It worked for fur; perhaps for SUVs?
August 23, 2002 11:12 AM   Subscribe

It worked for fur; perhaps for SUVs? This article warms my heart. And that of my 19lb road bike.
posted by ParisParamus (217 comments total)
 
As always: if there's a genuine reason to dislike Americans, its their SUVs. Shame on US.
posted by ParisParamus at 11:14 AM on August 23, 2002


Although in some ways, fake tickets are amusing, they are alienating and infuriating the very people they seek to convert. How many converts will they ever get? I've seen several stories like this before, and they never interview someone to hear that they were feeling guilty about their huge car and thinking of getting something smaller.

It's always the "if I find the person that did this, I'd kick their ass!" guy they interview.

Seriously, how can any group consider themselves a success at what they are doing if they are simply pissing off the majority of people they interact with?
posted by mathowie at 11:18 AM on August 23, 2002


I'm with mathowie: there has got to be a better way to get this message across, although I couldn't agree more.

Sadly, the situation will only change when we Americans have our artificially low gas prices yanked out from under us. Til then, keep tilting at them windmills, folks...
posted by gottabefunky at 11:23 AM on August 23, 2002


I did a similarly useless and naive prank back in art school during the Gulf War crisis. I almost got knifed.
posted by machaus at 11:23 AM on August 23, 2002


And if there's a genuine reason to dislike SUV haters, it's people like those in the story. Don't get me wrong, I dislike SUVs. I especially dislike the guy who says he drives one because his son was just killed in a car accident and he wants to be safe: doesn't he realize that his safety come at the expense of the person in the other car??

But I've never liked people putting flyers on my car, and these smarmy activists are providing straw men for people like this jerk.
posted by coelecanth at 11:23 AM on August 23, 2002


You could say the same thing about the Fur People. The reality is that, while it may not get SUV owners to trade in their hunks for smaller vehicles, it can, over time, make people making future SUV purchases think twice. Especially in urban areas (SUVs are that much more offensive in cities...) It's effective, harmless, creative, leveraged, clever. Four PR stars. * * * *
posted by ParisParamus at 11:28 AM on August 23, 2002


The "Ford Valdez" may turn out to have been merely the first one to fall (from coelecanth's link)

From his lips to god's ears......
posted by aacheson at 11:34 AM on August 23, 2002


I'm with Paris. Plus the article did end with a fake-ticket convert. (Though her claimed unawareness of environmental impact--until she got a fake ticket and saw the light--seemed dubious at best.)
posted by littlegreenlights at 11:36 AM on August 23, 2002


Fur Sales Up in 2000
posted by cell divide at 11:37 AM on August 23, 2002


These are truly strange days. I'm, uh, with Paris, too.

Isn't the statistic that those involved in traffic accidents with an SUV are 12 or 20 times more likely to die in the accident?
posted by websavvy at 11:38 AM on August 23, 2002


doesn't he realize that his safety come at the expense of the person in the other car??

A person has (much) greater responsibility for himself than for some random stranger. Let the person in the other car make his own choices about how best to protect himself.
posted by rushmc at 11:39 AM on August 23, 2002


I especially dislike the guy who says he drives one because his son was just killed in a car accident and he wants to be safe: doesn't he realize that his safety come at the expense of the person in the other car??

Not to mention the fact that SUVs themselves aren't especially safe. Many of them are especially vulnerable to roll-over in accidents due to a high center of gravity. (Not to mention mysterious tire failures.) And the bumpers on them are particularly weak. I saw a news show where the rear window of one shattered all over the back seat from a mere 5mph bump into a pole. Finally, many SUV drivers have a false sense of security when driving on snow or ice. Just because you have 4-wheel drive doesn't mean you can't skid.
posted by hyperizer at 11:40 AM on August 23, 2002


Rushmc is all heart...
posted by websavvy at 11:41 AM on August 23, 2002


Fur Sales Up in 2000

Everything was "up" in 2000. The career of the guy that played Balki on Perfect Strangers was "up" in 2000.
posted by machaus at 11:42 AM on August 23, 2002


I agree that this method of protest could annoy some, (though I doubt there are very many who would respond with: "I'm gonna buy another SUV just to show 'em!") the goal of such a protest is not only to change the minds of SUV drivers but also to turn off potential future SUV buyers.

Also, it seems to me a pretty low-impact method of protest. If I walked up on my car, thought I had a ticket and then realized it was only a flyer I'd probably be relieved. It's not llike someone spraypainted their truck with caution orange smiley faces or anything...

A person has (much) greater responsibility for himself than for some random stranger. Let the person in the other car make his own choices about how best to protect himself.

But the safety of the "random stranger" in the other car is certainly worth considering. This is what we call "society."
posted by Ty Webb at 11:42 AM on August 23, 2002


rushmc, you're fucking kidding, right?
posted by hackly_fracture at 11:43 AM on August 23, 2002


Someone who gets one of these fake tickets may get pissed off and harden their opinion against anyone who criticizes SUVs, but they will also be made aware of the political statement implied by their choice of vehicle. Fake tickets, disapproving looks from strangers, "damn SUV driving yuppies from suburbia" comments, and repetition of the idea that SUVs are wasteful and environmentally irresponsible have already started to tarnish the "cool factor". With enough repetition - convincing or not - people will start to think twice about buying SUVs just because they aren't sure they want to associated with something so controversial.

Once enough uncoolness gets attached to the idea of driving an SUV, they'll start to seem stodgy and outdated. People switched from station wagons to minivans when station wagons started seeming uncool, then from minivans to SUVs when minivans started screaming "suburban family". They'll switch on from SUVs to something else when the growing anti-SUV sentiment switches the image from "cool modern outdoors explorer" to something like "insufferable suburban gas-guzzler".

This campaign doesn't need to convince any of its targets that it's right; it can win merely by advertising its existence loudly enough.
posted by Mars Saxman at 11:44 AM on August 23, 2002


Thanks for that cell divide, I was going to ask if the anti-fur campaign had actually worked. The fact that fur sales have increased doesn't mean it hasn't. Fur has been selling more and more since 1991 according to that link, but since the anti-fur campaign has been running since the 80s I wonder if sales would be higher if it had never happened. Then again - people do seem to be forgetting.

I know that nobody I know would be seen dead in fur and I never see it on the streets but then I don't mix in the right circles. If it's back on the catwalk then some rich idiot is buying it. In Paris the shop windows are full of it.
posted by Summer at 11:45 AM on August 23, 2002


It's not llike someone spraypainted their truck with caution orange smiley faces or anything

Now there's an idea...makes me think of one huge truck I'd see at the laundromat back in Utah that had a (custom) Calvin sticker peeing on "eco-fags"
posted by gottabefunky at 11:46 AM on August 23, 2002


S.U.V. proponents called Earth on Empty members tree-huggers, time-wasters, socialists, elitists, litterers, blue-collar workers, freedom-removers, leftists, losers, homosexuals, Democrats and filthy people.

How redundant.

joking people...
posted by jbelshaw at 11:49 AM on August 23, 2002


After feeling the "SUV Man's Guilt", I looked around for a car that would get better mileage than my truck. However, most passenger cars only got around 5-7 mpg more.

I agree that the difference adds up, but is it really such a difference as to justify the self righteous indignation of the anti-SUV crowd?

And every argument against the size of SUVs can be turned around and used by motorcycle riders to argue against the "unecessary waste" of driving a passener car.

On the other hand, Honda's line of hybrid vehicles (including an Accord version next year?) make a much stronger argument for using passenger cars.
posted by jsonic at 11:51 AM on August 23, 2002


I was in L.A. last weekend and in one night I saw 2 Hummers on the street. My friend and I were discussing that unless night vision goggles were a requirement for your job, what the hell are you doing with a Hummer? So, while we were standing outside, the owner of the Hummer walks out of the club and my friend said "Did night vision goggles come as an option?" and he laughed and said "No, but night vision does" (I assume he was talking about some sort of windsheild option). And I said "Going to take out a couple of world leaders?" and he ignored me and started talking about how if there were a nuclear war, he'd be set. Right. (only if he's got a lifetime supply of Pabst Blue Ribbon, but that's a different subject all together)

So, does this mean I can start driving a tank to work? How do we stop this? Obviously the motor companies will make anything as long as people buy it. And obviously there will always be morons who will buy something if they think it will make them look like they have a bigger penis. What about something like higher taxes for gas guzzling luxury vehicles?
posted by witchstone at 11:52 AM on August 23, 2002


I finally found the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety news release on weak SUV bumpers. Apparently car-makers manage to classify SUVs as cars when it comes to export (lower tariffs) but as trucks domestically (lower safety standards).

And remind me to never again use "especially" twice in a post!
posted by hyperizer at 11:58 AM on August 23, 2002




Photos of the fake "No SUV parking" signs mentioned in the NYT article are on the Stay Free site.
posted by gluechunk at 12:06 PM on August 23, 2002


I have an SUV and a sports car. The sports car gets significantly lower gas mileage, I can't put a baby seat in it, my dog is too big to ride in it and it's not very comfortable for tall people...and, I can't get into to it when I'm as pregnant as I am.

Now, don't get me wrong, I adore Jezebel...but for practicality, the SUV wins hands down. I can put an enormous amount of stuff in it, reducing the number of trips I have to make, because I can make one big circuit to get everything rather than multiple trips to different stores, my big dog can lay down in the back, I can fit the baby seat and 3 more adults in the car. I can fit all kinds of gear in it for trips to parents, grandparents and vacations. Home Depot doesn't have to fire up their big ol delivery trucks to bring stuff to me, I can load up my truck and off I go...again at a huge benefit to the planet.

And like I said, my SUV gets better mileage than my late model V8 sports car. So, sure, I could drive a smaller car...but it's less environmentally sound. Oh, but the "morally superior" people don't really care about facts...therefore, bigger must be worse.

So, yay for the people who can live on a bike...whoo hoo for you. But, I live 30 miles outside of the city and I have needs that are obviously different than yours.

(And don't even get me started on how I feel about the vandals who throw paint at people...but it's no wonder you don't see that crap in states where the population is licensed to carry concealed weapons...and no...I don't own a fur, but physically attacking someone because they're doing something you of which you disapprove, whatever your "moral" reason, is stupid and wrong. Nobody appointed you the Morals Police.)
posted by dejah420 at 12:07 PM on August 23, 2002


A person has (much) greater responsibility for himself than for some random stranger. Let the person in the other car make his own choices about how best to protect himself.

Yeah, if I want to drive around in a truck with sharp metal spikes mounted level with your windshield, it's your responsibility to stay out of my way!

Or if I choose an SUV with a big, flimsy bumper level with your windshield.... Well, you get the point....

dejah420, of course you should be able to drive what you want, but there are more fuel-efficient vehicles than sports cars and trucks. Even a Subaru Outback might be a good compromise.
posted by hyperizer at 12:10 PM on August 23, 2002


Me, I hate SUVs because (1) their advantages come expressly at the expense of everyone else on the road and (2) goddamn they're ugly. Except for Land Rovers which have a certain ungainly appeal to 'em. As far as I'm concerned the lower mpg is just statistical gravy.

Actually, I tend to think that most of the people who harp on SUV gas mileage are actually pissed off at the run-shit-over aesthetic of the things. It's just harder to use that in an argument is all.
posted by furiousthought at 12:11 PM on August 23, 2002


What about something like higher taxes for gas guzzling luxury vehicles?

It's called buying more gas.

Seriously, people. SUVs annoy me just as much as the next guy, but the hypocrisy on this issue is astounding. I hate SUVs because I hate all cars; the schizophrenic mindset necessary to be able to drive a Passat while decrying the minimally-larger Rav4 is truly mindboggling to me.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 12:16 PM on August 23, 2002


"John, who lives in Cambridge, Mass., would give only his first name because, he said, he has been receiving hostile phone calls from people who have somehow found out about his anti-S.U.V. work."

Of course his home address is in the whois record. And when the New York Times points out that "The Web address is printed plainly on the phony tickets," exactly how obtuse do you have to be to wonder about where negative emails might be coming from?

I really wish more activists would spend some time thinking and strategizing before running off half-cocked in a fit of self-righteous indignation. It's hard to take the message seriously when it's so poorly supported.

As for SUVs, the marketplace seems to be correcting them out of vogue. Mars Saxman's point about SUV-guilt no doubt had some effect, but much as the 70's oil crisis pushed Americans out of their 27 foot Lincolns and into Toyotas and Mazdas, I think the cost of gasoline, difficulty parking and impossible traffic are having more of an effect.

(actually, I wonder how many people realize that the traffic situation is a direct result of larger cars? If all the small cars on the road are replaced with cars taking up almost twice the space, is it really any wonder there is bumper-to-bumper traffic all over the place these days?)
posted by joemaller at 12:17 PM on August 23, 2002


machaus: any bill brought to the floor to raise fuel standards in any way has been defeated. The last one proposed in March, which would have given automakers 13 years to raise the fuel economy of cars, was defeated as expensive and impractical and would lead to a Communist nation of people all being forced to drive tiny bubble cars. That's not a joke.

The modified bill was passed, as supported by Sens. Levin and Bond, in a wording that "agrees that cars should have reduced mileage, but sets no actual limit or timetable to do so."

I covered it here (self-link. Don't want to retype) but you might have to re-search for the stories as the news links are probably outdated by now.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:20 PM on August 23, 2002


As a Manhattan bicyclist, who has never owned a car (in fact, I failed my most recent driving exam) I can tell you that the rage SUVs engender is as much for their actual physical size as all their other vices. SUV drivers are piggish because their vehicles actually reduce the quality of life in the city for everybody. I have seen SUVs wipe out bike messengers, rear-view mirrors on parked cars, old ladies, and garbage cans.

Ticketing SUVs feels great. So does berating their drivers at red lights, bumperstickering them, and - gosh, I haven't done it - but scraping their paint with your bike as they muscle you down probably feels pretty good too.
posted by DenOfSizer at 12:25 PM on August 23, 2002


expensive and impractical and would lead to a Communist nation of people all being forced to drive tiny bubble cars.

which one of the big three do you work for?
posted by machaus at 12:28 PM on August 23, 2002


DenOfSizer, watch out, though, in them free states, where pregnant women will gun you down for such behavior. They have different needs.
posted by hackly_fracture at 12:29 PM on August 23, 2002


doh, nevermind
posted by machaus at 12:30 PM on August 23, 2002


You'd think SUV owners might have woken up after the Ford Explorer rollover fiasco. The notion that occupants are safer inside an SUV has been largely debunked by numerous studies, many of them referenced here.
posted by sixpack at 12:31 PM on August 23, 2002


Here in Ottawa we call them Street Utility Vehicles. Not many people take them off-road (which is what I thought they were intended for in the first place) and they brake just as well (or poorly) as the smaller vehicles in the snow. My guess is that many people buy them mainly for the safety factor. Hmmm... I wonder what would happen if everyone thought that way.
posted by Bernese Mountain Dog at 12:36 PM on August 23, 2002


I live in the a downtown area of a city. I drive a Volkwagon Golf, 23-49 mpg.

I've fit a 6 foot Christmas tree into my car, as well as an armchair from IKEA. Passengers in my back seat always exclaim about how much room they have, and I can slide my baby into parking spaces most drivers could only dream about.

I'm tired of pulling my front end halfway out into oncoming traffic just to see past huge SUV's inconsiderately parked on city street corners.

Any city-dwellers who think they can't live without their SUV's are spoiled brats who haven't tried to find the right kind of car yet. You can get lots of space, convenience and comfort without driving one of those jacked-up monstrosities.
posted by junkbox at 12:37 PM on August 23, 2002


DenOfSizer: I have seen SUVs wipe out bike messengers, rear-view mirrors on parked cars, old ladies, and garbage cans.

So people who drive passenger cars are somehow naturally immune to the above?

...their vehicles actually reduce the quality of life in the city for everybody

As opposed to passenger cars which increase the quality of life in the city? Your arguments make it appear that you should dislike all internal combustion vehicles, not just SUVs.
posted by jsonic at 12:38 PM on August 23, 2002


I drive an 89 Chevy Suburban that had over 300,000 miles on it when I bought it from my brother, who used it to carry camera equipment for his job. At one time or another ol' Green has been in most of the 48 contiguous states, and 50,000 miles after I bought it it still runs like clockwork.

