Research confirms BlockerBeam saves lives

A recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) supports Ford's own findings that the number of passenger-car driver deaths in both front- and side-impact collisions between cars and SUVs or pickup trucks was substantially reduced when SUVs or pickup trucks were either lowered or equipped with special impact-absorbing bars below the front bumpers. "Ford took the lead in vehicle compatibility when it equipped the 2000-model Ford Excursion with special beams under the front end and redesigned a standard trailer hitch for the rear end," said Priya Prasad, Ford safety technical fellow. "When we saw an opportunity to improve the compatibility of SUVs and pickup trucks, we acted in the interest of our customers. The IIHS study validates that decision."

"¨"¨In an industry-wide agreement in 2003, automakers, including Ford, pledged to either lower all SUVs and full-size pickup trucks up to 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight rating or include energy-absorbing beams underneath the front and rear bumpers of the vehicles by the end of 2009. However, by the time the pact was announced, Ford already had implemented one or the other measure on most of its larger vehicles."¨The company's innovative, industry-leading patented BlockerBeam underride protection system, conceived and championed by Prasad and introduced on Excursion, is fashioned with less than 50 pounds of steel and utilizes a unique design. It is used on vehicles whose frame rails cannot be sufficiently lowered due to ground clearance and approach angle requirements for off-road use."¨Currently on the Ford F-250 and F-350 Super Duty models, the system allows a larger vehicle and a car to share energy during a crash, instead of the smaller car absorbing the bulk of the crash energy."¨The Ford BlockerBeam essentially is a hollow cross member attached to the frame approximately 2.5 inches below car bumpers and 6.5 inches behind the conventional front bumper. During a frontal collision with a car, the structure is designed to make contact with the frame rails of a car in an effort to help prevent the car from sliding beneath a higher-riding vehicle."¨To help manage crash energy from rear collisions, vehicles equipped with the BlockerBeam are fitted with Ford's largest trailer hitch -- standard on all models. The hitch spans more than three feet across the vehicle's rear and attaches to the frame."¨The 3.5-square-inch hitch is designed to prevent lower-riding cars from sliding underneath the back of the F-250 and F350 Super Duty trucks. It also reduces the amount of intrusion into the passenger compartment of the car."¨"The BlockerBeam and special trailer hitch both had to be carefully designed so as to provide increased compatibility with cars and still maintain adequate ground clearance to ensure the functionality of the vehicle equipped with the systems," said Prasad."¨The Volvo XC90 and Land Rover Range Rover and LR3 also are equipped with impact-absorbing bars."¨Ford has opted to lower the frame rails on other SUVs and pickups in order to provide better compatibility with cars. Those vehicles include the Ford Expedition, Explorer, Freestar and F-150, Mercury Mountaineer and Monterey , Lincoln Navigator and Mark LT, and the Volvo XC70."¨The Ford Excursion has been discontinued."¨Prasad expects all Ford Motor Company vehicles to meet the compatibility agreement by the 2009 deadline, if not sooner.