Rollover: The Hidden History of the SUV

Produced and Directed by: Barak Goodman and Marc Shaffer
Written by: Barak Goodman and Marc Shaffer
Edited by: Andrew Gersh
Associate Producer: Jason Cohn
Camera: Jim Helling
Original Music: Edward Bilous

In Rollover: The Hidden History of the SUV, FRONTLINE examines whether America's most popular vehicle may also be one of its most dangerous, and investigates why automakers and government regulators failed to do more to protect and inform American consumers. One in every four new vehicles sold in America today is an SUV. Indeed, SUVs are the most popular vehicles on the road -- and the most profitable. Some manufacturers make up to $15,000 in profits on every SUV that rolls off the assembly line. The sport utility vehicle is one of Detroit's greatest success stories, credited with saving the U.S. auto industry. But the SUV has a serious safety problem: its tendency to roll over. There will be an estimated 70,000 SUV rollovers in 2002, in which some 2000 people will die. The dangers of SUVs were spotlighted in the fall of 2000, when the sensational Ford-Firestone scandal prompted Congress to launch a series of hearings focusing on deaths and injuries related to faulty Firestone tires mounted on Ford Explorers. But, during the same 10-year period in which Ford-Firestone rollover crashes caused some 300 deaths, more than 12,000 people -- 40 times as many -- died in SUV rollovers unrelated to tire failure. In "Rollover: The Hidden History of the SUV," FRONTLINE examines whether America's most popular vehicle may also be one of its most dangerous, and investigates why automakers and government regulators failed to do more to protect and inform American consumers.

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