Did I get this huge beast of a vehicle so I could feel macho and cool? Do I roar over curbs, dogs, pedestrians, and compact cars without batting an eyelash? Is it really compensation for having a tiny package?

No, no, and none of your business. It was the best vehicle available for the money I had to spend. My consideration for other drivers out there is shown by the fact that I observe road safety rules. Personally, I find the type-A personality drivers out there who have to eke out every last microsecond of advantage in moving through traffic to be a MUCH greater hazard to other drivers - and these yutzes don't just drive SUVs. I resent like hell being portrayed as some sort of bourgeois pig.

So yeah, if you are some sort of self righteous asshole who thinks he or she has the right to make judgements on others without bothering to know any actual facts about them, ticket their vehicle or scratch their paint. Then go home and feel all smug about what a good person you are, saving the environment and all. Just understand that if the owner catches you vandalizing that vehicle, they are going to feel equally self righteous doing the macarena on your spine.
posted by John Smallberries at 12:48 PM on August 23, 2002


So, OK: are we for SUVs or against them? I forget.
posted by UncleFes at 12:52 PM on August 23, 2002


Thank you, junkbox.

The logic of people trying to defend their SUV is like that one preview clip from "Doctor Dolitle 2" where the girl says in the most stereotypical tone possible "Wha'm I gonna do without ma CELL PHONE?" In which I always giggled and said to myself "umm... exactly what I did when I was in high school five years ago when no one else had them either because they didn't exist yet, Princess?"

Okay, a little bit diverting from the topic... The point is, it's ridiculous for anyone to defend their NEED for a luxury item that didn't exist within the lifespan of one of their pets, let alone their own lifetime.

I acknowledge the benefits of large cars, e-mail, and cell phones. But of those three, only one doesn't cause pollution and/or brain tumors and/or makes you look like an arrogant and in some cases dangerous asshole for using them (or both at the same time.)

Drive an SUV if you want, but don't defend yourself as some annointed god worthy of a selfish, useless tool. SUVs are that new a commodity that it's ridiculous for anyone to put on some act like their lives (or penises, as witchstone pointed out) are actually lengthened by their use.

It's not just that my parents got along fine without cell phones and SUVs, it's that I GOT ALONG FINE. This isn't some new cancer medication, it's a big car. That's it. Get a normal one like the rest of us.

And JohnSmallberries: great story, but it can't apply to the SUV debate in any way... are you saying buying SUVs, which cost more money, cost more to maintain and repair, and cost you more over time due to a harsher fuel requirement, are "the best choice for anyone with the money they have to spend"... outside of a self-righteous rich prick who just wants to spend more money because they can?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:54 PM on August 23, 2002


Is it really compensation for having a tiny package?

... none of your business.
posted by John Smallberries


hehe.

btw, is ticketing someone considered vandalism?
posted by tolkhan at 12:55 PM on August 23, 2002


Any city-dwellers who think they can't live without their SUV's are spoiled brats who haven't tried to find the right kind of car yet. You can get lots of space, convenience and comfort without driving one of those jacked-up monstrosities.

Any city-dwellers who think they can't live without their cars are spoiled brats who haven't tried to find the right kind of transportation yet. You can get lots of space, convenience, and comfort without driving one of those overpowered monstrosities.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 12:56 PM on August 23, 2002


This reminds me of those idiots who try to be the cell phone police.

Unless you know the exact reason why someone owns an SUV, who are you to say they should or shouldn't have it?

The woman who runs the diaper service I use drives an SUV. She uses an SUV to run a service that gives people an alternative to disposable diapers. Her SUV is actually helping the environment. A normal car wouldn't be big enough for her operation and an SUV is better than a delivery van.

Anybody who puts a flyer on somebody else's car, for any reason, should be covered in fire ants and thrown into an active volcano.
posted by bondcliff at 12:57 PM on August 23, 2002


UncleFes: Everyone who buys one for reasons of safety or height (lots of people enjoy being able to see over the traffic in front of them) are participating in a zero sum game; I dislike their arms race because I am an unwilling participant in it. But generally speaking the self-righteous on both sides of the question, suck. And I HATE flyers.
posted by coelecanth at 1:02 PM on August 23, 2002


Anybody who puts a flyer on somebody else's car, for any reason, should be covered in fire ants and thrown into an active volcano.

How about if the the woman who runs the diaper service that gives people an alternative to disposable diapers (thereby helping the environment) puts a flyer on someone's car to advertise her service?

Cover her in fire ants and throw her into an active volcano?
posted by Bernese Mountain Dog at 1:03 PM on August 23, 2002


XQUZYPHYR: I view the car vs. SUV debate as similar to a person who murdered 1 person self-righteously pointing at a person who mudered 2 people and calling them EVIL. They are BOTH bad.

So you drive a passenger car; guess what? you pollute, and you are a major hazard to people driving smaller vehicles than you too (ie. motorcycle, bicycle...)

Unless you drive a hybrid or an electric scooter, quit acting like you are somehow "morally superior".
posted by jsonic at 1:04 PM on August 23, 2002


Cell phone police? You mean I shouldn't have, after 15 minutes of loud, drunk banter and two warnings grabbed a cell phone from someone's hand and dropped it into the Harlem River as the train when over the bridge ("Can you shut the f up NOW?")?

What's even more offensive than NYC Dwellers who have SUVs is non-residents who come into the City with them in their leisure time.
posted by ParisParamus at 1:04 PM on August 23, 2002


Have we yet proven that SUV owners are filled with murderous rage? I count three death threats so far.
posted by hackly_fracture at 1:07 PM on August 23, 2002


Wouldn't littering people's cars with paper pamphlets be one of the most environmentally unsound things you could do?
posted by owillis at 1:08 PM on August 23, 2002


owlillis, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

No.
posted by hackly_fracture at 1:09 PM on August 23, 2002


Mountain Dog, you can just rock me to sleep tonight. I don't need these dilemmas.

People should own cars (or anything) that suits their needs. Someone who lives and works in a city and can get around fine with a bike really shouldn't tell a suburban soccer mom what kind of car she should own.
posted by bondcliff at 1:09 PM on August 23, 2002


I've got an Impreza wagon. I can cram a lot of stuff into it. I drive it once or twice a week, and use it for road trips--I use my town bike for most trips under 4 miles. I've lived without a car, but in Texas, it requires either the dedication of a religious fanatic, or the frequent indulgence of friends with cars. I lack the former and prefer not to take advantage of the latter.

The Car Talk guys have a nifty "do you need an SUV" quiz. It boils down to this: unless you routinely need to schlep a large number of people over unpaved territory, you don't need an SUV.
posted by adamrice at 1:26 PM on August 23, 2002


(Bernese Mountain Dog) How about if the the woman who runs the diaper service that gives people an alternative to disposable diapers (thereby helping the environment) puts a flyer on someone's car to advertise her service?

Cover her in fire ants and throw her into an active volcano?


That's a little harsh; I'd go with carpenter ants and a dormant volcano. Spamming people's windshields (and doorknobs, and driveways) is rude. Do you want to advertise your diaper service? Try the daily paper. Or the yellow pages. Or the local radio station. Don't distribute litter in a parking lot.
posted by kurumi at 1:26 PM on August 23, 2002


Ahem.

Those wasteful, thoughtless, oafish hybrid- and electric-scooter-driving bastards!
posted by websavvy at 1:28 PM on August 23, 2002


The US consumes somewhere around 8-9 million barrels of oil/day for motor gasoline. The average SUV is about 75% as fuel efficient as the average passenger car.

Let's assume the low end of consumption (800kbb/day). Let's also assume that SUVs account for only 10% of this consumption. If drivers were to switch from SUVs to more fuel efficient passenger cars, this would result in a savings of 200,000 barrels of oil per day, or 73 million barrels of oil/year. This is why I don't like SUVs.

I mean, think of the number of Main Battle Tanks we could fuel to crush our enemies with that ...

[first post. eek.]
posted by moonbiter at 1:28 PM on August 23, 2002


. Spamming people's windshields (and doorknobs, and driveways) is rude.

As if emitting exhaust--as much as possible--in an urban environment is not. Also "rude" protest marches, no smoking laws, speed limits, and the power of taxation.
posted by ParisParamus at 1:30 PM on August 23, 2002


Err, low end of consumption = 8 Mbb/day. Got ahead of myself there.
posted by moonbiter at 1:31 PM on August 23, 2002


Also: forcing dog owners to scoop up their dogs petits cadeaux.
posted by ParisParamus at 1:33 PM on August 23, 2002


After very thorough and obsessive research, I just purchased a 1999 Toyota Camry.

This car is medium-size, very comfortable, very reliable, handles well, has a big trunk and lots of "luxury" options (power this, power that).

It gets reasonable gas mileage from its 4-cylinder engine.

It is not sexy, real powerful, trendy or impressive.

It does not block people's view, take up two parking spaces or get 12 mpg in the city.

It does hang around the top of the safety ratings for that class of car.

Previously I was driving a tiny Toyota Tercel. Not safe, very uncomfortable.

If the status-concerned folks would just buy BMWs, Mercedes, Lexus, etc., they would burn less gas, and enjoy improved safety in many regards, and not threaten other drivers/cyclists, etc. with a monstrous car.

I'm waiting for the trend to swing back towards more modest vehicles.
posted by 4midori at 1:33 PM on August 23, 2002


If drivers were to switch from SUVs to more fuel efficient passenger cars, this would result in a savings of 200,000 barrels of oil per day, or 73 million barrels of oil/year. This is why I don't like SUVs.

You can use this same argument for why passenger cars are wasteful and why everyone should switch to driving 4-stroke motorcycles.

People might argue that they like the convienience of the larger size of the passenger car, but SUV owners use this same argument and everyone jumps on their case for it.
posted by jsonic at 1:37 PM on August 23, 2002


Don't you just love the "exception" arguers (is that a word?).

bondcliff: Yes, SUVs are a perfect vehicle for diaper delivery persons. Good one. Can anyone else think of another example of a person who might really NEED and SUV? Raise your hand please...

John Smallberries: Good, good... carrying camera equipment. Anyone else?

Cindy: No, no. Picking up your dry cleaning does not apply. Good try.

Come folks (SUVers), we're not talking about the right reasons for having an SUV... and you know it. Why try and convince a group of people with a legitimate bitch, that they wrong based a few exceptions to the norm. The roads are chalk full of monster-trucks, driven by people who DON'T need them. They have them because they can. It's just another example of selfishness at work, living in a bubble, thinking of only yourself.

If there wasn't anything to bitch about, I don't think anyone would be.

jsonic: You can use this same argument for why passenger cars are wasteful and why everyone should switch to driving 4-stroke motorcycles.

Absurd. There is a reasonable size vehicle that everyone is comfortable living with... and have been for decades. The "everyone should drive motorcycles" arguement hold no water. It's impossible and wouldn't work anyway.

SUVs are invasion to what's reasonable.
posted by Witty at 1:43 PM on August 23, 2002


Kurumi - you obviously didn't read the comment I responded to. If you did read it, you didn't understand my comment.
posted by Bernese Mountain Dog at 1:43 PM on August 23, 2002


Witty: There is a reasonable size vehicle that everyone is comfortable living with

Exactly my point! What one person views as reasonable is different from someone else's view. Just because someone thinks a motorcycle is the only "reasonable" vehicle to drive does not give them a morally justifiable excuse to point fingers, consider themselves the savior of the environment, or vandalize the vehicles of those who disagree with them.

SUV's are wasteful, so are normal cars. Drive a hybrid or total electric or quit whining.
posted by jsonic at 1:51 PM on August 23, 2002


The point is, it's ridiculous for anyone to defend their NEED for a luxury item that didn't exist within the lifespan of one of their pets, let alone their own lifetime.

SUVs are that new a commodity that it's ridiculous for anyone to put on some act like their lives (or penises, as witchstone pointed out) are actually lengthened by their use.


Hmm... I'm under the impression that Jeep and Land Rover vehicles and SUV's have been around for quite a while now...
posted by gyc at 1:51 PM on August 23, 2002


The argument was made before and, so far as I can tell, remained unanswered: Do not SUV owners pay for the privilege of owning a big-ass truck by (a) buying more fuel and paying extra taxes thereon, (b) paying higher prices for an SUV than they would for a Camry and, thereby, paying more sales taxes? and (c) dealing with additional taxes, emissions requirements, etc as per whatever state they have to live in?

As far as what's "reasonable," shouldn't a person have a right to buy whatever car they can afford regardless of someone else's opinion as to what's reasonable? Those friggin PT Cruisers are cartoons with wheels, as unreasonable a car as was ever invented - but no one questions the nostalgia-driven mooks who by those things, do they? A 911 will go 170 miles an hour flat out, and the top speed anywhere in this country is (I think) 70 - but no one criticizes people who buy 911's as unreasonable. I would venture to say that a '69 VW van vents more and worse emissions than a new SUV - but you don't see these ticket guys staking out Phish shows, do you?

What gives?
posted by UncleFes at 1:53 PM on August 23, 2002


Are those in this thread who are, for lack of a better word, against SUVs, classifying all sizes of SUVs together? I mean, the Toyota Rav4 gets like 31 mpg. That isn't too bad, is it? And no, I don't own a RAv4.
posted by adampsyche at 1:56 PM on August 23, 2002


Anybody who puts a flyer on somebody else's car, for any reason, should be covered in fire ants and thrown into an active volcano.

I agree. What these people are doing to other people's cars amounts to vandalism in my book. I never really understood why people hate SUVs so much. The great irony is that this a campaign to stamp out personal choice and freedom led by "lefties" who themselves claim to support a person's right to live as they please. I am disappointed in my left-wing comrades for acting just like the right-wingers I hate so much. I guess one can live as he or she pleases as long as someone else does not disagree with that lifestyle. Earth on Empty/Christian Coalition leading the way to close minds and promote their sliver of "true".
posted by Bag Man at 1:56 PM on August 23, 2002


Sales figures of the big hosses show that the statement "There is a reasonable size vehicle that everyone is comfortable living with..." is mistaken. Is reasonable defined by the majority? Or is it defined by you, Witty? Is everyone else unreasonable? Aren't you really saying "There is what I consider to be a reasonable size vehicle that I think everyone should be comfortable living with..."?
posted by John Smallberries at 1:56 PM on August 23, 2002


You can use this same argument for why passenger cars are wasteful and why everyone should switch to driving 4-stroke motorcycles.

Possibly, although it would be a flawed argument. Passenger cars are, for most purposes, functionally similar to SUVs in most ways (the skills required to operate the vehicle, passenger comfort, the ability to carry cargo, drivability in poor weather). For the average driver, you can accomplish the same tasks with a passenger car as you can with an SUV.

This is not true of motorcycles.
posted by moonbiter at 1:56 PM on August 23, 2002


Oh, by the way... use that camera if you decide to key the paint on someone's SUV. The video will make dandy evidence against you in small claims court.
posted by John Smallberries at 1:57 PM on August 23, 2002


My point, Witty, is that unless you know the exact reason why someone owns an SUV, who are you to violate their property by putting a flyer on it telling them they shouldn't own it?

Yes, there are tons of people who probably don't "need" an SUV. Most of us probably own PCs that are much more powerful than what we "need." What happened to our old PCs? Chances are they're probably rotting away in a landfill and polluting somebody's ground water.

For the record, I don't own an SUV. I own a small toyota truck that probably doesn't do much better gas-wise than your average SUV. If you saw me park it in the lot at the supermarket, you might be inclined to put a flier on it telling me I would be more PC if I owned a Tercel or a Prius. What you may not see is all the times I've hauled crap in it, or thrown my bike in the back for some R&R. The point is... you don't see that but you'd put a flier on it anyway.

And by "you" I don't mean you personally, I mean all the self-righteous pricks who decide for themselves what the rest of us may "need."
posted by bondcliff at 1:58 PM on August 23, 2002


And what I thought was "reasonable" four months ago is much different than what is "reasonable" now that I have to drive my wife, my 3-month-old, a stroller, a diaper bag, groceries, a bag of fire ants, etc.
posted by bondcliff at 2:03 PM on August 23, 2002


"From each according to their ability, to each according to their need."

