NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Ford Explorer Safer Than Cars

June 20, 2001

Following reports of vehicle rollovers due to tire blowouts, Bridgestone-Firestone has tried to deflect questions about its tires' safety by questioning the safety of Ford Explorers. They claim Explorers are defective because they're prone to roll over. However, observers note, this isn't necessarily the case.

  • Trial lawyers have helped foster the unsafe image, and the Bridgestone-Firestone tire debacle led to more than 100 lawsuits alleging Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) are unsafe.
  • The Ford Explorer is being attacked in part because it's the best-selling SUV and in part because the vast majority of Firestone tire-related rollover accidents involved Ford vehicles.

The question becomes: is the Ford Explorer dangerous or defective? The abundant evidence, say observers, is no.

  • According to accident data compiled by the government's Fatal Accident Reporting System (FARS), the Explorer is not only safer than comparable SUVs, but also safer than most passenger cars.
  • FARS data for the period 1991-1999 show there were 1.1 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in accidents involving the Explorer.
  • The figure for similar-sized SUVs was 1.3 deaths per 100 million VMT, and 1.5 deaths per 100 million VMT for passenger cars.

Thus, despite the scare tactics of trial lawyers, real-world evidence shows the interior of a large SUV is a safe place to be, buckled up, in a crash.

Source: Eric Peters, "In Defense of Sport Utility Vehicles," Consumers' Research, February 2001.


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