Safety Feature #3: Rollover resistance

Last week we talked about the things you need to consider when evaluating a vehicle’s overall safety.

The range from how it performs in an emergency-handling situation and how it protects its occupants in a collision to how easy it is to secure a child seat. When comparing vehicles, it’s important to look at all the appropriate variables, including safety-related ratings and features.

For the next couple of days we will be listing the rest of the top 10 safety checks that are worth reviewing before you make your final buying decision. Here is number 3

Taller vehicles, such as SUVs and pickups, are more likely to roll over than passenger cars. According to the IIHS, SUVs have a rollover rate that is two to three times that of passenger cars. In 2006, 59 percent of all SUV fatalities and 48 percent of pickup-truck fatalities involved a rollover. In contrast, only 25 percent of passenger-car fatalities involved a rollover.

A taller vehicle has a higher center of gravity, which makes it more top-heavy than one that sits lower to the ground. In a situation where a vehicle is subjected to strong sideways forces, such as in a sudden cornering maneuver, it’s easier for a taller vehicle to roll over.

To give consumers a way of telling which vehicles have a higher rollover propensity than others, NHTSA has developed a five-star rating system called the Rollover Resistance Rating (RRR). Until recently, the RRR was based solely on a vehicle’s “static stability factor (SSF),” which is determined from measurements of its track width and center of gravity. Because the SSF is based on measurements of a stationary vehicle rather than on a dynamic road test, the rating doesn’t account for vehicles’ different suspension designs, tires, or the presence of a stability-control system–any of which can make a significant difference. Beginning with the ratings for 2004 models, NHTSA has combined the SSF with a dynamic rollover test performed with moving vehicles.

The RRR is accessible online at www.safercar.gov, but you need to dig deeper than the star ratings to tell how a vehicle performed in the dynamic test. Click on the model name. Scroll down to “Rollover.” That section gives the predicted chance of a rollover in a single-vehicle crash, stated as a percentage of probability. The site tells you whether or not a vehicle tipped up in the test, but not at what speed. The top of the test-results page specifies if the vehicle had side air bags or stability control when it was tested.

We believe that vehicles that tip up in NHTSA’s test have a potential stability problem and CR will not recommend them, regardless of their star rating. In order for an SUV or pickup to be recommended, it must either have been included in NHTSA’s test and have not tipped up or, if it has not been tested, it must offer electronic stability control.

Visit of call Planet Ford 45 if you need further assistance understanding the safety features in our Ford Lineup.

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