So, maybe we could ban them in a communist country because as stated, many people don't NEED them. But, at the time, most of us live in some sort of capitalistic (or semi-socialistic society even) where you can buy and own things that you don't necessarily need. I have a television. I don't need it, but I have it. Same for my computer, my bookshelf of books, and, well, that's about it. I don't own much. But the point is, I can have those things, even if they are only wants. You can argue the validity of an SUV into the ground, but the fact remains, people can own them for no other reason than because they want to. They pay more for gas. They pay more for the vehicle itself.

I'm really not pro-SUV, I drive a little Nissan Altima for goodness sake that I bought from a coworker. But, hey, they paid for them, and continue to pay for them. I can't call them on that. If oil starts running low, gas prices will go up and eventually, economically force them from the roads. Would that be bad? It would probably force higher efficiency when the time comes too.

But then, that's me.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 2:06 PM on August 23, 2002


For the average driver, you can accomplish the same tasks with a passenger car as you can with an SUV. This is not true of motorcycles.

Well, you can put a sidecar on your motorcycle for extra cargo and stability :)

Have you seen some of those monsterous GoldWing style touring bikes? I'm guessing their cargo boxes rival a small car in capacity.

The whole point of this exercise to demonstrate the idea that you would be angry if I tried to force my opinion about what is reasonable on you, just as SUV owners get angry when you try to force your opinion about what is reasonable on them. Especially when the difference between a car and an SUV is pretty small when compared to the efficiencies and size of a motorcycle.
posted by jsonic at 2:09 PM on August 23, 2002


In any event, the release and popularity of the Mini-Cooper (warning: Kiro5hin link) is considered to be an indication that the pendulum is swinging back to smaller cars.

And I think we are all in agreement, left and right, pro and con, that flyers suck. To the volcano, gentlemen! Witty - bring the ants!
posted by UncleFes at 2:13 PM on August 23, 2002


Guess what: families are getting smaller. Jobs are getting less industrial. You're not a farmer. People could live perfectly happy lives without these monstrosities 15 years ago and before. What do you have to be such a selfish asshole and drive something that big now? Especially, but not only in a densely populated area?

The argument was made before and, so far as I can tell, remained unanswered.

No. Because you're not paying for the extra emissions/person. You're not paying extra for parking space. You're not paying for obstructing my view of the road from my car or bicycle. You're not paying for the added danger to me. Or the effect on the attitude of people, as in “pollution doesn’t matter, generally.”



posted by ParisParamus at 2:19 PM on August 23, 2002


And I don't get money back if I buy a motercycle for leaving extra parking space and allowing more people to see in front of you.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 2:22 PM on August 23, 2002


Those friggin PT Cruisers are cartoons with wheels, as unreasonable a car as was ever invented....

Someone on NPR called the PT Cruiser a "sports utility hearse." I can't get that out of my head whenever I see one.

A 911 will go 170 miles an hour flat out, and the top speed anywhere in this country is (I think) 70....

It's 75 here in New Mexico, but good point!
posted by hyperizer at 2:22 PM on August 23, 2002


No. Because you're not paying for the extra emissions/person.

But aren't you, through gas taxes, if we assume that the more gas you use, the more emission you generate?

You're not paying extra for parking space.

Most people park their SUV's in their garage, which is part of their house, which they pay property taxes on, and which, since it is full of SUVs, they are technically paying an opportunity cost on, based on their inability to use that space for something else...?

You're not paying for obstructing my view of the road from my car or bicycle.

That's rather difficult to quantify. But isn't you bicycle's presence on the road itself detracting from all automobile drivers ability to enjoy the drive, since they have to be extra careful because of your presence? Bicyclists, after all, are making the choice to go on the road in self-powered vehicles with little or no protection, thereby forcing everyone to modify their driving...?

You're not paying for the added danger to me.

Ah, but in the bicycle example, you choose to go on a street that you know is both designed for and populated by motorized vehicles far larger and better protected than yours on the assumption that your rights to drive a self-powered open-to-the-sky vehicle trump theirs...? If you're in a small car, well, most of them have safety features that rival large vehicles (air bags, crumple zones, etc.)...?

*shrugs*
posted by UncleFes at 2:31 PM on August 23, 2002


I rent a truck when I need one, which is perhaps three or four times a year. Even some stores offer this. The other 362 days a year I zip around in a mid-sized Honda (which can still seat five people, or a pile of groceries, or a mountain bike, or a baby-seat). My occassional rental fees are less than the full-time operating costs of an SUV. I dunno, works for me.
posted by MJoachim at 2:32 PM on August 23, 2002


Flyering is hardly vandalism. Pick it up and drop it on the ground. Big whoop. It's the city. Bums might call you a fucking yuppy. So what? They're bums, tell them to get a job.

I think that there are two compelling arguments against SUVs. First, the safety arms race. The roads are a common resource and it's accepted that you can't go around endangering other people. I don't know how you deal with this but it's certainly a legitimate area for common discussion. Second, SUVs should be subject to the same standards (emissions etc) as cars. I think that the RAV4 is one of the newer car-based SUVs that follows car standards, but I'm just guessing.
posted by Wood at 2:33 PM on August 23, 2002


John Smallberries: Yes, reasonable is defined by the majority. That makes perfect sense. Reasonable isn't defined by sales figures. REasonable isn't decided by those who are buying SUVs. Reasonable is defined by the size of our streets, parking spaces, ceiling heights of parking garages. One block of city street should be able to get more that 6 vehicles on it... which is about all you can get when it's full over SUVs.

Many people who drive SUVs can drive the damn things. When they park, they leave 6 feet at both ends, fer cryin out loud. It's a waste.

a) We are not talking about ALL SUVs.
b) We're not talking about SUVs in all regions... mostly smaller urban areas.
c) I (at least) am not condoning vandalism or even flyers. (God forbid)
d) I'm (and I'm sure most) not even considering a ban on SUVs... will never happen. That's just as absurd.

bondcliff: Boy, that's a huge family you got there. It's damn near amazing that my folks and their folks were able to make it through those painful years of raising a family with little more than a covered wagon.

I just don't understand some of these justifications... beyond the obvious working-vehicle argument.

UncleFes: If there were an absurd number of 911s out there do 170 mph, we would certainly be bitching about it.

'69 VW van vents more and worse emissions

At least they stay in the right lane and drive no faster than 55.
posted by Witty at 2:33 PM on August 23, 2002


But aren't you, through gas taxes, if we assume that the more gas you use, the more emission you generate?.

No. Because the per-person emissions of two, or ONE person in a large vehicle is greater than a small vehicle. And, in any case, gas taxes aren't reducing your pollution.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:40 PM on August 23, 2002


I think SUV's are quite underrated. I get the most use out of mine when I am checking trap lines in the Adirondacks. Damn thing holds 30 gallons of gas, never gets stuck and I can load all of the trapped furry critters in the back without hearing them go through their death throws.
Hail the SUV's!! Long may they live.
posted by aptain_quirk at 2:42 PM on August 23, 2002


Long live insecure, indifferent, fat people!
posted by ParisParamus at 2:47 PM on August 23, 2002


"...you choose to go on a street that you know is both designed for and populated by motorized vehicles far larger and better protected than yours..."

Not only that, but the highways are paid for by the taxes on people who drive gasoline-powered vehicles. Bike riders pay...how much in highway tax? Zero. Then they want to piss and moan because those eeeevvviiiilllllll SUVs are so big and intimidating.

Every time I hear another bleating jackass go on about how the SUV is the bane of society it strengthens my resolve to be sure that each vehicle I buy is bigger than the one it's replacing. I'll probably even line the interior of the next one in fur.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:47 PM on August 23, 2002


The whole point of this exercise to demonstrate the idea that you would be angry if I tried to force my opinion about what is reasonable on you ...

Well, this is true. I don't personally agree with the "force your opinion" approach anyway. Instead, I believe in a "present facts in a debate" approach.

Unlike many people who don't like SUVs, I don't think they should be banned through legislation or other heavy-handed tactics. Rather, I prefer that the matter handled through education and reasoned debate. Thus the presented numbers.

As the driver of a passenger car, I personally don't like SUVs. They are difficult to see around when I drive, they put me at greater risk of injury and death in an accident, and it is entirely likely that if things continue at the current rate they will probably make me pay more for my own gasoline in the future (since as supply drops cost will increase, and SUVs use up supply faster).

Plus, we'll need that gas for our legions of M1A2 Abrams in the War on Terror (tm).
posted by moonbiter at 2:52 PM on August 23, 2002


Long live insecure, indifferent, fat people!

Since when did this become something about fat people?
posted by Lord Chancellor at 2:52 PM on August 23, 2002


"Highway tax"? What's that? If you factor in federal funds there's no way highways are built by some sort of driving-exclusive funding mechanism. Is there any reason to believe that the sum of all of those revenues is greater than the costs of the roads? In any event that would be irrelevant, bikes and cars both have the right to the road. Try not kill anyone out there, guys.
posted by Wood at 2:54 PM on August 23, 2002


ParisParamus: Long live insecure, indifferent, fat people!

Are you now using your Anti-SUV arguments against fat people? "Nobody needs to be that large" "They eat more food than they need" "All that eating produces gaseous emissions" "What happens when they run into skinny people"

All we need now is to argue the relative reasonableness of meat eating fat people driving SUV's. Although I'm sure some European somewhere already thinks that pretty much describes America.
posted by jsonic at 2:56 PM on August 23, 2002


ParisParamus
Long live insecure, indifferent, fat people!
Their too easy to trap. I prefer the skinny, determined, nervy, self assured types.
Like you.
:)
posted by aptain_quirk at 2:58 PM on August 23, 2002


"If you factor in federal funds there's no way highways are built by some sort of driving-exclusive funding mechanism."

Here are the actual numbers for 2001, from the Federal Highway Administration.

"Total highway-user revenues of $106.2 billion (motor fuel, motor vehicle taxes and fees and tolls) are anticipated in 2001, which would fund about 84 percent of all highway disbursements. However, $12.8 billion of highway-user revenues are destined for general government use, collection expenses and other non-highway uses, while $11.6 billion will be used for mass transportation. Consequently, only $81.8 billion or 77 percent of taxes and fees charged to road users are expected to be applied to the highway programs of Federal, State and local governments."

So, yes, it's correct that highway taxes collected fall short of actual highway expenditures. Of course, that's also the same for Amtrak, the Post Office, and just about any other government-administered program. In addition, note the $24.4 billion that's paid in highway taxes that gets diverted to other programs, including the SUV-attackers' favorite pet: mass transportation, which rarely, if ever, is able to operate in the black.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:06 PM on August 23, 2002


I heard a rumor about a year ago (I think I read it in an issue of the Co-op America publication) that Ford has plans to release a hybrid version of their smallest SUV in 2003, and I know Toyota already makes a fully electric RAV4. But do I really believe that all or most SUV drivers will rush to Ford and Toyota dealerships to get these more fuel efficient cars? No. In the same way that I never believed that most passenger car drivers would run out any buy hybrid civics the moment they hit the market. There are assorted arguments - affordability, lack of numerous electrical outlets near parking spaces, low engine power, desire to avoid buying foreign products, etc. Granted the cost issue is a relevant one, but the bottom line is that many car buying americans don't care enough anout the health of the planet to override their own perceived needs for a bigger, or sexier or more elaborate car.
I'd be interested to see a national poll on who buys SUV's. I suspect, from my own observations during rush hours and in weekend traffic, that the majority are not 4 child families (see the "500,000,000 Americans" topic for more about big family issues). I suspect that the majority are well-off, younger, single people or couples, who are simply living up to the status quo (emphasis on "status"). Obviously, the majority doesn't include all the exceptions carefully elucidated in earlier posts.
A big step in the right direction would be, as someone pointed out earlier, to require the same emission/fuel standards for ALL personal vehicles.
Yes, I'm a screaming hypocrite. I drive an 88 volkswagen fox sedan. It probably gets about 18 mpg, and it barely passes smog check anymore. But at least I agonized over that when I bought it (wishing I could afford the then brand-new honda insight), and I did get the most efficient car my resources would bear at the time (as a teenager).
And yes, I plan to buy a hybrid the next time I have enough cash to buy a car, so there's no need to tell me to shove it.
posted by naturegrrl at 3:14 PM on August 23, 2002


I saw a news show where the rear window of one shattered all over the back seat from a mere 5mph bump into a pole.

And I was rear-ended when I was stopped and the person who hit me was going 35mph, and I had one fairly small dent in my tailgate. YMMV. (The person who hit me was driving a 70s steel behemoth and had minor hood damage.)

I love these anti-SUV threads, because they provide proof positive of what self-centered, unrealistic, dictatorial prigs many of you can be about your pet peeves. Anyone who thinks that the way to increase fuel efficiency and decrease pollution is to whine about a product that is obviously HUGELY popular is simply a fool. Rather than beat your head against a wall and look simple, put your effort into something that might actually produce the results you say you want, like supporting alternative fuel research, etc. Vote with your dollars, and don't bitch when others do the same. Proselytize all you want: if you tone down the absurd rhetoric and quit spitting when you talk, someone might even credit you with some sense and listen. But complain about how ugly you find them (a totally subjective aesthetic assessment, which many of us disagree with), cite irrelevant statistics, insist that everyone else must have transportation requirements identical to your own, etc. and you will continue to be ignored.
posted by rushmc at 3:44 PM on August 23, 2002


Not only that, but the highways are paid for by the taxes on people who drive gasoline-powered vehicles.

Yeah, but how many people ride bicycles on the highway? Bikes aren't even allowed on most highways. I daresay most cyclists are using smaller roads--ones funded by city, town, or county money.

Should we prevent non-property owners' children from going to school because the property owners are paying for it? Do you really believe that most bike riders don't also have cars for which they paid a motor vehicle tax?
posted by hyperizer at 3:48 PM on August 23, 2002


The U.S. Department of Energy has a site here where you can look at in-depth information about fuel efficiency for most automobiles past and present in terms of miles per gallon and in terms of environmental impact--tons of emissions produced per year.

I don't think anyone's really beeyatching about little RAV4s and the like. We're talking about the monsters. Play around; do some comparisons there, side-by-side and by class, and there is no longer an argument. Even if there weren't other reasons for feeling angsty toward SUVers, certainly the fuel efficiency argument stands on its own.

Yes, there are legitimate reasons for owning a large passenger/cargo vehicle. Most people with two kids in carseats or [insert other legitimate cargo here] can't really diddle about town on a scooter. But there are alternatives, and I think the primary target of SUV hate is Joe/Suzy Singleperson, tooling around with the rest of the vehicle stark-empty, talking on the phone and plowing down cyclists, pedestrians, and bottom-dwelling vehicles. (We've all seen 'em. Yeah, it may be a stereotype, but I think it's one that exists due to a large number of objectively verifiable occurrences.)

Yes, it's true--if SUVs were tiny but somehow managed the same gas mileage there might be less of a stink over them. But they're not tiny--they're big and invasive and it seems like that characteristic almost invariably passes into the driver's mindset. Which is not to say every SUV driver is inconsiderate nor that every compact car driver is considerate. But if I were on a bicycle, or stranded by the side of the road, or crossing the street, I'd put good money on the SUVers being the most likely to run me over, pass me by, or run me down, respectively.
posted by littlegreenlights at 3:50 PM on August 23, 2002


I just can't wait until I'm alowed to drive a sandcrawler to work. Now THAT's a real SUV!
posted by Lord Chancellor at 3:55 PM on August 23, 2002


Actually, we cyclists *do* pay taxes to maintain the roads. It's that stuff that the IRS rakes in every April. Oh, and the sales tax we pay at the grocery stores. Oh, and property taxes from the county. And state taxes. And we pay at the pump when we rent/borrow/use cars for trips that require hauling people/materials/small moose.

I have no problem with people using SUVs as working vehicles. If you actually take the damn thing off-road, fine. I'll be sure to get off my mountain bike and get out of your way, seeing how I'll hear you coming for miles.

But there is no, no, no reason to own an Expedition or a Suburban in the city or suburbs. I don't give a damn about people whining, "But I have to haul kids/bikes/miniature domesticated moose." Get a minivan. Suck it up and admit you're a parent, not some rugged individualist hipster, and buy a damned minivan.

SUVs in the city are selfish, not just for the gas and the space, but because they are, as many people have pointed out, engaging in a safety arms race, one that will wind up killing other people in smaller cars just 'cause you're too damn self-centered and insecure to get a reasonable vehicle. Yes, this is America, God bless our right to conspicuous consumerism and all that. But what ever happened to community responsibility? Whatever happened to giving the *slightest* care about other people?

