New Device to Prevent SUV Rollovers Now on the Market
16 January 2001
New Device to Prevent SUV Rollovers Now on the MarketLAS VEGAS--Jan. 16, 2001--A local company claims it has the answer to a highway safety dilemma that is bedeviling the nation.
It has developed a device that may cure the sometimes fatal rollover tendency of SUVs, pickup trucks and vans.
Amtech Corp. is marketing the RollGard(TM), an add-on stabilizer for the suspension that helps prevent leaning in a turn. The device was developed using motor racing technology by Peter Bryant, a veteran automotive engineer and consultant to Amtech who learned his trade first as an engineer in Formula 1, Indy car and Can-Am road racing.
"Almost the only way you can roll one of these vehicles over with our device in play is to 'trip' it by sliding into a log or a rock or a high curb," Bryant said. "Most of the accidents that are baffling auto manufacturers and safety officials originate from common maneuvers on the street or highway without hitting any object at all.
"There are 80 million SUVs and light trucks in use today, and they are all subject to the same rollover tendencies. We believe RollGard will help prevent these accidents and make the ride smoother and safer, even for drivers who don't know how close they routinely come to having an accident."
The typical SUV rollover accident usually happens during one of two maneuvers at speeds of 35 mph and more, Bryant said. In the first instance, a driver is negotiating a high speed curve and suddenly turns in the opposite direction, either reacting to an emergency or in response to a sharp bend in the road. In the second instance, a driver changes lanes too quickly. Often the driver has to change lanes abruptly to avoid rear-ending the car he is following.
In both these cases the vehicle leans, recovers, then has to lean in the opposite direction. Typically, momentum gained in the first recovery increases in obedience to Newton's Laws of Motion, and over goes the vehicle.
The RollGard device, which retails for $295, can be installed on the vehicle's rear leaf type suspension in less than 30 minutes. The RollGard attaches to both ends of the leaf springs and uses the rear axle as a pivot to maintain the chassis in a constantly level ride height position. Acting in harmony with the vehicle's shock absorbers and springs, with or without an antisway bar, the RollGard, in fact, obviates the need for antisway bars.
Following successful evaluation and extensive testing by the company, the RollGard device was given out at random to SUV and light truck drivers for use in everyday traffic situations. Feedback has been enthusiastic, Bryant said, leading the company to conclude that RollGard is an acceptable product that makes this class of vehicle safer.
Typical user comments: "I live in a hilly area (and) drive a 1999 BMW-540I. When driving the Dodge Caravan, the vehicle excessively leans and is `spongy' when turning or going around curves...Upon installing the kit on my Dodge Caravan, the leaning and handling of the vehicle almost feels like my `Beamer.'" -- Sam C. Longo, president, Seachrome Corp., Azusa, Calif.
"RollGard...not only improved the ride, but it also improved the stability immensely." -- James Bade, heating system consultant, Las Vegas.
"The difference is like night and day," -- Sherry Peterson, secretary, Las Vegas.
"I immediately felt the difference, making turns, driving over speed bumps all day and in windy conditions, which, here in the desert, is almost every day." -- Christopher Vargas, cabinetmaker, Las Vegas.
"How amazed I am at the dramatic changes that (RollGard) made when driving my Ford F350 4-wheel-drive pickup. (It) has made an incredible difference to the way the truck rides and feels. It has taken away an uncomfortable feeling arising from the sway I was experiencing during cornering." -- Brian Griesmann, operations manager, Norcraft Industries, Las Vegas.
"The improvements became even more apparent during a recent trip I made to Tucson, Arizona. There is one particular twisty stretch of country road that I did not feel safe driving at over 30 miles an hour. I found myself doing nearly 60 miles an hour on the same road." -- Pete Daniels, Super Stat Carrier Inc., branch manager, Las Vegas.
"Not only does (my Ford Ranger) handle better cornering, but it gives me a smoother ride overall on the road." -- Bruce Folkart, All-New Stamping salesman, El Monte, Calif.
"Too bad the auto manufacturers could not have had the forethought to build into their vehicles the handling capabilities and added safety features of your unit." -- Jerry Larson, All-New Stamping quality control manager, El Monte.
"In light of all the negative publicity regarding the Explorer, I was seriously considering trading it in this year. I did participate in the tire recall but still had reservations about the car. After installation of the RollGard I feel so much safer that I am no longer concerned with trading the car in." -- Charles J. Peterson, telephone technician, Las Vegas.
Amtech president Thomas J. Neavitt stated that virtually all the leading safety organizations have been asked to try the device, and to date, only the Auto Club of Southern California has agreed to conduct scientific tests. Meanwhile, agencies like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have been widely quoted by the media complaining that the industry should be doing more to make these vehicles safer, yet both have declined to test or otherwise evaluate the RollGard.