- The Washington Times - Friday, November 8, 2002

It is my contention that a lot of today's vehicle crashes are caused by drivers not adjusting their driving style to the vehicle they are driving.
Consider how many times you've heard NASCAR announcers refer to a driver's difficulty in adjusting to a Winston Cup car over a Busch Grand National car. If pros have this difficulty, when the chief difference is weight, imagine what a challenge it is for regular drivers to adjust to a change.
The vehicle where lack of adaptation is most prevalent is the SUV.
Let's look at the basics that drivers need to consider and how not taking them into consideration can cause problems. While horsepower is an important factor, that is not at the top of my list. First is the vehicle's weight.
The weight of a vehicle determines not only its acceleration potential, but also the distance required to stop the vehicle.
Consider a 5,000-pound SUV compared with a 3,000-pound compact car. Even though the SUV has larger brakes and tires, the car is going to stop quicker.
When the SUV driver rides the rear bumper of a little car, he is putting both vehicles in harm's way.
Next on my list is the vehicle's roll center. In layman's terms, the roll center is the point in a vehicle around which the vehicle's weight pivots in a turning or extreme braking situation.
A car such as a Corvette or a Nissan 350Z has a roll center that is 6 to 8 inches off the ground. That means it's difficult to roll over.
On the other hand, SUVs, full-size pickup trucks and four-wheel-drive vehicles have a much higher roll center, even higher than the ground clearance, that can be 18 to 24 inches.
The higher the center, the easier it is to roll over.
If you want to drive like a race car driver, buy a sports car. If you want to sit high above the crowd, plan on maneuvering more like a bus driver.

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