Run over by an Escalade, I'm sure.
posted by RakDaddy at 3:56 PM on August 23, 2002


how dare you people try and force your will on my, you "self-righteous pricks". all i'm doing is exercising my right to own whatever car i can afford. if that uses more than my fair-share of oil, who the hell cares? i pay for it. and if you can't see around me, what the fuck do i care? i can see just fine. and if my being so large greatly increases your chance of dying in a crash, again why should i care? i probably won't die. and another thing, cars use gas too, sure it's a helluva lot less, but that is irrelevant! until you stop using any gas at all you shouldn't yell at me for using many times the amount you do!

Sorry to be so bitchy, but honestly that's what i think some of the arguments boil down to. Knowing that people in other types of cars are more likely to die in an accident involving an suv seems like a shocking embarrassing fact. i would not buy an suv for that reason alone. how is my life more important than someone else's? maybe people are reacting violently because they don't like holding this view.

And two kids as a reason for an suv, nope. people need to rethink some priorities, when i was little my family of 4 drove around in a tercel. kids are smaller than adults, which means they need less, not more, room. i wouldn't assume that all suv owners don't need them, but unless it's business related i can't think of many examples.
posted by rhyax at 4:02 PM on August 23, 2002


The self-righteous hypocrisy revolving around hating SUV owners, and this thread make me sick.

It seems to me that the overwhelming majority of posters here are claiming that they hate SUV's because of their lower gas mileage and higher emissions.

Take a look in the mirror. What is the number one use of your P-A-S-S-E-N-G-E-R car? It is probably most used for commuting to work. Everyday, when I ride my motorcycle to work in the San Francisco Bay Area, I see THOUSANDS of people driving their cars, BY THEMSELVES, commuting to work. If you *REALLY*, I mean *REALLY* cared about the environmental impact....wouldn't you make your own personal sacrifice. It is called a PASSENGER car...not a SINGLE Person transport vehicle. How many people take to and from work more than what could be fit into a backpack?

Oh, and you might be surprised at how much you can load on a motorcycle. With a backpack, tank bag, tailbag, etc. I spent 2 weeks travelling to Canada and back.

So before you go spouting your mouth off about how conservation minded YOU are, and how selfish SUV owners are....look at your own darn actions.

Oh, and by the way....I ALSO own an SUV. A Toyota Sequoia, which incidentally meets ULEV emissions requirements...not even met by all PASSENGER cars yet.

I don't hate passenger car drivers. I only despise hypocrisy, and self-righteousness.
posted by dbl0busa at 4:07 PM on August 23, 2002


"there is no, no, no reason to own an Expedition or a Suburban in the city or suburbs."

How about this reason: I want one. I want the biggest, loudest, most obnoxious beast I can get for the amount of money I have to spend. I want 44" tires that sound like a tornado coming down the road and make the truck so tall I need a ladder to get into it; I want big, shiny chrome wheels, and I want naked-lady silhouettes on my mud flaps.

Given that we live in a capitalist society and given that SUVs are legal to own, "I want one" is reason enough.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:14 PM on August 23, 2002


In general, SUVs cost more to buy and operate. So that means the salesman who sold the SUV got a bigger commission, paid more taxes, and bought more stuff with his extra money. The gas stations make more money and so does the dealership; they both pay more taxes. The oil companies are more profitable which means they can expand their operations, hire more people, pay them more, so on and so on.

Maybe non-SUV owners should start picking up the slack by paying more taxes. What a bunch of leeches. Always take, take, take, but never giving back. I hope you’re happy with the economic recession you’ve caused. Damn you!!!

Okay, maybe that’s taking it too far. I don’t own an SUV (yet), but I do believe that people should be allowed to enjoy their choices in life. Activists need to relax and respect other people's property.
posted by doan at 4:18 PM on August 23, 2002


"Given that we live in a capitalist society and given that SUVs are legal to own, "I want one" is reason enough."

Okay. Good point. End of discussion. I want one too, but not as big.
posted by doan at 4:20 PM on August 23, 2002


if SUVs were tiny but somehow managed the same gas mileage there might be less of a stink over them. But they're not tiny--they're big and invasive and it seems like that characteristic almost invariably passes into the driver's mindset.

Wow, Freud was right.
posted by rushmc at 4:21 PM on August 23, 2002


It's interesting to hear the presumed guilt of most SUV owners. Yes, many of them aren't used for what they were designed for, but there is some percentage that do use them for what they are designed for (and we have no way of telling the two apart on the surface).

I'm reminded of the time I was yelled at by a woman who was angry that I didn't carpool to work. It was me inside a four passenger car as I was heading into a parking garage, and I got the verbal assault of how wasteful I was. What the presumptuous person failed to realize was that I had dropped off my two co-workers before heading to the garage, with my free carpool parking pass and everything. Guilty until proven innocent.

Car companies love SUVs for a simple reason: they are built with basic cheap truck parts, but the prices are very high. The profit margins on cars are razor thin, but a car company can make a substantial profit selling a $35k luxury SUV built on a $10k truck base. They're wasteful yes, and selfish on the part of owners to make everyone less safe when they are seemingly safer on highways, but there's no easy answer for eradicating them from the earth.

I would hope that SUVs will someday have to stick to safety and mileage standards laid out for cars, and not be classified as trucks. I really wish I had some money saved up so I could buy either a hybrid or a 50mpg diesel VW car (golf, bug, or jetta). If we didn't have an oil man as a president, the country might be encouraged to lower our dependence on foreign oil with new, efficient car buying incentives (there were in the last energy bill, but the incentives trail off quickly). Why would we need to engage Saudi Arabia, Iran, or Iraq in political matters if we didn't need any oil exports from their countries? Wouldn't we all be in a better place, not only environmentally, but stability and peace-wise, if we didn't depend on foreign oil so much?
posted by mathowie at 4:24 PM on August 23, 2002


Well, it's your funeral. Enjoy those higher gas bills, insurance rates, and registration fees. Oh, and the added rollover safety, too.

I'll keep out of your fur-lined way when I'm on my bike, which shouldn't be too hard, as I'll be able to hear/see/fell you coming for miles.
posted by RakDaddy at 4:26 PM on August 23, 2002


how is my life more important than someone else's?

What a preposterous question. It is more important to YOU, if not in the "grand scheme of things," because it is YOURS, yours to experience, to make choices for, and to take responsibility for. Therefore, it is your predominent interest and business, and pretending otherwise is a disservice to reality and patronizing to everyone else in the world.
posted by rushmc at 4:29 PM on August 23, 2002


"I'll keep out of your fur-lined way when I'm on my bike, which shouldn't be too hard, as I'll be able to hear/see/fell you coming for miles."

You always say that, but I always end up having to wait for a spot to pass while traffic piles up behind you. Maybe you ought not wear such tight shorts.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:33 PM on August 23, 2002


Okay, Crash. This isn't going to end well, so I'm going to yield right now, as I've respected you and your posts here before.

And, for the record, my shorts are *plenty* loose.
posted by RakDaddy at 4:35 PM on August 23, 2002


Wow, Freud was right.

rushmc, don't pick my precious, tiny, exotic, delicate, leafy, deciduous flower.
Now, back to rearranging my seashell collection.
posted by littlegreenlights at 4:35 PM on August 23, 2002


and selfish on the part of owners to make everyone less safe when they are seemingly safer on highways

One man's "selfishness" is another's "taking steps to make himself and his family more secure." There are already as many SUVs on the road in most of the (admittedly Western) cities I've lived in over the past 6-8 years as small cars; therefore, to get a small car now is to choose to put oneself in the (relatively more) dangerous situation of sharing the road with the bigger vehicles. To me, that is an illogical, foolish, self-destructive choice that denies the reality of the situation. One might dream for a world in which everyone drove Beetles and PT Cruisers, but one must drive on the roads of THIS world, with SUVs, vans, 18-wheelers, garbage trucks, dirt-haulers, steel beasts from the 50s-70s, delivery trucks, U-Hauls, etc.

On most other points, I agree with you, though.
posted by rushmc at 4:38 PM on August 23, 2002


Suck it up and admit you're a parent, not some rugged individualist hipster, and buy a damned minivan.

Ok...just as an example...

Kia Sedona MiniVan,
MPG City: 15
Hwy: 20

My SUV:
MPG City: 25
Hwy: 31

Just for comparison sake; here's a midsized station wagon:
Ford Focus Station Wagon
4 cyl, 2 L, Manual City: 28 Hwy: 36

Yeah...I should trade in my 5 star safety, California emissions, EPA stellar rated vehicle for a minivan that can't survive a 30mph impact. Makes perfect sense to me. Or, I should take a huge loss on the vehicle I have, so I can trade it in on a car that gets between 3 and 5 mpg better fuel mileage. Just so I don't have to worry about offending the sensibilities of delicate SUV haters who feel justified in taking the law into their own hands.

To quote South Park: "See, this here, this is a wooky. It don't make sense."

DenOfSizer, watch out, though, in them free states, where pregnant women will gun you down for such behavior. They have different needs. posted by hackly_fracture

Don't put words in my mouth punkin...if you want to play at ad hominem attacks, please learn to comprehend that which you read first. I mean, feel free to try and score, but if you're going to get into a war of wits, try to bring ammunition. Bless your little pointy head for trying, though.
posted by dejah420 at 4:41 PM on August 23, 2002


RakDaddy, I was yielding to you there, but it apparently wasn't obvious. See, the joke was that traffic was backed up 'cause your ass is so cute...
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:41 PM on August 23, 2002


dejah420, if a Focus is a mid-size wagon to you, you must be the size of a capuchin monkey. Mid-size is more like a Camry. I think I could keep a Focus in my closet.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:44 PM on August 23, 2002


Was that it? I'm sorry...it's been a long day at work, and my humor meter is just shot to hell.

For you, Crash, I'll put on the tight shorts. *kiss, kiss*
posted by RakDaddy at 4:45 PM on August 23, 2002


Crash: I think I could keep a Focus in my closet.

It would definately fit in the back of my SEQ.
posted by dbl0busa at 4:49 PM on August 23, 2002


Oh, and dejah420? It's a *Kia* for Chrissakes. I'm talking about the Big Game, the Escalades, the Suburbans, the Expeditions. You know. The fur-lined SUVs.
posted by RakDaddy at 4:52 PM on August 23, 2002


I hate SUVs for one reason: they put an end to my dream.
When I was a teenager I wanted a car with a past. I wanted a car like the one in "The Gods Must Be Crazy", a battered old Jeep, or better yet, a Range Rover with missing doors and elephant dents. All of my friends wanted BMWs and Mercedes, but I wanted a car that belonged to an adventuress!

After my Toyota Camry was totalled when it was side-swiped by a 2 ton truck, I finally did get a Jeep Grand Wagoneer. Lovely piece of metal and great fun to drive. Sadly, it sits rusting in the driveway now because at 9 miles to the gallon I can't afford to drive it. Still, it sure hauled its share of hay and manure and 2 by 4s.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:52 PM on August 23, 2002


I think I could keep a Focus in my closet.

I am *so* jealous of your closet space! Heh. Actually, I know nothing about station wagons...I thought it was a midsize wagon.

Oh, and dejah420? It's a *Kia* for Chrissakes. I'm talking about the Big Game, the Escalades, the Suburbans, the Expeditions. You know. The fur-lined SUVs.

Yes, but I don't drive one of those...and yet, people are not making the distinctions between SUV's which have a smaller footprint than a truck and SUV's which cast a shadow over half the county. :) And to be honest, I was astounded that the KIA got such crappy mileage. I would have thought a 4cyc could do *way* better than that.

Basically, I'm just saying that my car takes up no more room (except vertically), and uses the same amount of gas as other cars...and so for people to get all frothy because I periodically need to check on acres and acres of fenceline and actually need a car that can transport critters, people and can go where the roads do not, is absurd.

But the neighbor's truck is longer than my SUV, uses more gas and can hold less people. So, for people to get upset when I take the neighbors and go for pizza in the SUV...well, that's just silly.
posted by dejah420 at 5:05 PM on August 23, 2002


My idea is simple: If you choose to drive a vehicle that will do more damage to other cars in an accident, you are choosing to accept liability for the results of that accident over and above what would happen in an "ordinary" accident between "ordinary" vehicles. If SUV owners have to face higher insurance premiums (or, god forbid, liability out of their own pockets) the roads will be safer for the rest of us.
posted by subgenius at 5:09 PM on August 23, 2002


dejah, if your SUV gets 25/31, then it's a Rav4, which ain't what's primarily being discussed here. It may be classified as an SUV, but I think in this case it stands for Small Utility Vehicle. Put one next to a Yukon and compare. Also, the Kia Sedona is the least fuel-efficient minivan. These things combined make your argument look better--more wooky, if you will--but it isn't exactly fair.

And just for the record, the Rav4 gets a 3 out of 5 (average) on the The Highway Loss Data Institute scale and an overall ranking of marginal with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Toyota's Five-Star Rating thing seems to consist of picking and choosing--applying one categorical rating from one safety committee and giving the impression of an overall seal of approval. (That's off-topic and not in any way meant to rattle your cage--it just seemed pretty misleading to me since that's one of Toyota's main pulls.)
posted by littlegreenlights at 5:13 PM on August 23, 2002


"when it was side-swiped by a 2 ton truck"

To die by your side, well the pleasure, the privilege is mine.

Uh, sorry. "Two-ton truck" always does that.

I too have a rusting hulk of a full-sized Jeep in my driveway. A towing company is supposed to come and get it as a donation to charity, but I'm afraid they're just not in a big hurry to come and get it.

The last time I drove it (a trip to my wife's grandparents' ranch) it got 14mpg, even stuffed to the ceiling with camping gear, two adults, three kids and two dogs, and a long climb over a mountain range both on the way and back. Of course, the starter motor did vibrate itself loose of its mounting bolts about halfway home (good thing Grandpa was behind us or it would still be lying on the highway), but a 20-minute roadside repair got it reinstalled and us on our way again.

Driving a vehicle that actually gets to its destination and back every time with no drama is highly overrated.

And, dejah420, anyone who's comfortable using the word "critters" gets an automatic SUV exemption. Didn't you get the memo?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:16 PM on August 23, 2002


and pretending otherwise is a disservice to reality and patronizing to everyone else in the world.

it was certainly not my intention to be patronizing, i'm sorry for that. when you say it is my predominant interest, i guess that has to be true, in a way. if you mean interest as in, "my interest is science", and not as in "my interests are spelled out in this will" what i'm saying is doing something that harms someone else, while it may help me, should be avoided. and of course that's not easy, or achievable in all circumstances.
posted by rhyax at 5:19 PM on August 23, 2002


Subgenius: you are choosing to accept liability for the results of that accident over and above what would happen in an "ordinary" accident between "ordinary" vehicles

Define "ordinary".

So, if you take me out while I am riding my motorcycle and you are in your passenger car, you are taking responsibility? Or, does this logic conveniently fall short when it is applied to your actions.

Subgenius...I think the name says it all. ;)
posted by dbl0busa at 5:30 PM on August 23, 2002


My idea is simple: If you choose to drive a vehicle that will do more damage to other cars in an accident, you are choosing to accept liability for the results of that accident

My idea is simpler (and more rational): If you choose to drive a vehicle that will sustain more damage from other cars in an accident, you are choosing to accept liability for the results of that accident.

One's obligation is to take steps to protect ONESELF, not to enforce greater weakness/vulnerability on others. Sheesh.
posted by rushmc at 6:04 PM on August 23, 2002


Take a look in the mirror. What is the number one use of your P-A-S-S-E-N-G-E-R car?

As someone who dislikes SUVs most because of their size, I'll take the challenge. Let's see, my main transport gets infinite miles per gallon of gasoline. Admitadly, there is only one person on it on any given time, and that would be my bicycle.

Now, sometimes I take the bus, so that uses fuel. The biodiesel (mmm, french fry diesel) gets pretty good mileage, and I'm not the only one on there, so I would guess personally, I'm using maybe 300 MPG. Might be closer to 500 MPG. (Don't feel like doing the math right now).
posted by benjh at 6:10 PM on August 23, 2002


You would have to be living in a cave not to know how many people feel about SUVs. So when you buy these things, don't wax sympathy with me when others are critical of your decision. Below are the things that bother me about SUVs; I also included the Standard SUV Owner's Response (SSOR), which I have gleaned from many of these pro vs anti-SUV discussions.

