2002 Ford Explorer Safety


    “We’ve built one of the most comprehensive safety and security
    packages available into the new Explorer. Safety leadership drove
    our vehicle development efforts because we know that owners of SUVs
    are not immune to the hazards we all face on the road every day.
    There is no mistaking that SUVs require different driving skills and
    techniques than cars. We’ve looked at the most threatening driving
    conditions and situations and developed new technologies to help
    further improve protection for our SUV drivers and their
    – Helen Petrauskas, Ford Motor Company Vice President,
    Environmental and Safety Engineering

    • All-new Safety Canopy system, which consists of
      industry-first side-impact curtain air bags (available from launch)
      and rollover protection (available later in 2001)
    • New AdvanceTrac™ interactive vehicle dynamics
      system – the first application on a truck or SUV – combines the
      benefits of traction control and electronic stability (yaw) control
      (available later in 2001)
    • Ford Personal Safety System, including driver and
      passenger dual-stage air bags with tailored deployment
      characteristics (available later in 2001)
    • Passenger seat-weight sensor detects objects or
      occupants and deactivates air bags when necessary
    • New pretensioners and energy-management retractors make
      safety belts even more effective
    • BeltMinder™ system helps remind drivers to buckle up
    • Child safety seat attachments help ensure proper child
      seat attachment in second and third rows
    • Lower front bumper enhances SUV compatibility with other
      vehicles on the road
    • New patented ControlSlip rear driveshaft helps manage
      energy during frontal impacts
    • SecuriLockTM passive anti-theft system helps deter
      would-be thieves

    In addition, to being the best-selling SUV in the world, the
    2002-model Explorer will be one of the first sport utility vehicles
    on the market with such technically advanced safety features as
    head-and-chest side-impact curtain air bags, rollover sensors,
    AdvanceTrac™ interactive vehicle dynamics and a patented
    ControlSlip rear driveshaft that helps manage energy during frontal

    Added to these firsts are Ford’s AdvanceTrac™ interactive
    vehicle dynamics, improved safety belts, child seat tethers and a
    lower front bumper that is on par with many passenger cars, to
    enhance SUV-to-car compatibility.

    Many of the new features will be available at vehicle
    introduction in early 2001. Some of the very new technologies –
    including rollover sensors, AdvanceTrac™ and front dual-stage
    air bags that deploy based on the severity of the crash, safety belt
    usage and driver seat position – are being phased into production
    and will be available later in the year.

    The Safety Canopy

    Safety Canopy is the name given to the combination of the new
    head-and-chest side-impact curtain air bag system (available at
    launch) plus the new rollover sensors (available later in 2001).
    The Safety Canopy provides one of the most advanced side-impact
    protection systems available on any SUV in the industry.

    Although rollovers represent only a small percentage of all SUV
    accidents, they can have fatal consequences, particularly when a
    passenger is ejected from the vehicle. Approximately half of all
    SUV fatalities involve a rollover. During these types of accidents,
    occupants thrown from the vehicle are up to 10 times as likely to be
    killed or seriously hurt than occupants who remain inside.

    Safety belts are the single best tool for keeping passengers
    inside during a rollover, but the new air bags and rollover-sensing
    technology supply another line of defense.

    “Ford scientists and engineers have been working hard to provide
    our SUV customers with more potentially lifesaving features.
    Continuous improvements planned for Explorer clearly demonstrate
    this commitment,” says Petrauskas.

    Explorer is Ford’s first SUV with new side-curtain air bags.
    They are air bags that deploy from the headliner across
    approximately 75 percent of the side glass area to help protect
    first- and second-row occupants in the outboard seating positions
    during a side-impact collision. The optional head-and-chest
    side-curtain air bags are tethered at the front and rear.

