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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 31, 2005
AG McKenna Drives Home SUV Safety Message


SEATTLE -- Introducing Esuvee-- a new national mascot to promote Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) safety, particularly among young adult drivers. Washington joins 49 other states and three jurisdictions in announcing Esuvee's drive to educate consumers on SUV safety messages.

"The goal of this educational campaign is to help curtail the number of SUV rollover accidents and save lives," Attorney General Rob McKenna says. "We are particularly targeting male drivers between the ages of 21-39, who are most vulnerable to rollovers."

Sixty-seven percent of adults involved in fatal SUV rollovers are young men. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of SUV rollovers has doubled since 1991, and the number of occupants killed in rollover crashes has risen 14 percent last year.

The $27 million campaign highlights critical tips for driving SUVs that can mean the difference between life and death. The campaign focuses on SUV owners mastering their vehicles in relation to handling, loading, tire safety and seat belt use. The bottom lines: Don't overload your SUV, always wear your seatbelt, avoid abrupt maneuvers, and don't speed. Use the following safety elements as a guide:

Handling: SUVs have a higher center of gravity than passenger cars, which contributes to a higher risk of rollover. When compared to passenger cars, the risk of rollover can be exacerbated by speeding, inattentiveness, tailgating, recklessness, aggressiveness or impaired driving.

Loading: The number of people and the amount of cargo your SUV can carry safely is determined by the weight and distribution of the cargo, not by the size of your SUV or the amount of available cargo space. Overloading raises the center of gravity, increasing the risk of rollover.

Tires: Maintain proper tire pressure and using tires recommended by the manufacturer are keys to an SUV's safety.

Seat belts: Seat belts save lives. Lap and shoulder belts, when used properly, dramatically reduce the risk of fatal injury in a rollover accident.

The Esuvee beast is the result of a $51.5 million nationwide settlement with the Ford Motor Company that resolved allegations of deceptive trade practices related to the sales and advertising of Ford Sport Utility Vehicles. As part of the settlement, Ford agreed to fund a nationwide consumer education campaign on SUV safety. Visit www.esuvee.com for more information.

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For more information contact:
Kristin Alexander, (206) 464-6432, KristinA1@atg.wa.gov

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