapsed and there was nothing holding the seat belts," says her mother, Yvonne Morris. Two weeks into their wrongful death suit against Ford, the company settled.

Wednesday, the advocacy group Public Citizen released a new study on "roof crush" accidents ... "This is a vehicle they know is prone to rollover and yet they took the strength out of the roof in the mid-90s," says Public Citizen president Joan Claybrook.

The plaintiffs (in a Virginia case) introduced evidence that during the mid-1990s, Ford had weakened its roofs during redesigns, while maintaining the minimum government standard. And in 1999, after Ford bought Volvo, Volvo was still working to strengthen its roofs.

"I believe that the auto industry has known for years that stronger roofs will save lives," says Claybrook.
According to this recent Detroit News article, a study of four rollover tests of Ford Explorers conducted in the late 1990's found that roofs collapsed before injuries occurred to crash-test dummies.

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