States Unite to Promote SUV Safety with $27 Million Public Educaton Campaign

DENVER – Interim Colorado Attorney General John W. Suthers today announced that he is joining with the nation’s other Attorneys General to launch the ESUVEE Safety Campaign, a $27 million, yearlong national education program designed to reduce SUV rollovers, particularly among younger male drivers who have the highest incidence of such accidents.

The Safety Campaign, which uses no public funds, was conceived in December 2002, when Colorado and the other 49 states, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia reached a settlement agreement with the Ford Motor Company. The agreement resolved state lawsuits alleging that Ford’s marketing practices misled consumers on how to drive, load and maintain Ford Explorers. As part of the settlement, Ford agreed to fund a $27 million consumer education campaign on SUV safety.

Although one consumer is killed in a SUV accident per hour on average, a new consumer survey shows that more than four in 10 Americans think that they are safer in a SUV than in a regular car. “Consumers need to remember that driving a SUV is different than driving a vehicle with a lower center of gravity,” said Suthers. “Fortunately, smart drivers can save lives by taking some very simple steps: check your tire pressure monthly, don’t overload your SUV, always wear your seatbelt, try to avoid abrupt maneuvers, and don’t speed,” he added.

Lifesaving Safety Elements

“SUVs can give you a sense of invincibility, but if you lose control they become very dangerous due to their weight and high center of gravity,” said David Champion, senior director, Auto Test Department, Consumer Reports. “To reduce SUV rollover risk, choose one that has not tipped in NHTSA’s tests, has performed well in Consumer Reports tests, and is equipped with electronic stability control.”

The Campaign aims to inform the public about the following critical safety elements that can help save lives:

Handling: SUVs have a higher center of gravity than passenger cars, which contributes to the higher risk of rollover. The chances of an SUV rollover are further increased by speeding, abrupt maneuvers, inattentiveness, tailgating, recklessness, aggressiveness or impaired driving.

Loading: According to the new consumer survey, nearly 50 percent of Americans do not know that overloading an SUV increases the risk of rollovers. The number of occupants, as well as the weight and distribution of cargo, raises a SUV’s center of gravity, increasing the risk of rollover.

Tires: Tire size, pressure and maintenance are keys to SUV safety. Drivers should monitor each of these, and take them into account when loading an SUV.

Seat belts: Perhaps the most preventable cause of death in an SUV rollover is ejection from the vehicle. Eighty percent of those killed in SUV rollovers are unbelted.

About The Campaign

The SUV Safety Campaign will use a mascot, ESUVEE, to engage the target audience of younger drivers. This previously undiscovered species makes its first appearance during today’s campaign kickoff at New York’s Central Park Zoo. New York City has officially declared January 31st to be SUV Safety Day. The 16-foot long, 11-foot wide and 10-foot tall ESUVEE will serve as the Campaign’s focal point, appearing at events nationwide throughout this year. ESUVEE is prominently featured on the Campaign’s web site, www.ESUVEE.com, a source of tips and information about safe operation and maintenance of SUVs. Throughout the year, the site will also provide information on upcoming events where ESUVEE will appear, such as SUV Safety Days in individual states. ESUVEE will also anchor a hard-hitting public relations campaign promoting SUV safety, including cinema, billboards, print, online and broadcast advertisements.

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