Ad campaign challenges SUV drivers to drive safely

Monday, January 31st 2005, 2:09 pm
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ The nation's attorneys general announced a $27 million ad campaign Monday to coax SUV owners to drive safely and to convince them they are not invulnerable when they get behind the wheel one of the big vehicles.

The campaign, funded through a settlement with Ford Motor Co., is targeted at men 18 to 34, a group of drivers who are involved in a disproportionate number of SUV rollover accidents.

The campaign features a monster named Esuvee that resembles a woolly mammoth with headlights. In one 30-second spot, men ride the beast as they would a bucking bronco. A narrator says: ``Anybody can ride an Esuvee, but not everybody rides it right.''

The campaign is the result of a 2002 nationwide settlement with Ford. The states accused Ford of running deceptive ads promoting the safety of SUVs.

Susan Ferguson, senior vice president of research at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, questioned whether the ads would produce the desired effect.

``There's been a ton of research to suggest that people don't change their behavior just through education,'' Ferguson said. ``Just exhorting people to do the right thing does not have the effect of changing their behavior.''

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration figures show that in 2002 there were 2,448 deaths and 58,000 injuries from SUV rollover crashes in the United States.

The study found that 67 percent of adults involved in fatal SUV rollovers were men and 61 percent of fatal SUV rollovers involved people 20 to 39 years old.