    The side-curtain air bags are triggered independently of each
    other and from the driver and passenger front air bags. They deploy
    within 25 milliseconds and fully inflate within 15 milliseconds.
    Sensors located at the base of the B- and C-pillar area trigger the

    “We chose this design because it provides significantly enhanced
    protection to passengers in the first and second rows,” says
    Stephanie Sweeney, Supervisor of Crash Testing. “Other mounting
    positions or sausage-shaped bag designs could have left some areas

    The electronic rollover sensors – which will be added to Explorer
    later in 2001 – provide additional protection by measuring whether
    the vehicle is tilting, how fast the lean angle is changing and
    whether the combination means the vehicle is headed for a rollover.

    If a rollover situation is determined by the system, it deploys
    the head-and-chest side-curtain air bags to help protect passengers
    in the two front rows – and help keep them inside – until the
    vehicle comes to a complete stop. The air bags remain inflated for
    up to 6 seconds – far longer than conventional air bags – to provide
    additional occupant protection. The location of the air bags and
    the physics of the deployment decreases the risk of injury to
    out-of-position passengers.

    Personal Safety System

    Explorer also will include Ford’s Personal Safety System later in

    The system combines: dual-stage front air bags that deploy based on
    crash severity; sensors to detect if front-seat occupants are
    wearing safety belts; driver’s seat position sensor; safety-belt
    pretensioners and load-limiting retractors.

    Second-generation front air bags are standard for the driver and
    passenger, safety belt pretensioners and load-limiting retractors
    will be available at launch. Later in 2001, the complete Personal
    Safety System – with dual-stage air bags and safety belt sensors –
    will be added.

    The fully integrated, computer-driven Personal Safety System
    includes nearly a dozen technologically advanced components that
    cannot be seen by customers. The system, in short, “thinks” about
    and responds to different accident conditions by deploying the
    vehicle’s occupant protection systems to match those conditions.

    A collection of sensors feeds information back to the vehicle’s
    Restraints Control Module – the “brain” of the system. The module
    takes into account the driver’s seating position, driver and
    front-seat occupant’s safety belt usage and accident severity before
    deploying appropriate safety technologies during frontal

    For example, the system’s passenger seat-weight sensing
    technology detects certain objects or occupants and turns off the
    air bag.

    The sensor technology was specifically designed to help reduce
    injuries that can result when people seat young children in the
    passenger seat contrary to proper child-seating recommendations.
    Small children should always be seated in proper supplemental safety
    seats in the rear seat.

    At the same time, the “brain” activates a specific level of air
    bag protection for front seat occupants – after determining if air
    bag deployment is necessary at all.

    The dual-stage air bags offer two energy levels to inflate
    deploying air bags in a manner that corresponds to accident
    severity. A lower, less forceful energy level provides occupant
    protection for more common, moderate-severity impacts. Deployment
    with higher energy levels is required for more severe crash events.

    The system also employs pretensioners that tighten the front
    safety belts and help prevent belted occupants from sliding and
    bouncing around during a crash.

    If crash forces rise to severe levels, a metal bar tucked in the
    center of the spool of the safety belt retractor – called an energy
    management retractor – twists like a wrung-out washcloth. Such
    action releases small amounts of safety belt webbing in a controlled
    manner and helps reduce the risk of force-related injuries,
    especially to the occupant’s chest.

    Ford researchers anticipate the new Personal Safety System will
    significantly reduce the rate of air bag deployments for occupants
    who are wearing their safety belts during accidents.

    The system is designed to help further reduce front seat
    occupants’ risk of air bag-related injuries, as well as cut air bag
    replacement repair bills.

    In addition to the Personal Safety System, top tether child
    safety seat attachments are provided in all second-row and third-row
    seating positions. The tethers provide an easier method of securing
    a child safety seat. Tethers are firmly connected to the vehicle’s
    floor pan – rather than the seat.

    Rigid metal anchor attachments located in the seat bite (where
    the seat back and seat cushion meet) are provided in the outboard
    positions of the second and third rows. Advanced child safety seats
    can be attached to the anchors.

