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Dynamic Rollover Tests were Mandated After Congressional Hearings on the Ford Explorer Rollover-Firestone Tire Debacle.

WASHINGTON, Oct. 2, 2002 (UPI) -- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has proposed two road tests to help rate the rollover resistance of various models of cars, pickups and sport-utility vehicles.Rollover accidents are blamed for 10,000 deaths and 27,000 serious injuries annually in the United States. Rollovers surfaced as a major concern for motorists after the headline-grabbing 2000 recall of 6.5 million Firestone tires that were mostly original equipment on Ford Explorer SUVs.Rollovers account for just 4 percent of accidents but are responsible for a quarter of the 40,000 traffic deaths on the nation's highways. Seventy-eight percent of people killed in single vehicle rollovers were not wearing seat belts and 53 percent were thrown from the vehicle.The two dynamic tests proposed by government engineers -- both actual road maneuvers -- were published by NHTSA Tuesday. Previously the federal auto safety agency rated rollover resistance using one to five stars based on a statistical model -- a mathematical formula using the variables of a vehicle's track, the width between tires; and its height and center of gravity to determine stability in a crash. No vehicles were road tested to determine their propensity to roll over.In the future, two actual road tests will be used along with the current Static Stability Factor. In the "j-turn" test a computer-steered vehicle abruptly turns left or right at 60 mph. The "fishhook" maneuver involves making a left turn followed by a sharp right turn at speeds up to 50 mph.Each test will be conducted twice with a single crash-test dummy and then with dummies or instruments in front and rear seating positions.Rollover ratings will depend on whether the wheels leave the pavement during the tests.Dynamic tests were mandated by the Transportation Recall, Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation Act passed in November 2000 after congressional hearings on the Ford Explorer-Firestone tire debacle.

Consumer advocates long had sought road tests to help consumers find safer vehicles but automakers say such tests do not consider the roles driver behavior, road conditions or improved safety devices play in accidents.

Copyright © 2002 United Press International

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Rollover Topics

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