SUVs are more likely to kill me, and my family, in my sedan.
SSOR: I'm lookin' out for my family, so I don't care. Besides, if you really cared about your family, you'd buy an SUV. (I get it- aside from you and your loved ones, no one else really matters. And please, my owning a tank will not make anyone else safer, but will perpetuate the current "arm's race" in progress.)

SUVs block my view at intersections and in traffic.
SSOR: I don't care. If you wanna see, buy a truck. (When will it end? 20 ft tall SUVs? Surplus M-1 Abrams? The Kenworth Pilgrimage?)

SUV owners tend to drive like bats out of hell in sloppy weather.
SSOR: I'm a good driver. (Sure. I used to take the freeway to school (no mass transit), but during icy or snowy weather I'd take a side road. The freeway was a giant ice-skating rink, with SUVs typically pushing well beyond prudent limits (and smashing into the barriers because of it.) Because you got "go" don't mean you got "whoa.")

SUVs produce more CO2.
SSOR: My SUV meets LEV or ULEV standards. (That's terrific! You should be proud! Finally, the manufacturers have condescended not to pollute our air! However, CO2 is not limited by emissions controls! Why the hell is this so difficult to comprehend!)

SUVs use more oil.
SSOR: Big deal. (This is what really irks me. Around here (midwest) I see monster Suburbans (appropriately named), Tahoes, Yukons, Expeditions, etc, with proudly displayed American flags. What kills me is that these same people who fancy themselves as good citizens are sucking up more oil. If we could reduce our dependency on foreign oil, we might actually have an "out" in the middle-east.
SSOR: But we got ANWR, Russia, hydrogen-power, etc.
(ANWR wouldn't eliminate our dependency on middle-eastern oil, Russia is a former enemy and may have a competitor for its oil called China and hydrogen power is a ways off. Besides, Republicans used to laugh at me when I proffered alternative energy ideas, and now are jumping on the bandwagon. What ever happened to good, ol'-fashioned conservation? During WW2 gasoline was rationed. During the current War on Terror, I doubt the average American would even tolerate an increase in fuel costs. I can hear them now: "We're Americans! We deserve cheap gas! I don't care about the war!" If Americans are being sent into battle making enormous sacrifices, how hard would it be to cut back our consumption?)

Anyway, if it is your Constitutionally-protected right to own the most wasteful, least courteous form of transit available, then it damn well is my right to criticize your decision. If you can't handle our derision, buy a car.

Enough for now...
posted by drstrangelove at 6:36 PM on August 23, 2002


My personal experience with SUV's isn't a positve one. In the college town I live in most of the streets are about as wide as I am tall, including my street. I live right smack on a fork in the road, and I can't tell you how many times my garbage cans were knocked over in the middle of the night by some yuppie in an Expedition trying to make a 3 point turn and then throwing their Natty Light cans right on my porch. But I must admit I'm pretty hefty on the emissions thing... I need to cut down on rollerblading back to my place after gorging myself on Taco Bell...
posted by spungfoo at 6:51 PM on August 23, 2002


I would be happy just to have SUV designers play by the same rules as for passenger cars. The auto manufacturers sneaked a fast one by when they got exemptions from the passenger car rules for light trucks under the guise of saving the poor farmers pickup truck and local delivery vans. Instead, these exempted "trucks" now include SUVs and mini-vans which make up over 40% of all vehicles sold today.

First, SUVs and mini-vans should have the same emissions standards as passenger cars. Currently they are not required to have the expensive emission controls installed in passenger cars. This amounts to a price subsidy for SUVs.

Second, they should have the same crash standards as passenger cars. Today they do not have the same bumper height and force absorbing crumple zones required for cars. In fact, they don't even require bumpers at all. That is why SUVs have a tendency to climb up over other cars in collisions and crush the unfortunate occupants.

Third, they should have the same gas mileage requirements as cars. Overall fleet mileage is below what it was in 1980 because of the proliferation of these exempted "trucks." Cars have gotten cleaner, but SUVs and mini-vans have gotten much dirtier, more than cancelling the gains.

And while they're at it, it would be nice if they standardized on a lower headlight height to keep from blinding the drivers in oncoming cars or the rearview mirrors of those they follow.

So it's fine to have your SUV, just don't ask for any special favors.
posted by JackFlash at 6:53 PM on August 23, 2002


I guess we can stop talking about how SUVs should have to follow the same rules (emissions etc) as standard passenger cars. 131 posts and no one wants to defend that exemption.
posted by Wood at 7:09 PM on August 23, 2002


You would have to be living in a cave not to know how many people feel about SUVs.

Actually, I've never heard a single person express a negative opinion about them, except for here on Metafilter.

But then, virtually everyone out here drives one. Clearly, there is a difference between the rat warren metropolises of the East and the endless surburbias of the West.
posted by rushmc at 7:13 PM on August 23, 2002


Furthermore, other than rushmc no one seems to think that safety should be a individualistic free-for-all. "If your car pours out black fumes that obscures others vision, go for it." That's an exaggeration for sure, but how can you argue that you can drive on public roads with no regard to other's safety. There is clearly a governmental right to enforce crash worthiness standards. What those standards should be is up to debate. But to argue that they shouldn't exist is libertarian claptrap.
posted by Wood at 7:15 PM on August 23, 2002


Crash Davis: Not only that, but the highways are paid for by the taxes on people who drive gasoline-powered vehicles. Bike riders pay...how much in highway tax? Zero.
Crash Davis: So, yes, it's correct that highway taxes collected fall short of actual highway expenditures.
The fact in your second quote negates your tired argument in the first quote. By the way, most adult cyclists own cars and pay fuel taxes and registration fees.
The fact is that SUVs block the vision of drivers of cars. They tend to be noisier, too, so that I hear every large pickup and SUV that drives by my house. The first reduces my quality of life and my safety, and the second reduces my quality of life while I'm in my own home. When I read threads such as this one, I'm always struck by the petulant disregard that SUV owners display to these objections. "Don't like the way my SUV endangers you? Get an SUV! Don't like the fact that my SUV blocks your vision, endangering you? Fuck you!"
It's odd, this defensiveness and disregard for others. At least SUV owners could say they're sorry, they understand that they're reducing other peoples' enjoyment of life, but they would prefer to have an SUV anyway.
Doan: Okay, maybe that's taking it too far. I don't own an SUV (yet), but I do believe that people should be allowed to enjoy their choices in life.
What if I want to enjoy being able to see up ahead while I drive my car or ride my bike? What if I want to enjoy peace and quiet in my own living room? Don't my choices matter, too?
Do the SUV owners here think it's proper and acceptable to drive in a residential neighborhood with an extremely loud car stereo system cranked up as high as it will go? Your arguments lead me to believe that your answer is yes, because you can afford to buy the stereo and you paid sales tax on it and you have a right to do it. Sad.
posted by Holden at 7:25 PM on August 23, 2002


I don't think this guerilla approach of ticketing SUV's will have the desired effect. It reminds me too much of the Critical Mass Ride in SF, which involved bicyclists taking over city streets on friday during rush hour and not letting cars through so that drivers could "appreciate" what it's like to be inconvenienced and intimidated. I don't know if they still have CM fridays in SF, but during it's height in '97, things routinely got ugly as physical altercations broke out between gangs of cyclists and enraged drivers. The bicyclists came across as bullies and the whole operation had the opposite effect of that which was intended - to make drivers more deferential to cyclists.

People are much more likely to consider your request if they feel they are being treated with respect. How about a leaflet that informs SUV drivers of the parking problems downtown and very politely asks them to consider public transportation or driving a smaller car the next time they visit? I think the leaflet would be even more effective if there is something entertaining on the other side (cartoons depicting the parking problem?)...anything to make people feel that they are being cajoled and not brow beaten.
posted by Devils Slide at 8:08 PM on August 23, 2002


When I read this thread, I observe a lot of SUV owners, or wannabe owners, who are hostile toward legitimate criticism toward their vehicle choice. My impression is that they do this out of guilt. My suspicion is that they're unable to admit that their vehicle choice negatively impacts a lot of people around them, so they cover up through their counter-protests of "it's my right to choose any vehicle I want, yadda, yadda."
posted by five fresh fish at 8:36 PM on August 23, 2002


But I don't own a SUV. Nor do I wish to. I have no guilt on the subject; its totally impersonal to me. However, I wish that criticism is dealt with as such and doesn't detract from the point people are allowed to make decisions based on nothing more than what type of vehicle they drive.

I don't believe that the above example covers my opposition to opposition of SUVs.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 8:49 PM on August 23, 2002


Everyone here should enjoy this sticker that was just placed as a text ad.
posted by mathowie at 9:25 PM on August 23, 2002


I think those stickers come from the same company who did those anti-drug ads, the ones with the kids who say things like "Today I helped kill a judge."

hey, go with what works, I say!
posted by UncleFes at 9:45 PM on August 23, 2002


Needless to say (hmmm) those stickers would be easiest to apply while gassing up. If I weren't bike commuting after crashing (mildly) my car, I'd probably get some for my car.
posted by Wood at 9:59 PM on August 23, 2002


dbl0busa: Define "ordinary". So, if you take me out while I am riding my motorcycle and you are in your passenger car, you are taking responsibility? Or, does this logic conveniently fall short when it is applied to your actions.

I don't own a car, but if I injured anyone under any circumstances I would take responsibility. And if I did something to make it more likely that I would cause someone an injury--e.g., if I was driving drunk or if my brakes weren't working or I was driving a vehicle improperly designed for accidents--I would be liable for even more damages. "Ordinary" relates to the standard of care, which is a question for a jury.

Subgenius...I think the name says it all. ;)

Stop... Stop... my sides....

rushmc: My idea is simpler (and more rational): If you choose to drive a vehicle that will sustain more damage from other cars in an accident, you are choosing to accept liability for the results of that accident.

Cool idea, except that's not how the law works. You take your victim as you find him -- and if you find a severely injured victim because you chose to drive a crazy-heavy vehicle, get ready to start signing over those paychecks.

One's obligation is to take steps to protect ONESELF, not to enforce greater weakness/vulnerability on others. Sheesh.

One's obligation is to take precautions that a reasonable, prudent person would take given the potential harm that they could cause. That's the law, John Gault. Get behind the wheel of a vehicle that is more likely to injure someone and be prepared to pay for the consequences of that decision.
posted by subgenius at 10:06 PM on August 23, 2002


SUV-hatred is such an alien concept to me that these threads always crack me up. I know very few people (actually I can think of nobody at the moment) who does not have either a truck or an SUV along with whatever other vehicles they might have. I almost never see any of the Navigator/Escalade behemoths either, just Explorers, Jeeps, and that type of thing. I think it is the insecure city folks that buy all of the luxury SUVs. Hell, you don't need a damn Ferrari to pull your bassboat. Crazy city slickers. *chews on some straw*
posted by bargle at 10:06 PM on August 23, 2002


...I observe a lot of SUV owners, or wannabe owners, who are hostile toward legitimate criticism toward their vehicle choice. My impression is that they do this out of guilt. My suspicion is that they're unable to admit that their vehicle choice negatively impacts a lot of people around them, so they cover up through their counter-protests of "it's my right to choose any vehicle I want, yadda, yadda."

I observe some people who are hostile toward those who defend an opposing point of view. My impression is that they do this because their parents were brother and sister. My suspicion is that they're unable to admit that it's possible for someone to have a perspective at odds with their own, and to still be sane, so they cover up through their poorly contrived pedantry of "clearly you haven't checked your own moral compass lately, yadda yadda yadda."
posted by bingo at 10:13 PM on August 23, 2002


"nice SUV... sorry about your dick."
posted by jcterminal at 10:24 PM on August 23, 2002


how can you argue that you can drive on public roads with no regard to other's safety.

I wouldn't even try. Next straw man?

There is clearly a governmental right to enforce crash worthiness standards.

I disagree with your use of the term "right," but agree that this is a valid and useful function of government. They should definitely enforce certain safety requirements on those small tin-can cars, the driving of which is getting people hurt/killed in disproportionate numbers.
posted by rushmc at 10:25 PM on August 23, 2002


I know very few people (actually I can think of nobody at the moment) who does not have either a truck or an SUV along with whatever other vehicles they might have.

The Metafilter demographic is many things, but "representative" is not one of them.
posted by rushmc at 10:27 PM on August 23, 2002


if you find a severely injured victim because you chose to drive a crazy-heavy vehicle

Once again, you display your confusion: the victim is severely injured because they chose to drive a substandard vehicle of inadequate mass and with inadequate safety features to exist safely in normal traffic conditions, and the odds caught up to them.
posted by rushmc at 10:31 PM on August 23, 2002


Subgenius: I don't own a car, but if I injured anyone under any circumstances I would take responsibility.

I admire your ability to live your life without a car. If I could do it, I would as well. Unfortunately, your lifestyle and choices cannot be applied to all individuals equally. So stop attempting to impose your views on other *individuals*.

Why do you think that because someone drives an SUV, THEY would not take responsibility? Why do you also assume that if an SUV driver is involved in an accident, the SUV driver is "at fault"?

Subgenius: if I was driving drunk or if my brakes weren't working or I was driving a vehicle improperly designed for accidents--I would be liable for even more damages.

I don't understand. Are you trying to equate SUV drivers to you driving drunk?

Subgenius:"Ordinary" relates to the standard of care, which is a question for a jury.

or·di·nar·y
adj.
1. Commonly encountered; usual.
2. a. Of no exceptional ability, degree, or quality; average.
b. Of inferior quality; second-rate.

----1) Let's see, I have seen people say that SUVs account for 40% of the new car market. That would seem to meet the condition of "commonly encountered".

-----2) By your use of language, SUV owners should not be entitled to drive a vehicle of "exceptional ability, degree, or quality." Everyone should drive average vehicles.
posted by dbl0busa at 11:50 PM on August 23, 2002


They should definitely enforce certain safety requirements on those small tin-can cars, the driving of which is getting people hurt/killed in disproportionate numbers.

Getting the workforce to work should not be that cost prohibitive for the corporation who seeks to cut costs by selling cheap vehicles to the working class and still pay no taxes to support that community's public transport. That is why we have no affordable form of mass transport outside of the local reality of larger metropolises. That is why SUVs rule in the increasingly suburbanized rural America. Passing the cost of convenience, style and safety onto the consumer. Is it neccessary that anyone (let alone the Manhattan SUV driver) have a vehicle that big? What did people do before the era of the SUV and the needs it fills by being "big enough to haul all my kids and shit in"? Well the world was set up differently. Not our fault. But the planet is still the same planet that was here before we "tamed" it with out sheen of asphalt and concrete. We have no experience with the future we're paving for ourselves.
posted by crasspastor at 12:11 AM on August 24, 2002


with OUR sheen of asphalt and concrete. . .
posted by crasspastor at 12:12 AM on August 24, 2002


Whoever posted their amazement at watching the usual pack of civil rights types turning into caterwauling whinebuckets, I agree with you 100%. I own an old Toyota now, which I only drive when I'm not living in the city, which is not often. I've had a Datsun and a Suzuki bike in the past. I drive most places with my partner in his hybrid if I have to drive. So I am no SUV owner, or even a fan, I think they're ugly. But this petulant left-wing fascism is irksome. It would be amusing if it weren't so pathetic.

Change the law, or quit whining. We live in a land soaked in a near-infinite steepage of luxury items. Many are wasteful. Many that you probably like, but don't need. You speak of the arrogance of SUV owners in high, self-righteous dudgeon, and don't even note the irony of it.

And to suggest that it is immoral to care more about the safety of you and your family than of others argues against genetics, instincts, common sense, and just about every other human trait. And do not equate 'being more concerned with your own safety' with 'willfully endangering others.' Nice wave of the left hand, but I am not distracted by the trick.

