Tire-Related Explorer Rollover Deaths Continue to Climb

Reprinted from The Safety Record, V5, I6; Nov/Dec. 2008

CROWNSVILLE, MD. - Ford may have won the public relations battle in 2000, when the blame for 173 Explorer rollover deaths fell on Bridgestone-Firestone's Wilderness ATX tires, but the motoring public has turned out to be the real loser. According to a new analysis, after a brief dip, the number of Explorer rollover deaths involving a tire failure has risen to significantly higher levels than before the tires were recalled.

NHTSA Publishes Final DSP Rule; SRS Vows Challenge

Reprinted from The Safety Record, V5, I5

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Three years after proposing to close the flagrant loopholes in the Designated Seating Position rule, NHTSA has published a Final Rule that tweaks its initial proposal, but fails to address its core weakness - the lack of underlying data to support the change.

The Final Rule, published on October 8, attempts to prevent manufacturers from offering extra rear seating while skirting the requirement for a seat belt in each designated seating position. For years, manufacturers of vehicles with generous rear bench seats equipped with only two three-point belts hung their hats on four words in the current rule's definition of a designated seating position: "likely to be used." This allowed automakers to pretend that only two positions in the rear seat were likely to be used, even as consumers were clearly occupying three positions.

Newly Released Documents and Data Highlight Explorer Rollover Problems

Six years ago, Ford Motor Company laid the blame for Explorer rollovers on defective Firestone tires, but newly available data shows that even with replacement tires, tire-related rollover crashes in Explorers are growing and internal documents unearthed during recent litigation show that the popular SUV's stability problems are also rooted in vehicle design.