General Motors Corp. is trying to do something about that startling statistic.

The company is building a new state-of-the-art crash testing center at its Michigan headquarters.

ABC News was the first news organization invited to see GM's pioneering rollover testing facility.

GM safety engineers decided to build the facility to study all the dynamics of a rollover accident and to learn ways to make passengers safer.

The test cars must be propelled to 60 mph to achieve at least one rollover. Rollover accidents account for more than 10,000 deaths a year in the United States.

A police dashboard video captured Emily Bowness, 29, on her way to a Michigan rock concert six months ago. She was sideswiped, and her SUV rolled over 12 times.

"After seeing the accident, I can't believe I survived. I tried to correct, and I guess I overcorrected," she said.

Examining Passenger Containment

Bowness survived because she wasn't thrown from her car.

GM calls it "passenger containment," and that's what engineers at the facility are studying.

"Roof-rail air bags that are deployed in rollovers are important because over 85 percent of injuries occur to ejected occupants," said Bob Lang, GM vice president of safety.

GM says the simple seat belt and the new roof-rail air bags will help keep passengers contained.

"We'll see, increasingly, applications of knee bags that will provide additional restraint in crashes as well," Lang said.

Independent safety experts say that the most important safety feature is electronic stability control, which keeps drivers from overreacting when a car first begins to spin out of control.

Other features in GM's center are $125,000 crash-test dummies, which transmit 10 bytes of data per second.

Engineers also cut sport utility vehicles in half, in order to learn how to build the perfect cushion inside the vehicle to protect passengers when something bad happens outside.

Experts praise manufacturers for doing more crash testing.

"You need to provide protection even if a car rolls," said Donald Friedman, an engineer from the Center for Injury Research.

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      Is this the Oldsmobile Bravada 2003?

      about 4 years ago