Texas AG Unites with States to Promote SUV Safety Education Program

September 6, 2005

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott recently applauded a national public safety campaign that stopped in Texas to improve driver understanding of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) as a way to prevent deadly rollover accidents.

The ESUVEE Safety Campaign (www.esuvee.com) visited Houston’s Minute Maid Park recently before the Houston Astros/St. Louis Cardinals game with its mascot, the ESUVEE, to make a pitch for vehicle safety. A member of a Houston family who survived an SUV rollover accident was present to emphasize driver safety as it pertains to these vehicles.

“Driving an SUV like a small car is an invitation to disaster and can even result in death or lifelong injury,” said Abbott. “This one-year education program is designed to drive this point home by reaching those who believe they are invincible in an SUV. We want to save lives and make driving safer for everyone.”

John and Mary Beth Arcidiacono of Houston participated in the event to recount an experience in an August 1998 rollover accident involving an SUV. Ms. Arcidiacono and her four children left Colorado to return home days after her husband left to return to work. Just outside of Pueblo, Colo., the vehicle left the road and she lost control, rolling it over four times. Two sons were thrown from the vehicle. One died, while the other suffered brain damage.

With surveys reportedly revealing four in 10 Americans mistakenly believe they are safer in an SUV than a passenger car, the campaign promotes improved driver understanding of SUVs as a means to prevent deadly rollovers.

The campaign is reportedly designed to dispel the mistaken belief among many Americans that they are safer in an SUV than a passenger car. The national public awareness campaign educates SUV drivers, especially younger male drivers, about proper tire pressures and how overloading the vehicle or making abrupt maneuvers on the road can result in dangerous rollovers. SUVs reportedly have a higher center of gravity than other vehicles and thus have a greater risk of rollover, especially if the driver is impaired, driving recklessly or is inattentive to highway conditions.

Annual fatalities have reached almost 10,000 in some years as a result of avoidable rollover crashes, according to highway traffic studies. Of those killed in such accidents, 80 percent were not wearing seatbelts.

The $27 million campaign grew out of a settlement the states reached with Ford Motor Co. in December. The states filed several lawsuits alleging the company’s marketing practices misled consumers about how to drive, load and maintain Ford Explorers.

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