WASHINGTON (AP) _ Ford Motor Co. will pay state attorneys general $51 million to end claims that their advertising fails to disclose the rollover risk involved with driving sport utility vehicles, The Associated Press has learned.
The money will be shared among each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, said four sources, who spoke on a condition of anonymity.
Ford also will include a disclaimer in advertising that shows aggressive driving. It will say, ``Professional driver. Closed course. Do not attempt.''
The Florida attorney general's office has led the case and planned to announce the settlement Friday, the sources said. Joe Bizzaro, spokesman for the office, would not comment, nor would Ford officials.
The states' claims stem from thousands of rollover accidents involving the Ford Explorer and faulty Firestone tires.
Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. has recalled millions of ATX, ATX II and Wilderness AT tires over the past two years because they are prone to losing their tread while the vehicle is speeding down the road. Most of the tires were sold as original equipment on the Explorer, the world's best-selling sport utility vehicle.
At least 271 U.S. traffic deaths have been linked to the failed tires.
Bridgestone/Firestone paid $41.5 million in a settlement reached last year to head off lawsuits by states over the defective tires.
As part of its settlement, Ford also agreed to share information with the federal government and competitors about its patented Belt-Minder technology, which reminds drivers to buckle up with five minutes of intermittent beeping and a flashing light on the instrument panel.
In a study of Belt-Minder, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that 76 percent of drivers in vehicles with the system wore a seat belt, compared with 71 percent in those without it.