New Ford F-150 and Dodge Ram Lose Stars in Rollover Ratings


In almost every way the 2009 Ford F-150 and Dodge Ram 1500 pickups are improved over their predecessors but in one important safety measurement they've taken a step backwards. New three-star rollover ratings from the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, for four-wheel drive versions of the F-150 and Ram, are one-star less than the 2008 models.

According to our colleagues at, NHTSA's rollover ratings are based on the combined results of two tests. The first test mathematically calculates a vehicle's rollover propensity based on its center of gravity (called the static stability factor) while the second test uses a 'fishhook' dynamic driving test in which the test vehicle swerves suddenly, then overcorrects to simulate a high-speed collision avoidance maneuver. The combined results, called simply NHTSA Rollover Ratings, give a percentage chance of rollover — a star rating based on this chance and whether or not the model tipped up on two wheels during the fishhook test.

As published at NHTSA's website, the 2009 four-wheel drive Ford F-150 was given a 22 percent chance of a rollover versus 19 percent in the 2008 F-150. The odds of a two-wheel drive rollover also grew, from 17 to 19 percent.

The 2009 four-wheel drive Dodge Ram earned a 21 percent chance of a rollover compared to 19 percent in the 2008 Ram 1500. Two-wheel drive rollover odds also grew, from 17 to 19 percent.

A five-star rating means the likelihood of a rollover in a similar crash is less than ten percent; four stars means the likelihood is between 10 and 20 percent; and three stars means rollover risk is between 20 and 30 percent.


NHTSA says rollovers account for 33 percent all passenger vehicle fatalities.

Asked about NHTSA's rollover score for the 2009 F-150, Ford safety communications spokesperson Wes Sherwood told, "The Ford F-150 was engineered for top safety ratings, including the 'Top Safety Pick' it earned from the Insurance institute for Highway Safety - making it the only domestic truck to earn that rating.  This rollover rating is competitive with other pickups.  However, the rollover rating system doesn't take into account advanced safety technologies such as the new F-150's exclusive Roll Stability Control system that uniquely helps detect and prevent skidding and rollovers.  The new F-150 has more standard safety systems than any other pickup."

A 2004 NHTSA study says electronic stability control systems reduced fatal, single-vehicle passenger car crashes by 30 percent and 63 percent in SUVs.

In NHTSA frontal crash testing, the 2009 Dodge Ram earned a five-star rating. Frontal crash test results for the 2009 Ford F-150 haven't been released yet.


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