January 17, 2003

GM responds to negative comments about SUVs

Detroit, Michigan – In response to remarks made on Tuesday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Administrator regarding the safety of sport utility vehicles, Jay Cooney, Director of Safety Communications, General Motors issued the following statement:

“According to the NHTSA’s own factual data, SUVs are among the safest vehicles on the road and have contributed to the dramatic decline in the nation’s fatality rate over the last decade.
According to real world government crash data, compiled by the NHTSA, SUVs are two to three times more protective of their occupants in frontal, rear and side-impact crashes that make up 97.5% (ninety-seven- point-five-percent) of all crashes. The major reason for fatalities in rollovers, which represent only 2.5% of all crashes, is due to a lack of seat belt use.

“According to NHTSA, 72% of those killed in fatal rollover crashes were not using safety belts. Again, according to the NHTSA of the 9,882 people killed in rollovers in the year 2000, 75% or 7,412 people perished not because of the vehicle, but because they were unbelted and ejected from the vehicle. This is exactly why GM has been diligently working with Dr. Runge and the NHTSA on increasing seat belt usage in this country.

“Since Americans began buying SUVs in record numbers in the 1980s, sales of these versatile vehicles skyrocketed more than 600%. During this sales boom, the nation’s fatality rate (fatality rate based on vehicle miles of travel) on America’s roads dropped by more than 50% to an all time low.

“To assert otherwise, is not only contrary to the facts gathered by his own agency over the last decade, but unfair to the thousands of men and women who have spent their professional lives making vehicles safer, and to America’s automakers who spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year on improving safety in their vehicles.”

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