It almost makes me wish I was a republican when I see this kind of indecorous clatter.
posted by umberto at 12:42 AM on August 24, 2002


I've got no problem with SUV's as long as they're used: you know, Yukon windshield, thick layers of real dirt, multiple paint chips etc. Most SUV's here (NZ) are kept 'as new' with the requisite bolted-on (also unused) kayak and mtb. I've taken my 2wd Jap sub-compact (hwy 48 mpg) more places...and got it much dirtier.
posted by Psyclo at 12:45 AM on August 24, 2002


Describe "left-wing fascism". How can something be fascist if it's not in control? And then again, how could it be that even if "left-wing fascists" were in control that the phasing out of gas-guzzling SUV's wouldn't be a good thing?
posted by crasspastor at 12:49 AM on August 24, 2002


"how can you argue that you can drive on public roads with no regard to other's safety."

"I wouldn't even try. Next straw man?"


but further along:

"the victim is severely injured because they chose to drive a substandard vehicle of inadequate mass and with inadequate safety features to exist safely in normal traffic conditions"


so, now my choice to drive a civic is the problem? i'm sorry but your "arguments" don't make any sense. i am not going to waste any more time trying to convince a wall that doing things that increase another person's chance of dying is wrong. if that isn't obvious then i don't know that i would consider you completely rational.

other people on this thread bring out the tired old line that there is some fantastic irony when liberals say something is wrong. there is no irony. the liberal point of view is just as capable of making value judgments as any other. when an individual harms society it is not ironic when a liberal says his rights should be curtailed.

And to suggest that it is immoral to care more about the safety of you and your family than of others argues against genetics, instincts, common sense, and just about every other human trait.

Yes, I agree. What I said, however, was that I personally would have a problem "caring" about my personal safety at the expense of others. I agree that this goes against genetics, instincts, and many human traits, but I don't think that instincts and primal needs should create the basis of my morality. This is a personal decision though, I didn't mean to imply everyone should feel this way.
posted by rhyax at 1:06 AM on August 24, 2002


I guess the willingness to vandalize and (in a very low-grade way) terrorize, ostracize and annoy fellow ditizens engaged in a perfectly legal and even widespread activity to assuage their own feelings on the subject would have me leaning toward the fascist description. Of course, I was just ranting, so you may now take me to task for misappropriating a political term that doesn't fit precisely the situation.

Still, I can see a time when the 'Greenshirts' will be remembered by those who dared to purchase a Blazer with fear, and a slight catch in their voices...

If you want to 'phase something out' there are legal steps you can try to take. It might be difficult -- tragically, in a democratic society, one needs must pay lip service to the desire of the (voting) majority, even if they disagree with you.

There are a lot of things I think would be a good idea to get rid of, despite their popularity. For instance, I would 'phase out' organized religion and consider that a real advance. But --oops-- most people disagree with me, so I lose. But I'm not going to go vandalize churches in a little fit of pique. Or even ticket them.

And on preview, rhyax, I cannot believe you are serious in your argument. You actually are advancing the theory that --in case we crash-- it is my obligation to have a car as flimsy as yours so we stand an equal chance of getting hurt? Harrison Bergeron Motor Company, here we go. Make sure you let me know if your air bag is defective so I can deactivate mine. Wouldn't want to have a -y'know- advantage or anything.
posted by umberto at 1:17 AM on August 24, 2002


I'm surprised that no one's bothered to notice this little gem, or perhaps it's simply so ridiculous as to not merit notice?

actually, I wonder how many people realize that the traffic situation is a direct result of larger cars?

Yes, because before SUVs, there was never traffic. Not ever. Ten years ago, people could just zoom up and down every street and freeway and interstate, 24/7/365 at the speed limit or higher. Rush hour? Didn't exist. Jackasses blocking the box? Never happened.

I observe a lot of SUV owners, or wannabe owners, who are hostile toward legitimate criticism toward their vehicle choice.

No, we're hostile toward the never-ending hypocritical, screeding toward our vehicle choice which is constantly full of assumptions, stereotypes, generalisations and made with unquestionable ignorance of the specific factors which led any of us to our particular vehicle choice. (But plenty of presumptions about them, none of them flattering.) And there is no empirical evidence to make up the majority of the claims that are made, it's all emotional spewing.

Look at quotes from just this, the umpteenth circuitous MeFi thread on SUVs this year:

"(1) their advantages come expressly at the expense of everyone else on the road and (2) goddamn they're ugly." That's legitimate criticism, and I'm Julia Roberts.

"SUV drivers are piggish because their vehicles actually reduce the quality of life in the city for everybody. I have seen SUVs wipe out bike messengers, rear-view mirrors on parked cars, old ladies, and garbage cans. " Reductio ad absurdum, anyone? I've seen cars run over children (unfortunately, in two different incidents). Therefore their drivers are piggish because their vehicles actually reduce the quality of life for everybody, or at least little kids.

"Any city-dwellers who think they can't live without their SUV's are spoiled brats who haven't tried to find the right kind of car yet." Translation, for those who don't speak arrogant: Yep, any, any and all, I know, I'm an authority, I speak with full knowledge of the situation of every blessed city dweller in the world, they're simply too lazy to know what they need for themselves and their families. None of them could have possibly spent any time in researching different vehicles, walking around various dealerships, test driving, reading Consumer Reports or other publications for data. None of them know who and what they must transport in their vehicles. But I do. Yes, I know all. They should've just asked me.

"selfish, useless tool." Selfish I'm not going to bother with, because it's yet another stupid, pointless value judgment. But useless? Clearly not. If it has utility for the owner, it is, by definition, not useless. That's a no-brainer.

And as jsonic noted at the very beginning of the thread, every argument that can be made by car drivers against SUV drivers can be made against car drivers by bikers (which I also happen to be, and I heartily agree). The argument against solo commuting in an SUV can also be applied to solo commuting in every other type of vehicle, the arguments against overaggressive, dangerous driving practices in SUVs are also applicable against all other vehicle types, so what's left that's a legitimate argument against SUV drivers as opposed to SUV makers or regulators?
posted by Dreama at 1:33 AM on August 24, 2002


Surely the real villain is the fact life is organised in industrial nations in such a way so that owning a car is obligatory. I'm talking out of town shopping, lack of public transport, shops that don't deliver, suburban sprawl with no local shopping/community centre, inadequate cycle/pedestrian routes etc. I grew up in a rural village, yet I couldn't actually walk out of it because it was surrounded by motorways with no pedestrian crossings. In the UK, if you're still getting the bus past the age of 23 you're either an impoverished single mum or some kind of loser.

Even if SUVs are shamed out of existence cars will still be causing congestion, environmental and noise pollution and death. Can't we at least do some of the simpler things. Cycle routes on all roads? Delivery?
posted by Summer at 4:59 AM on August 24, 2002


so, now my choice to drive a civic is the problem?

I would say that it is part of the "problem," certainly, and definitely a major contributing factor to your own decreased safety. A bigger part of the problem is that manufacturers don't design and build vehicles for maximum safety but for maximum profit, and consumers don't insist they do otherwise.

doing things that increase another person's chance of dying is wrong.

But it isn't, inherently. Many things we do, even simply existing, increases other people's chances of dying. Everything is context. For example, you increase people's chances of dying every time you drive your car. You simply judge that risk acceptable given your need/desire to drive. As do SUV owners.

What I said, however, was that I personally would have a problem "caring" about my personal safety at the expense of others. I agree that this goes against genetics, instincts, and many human traits

If that is the case, then I find your morality simplistic, impractical, and repugnant, and you are welcome to it. I'm tired of arguing with someone who can't even see the most basic contradictions in his position. Read what umberto said. He spells it out very clearly.
posted by rushmc at 5:58 AM on August 24, 2002


Here's my subversion tactic in the 'gas-for-terror' information battle. The best part is, you can play too.

(I wanted so badly to make this a front page post, but I played nice and bought a TextAd instead.)
posted by tpoh.org at 6:28 AM on August 24, 2002


Wow, I agree with rushmc for the second time in two days... a White Christmas in Hell this year, film at 11.

Funny how the SUVophobic crowd sounds more and more like a Baptist morality brigade, complete with the renunciation of sin, the moral indignation, the militant desire to stamp out what you consider to be 'dangerous and sinful practices', and the foaming, self-righteous assurance that your particular beliefs and dogma give you the authority to condemn others who do not share your views. I see all the same tactics used by Christian anti-gay (or anti-whatever) groups used here against the 'sin' of SUV ownership: pseudo-psychoanalytic dismissal of the 'mental deficiencies' and defects that must lie at the root of SUV ownership, the 'Think Of The Children!" defense, leafleting campaigns exhorting sinners to repent, a priori assumptions about the character and intent of such sinners, and, if all else fails, the suggestion of using violence against those sinners (and their vehicles) who choose not to repent. Really, as I said, no different than crazy God-bothering Bible thumpers, except you've replaced the abstraction of 'God' with the equally vague abstraction of 'The Environment', and seem just as intent on making us unbelievers see the light and serve the will of your deity whether we want to or not.

It's all kinda creepy. Seems like you're all for personal liberty as long as it's your kind of personal liberty. I don't drive, but if I did, guess what I'd be buying. Big Fucking Land Rover.
posted by evanizer at 6:46 AM on August 24, 2002


Really, as I said, no different than crazy God-bothering Bible thumpers

Really. So any moral or aesthetic concern is the same as any other? Ah...the smell of reductionism in the morning. Smells like...bullshit.

Seems like you're all for personal liberty as long as it's your kind of personal liberty.

To an extreme reductionist, your problem with regulation is really no different from, say, those of crazy Bible thumpers.
posted by goethean at 7:12 AM on August 24, 2002


The Metafilter demographic is many things, but "representative" is not one of them.
I've often believed this place exists in a parallel universe. I hope people don't do market research here - because this place is skewed.
posted by owillis at 7:35 AM on August 24, 2002


You people are funny.

>this place is skewed.

Care to elaborate?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:09 AM on August 24, 2002


Care to elaborate?
The sort of liberalism I've seen on Metafilter I've only seen in two places in real life: Berkeley,CA and Cambridge, MA - both notoriously outside the bubble of the real world and hotbeds for campus-style activism.
posted by owillis at 9:26 AM on August 24, 2002


RHYAX: so, now my choice to drive a civic is the problem? i'm sorry but your "arguments" don't make any sense. i am not going to waste any more time trying to convince a wall that doing things that increase another person's chance of dying is wrong.

This is funny. this is your arguement against people deciding to own an SUV. Becasue they are "doing things that increase another person's chance of dying".

Only one problem with your logic....which once again points out the hypocrisy of so many of the anti-SUV posters. *I* chose to ride a motorcycle. *YOU* chose to drive a Civic, which if it were to collide with my motorcycle would increase *MY* chances of being killed by your vehicle.

Does this mean that you should ride a motorcycle. NO.! I t simply means that different people have different needs/desires, and *YOU* are not qualified to make the choices for everyone else in our great country.

Get off your high, self-righteous, hypocrital horse.
posted by dbl0busa at 9:41 AM on August 24, 2002


How is it "terrorism" or "vandalism" to put a ticket on someone's car? Does this mean I can have the next cop, who writes a parking ticket, imprisoned without Constitutional rights because he's a terrorist? Or sue him for "vandalizing" my car? I don't see how a ticket is vandalism, unless you are simply overreacting to justified criticism.

Also, how many people here have said we should ban SUVs? I never said so- I only am offering my opinion on the subject, as are most others. Are we no longer allowed to state an opinion? Will we be charged with a "hate crime" for criticizing someone's decision to buy a large SUV? (With GWB in office, I could see that happening.) How does that make us "left-wing fascists?" How could I be a fascist simply stating my opinion? I'm not even liberal! Can I call someone a fascist because they tell me driving a Civic is the problem? Or is it just an opinion?

Somehow, someway, most people got along fine with cars 10 years ago. Now, all of the sudden, the need for gas-hogging, vision-blocking behemoths is unquestionable, unassailable. Questioning the very "need" is somehow not only unAmerican, but immoral. Those of us who dissent are fascists. Especially when we make the point that SUV owners create an unfair advantage over small cars. Let's examine that more carefully.

Studies have shown that SUVs aren't any safer when crashing into their own kind, or bridge abutments, etc. They are only safer if they crash into smaller, lighter cars. Think about that for a moment. If we all joined the idiotic arms race, then no one would be safer. The current crop of SUV owners, no longer able to see ahead in traffic or intimidate smaller cars, would have to move upwards. Haven't we already seen this (i.e. the Excursion?) What's the logical conclusion? Everyone driving Peterbilts? As I mentioned earlier, against their own kind, SUVs are no longer as safe. Ladder frames aren't designed to absorb the forces of impact; rather it transfers the impact directly to the passengers. When an SUV crashes into a smaller car, however, the smaller car absorbs the impact.

Someone here said that the manufacturers of smaller cars keep them unsafe for reasons of profit. How could you be more inaccurate? A 1 ton car can only be protect so well against a 3 ton SUV that has bumpers that ride over the crush zones of the smaller car. It's the manufacturers of large SUVs reaping the profits (at the expense of everyone else): as much as $10K for each large SUV. I don't think Honda comes even close with their Civics. By the way, the Civic is one of the safer small cars. Also, Honda is one of the more responsible auto makers. They continually bring to market green engines, hybrids and don't fight clean-air and CAFE standards. It is a ridiculous argument to say Honda is somehow responsible for the disparity between large SUVs and their Civics. Idiotic, in fact.

We live in a civilization, which requires from us a certain amount of civic and social responsibility. Subscribing to a tribal notion about looking out for #1, by driving the largest vehicle you can afford, in the knowledge that you would crush through a smaller vehicle to keep yourself from harm, and keeping this nation reliant on foreign sources of oil, is basically an admission that you are selfish. I'd have more respect from SUV owners (not the ones who really need them) if they simply said: "Yes, I am selfish."

Finally, none of the rock-solid Americans here who "need" a monster SUV have answered my criticism regarding our dependence on foreign oil. How do you respond? Am I a left-wing commie because I think we ought to get out of the middle-east? Am I a kook because I favor conservation?

Maybe it is the American Way of Life to be wasteful.
posted by drstrangelove at 9:51 AM on August 24, 2002


The sort of liberalism I've seen on Metafilter I've only seen in two places in real life: Berkeley,CA and Cambridge, MA - both notoriously outside the bubble of the real world and hotbeds for campus-style activism.

You should get out more.
posted by Summer at 11:26 AM on August 24, 2002


You should get out more.

Trust me, I have. If you think this is how the majority or even "a lot" of people think - ask yourself this: who are all these people driving SUVs and voting for Bush? I'd like to think the entire country thought the same way I do, but they don't. I'm not saying this invalidates your way of thought, I'm just saying it's very much on the periphery.
posted by owillis at 11:42 AM on August 24, 2002


Really. So any moral or aesthetic concern is the same as any other?

Didn't you realize that the object of that sentence was not the moral or aesthetic concern, but the arguments in support of that concern?
posted by adampsyche at 12:10 PM on August 24, 2002


Ayone else notice the Police departments are using more and more SUVs (not that you know....*anyone* needs one ;). I wonder what the Police would think if they caught earthonempty.com acitivists sneeaking into *their* lot after 10 pm to ticket them.
posted by dbl0busa at 12:57 PM on August 24, 2002


Yeah, I second Mr. Owillis. Where I live now, SUVs are very common and political responses are a little bit more rightish. Actually SUVs occupy about 25% of all vehicles or so, I would guess.

Dr. Strangelover, what is the correct balance between personal and social responsiblity.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 2:19 PM on August 24, 2002


No, ticketing the SUVs is not vandalism...it's "harrassment." Bordering on fraud, perhaps, in this case, but let it pass. Keying an SUV, or scratching it with your bike, would be "vandalism." Getting a ticket for a violation is a "summons." A parking lot attendent slipping an ID claim check under your wiper would be a "validation." Having to explain this to an adult is "onerous."

Feel free to express your opinion. But the high-toned smugly superior "everyone who disagrees with me is defective of morals and consideration, plus is a great phallous-touting lout" line of argument is just so much bullshit. And how does that "big car=big penis" thing work on the women who drive SUVs, which --in my neighborhood at least-- are the majority? The men drive tiny little sports penises.

I never mind people having opinions. It's trying to force others to have the same opinions that is irksome.
posted by umberto at 2:36 PM on August 24, 2002


rushmc: Once again, you display your confusion: the victim is severely injured because they chose to drive a substandard vehicle of inadequate mass and with inadequate safety features to exist safely in normal traffic conditions, and the odds caught up to them.

