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Toyota 4-Runner and Other SUV Rollover Cases

Toyota issues recall announcement affecting 880,000 vehicles

May 2005-Toyota Motor Corp. said it is recalling about 880,000 sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and pickup trucks worldwide because of a defect that could affect steering. In the United States, 774,856 Toyota SUVs and pickup trucks have been recalled, including the 2001-2004 model years of the Tacoma, the 2001-2002 versions of the 4Runner and the 2002-2004 model years of the Tundra and Sequoia. Toyota's recall announcement also affects 22,000 vehicles in Japan, 22,000 vehicles in Europe, 14,000 vehicles in Australia and 10,800 vehicles throughout the rest of the world. Read More

GENERAL SUV ROLLOVER INFORMATION

Sport utility vehicles have the highest rate of deaths occurring in rollovers. Cars such as the Ford Explorer, Toyota 4 Runner, Isuzu Rodeo, and Honda Passport have been involved in SUV rollovers that have ended up in serious injuries and death. SUV rollovers are almost three times more likely to occur than the average passenger car, and government tests indicate the most stable SUV is still more unstable than the most unstable car. What does this say about the safety of SUVs on the road?

In 2002, statistics showed that nearly 11,000 people died in rollover accidents, with 61% of SUV rollovers accounting for the fatalities. The number of people killed in SUV rollovers has increased by 14% in the last year. Even more alarming, is the withholding of information to consumers about this information, especially since rollovers are among the deadliest type of accidents. Considering the SUV has become a popular family car, consumers should be aware of the risk the vehicles are putting their families in. The number of SUV rollover fatalities continues to escalate but SUVs are not being made to better resist rollover crashes. Not a single SUV earned the federal agency’s highest safety rating according to an NHTSA July 17, 2003 report.

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SUV popularity created a large increase in sales in the 1990s, and because there was so much consumer demand for these cars, carmakers continued to manufacture SUVs. Because the vehicle has changed from simply being an off-road vehicle to a family car, manufacturers have also removed the roll bar that protects drivers and passengers in a rollover situation. Many SUV rollover accidents occur because of the unusual propensity the large car has to rollover when steered hard in foreseeable accident avoidance maneuvers. Also, the size and height of an SUV may increase the danger for rollovers to occur. SUV defects, like weak roofs and safety restraint system failures, are some of the heightened risks involved in an SUV rollover situation.

COMPANY ENGINEERS WORRY ABOUT PASSING ROLLOVER TESTS

An internal Ford e-mail, produced as evidence in lawsuits against Ford, and obtained by CBS News, shows company engineers were worried about passing rollover tests back in 1989. Ford's response was that the engineers were "worried" but a single document is meaningless.

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