Detroit—Some interesting statistics came out during the recent Firestone
tire recall on Ford sport-utility vehicles. Ford used data from the U.S. Department of Transportation to make a case for the relative safety of SUVs. The information it presented showed the overall occupant fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles lower for compact SUVs than passenger cars (left). However, while frontal impacts in cars had the greatest fraction of fatalities, rollovers in compact SUVs accounted for nearly two-thirds of all deaths in those vehicles—a sobering thought given SUVs' higher center of gravity making them more prone to such accidents—and the reason for Ford's introduction of its rollover protection package in 2002 Explorers and Mercury Mountaineers (see Design News , 10/02/00).
No numbers were quoted for death rates in vehicles colliding with SUVs.