A
Las Vegas company claims that it has developed a device that may cure the sometimes
fatal rollover tendency of SUVs, pickup trucks and vans.

Amtech Corporation is marketing the RollGard add-on suspension stabiliser that
helps prevent leaning in a turn. The device was developed using motor racing
technology by Peter Bryant, a veteran automotive engineer.

"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 manoeuvres 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 manoeuvres
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 $US295, can be installed on the vehicle’s
rear leaf type suspension in less than 30 minutes. It 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 stabiliser
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 it is an acceptable product that makes this class of
vehicle safer.

Amtech president Thomas J. Neavitt said that virtually all the leading U.S.
safety organisations have been asked to try the device but, to date, only the
Auto Club of Southern California has agreed to conduct scientific tests.

Meanwhile, he noted, 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 stabiliser.