SUVs and light trucks are less prone to rollover according to new rankings and reports released today by the US National Highway Transportation Agency (NHTSA). Less than five years after the implementation of NHTSA's rollover rating program, the number of SUVs earning four-stars has grown from 1 to 24.

SUVOA supports new technologies such as Electronic Stability Control (ESC) that play a vital role in decreasing SUV rollovers. NHTSA preliminary research found that ESC was responsible for reducing single vehicle crashes in SUVs by 67 percent. ESC-equipped vehicles allow drivers to feel the system's response when the vehicle could be about to roll or otherwise go out of control.

While SUV rollover crashes are relatively rare, in 2002 NHTSA reported that when compared to all other types of crashes, less than three percent involved SUV rollover incidents. NHTSA also reported that less than 25 percent of fatalities due to rollover incidents are related to SUVs -- more fatalities occur in car rollovers. Most importantly, the overall fatality rate for all types of crashes is the lowest in large SUVs according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The largest culprits in vehicle fatalities are people who do not wear safety belts. Almost three quarters of people killed in fatal rollover crashes in various vehicle models do not wear their safety belts. The government estimates that seventy-five percent of those non-belt users would be alive today had they simply buckled up.

For 2005 model year tested vehicles, the highest rated SUV was the Ford Freestyle 4x4, earning 4-stars and a 13 percent chance of rollover, if involved in a single-vehicle crash. The Freestyle matches the 2005 Chrysler Pacifica, a carryover vehicle from 2004, which also earned four stars and a 13 percent chance of rollover during the 2004 model year testing.

For pickups, the highest rated vehicle was the Chevrolet Colorado 4x4 and its twin, the GMC Canyon, the Dodge Dakota 4x4, and the Dodge Ram 1500 4x2 -- each earning four stars and a 17 percent chance of rollover if involved in a single-vehicle crash. The complete list of 2005 vehicles rollover results, including carryover results from previous model years, is also available at

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