    Because safety belts are the best defense in preventing injury in
    the event of a crash, Explorer has Ford’s new BeltMinderTM system,
    which provides the driver with a gentle reminder to buckle up once
    the vehicle is moving. A chime sounds and a red light flashes on
    the instrument panel.

    Later in 2001, Explorer’s manually adjustable lap belt in the
    rear seat middle position will be replaced with a three-point

    AdvanceTrac™ Interactive Vehicle Dynamics

    Explorer will be available with AdvanceTrac™ – a
    computer-driven interactive vehicle dynamics system – later in 2001.
    It is the first Ford SUV available with such technology. The system
    enhances stability in extreme driving conditions when drivers
    misjudge speed or road conditions. (For details, see Driving

    ControlSlip Rear Driveshaft

    Four-wheel-drive Explorer models are equipped with a patented new
    ControlSlip rear driveshaft. In the event of a frontal impact, the
    driveshaft is designed to telescope, not buckle. This movement
    helps the vehicle further absorb impact forces and manage

    In addition, the driveshaft is thinner than the previous shaft
    and contributes a 3.5-pound weight savings.

    Safety All Around

    Official government crash data will not be available until
    sometime in 2001. Nevertheless, in full frontal impacts, Explorer
    is expected to be among the safest SUVs on the road – based on
    extensive internal testing.

    Ford’s computer capabilities – the largest among any private company
    – allowed engineers to perform extensive simulated crash testing,
    complete with electronic dummies, to refine the vehicle’s safety
    systems. Advanced modeling of the performance of every aspect of
    Explorer’s crash performance was conducted on computers before it
    made its first collision with a barrier in the crash laboratory.
    The benefit of this sophistication is engineers’ ability to fine
    tune each element of the Explorer safety system for outstanding
    performance should the need for crash protection ever arise.

    The front portion of Explorer’s frame includes precisely
    engineered crush zones, which buckle and dissipate energy in a
    frontal impact. The fully boxed frame is 350-percent stiffer
    throughout, which provides further improved side-impact protection.
    Steel beams in the doors also help to prevent intrusion during side

    At the same time, the design team made Explorer more friendly to
    other vehicles on the road by lowering its bumper beam height 65
    millimeters – more than 2 inches – to be on par with many passenger

    “Our bumper beam height is almost identical to a Taurus’,” says

    To accomplish this, Explorer engineers essentially inverted the
    frame. The triangular frames typically are designed with straight
    upper beams and diagonal lower beams that rise upward toward the
    bumper where the two meet.

    The new design consists of diagonal top beams that trace downward
    to meet straight lower beams, thus creating the lower overall
    height. Special reinforcements were added to maintain structural

    The new bumper design will help to reduce damage to cars in
    common slow-speed incidents and allow lower vehicles’
    energy-absorbing bumpers to do their work.

    Security Features offer Better Peace of Mind

    Explorer is built with Ford’s SecuriLock™ passive anti-theft
    key system, which helps deter would-be thieves. A chip inside the
    key communicates with the vehicle’s electronics. Unless the
    authorized key is used, the vehicle will not start.

    In normal operation, as soon as the authorized driver begins
    moving the vehicle, all the doors “autolock” for added
    peace-of-mind. Child locks are standard on the rear doors, for

    Inside the vehicle, extra security includes two under-floor bins
    in the five-seat model – one in the seven-seat configuration – which
    allow valuables to be stored and kept out of sight. A horizontal
    shade is available to hide the cargo area contents. Tinted privacy
    glass deters prying eyes.

    The vehicle’s air bags were redesigned to be more difficult to
    steal. Even the spare tire winch is now inside the rear cargo
    hatch, so the full-size spare tire is better protected from theft.

    The vehicle also features perimeter lighting. Lights hidden on
    the underside of the side-view mirrors illuminate when the “unlock”
    button on the key fob is pushed or when the door handle is pulled.
    The lights illuminate the entire door area of the vehicle – to light
    the way for entry or to spotlight any potential danger waiting or
    lying under or near the vehicle.