If the SUV driver is at fault, he or she will be liable for the damages -- which will be more severe because of their decision to drive an SUV. That's how negligence claims work, and the only "confusion" is on your part because it's how the law would be applied today. My proposed change is in no-fault cases, shifting the burden to the person who chooses to drive a vehicle more likely to injure others.

dbl0busa: I don't understand. Are you trying to equate SUV drivers to you driving drunk?

One makes it more likely you'll get in an accident; the other makes it more likely you'll hurt someone in an accident.

dbl0busa: ...ordinary...

The word is in the dictionary, but not how it applies to tort claims: Evidence concerning similar accidents with passenger cars would be presented to a jury using expert witnesses. It would be up to the jury to decide how much of the damages were in the delta between that accident and an accident involving ordinary vehicles in that area. It would only stop being a factual question if the judge could rule, as a matter of law, that the SUV is the ordinary vehicle. If that's the case in your community, more power to you. But in a city where people drive all makes and models of cars, the suburban arms-race to buy the biggest, heaviest vehicle can have deadly effects.
posted by subgenius at 2:48 PM on August 24, 2002


Bravo, umberto. I'm off my game and not expressing myself as well as I would like, but you have said in this thread what I was trying to.
posted by rushmc at 2:50 PM on August 24, 2002


I hope people don't do market research here - because this place is skewed.

I hope they do; we might get what we want for once.
posted by Psyclo at 2:59 PM on August 24, 2002


How this discussion has reached the end of 175+ comments without anyone proposing the clear solution is beyond me.
posted by grrarrgh00 at 3:09 PM on August 24, 2002


So if enough people drive SUVs then ordinary is defined by the SUV, right? At which case damages against an SUV vs. compact will be lessened due to the fact that they chose to drive a less safe car?

Forget it, a car is a car is a car. There shouldn't be any adjusting due to one party driving SUVs or not.

Segway. . .our only hope now.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 3:18 PM on August 24, 2002


yar, time to snarf another 50 gallons of no-lead, there be mud needs splashing and fur-bearing mammals needing annihilation!
posted by quonsar at 3:20 PM on August 24, 2002


I guess the willingness to vandalize and (in a very low-grade way) terrorize, ostracize and annoy fellow ditizens engaged in a perfectly legal and even widespread activity...

Please clarify: you're talking about the fake-ticketers, or the SUV drivers?
posted by five fresh fish at 3:56 PM on August 24, 2002


I thought SUV owners were trying to convey an image of rugged individuality...now I learn that their feelings have been hurt by a piece of paper that doesn't jive with their own beliefs. It's "harassment." It's "terrorism." Next the GWB administration will declare it a "hate crime" to point out the folly of a large SUV.

Give me a break. And invoking the "everyone's got one" principle doesn't hold water, either. As my mother told me when I was little, "if everyone was jumping off a cliff..."

Lemmings.
posted by drstrangelove at 6:28 PM on August 24, 2002


grrarrgh00 -

But what do you do when people start drivin' them SUS's (Sports Utility Segways?)

[sarcasm ignore mode] FFF: the ticketers, on the harrassment charge at least. [/sarcasm ignore mode]

If I went out and papered the vehicles of the Klan, "castigating" them for their ornery persnicketiness and obnoxious self-anointed superiority, I would be harassing them, yes. Hell, I bet some of you complain about spam email "harassing" you, and that's not even litter.

But maybe we should go the way of big tobacco, or now maybe fast food, and start fining and suing SUV makers for making a perfectly legal product. rhyax can sue them for 'secondhand vehicular molestation' or something... Enh... enough of this. Get 'em outlawed if you have the numbers, or move to Mackinac Island or something, but enough with the yelping.
posted by umberto at 8:15 PM on August 24, 2002


The best solution, of course, is to insist on better driver training -- for all drivers.

To encourage people to purchase sensible cars, the sales tax on the vehicle should be based on a combination of fuel efficiency and gross weight. Fuel efficiency, to encourage purchase of fuel efficient cars; gross weight because the heavier the vehicle, the more wear and tear on our streets, the more impact it has on the things it collides with, and because I like being mean to people with ginormous vehicles. :-P

And if American gas prices were comparable to those in Europe, that'd certainly encourage people to get fuel efficient cars.

Say, why is gas so cheap over here in America? Are our governments subsidizing the oil companies? I'll bet they are!

Mostly, though, what I want to see is proper driver's ed. It's so damn dangerous on the roads, and solely because so many people are terrible, terrible drivers.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:18 PM on August 24, 2002


Agreed. And that is using the system to accomplish your ends. The arguments about size, road use, etc. are reasonable and could, and maybe even should, lead to tax differentials. Then the market will sort it out. Let them ticket their congressmen instead.

And about drivers: all my life I've noticed everyone is a lousy driver but me. I'm glad someone else has picked up on it.
posted by umberto at 9:32 PM on August 24, 2002


the sales tax on the vehicle should be based on a combination of fuel efficiency and gross weight.

People who drive fuel-inefficient vehicles are already paying higher taxes than people who drive econoboxes. They are also already paying higher sales taxes (since a SUV is typically more expensive than a car) and in many states, the annual registration fee is based on the vehicle's blue book value, which means that those with expensive vehicles (i.e. SUVs) get soaked there too.

So SUVs are popular despite the fact that people already pay higher taxes on them than they would on a car. In fact, like the peacock's tail, their cost is undoubtedly a good part of why they're so popular. The solution, obviously, is to... um... make them even more expensive? I guess when it doesn't work the first time, you just try the same thing again?
posted by kindall at 11:12 PM on August 24, 2002


Funny on the one hand that SUV-lovers tell us to put up or shut up (meaning: we should try to push for legislation banning SUVs) and then accuse us of being fascists for dictating to others what they can or can't drive.

I don't want to limit other people's choices; rather, I'd prefer to let people, who really don't have a need for a large vehicle, know that the choices they make affect other people. Again, I don't understand the logic of the SUV-lovin' crowd: we either force, legislatively, people to drive our choice of vehicles (which is fascism,) or we keep quiet about something we find repugnant. My opinion is only my opinion, and if you have the God-given right to drive a 3 ton vehicle as a commuter car, then it should bloody well be my right to complain about it.
posted by drstrangelove at 8:10 AM on August 25, 2002


and complain you have.
posted by adampsyche at 9:00 AM on August 25, 2002


Beyond leveling the field in terms of emissions, the other kind of legislation I would favor is charging propotionally more for large vehicles to enter urban areas (tolls, parking, etc). Special, limited public parking for larger vehicles, too.

No, you can't outlaw selfishness, stupidity and indifference, which is, unfortunately, all over this thread, and the nation.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:48 AM on August 25, 2002


Unfortunately, we can't outlaw the periodic posting to the front page of MetaFilter links describing the whack-job far left's obsession with other people's private property, either... We've been over this six times this year already, not including any threads on related topics that degenerated into this same, boring, unwinnable-by-either-side argument. Not quite in the same league yet as I/P, I grant you, but nonetheless a waste of bandwidth.
posted by JollyWanker at 10:18 AM on August 25, 2002


Hmmm. When a dozens of people tell you flat out that your're a selfish, stupid person...

...perhaps they're on to something.

If we've beeen over this six times this year, there are two conclusions that can be drawn:

1) An underground movement of nutjobs has hijacked Metafilter to their own ends;

2) This is a real issue of concern for a broad spectrum of people, who are honestly frustrated and angry.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:44 AM on August 25, 2002


My money's on #1, with the caveat that it's not underground.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:00 AM on August 25, 2002


...we either force, legislatively, people to drive our choice of vehicles (which is fascism,)

Nice. That happens to be the exact opposite of the argument I was making. You don't really pay too much attention if someone disagrees with you, do you?

To what legislative end do you pester people who are clearly in disagreement with you and have no legislative input? It's like nailing "Vote for Republican X!" signs up on the yards of prominent Democrats. It is a given that they will be torn down and ignored and just piss people off. It's useless. It's annoying. It's self-righteous and indefensible.

And so quick to label we are. Because I disagree about the methodology, if I may be charitable, of this proletarian struggle against the SUV, because my idea of how a civilized society should work is not in accord with yours (which seems to be: live free, unless I think you're doing something selfish or immoral) I get to be branded an SUV lover. This despite the fact that I began this little series stating I am nothing of the sort. I personally don't like 'em. However, I --like you-- am clearly in the minority on this. Your ends are noble, your agreement with, and encouragement of these particular means is not. And your eagerness to dictate morality to others is disturbing. Just as disturbing as the other's attempts to dictate morality is to you.
posted by umberto at 12:18 PM on August 25, 2002


ParisParamus: Special, limited public parking for larger vehicles, too.

Why are you under the impression that the majority of SUVs are incapable of fitting into regular public parking spaces? Not only do SUVs fit into horizontal parking spaces in lots, they fit -- with very few notable exceptions (Suburbans, Excursions, Hummers) into the alloted space for on-street parallel parking too. If I can't fit my Durango into a spot, I couldn't fit a minivan into it either. Or an old-school boat of a stationwagon.

fff: When a dozens of people tell you flat out that your're a selfish, stupid person...

You fit within their particular pet peeve. The numbers of people willing to make personal attacks on people because of their personal choices, even on a semi-monthly basis, on MetaFilter ought never give anyone one moment's pause when making decisions about how to live their lives.

This whole selfish meme is incredible. Everyone is selfish. Everyone makes choices that fulfill their own personal desires and needs without weighing the impact on other people, or without giving the impact on others equal or trumping weight in the decision-making process.

Now we've come to a point when SUV drivers are supposed to value the impact (which is difficult to quantify, and the long-term results of which are unknown) of their vehicle choice over and above their own need and desire for that vehicle because "we're having a society here." But SUV opponents have said that they feel free to make sweeping stereotypical generalizations, call names, cast aspersions, drop false tickets, vandalize and ostracize, and that's supposed to be in furtherance of a society in which the members are more thoughtful of others in their actions?

Does that disconnect not resonate with anyone? You want me to think more about you than myself, and in order to do that, you're going to treat me badly or applaud those who would? Doncha get it? Matt got it, in the second comment in this overblown thread: Seriously, how can any group consider themselves a success at what they are doing if they are simply pissing off the majority of people they interact with? Now, think on this -- how many people are SUV ticketers pissing off -- keeping in mind the number of people who drive SUVs or find such craven tactics stupid at the least, offensive at worst? How many people are SUV drivers pissing off -- keeping in mind the number of people who drive SUVs and the number of people who don't give a damn what other people drive so long as they don't drive badly around them?
posted by Dreama at 1:59 PM on August 25, 2002


This thread could as easily be about people trying to prove that "selfish" doesn't exist. Selfish DOES exist. And it resides in people too small to realize that their agrandizement, in the form of driving an unnecessarily large, wasteful vehicle, helps promote a toxic, destructive way of life. No, we can't legislate primitive people out of existence, but perhaps, by stigmatizing them and their big, odious, wasteful vehicles, we can do the next best thing.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:12 PM on August 25, 2002


Ah. Now those who disagree are primitive. Now I know why you look down on your opponents: you're higher on the evolutionary ladder.

And too bad we can't legislate primitive people out of existence. Several nations have tried, over the years, but generally it hasn't been too succesful. Good luck, though.
posted by umberto at 2:59 PM on August 25, 2002


ParisParamus: No, we can't legislate primitive people out of existence, but perhaps, by stigmatizing them and their big, odious, wasteful vehicles, we can do the next best thing.

I'll be looking for my yellow star then, shall I? You...of all people...calling for this sort of fascism....bloody ironic, no?
posted by dejah420 at 3:43 PM on August 25, 2002


dejah420: you're oh, so clever. We're speaking of motor vehicles here; not civil rights. How asinine and trivializing of you.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:10 PM on August 25, 2002


Actually sweetie, the yellow stars were designed to do exactly what you want to do to SUV drivers. Stigmatize, separate, and make allowable for citizens to vandalize their property.

That later it led to larger civil rights infringements and the "final solution" is a given. But originally...it was because a group of people found another group of people "odious", as you put it.

So...I don't see how it's asinine or trivial...but then, if you're the party who gets to do the harassing, I guess you never see the other side, do ya? Nice knee jerk though.
posted by dejah420 at 4:30 PM on August 25, 2002


...perhaps they're on to something.

If we've beeen over this six times this year, there are two conclusions that can be drawn:

1) An underground movement of nutjobs has hijacked Metafilter to their own ends;

2) This is a real issue of concern for a broad spectrum of people, who are honestly frustrated and angry.


Or, fff, more likely they're not.

#1, if an underground movement of nutjobs had hijacked MetaFilter to their own ends - which, while unlikely, is not out of the question - I fail to see how you'd be able to tell the difference from us mainstream, regularly-posting nutjobs who hang out here all the time. If you look a little more closely, you'll find that I didn't suggest this was unusual behavior or a suddenly alien mindset for MetaFilter; I merely said that it was repetitive, boring and unwinnable by either side, so why go through it again?

As for #2, well, hardly. Get out from behind they keyboard, and I'm certain you will find that this is an issue of concern for a very small - albeit very vocal - minority. Hell, it's like there aren't enough of them to even qualify as a minority, it's like some kind of little fringe sub-minority that regularly trolls this issue out onto the front page. Wah-wah-wah... I wanna ride my bike across the Brooklyn Bridge and not have to worry about those big, nasty SUVs... Wah-wah-wah... I want everybody to drive these cute little non-performance, non-comfort, non-safety electric things but nobody's listening to me... Wah-wah-wah...

But fff, there are in fact not just two but at least three conclusions that can be drawn, because you left out this one: no one but those thirteen people who get their diapers in a bunch about this every couple of months even cares about this, not really, but those thirteen are too... what? Stubborn? Self-deluded? Masochistic?... to just agree to disagree. We may take a few minutes to counter the arguments in these threads, but I'm telling you with all due respect that there is no SUV owner in America, myself included, who is going to change what they drive because of any of the arguments presented in a web-based discussion site by a bunch of bike riding crybabies who drag out their pet issue over and over and over, only to see that the American driving public is paying exactly no attention to them. A vehicle is a big, expensive purchase and people wil buy what they want with their money based on what they perceive to be their needs, within the limits of what's legal to sell and purchase. End of story.

(For the record, I don't know or care whether it's thirteen or thirty or three hundred people that belong to the little "SUV=DEATH" clique, because there are now about fifteen thousand members of MetaFilter, which would render even the three hundred a small minority. If I were you, I'd be pretty careful about drawing a conclusion about whether "MetaFilter is frustrated and angry" based on this small, skewed sample.)
posted by JollyWanker at 4:53 PM on August 25, 2002


Selfish DOES exist.

It sure does. Selfishness is presuming that one's own views are inarguably correct and seeking to enforce them upon others rather than persuade others to adopt them. It's the "God is on my side, so I don't have to bother with justifying my position" type of self-delusion, only concerned with itself and its own motives, concerns and criteria, and it's all over this thread. And it's the exact opposite of the concerned, participatory society that some are disingenuously clamoring for, where different views--and the right to HOLD different views--are not only tolerated, but celebrated.
posted by rushmc at 5:29 PM on August 25, 2002


But originally...it was because a group of people found another group of people "odious", as you put it.

Not just odious, dejah, but primitive. Different, unevolved, inferior. Suitable for ostracizing, finger-pointing, harassment and eventually, for being penalized by force of law. Sounds remarkably similar to ParisParamus' views us unenlightened, regressive SUV drivers. We've got the ostracizing, we've got the harassment, and he has already stated that he'd be happy to see new laws which would make it increasingly difficult for anyone to own an SUV, eventually forcing all of us to give them up, or be extraordinarily inconvenienced otherwise.

But I can see why he'd dislike the comparison. It's hardly flattering. Highly appropos, but not one anyone would appreciate.
posted by Dreama at 5:43 PM on August 25, 2002


No one likes having their own selfishness pointed out.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:13 PM on August 25, 2002


The road to the Fourth Reich is paved with higher CAFE standards. Sure.
posted by ParisParamus at 6:33 PM on August 25, 2002


worst. thread. this week. (or damn close).
posted by adampsyche at 7:08 PM on August 25, 2002


You always say that, but I always end up having to wait for a spot to pass while traffic piles up behind you

You've never had to wait on a car, right? It's just the bikes that slow you down? Have you ever tried to quantify how much bikes slow you down? Has it ever been more than a few seconds before you could get around them?

