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Continental Teves Technologies are Making Passenger Cars, Minivans and SUVs Safer

AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Dec. 20, 2002; Motor vehicle crashes killed more than 42,000 people in 2001, including an average of six children under the age of 14 every day.

Compounding these tragedies is the fact that many automotive safety technologies exist that could help reduce these numbers, but they are not widely known to consumers. That's why Continental Teves, one of the world's leading providers of automotive safety solutions, continues to support programs like Drive Safer America!, a national campaign dedicated to educating motorists on the proper use of new safety technologies and other automotive safety issues.

"Safety is both our business and our passion, and we constantly look for ways to make the vehicle more intelligent," said Phil Headley, chief engineer, Advanced Technologies for Continental Teves North America. "In addition to developing the world's most advanced automotive safety technologies, we are committed to helping motorists learn how to properly drive with these technologies in order to optimize their benefits."

According to Headley, safety belts, child safety seats, air bags, and other "passive" crash protection systems have taken center stage in the automotive safety dialogue, sometimes at the expense of what are called "active" safety technologies.

"Without question, 'passive' safety systems are critical elements in protecting both drivers and passengers," Headley said. "Equally important, however, are 'active' safety technology solutions that help prevent crashes from occurring at all. The milliseconds and seconds before an accident are critical and also the newest frontier in safety, because the best way to avoid injuries is to avoid accidents in the first place."

During the winter months, when driving can be at its trickiest, Continental Teves technologies are providing greater safety, security and comfort to drivers and passengers. The idea behind these technologies is to enable vehicle control in critical driving situations. Continental is the only supplier in the industry integrating a dynamic combination of tire, brake and suspension systems -- the three primary elements impacting overall chassis performance on a vehicle -- to provide synergistic solutions to vehicle control, especially on treacherous wintry roads.

Continental Teves technologies that are making motorists safer include:

Anti-lock Brake Systems - When wheels lock up on wet and slippery roads or during a panic stop, the vehicle may lose traction, causing it to skid out of control. Anti-lock Brake Systems (ABS) are widely lauded for their ability to prevent wheel lock when brakes are fully applied, giving drivers extra control in hard stopping situations.

When ABS is activated, drivers may experience a slight vibration or a rapid pulsation of the brake pedal -- almost as if the brakes are pushing back against the driver's foot. Other possible sensations include a feeling that the pedal has suddenly dropped, or a grinding, scraping or buzzing noise from the brakes. These are all signs that the ABS is working! Drivers should continue to apply firm pressure and steer the vehicle out of trouble. Remember to "Stomp, Stay, Steer" (Stomp on the pedal, Stay on the pedal, and Steer to a safe path).

Most new vehicles offer ABS as either standard or optional equipment. Check the owner's manual to see if the vehicle is equipped with ABS; also, check the instrument panel for a yellow ABS indicator light as the vehicle is started.

Traction Control Systems - Among the countless dangers motorists have to contend with are wet, slippery roads. Cars can suddenly and unexpectedly go into skids when braking or accelerating, rendering controlled steering impossible. Traction Control Systems (TCS) help out in these dangerous situations by preventing the wheels from spinning, improving vehicle acceleration and tracking.

Sensors tell the TCS when a wheel begins to slip, and a light appears on the instrument panel to inform the driver that TCS is active. The TCS brakes the spinning wheels and throttles engine output until the wheels regain their grip.

Check the owner's manual to see if a vehicle is equipped with TCS, as the list of vehicles that offer TCS as standard or optional equipment continues to grow. For example, the technology is now available on passenger cars (Chrysler LHS, Lincoln LS) minivans (Chrysler Town & Country, Dodge Caravan) and SUVs (Mercedes M-Class and Ford Expedition).

Brake Assist - Brake Assist is a technology that helps improve driver reaction time in an emergency braking situation. The system is based on the findings of crash-research studies done by both Mercedes and Toyota, in which 90 percent of participants either hesitated to fully apply the brakes, or did not apply them with full force in an emergency situation.

The Brake Assist system uses sensors to measure how quickly the brake pedal is activated. If the system detects that the driver intends to apply full braking force, Brake Assist immediately and automatically provides full brake pressure, considerably reducing vehicle braking distance.

Brake Assist is available on a number of new vehicles, including the Ford Taurus, Ford Focus and Ford Expedition.

Electronic Stability Program (ESP) - Nearly 10,000 people died last year as a result of a vehicle rollover crash, many of them in single-vehicle crashes that occurred when the vehicle ran off the road and struck a curb, soft shoulder, guard rail or other object that "tripped" it.

The Electronic Stability Program (ESP) is an interactive stability enhancement system designed to electronically detect and assist in critical driving situations. It automatically provides enhanced control in adverse driving conditions by constantly comparing the driver's intended course with the vehicle's actual course and compensating for any differences.

Numerous automakers offer electronic stability control systems, which are marketed under different names. Consumers should look for these brand names when they're shopping for a new vehicle: ESP (Audi, Mercedes, Volkswagen), Dynamic Stability Control (BMW), AdvanceTrac(TM) (Ford, Lincoln, Mercury), Stability Management System (Porsche) and Vehicle Skid Control (Toyota).

"Even when driving a four-wheel drive SUV, winter road conditions can be unpredictable and downright dangerous, regardless of how skilled the driver is," said Headley. "Technology can lead to improved safety, which is why Continental Teves is responding with technologies that promote a safer, more secure driving experience for both the driver and the passengers."

Continental Teves, headquartered in Frankfurt/Main Germany, is a unit of Continental AG, Hanover, Germany. With 2001 sales of approximately $10 billion (US), Continental is a world leader in the design, development and supply of critical brake and chassis systems that contribute to driving safety and comfort. Continental Teves North American is headquartered in Auburn Hills, Mich. For more information, please visit and .

For more information on Drive Safer America! please visit .