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Government Report: Some SUVs Have High Chance of Flipping in Crashes

Aired January 9, 2001 - 1:01 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: We begin with that new information that could affect how safe your car or SUV is. The government has looked at dozens of vehicles, and for the first time ever, it's rated how prone your vehicle might be to flipping over in a crash.

CNN's Skip Loescher has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SKIP LOESCHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sports utility vehicles -- SUVs: They are the most popular, and the government says, the most likely to roll over if involved in a single vehicle crash.

SUE BAILEY, NHTSA ADMINISTRATOR: Rollovers, even though they're a small percentage of all crashes that occur, they are some of the deadliest: 10,000 people died last year in rollovers.

LOESCHER: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has now begun rating vehicles to determine how top-heavy they are, and therefore, how likely they are to roll over if they run off the road. The least likely, according to NHTSA, is the Honda Accord, followed by the Chevrolet Impala, the Ford Taurus and the Mercury Sable.

But they are all passenger cars. The NHTSA ratings show the best-selling SUV, the Ford Explorer, has a risk of rolling over 30 to 40 percent of the time in a single-vehicle crash, with two-wheel drive versions of the Chevy Blazer and the GMC Jimmy, facing a rollover risk of more than 40 percent.

Carmakers contend actual over-the-road tests would produce a more accurate result than NHTSA's calculations do, but they admit the ratings may have an impact on potential buyers.

Rich Wagoner is CEO of General Motors.

RICH WAGONER, CEO, GENERAL MOTORS: So we've got to make sure we tell our story and make sure our customers understand we're committed to safety.

LOESCHER: The ratings, released Tuesday, are just the beginning. NHTSA plans to rate more than 80 other model cars, SUVs and light trucks by April.

Skip Loescher, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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