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Sunday, January 11, 2004

Another Anti-SUV Essay

I have picked on SUV’s for some time now. I think they are an ecological disaster for many reasons: they are too big, the are too heavy, and they get lousy gas mileage. Malcolm Gladwell in the January 12, 2004 New Yorker now puts forth the claim that SUV’s are more dangerous to drive than passenger vehicles. In a nutshell he says that SUV’s have few of the safety features of passenger cars and they are too unwieldy to avoid many driving hazards. Strapping your kid into the car seat of your Escalade is about as safe as pushing them down a steep hill in a shopping cart.

People buy SUV’s for the perception of safety even though the facts speak otherwise. You are also more likely to kill someone else when you eventually do lose control of your 4X4 leviathan. If you want to take out innocent bystanders when you wreck your vehicle I suggest that you tool around town in a gasoline tanker. They come in an attractive array of colors these days.

This is a tough issue because the SUV craze has jump-started the entire American auto manufacturing industry. In 1998 the Michigan Truck Plant in Wayne, Michigan—where Ford Expeditions are made—grossed eleven billion dollars. Any shift in American attitudes about SUV’s is going to have to be accompanied by some pretty forward thinking by U.S. auto manufacturers—something they have not exhibited much over their history.

The streets of Europe are populated by ridiculously small automobiles. The Smart Car makes the new Mini Cooper look like an SUV. Most SUV’s are wider than the length of the Smart Car. I personally feel that automobiles, even if they were powered by air, are a stupid idea. Some where around 45,000 Americans die every year in traffic accidents. I think it is time we as a nation look well into the future and decide if we want to continue supporting automobiles almost exclusively as our means of personal transportation. It doesn’t take some sort of a genius to come up with a better idea than cars. In Amsterdam they ride bikes, really crappy bikes. It’s not exactly The Jetsons but it seems to be a technology they can live with.

More comments fun:

#1 Jan 11 2004, 08:12 pm

Well they came up with those faggy little scooters that cost $10,000.

I gave the finger to an SUV the other day. See, I'm doing my part to save the environment.


#2 Jan 12 2004, 12:19 pm

I saw a meter maid riding one of those scooters and I thought, "Wow, I guess you can make that job more of a joke."
The Management


#3 Jan 13 2004, 08:20 am

I can't wait until the used price of a Ford Expedition gets low enough for teenagers to afford them. A double-dose of imagined invinciblity coupled with 3 tons of V-10 power should make for lots of sobbing carnage on the late local news.
kevin m.

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