In urban traffic, I find that, when on my bike, I am held up by cars more than the reverse. And I observe the traffic laws scrupulously, so don't start with me on that one.

But isn't you bicycle's presence on the road itself detracting from all automobile drivers ability to enjoy the drive, since they have to be extra careful because of your presence?

Again, doesn't the presence of any other road user detract from your enjoyment? Imagine if you had the road to yourself. Woohoo! Go crazy.

Very few motorists are extra-careful in the presence of bikes. Many develop a selective form of blindness. A few become positively aggressive. And hey, what about us cyclists, who need to be extra careful in the presence of motor vehicles?

Ah, but in the bicycle example, you choose to go on a street that you know is both designed for and populated by motorized vehicles far larger and better protected than yours on the assumption that your rights to drive a self-powered open-to-the-sky vehicle trump theirs...?

Hardly. But, in riding a bike, I assume my right to use the road is equal to that of a motorist's, something many motorists don't seem to get.

As to the whole road-tax red-herring: Aside from the fact that all road users are being subsidized by general-fund taxes, motor vehicles require 10x as much road, and a much more heavily built road, than bikes, so in that sense, they are relying much more heavily on the public dole.

Given that we live in a capitalist society and given that SUVs are legal to own, "I want one" is reason enough.

Given that we live in a society, and need to get along with each other, "I want one" is never reason enough.
posted by adamrice at 7:18 PM on August 25, 2002


"You've never had to wait on a car, right? It's just the bikes that slow you down? Have you ever tried to quantify how much bikes slow you down? Has it ever been more than a few seconds before you could get around them?"

adamrice, take a deep breath, step away from the keyboard, wipe the foam from your chin and then read my entire comment. Then, read the ones beneath it by RakDaddy and myself. It was a joke. For the record, I've never been slowed down by bikes. I just speed on by and assume that when my side mirror catches said biker in the head that my anger will be implied.

Ha ha! See, it's another joke! Maybe if enough of them are sprinkled liberally throughout the text, you'll understand the next one you see? Or maybe you're one of those humor-impaired people who don't get it unless there's a healthy dose of emoticons after it? LOLOLOLOMFGSTFU! :) :) :) !!!

Better? Now, we can move on to this:

"Given that we live in a society, and need to get along with each other, "I want one" is never reason enough."

The only part of society I see having problems with SUVs is the part that wants to control the choices of other people, so that's not a part of society with which I care to get along, let alone a part with which I need to get along.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:36 PM on August 25, 2002


Who is trying to control your choices?

I don't understand how levying criticism equates to taking away freedoms. So I guess SUV owners feel that they should even be shielded from scorn now, too? Perhaps you should push for legislation that deems anti-SUV talk a "hate crime."
posted by drstrangelove at 8:29 PM on August 25, 2002


drstrangelove, I couldn't care less about criticism. Go ahead and criticize SUVs and their owners until you're blue in the face, for all I care. When I talk about trying to limit peoples' choices, I'm talking about:

"What about something like higher taxes for gas guzzling luxury vehicles?"
"...the sales tax on the vehicle should be based on a combination of fuel efficiency and gross weight."
"...if American gas prices were comparable to those in Europe, that'd certainly encourage people to get fuel efficient cars."
"...legislation I would favor is charging propotionally more for large vehicles to enter urban areas..."

Those examples are clearly not criticism, they're an attempt to impose their idea of a "sensible" vehicle on the American driving public instead of allowing the market to be controlled by consumers choosing with their dollars. Then we have gems like this:

"...stigmatizing them and their big, odious, wasteful vehicles..."

which seems to be a call for...what? Internment camps for SUV owners? Public floggings? Jehovah's Witness-like shunning? It's that kind of rabid anti-(SUV, meat, hunting, alcohol, smoking, what-have-you) trolling that I'm talking about, not simple criticism.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:25 PM on August 25, 2002


Scorn is cheap; thoughtful engagement is the mark to aim for.
posted by rushmc at 9:27 PM on August 25, 2002


I drive a jeep wrangler. I love it as much as one can love an inanimate object. I love the long history of the vehicle, as well as the fact that I can take off the top, doors, and put the windshield down. My wife and I often take it on camping trips, reaching places (on trails) that a car would never make.

My jeep is about as small a vehicle as you can find. I can fit into parking spaces most cars wouldn't even come close to fitting in, and I take up less room on the road than 95 percent of all vehicles. The engine is a V6 with 180hp, not very powerful when compared to many vehicles on the road.

Never the less, if you should see my jeep at a mall, I assure you it's a rarity. For day to day driving, our sentra is our vehicle of choice.

I have no interest in another SUV, or a bigger one, and will do my best to keep this one for as long as my limited mechanical knowledge will keep it running.

I'm also an avid biker, with 4 including a tandem. I would love to ride everywhere, school, work, but that's not possible where I live.

I didn't buy my jeep because I thought it was safer. I'm fully aware of it's rollover potential. For that reason, I drive very carefully, even more carefully than when I drive our sentra.

I didn't buy my jeep because I thought owning an SUV would be cool, nor to reach any status symbol. Wranglers, in fact, are lower priced than most vehicles on the road today.

I didn't buy it because it makes me look like I have a bigger penis, nor do I drink Pabst Blue Ribbon. I don't listen to country music, and I've never dated my cousin. (I realize no one said such a thing, but it was the next logical generalization for this particular poster's train of thought.)

If you put a flyer on my car, I will recycle it by using it as a coaster. I'm good like that. If you scratch my jeep, I will take you to court. If you ran like a coward, I will fix the scratch (or maybe not, it's a jeep, I rarely even wash it).

I couldn't care less what the 'cartalk' guys believe, or what their test says I need in the way of a vehicle (nor what size house, where I should vacation...etc.)

I'm not hostile to anyone who is anti SUV. Free country. Seems to me the ones threatening to deface private property are the self righteous crusaders on this thread.

And yes, you have a right to complain. And I have a right to completely ignore you, as I'm sure 99.99 of people will.

Almost two years ago, I quit eating at any fastfood chains, for many reasons. When I pass a burger king, I shake my head at all cars filling up the parking lot. I don't, however, put garbage on their vehicles or scratch their paint. It's their choice, and besides, who is simply asking for directions, or broke down and waiting for triple A?

Obviously, a lot of assumptions have been made about the SUVs themselves, as well as their owners. I know it's easier to lump all SUVs and their owners into a little box. It's easier for the brain to comprehend, and makes one's stance on the subject easier to defend. Like most generalizations, it serves those on the soap boxes well, and like most assumptions, many are wrong.
posted by justgary at 12:03 AM on August 26, 2002


My idea is simpler (and more rational): If you choose to drive a vehicle that will sustain more damage from other cars in an accident, you are choosing to accept liability for the results of that accident.

Except however, liability is not defined by the failure of the injured party to protect themselves from unforeseen disasters. Instead, liability is defined by a negligent disregard for public safety. So for example, we don't hold liable the person who failed to have a pair of night vision goggles on hand, we hold liable the person who failed to turn on their headlights. We don't hold the victim of a crime liable for not wearing body armor on a trip to the supermarket, instead the liability is firmly in the hands of the criminal who fired a loaded gun in the middle of a crowd.

In automobile accidents, liability is defined according to the person who is "at fault" for causing the accident. The person who is "at fault" assumes complete liability for the injuries of the other parties. (Granted, a court case could define partial liability, for those cases in which both drivers broke the law resulting in the accident.) Statistically speaking, this places a greater financial burden on SUV drivers. When SUV drivers are at fault, they cause higher levels of injuries comparatively speaking. Most drivers are not required to carry personal injury insurance, however they are required to carry liability insurance.

So for example, when I was a motorcycle rider, my liability insurance was dirt cheap (because you really have to work in order to kill another person using a motorcycle) while my personal injury insurance was quite a bit more expensive. So you see, as a motorcycle rider I was certainly willing to accept responsibility for injuries that were the result of accidents that I caused (for example, dumping the bike on a patch of a oil and getting an nasty case of road rash). On top of this, I spent quite a bit of time in training in order to better handle the unforeseen disasters that awaited me. And failing all of that, I knew that if I wasn't at fault, the local prosecutor would be well within legal rights to pursue vehicular homicide charges, and my next of kin can pursue civil damages.

So ultimately, I suspect that the issue of liability will become something of self-correcting through the market eventually as liability insurance costs for SUVs grow to approximate the real risks of owning one. Insurance companies as market-driven entities are also more likely to increase liability prices for those portions of the market that pose greater threats when driving an SUV. For example, males under the age of 35.

One might dream for a world in which everyone drove Beetles and PT Cruisers, but one must drive on the roads of THIS world, with SUVs, vans, 18-wheelers, garbage trucks, dirt-haulers, steel beasts from the 50s-70s, delivery trucks, U-Hauls, etc.

I just remembered this, but there is a good point to be made here. Operators of commercial vehicles are required to take special training above and beyond what is required for personally owned passenger vehicles because of the greater risks they pose to other people. Commercial drivers also carry higher liability insurance costs, and are subjected to higher standards of safety inspection, and control. Market forces are such that commercial drivers with at fault accidents are less likely to drive again on a commercial basis than bad drivers of personally owned vehicles. In fact, the increase in personal risks to myself justified my state government requiring need to get additional training above and beyond a standard automotive driver's license in order to operate a motorcycle. Certainly there is a solid precedent available to hold drivers of more dangerous vehicles to a higher standard of training, certification, and liability.


So certainly, you raise an interesting point here which is that both the proportion of SUVs on the highways are increasing, and as you admit, SUVs pose a level of threat equivalent to that of commercial vehicles. In which case, would it not be in the best interest for drivers education to require a more advanced level of certification and training in defensive driving, and for insurance companies to continue to adjust their rates for liability insurance comparable to the increased payoffs required when an SUV driver is at fault?

There is a strong argument to be made that relying on technology to keep you safe actually makes for a less safe environment because people tend develop the illusion that the increased safety justifies taking more risks. For example, why is it that my father has been riding a motorcycle for 30 years with one single minimal-injury accident (the fault of an SUV driver by the way) with the minimum amount of material between him and other objects while most cage drivers get into at least one fender bender every five to ten years? Why is it that the safest bicycle riders are the ones with the most experience operating in close proximity to motor vehicles while the least safe bicycle riders are the ones depending on sidewalks and bike trails? I strongly suspect that a reasonable level of paranoia and a desire to keep the other drivers on the road a safe distance away provides more safety than heavy armor. It's not the size of SUVs that are the problem it is the attitude adopted by many SUV drivers. I've driven small cars and motorcycles surrounded by large commercial vehicles, RVs, delivery vans, and pickup trucks with or without trailers for 15 years. Twice on vacation, I've had SUV drivers cut me off without signaling or doing a head check. And I was only driving for four hours of the trip. I feel safer around semi trucks than I do around SUVs. The big rigs are safe because they are reasonably predictable and almost always use their turn signals.

This is another reason why liability should not be linked to the amount of armor you are personally wearing at the time of the accident. Liability provides an important stick for enforcing the rules of the road. A criminal court may not convict you of vehicular assault for running a stop sign and broadsiding a car, but the civil courts and the insurance companies may find you responsible. If liability entirely becomes a matter of who is wearing more armor, than the roads cease to become a somewhat orderly common resource, and instead become an anarchy where the more armored vehicle wins.

So as an alternative to all of the sniping I would like to add a positive suggestion: put together in SUV owner/operator group that provides education about the risks of operating an SUV. This includes not only the risks to yourself and the passengers (rollover) but also the risks to other drivers. Start teaching awareness and observation skills to reduce those risks, and also research skills for minimizing the damage to both parties in an accident. This is the same sort of activism that is done by motorcyclists, bicyclists, off-road vehicle drivers, and firearm owners. Start publicly taking down the idiots who promote the "I own the road" bullshit. A lot of the safety training promoted by those groups include no small ammount of reasonable paranoia.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:14 AM on August 26, 2002


In the UK, if you're still getting the bus past the age of 23 you're either an impoverished single mum or some kind of loser.

Or living in central london...
posted by inpHilltr8r at 2:57 AM on August 26, 2002


Well yes, inpHilltr8r. I can't drive because I live in London, so I don't have to. But I'm in a very small minority.
posted by Summer at 3:48 AM on August 26, 2002


crash_davis- point taken.

KirkJobSluder- Nice post.

It reminded me of a story from a car salesman, a few years back. A lady was test-driving a new Pathfinder, and she attempted to take a 25 mph curve at 55. She nearly tipped it and drove off the road. Fortunately no car was in the opposite lane (smash city, otherwise) and no damage was done to the Pathfinder. However, the car salesman pulled a first in his career by asking her to get out to let him drive. She was insolent, and needless to say didn't buy a car from him!

Maybe more education would help. First, we need to teach people that 4WD does not allow you to brake or steer any better on ice...
posted by drstrangelove at 6:12 AM on August 26, 2002


and as you admit, SUVs pose a level of threat equivalent to that of commercial vehicles.

I said nothing of the sort. I gave a partial list of the other types of vehicles one must contend with on the road--how does that imply any sort of equivalence?

Why is it that the safest bicycle riders are the ones with the most experience operating in close proximity to motor vehicles while the least safe bicycle riders are the ones depending on sidewalks and bike trails?

One could construe your argument to suggest that even if SUVs are more dangerous to smaller vehicles, that we should accept them, because having them around will make car-drivers more alert to the dangers, and therefore safer than if this threat were removed and they became complacent. (Not arguing this myself, of course, just extending your logic.)

In any case, I am certainly in favor of more drivers' education, though I wouldn't limit it to SUV drivers since there is nothing inherently different about them to make them drive worse or cause more accidents.
posted by rushmc at 7:45 AM on August 26, 2002



I said nothing of the sort. I gave a partial list of the other types of vehicles one must contend with on the road--how does that imply any sort of equivalence?


You should read what you wrote again, in your passage you didn't just imply such a grouping, you explicitly contrasted a class of small vehicles (including the Volkswagen beetle, and the PT cruiser) against a class of larger vehicles including SUVs. The majority of the members of larger class are subject to increased regulation. In fact throughout this entire discussion your point has been that the increased threat of the larger vehicles justifies purchasing larger vehicles.

One could construe your argument to suggest that even if SUVs are more dangerous to smaller vehicles, that we should accept them, because having them around will make car-drivers more alert to the dangers, and therefore safer than if this threat were removed and they became complacent. (Not arguing this myself, of course, just extending your logic.)


Certainly you could construe that. It would be more accurate to say that the most important factor in regards to safety is promoting safe driving habits and the rule of law in regards to liability rather than your rule of armor. The roadways are not a demolition Derby. If I operate my bicycle according to the law, and you operate your motor vehicle according to the law (which includes yielding right-of-way to me when you are legally obligated to) there is no reason for us to come into physical contact.

In any case, I am certainly in favor of more drivers' education, though I wouldn't limit it to SUV drivers since there is nothing inherently different about them to make them drive worse or cause more accidents.


Well now, that depends. There is nothing inherently different about commercial cargo vehicles to make them cause more accidents, and yet most states require additional training before one can professionally operate a commercial cargo vehicle because accidents are likely to be more dangerous. There is nothing inherently different about motorcycles to make them cause more accidents, and yet most states require additional training because of the disproportionate risks to the operator if an accident should occur.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:23 AM on August 26, 2002


in your passage you didn't just imply such a grouping, you explicitly contrasted a class of small vehicles (including the Volkswagen beetle, and the PT cruiser) against a class of larger vehicles including SUVs.

Well, I can see where you're getting this, but I was actually thinking of it more as a range of vehicles, with skateboards and bicycles at one end, and the largest and least maneuverable vehicles at the other. SUVs would fall somewhere in the middle, as would most cars. Where we differ is you rate SUVs closer to the largest vehicles on the road, and I rate them closer to the average automobile.

There is nothing inherently different about motorcycles to make them cause more accidents, and yet most states require additional training because of the disproportionate risks to the operator if an accident should occur.

Again, by your reasoning here, it could equally be argued that small car drivers should receive additional training "because of the disproportionate risks to the operator if an accident should occur."
posted by rushmc at 11:13 AM on August 26, 2002


« Older The Mars Exploration Program Landing Sites   |   Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments