Changing the Climate offers a new sport
December 27, 2000 6:36 AM   Subscribe

Changing the Climate offers a new sport - Tagging SUV's Not as destructive as Phonebashing, but it's still vandalism.
posted by plinth (61 comments total)
Is it vandalism to let down the tyres of SUVs? After all, no damage is caused, only inconvenience. That's the way forward.
posted by holgate at 7:43 AM on December 27, 2000

It's not vandalism, since Firestone has been doing it for months now. ;)
posted by hijinx at 7:52 AM on December 27, 2000

I wonder how many of these bumper stickers wind up in a landfill eventually.

I would guess all of them.

This guy reminds me of vegans who wear leather shoes.
posted by bondcliff at 8:12 AM on December 27, 2000

Or leather jacket, as the case may be.
posted by ethmar at 8:33 AM on December 27, 2000

Reminds me of the morons who throw red paint on people's fur coats. Of course, part of the delicious irony of that practice is that, if the paint can't be easily removed, the owner of the coat is likely to buy another one (possibly paid for by insurance in the case of a very expensive coat). Which means through their very actions the paint-throwing vandals cause more of the activity they're protesting. I'd love to see one of those twits caught and made to personally pay to replace an article of fur clothing they ruined. It would be poetic justice. Maybe it's already happened.

But no one is likely to throw out their SUV and buy a new one because of a sticker, so the cases are not entirely analogous. Still, all the stickers accomplish is to piss people off. I bet well over half of the tagging "victims" resolve to buy a bigger SUV next time. I certainly would (assuming I owned an SUV and got tagged), and I would do it for no other reason than to upset the yahoos who did it.
posted by kindall at 8:45 AM on December 27, 2000

The flaw with this tagging is the sticker itself--it should be a cling-on (please, no Star Trek jokes) sticker, so it's easily removed. Point made, and no one gets too terribly upset.
posted by frykitty at 8:57 AM on December 27, 2000

Seriously! Why on earth would I feel shame for owning a SUV? Because someone put a sticker on it? Because I get 4mpg less gass mileage? Puh-lease. Granted, some people see it as a status thing, but most people actually do benefit from the additional cargo space and 4 wheel drive. I'm personally glad I have an SUV, I couldn''t get along without it. Besides, that guy was driving a BMW (a status symbol, if I ever saw one)!
posted by tallman at 8:59 AM on December 27, 2000

...but most people actually do benefit from the additional cargo space and 4 wheel drive.

It's infinitely arguable that you can get these features in a car that won't affect the environment as much (you can even get an AWD minivan, should you choose).

The Ford Excursion has a 44 gallon fuel tank and gets roughly 11 mpg. Every single one I've seen on the road has had exactly one person in it.

I still love the sticker tagging, though I'll do something extraordinary and agree with Fry: they should be magnetized.

SUVs are status symbols, plain and simple. Extremely few of SUV buyers are really using them as they are intended to be used; most get them just because minivans are deemed untrendy.
posted by hijinx at 9:10 AM on December 27, 2000

The difference between a family sedan and a SUV is far more than four miles per gallon. On the whole, SUVs get terrible gas mileage - and the Ford Excursion isn't even in that linked list, probably because the EPA classifies it as a "heavy duty truck."

I think BBspot got it right...
posted by Aaaugh! at 9:46 AM on December 27, 2000

Some more thoughts:

- Cars are status symbols, plain and simple. Its not limited to SUVs.

- The Ford Excursions and Chevy Suburbans of the world are extreme cases - Most SUVs are more mild, have smaller tanks and get much better than 11mpg.

- Why do we make cars that go a lot faster than the speed limit? If the highest speed limit in the US is 70mph, why do we have cars that can go so much faster than that? Cut down the speed in cars, and you'll get a more efficient use of gas.

- how does pissing SUV owners off by pasting stickers to their bumpers solve anything? As someone mentioned before, all it would do is increase someones resolve to buy an SUV.

- There are things in the world much worse than the use of SUVs...
posted by tallman at 9:52 AM on December 27, 2000

"You're wrong! No, you're wrong!"

1. Cars are often used as necessary transporation where poor urban planning forces people away from public transportation.

2. Arguably, yep.

3. Speed limits are nothing but a tax on getting there.

4. It makes those who don't drive SUVs, those who hate SUVs, and those who feel the environment deserves better feel good.

5. Like the Chicago Bulls.
posted by hijinx at 10:04 AM on December 27, 2000

Thanks tallman. I wanted to pipe up with "cars are status symbols" but figured I'd be taken for a pinko radical. It's easier to be a pinko radical when someone else does it first.

- There are things in the world much worse than the use of SUVs...

As far as things we each do to harm the environment, SUVs are pretty high on the list. Yes, there are worse things in the world--but not on an individual level.
posted by frykitty at 10:06 AM on December 27, 2000

Excellent point, frykitty.

Here's another annoying thing about SUVs, in my mind: one of the main reasons people claim they buy these things is because they're "safe". Except that they're NOT, of course; many SUVs are poorly designed, top heavy, and prone to rollover, since they're basically cushy station wagons built on top of truck frames. Teenage drivers are particularly likely to lose control of them and cause them to tip (expect an epidemic of this as more of Gen Y gets their licenses and borrow Mom's Suburban). Their imbalance in weight distribution is also a problem because if they have a far higher chance of going over if they hit standard-height guardrails.

PLUS, as SUVs get larger and larger, they contribute to traffic slowdowns, since an SUV takes up 1.5 times the space of a car on the road, and traffic accidents due to decreased visibility, because people in cars have a hard time seeing around taller fatter SUVs. (You can find plenty of information on all these SUV problems & more from many different sources online.)

That said-- these "changing the climate" stickers don't impress me. For one thing I don't blame the people who buy SUVs: they probably don't know much about the many, many drawbacks of their vehicles. For another, they just aren't effective stickers.

I actually made a few anti-SUV stickers myself a year ago, but mine were meant to inform drivers and SUV owners about SUV statistics. For instance, one said "Die For Me: SUVs are 3 times more likely than a car to kill the other driver in a collusion" (with source cited in tiny letters on the bottom). But I never stuck these stickers on any SUVs, because as much as I loathe those behemoths, I don't feel like I have the right to deface other peoples' vehicles. I wouldn't want a bike activist sticking stuff on my car.
posted by wiremommy at 10:44 AM on December 27, 2000

They're just stickers fer cryin' out loud!

The unlawful activity is the hook that gets the press that spreads the meme. Otherwise, a leaflet under the windshield wiper would do just as well.

No sticker, no story.
posted by xiffix at 10:52 AM on December 27, 2000

Cars are often used as necessary transporation where poor urban planning forces people away from public transportation.

This is true, but... cars can be status symbols even if public transportation does exist. They tell everyone that even though you're poor, you're not so poor you have to take the bus.

I'm having to do a bit of mental readjustment after moving from Detroit to Seattle. Here, apparently, there is little or no social stigma to taking public transportation. I still don't really understand why anyone would cram themselves into a bus with a bunch of strangers every day if they could afford a car of their own, but having to pay $275 a month to park downtown is beginning to erode my resistance. (The company does pay part of if and some of the rest is deducted pre-tax, so I don't bear the full brunt, but it's still a chunk of change, and I have to walk four blocks from where I park to the office. Some days I really miss working for myself.)
posted by kindall at 10:58 AM on December 27, 2000

Attaching bumper stickers to SUVs is a way of acting on culture at large, showing some minor disapproval of SUVs. Think of it as an antidote to the "I'm as big as a semi" SUV ads you've (well, I've) been seeing recently. It has almost nothing to do with the SUV owner.

The stickers in question come with instructions on how to find out how to remove the bumper stickers.

Personally, I like the slogans below. I agree, they are a bit less direct than some more informative ones, but after all, bumper stickers are a form of rhetoric, not information.

"I need a car THIS BIG to feel safe!"

posted by daver at 11:00 AM on December 27, 2000

Kindall: This is true, but... cars can be status symbols even if public transportation does exist.

Yep, totally agreed. That's why sports cars exist, after all! And $275/mo parking downtown actually isn't awful; I've seen worse in Chicago. That's why I work and live in the suburbs... the tradeoff is poor public transportation coverage.
posted by hijinx at 11:03 AM on December 27, 2000

I wouldn't want a bike activist sticking stuff on my car.

Why not beat them to the punch? Print out a sticker and stick it on your own bumper. It'll keep the conversation going, and nobody's rights will be infringed.

posted by ceiriog at 11:04 AM on December 27, 2000

This is actually the first time I've worked in a serious downtown (Columbus, Ohio does not count), and on a certain level it's worth what I'm paying in parking just to be able to go over to Pike Place Market at lunch and have some World Class Chili. And it's not like walking those several blocks a day isn't good for me. So I'm not really complaining. In fact, if I could afford it, I'd probably live down here. And we've been in this office for all of two months.

I live in the burbs. It's pretty amusing, here in Seattle they consider half an hour to be a long, almost unbearable commute. I know people who do an hour or more each way back in Detroit without even batting an eyelash. Of course, here they also amusingly consider 30 degrees F "cold."
posted by kindall at 11:09 AM on December 27, 2000

I still don't really understand why anyone would cram themselves into a bus with a bunch of strangers every day if they could afford a car of their own

Travel to London some time. Or New York. You get paid the extra, generally, in order not to own a car.

And as for that "bunch of strangers"? Well, you often have the socially-liberating thrill of, say, a conversation, rather than FM radio.

Look, unless you're the Waltons, you don't need a SUV. Simple as that. And don't try to argue this point, because I know that you're saving up the deposit on a tank, just for that extra "safety". And that would surely combine the desire for automotive bulk and firepower that you American types hold so dear.
posted by holgate at 11:19 AM on December 27, 2000

I don't agree with putting stickers on other people's cars, but I *do* hate SUVs, and unlike most people on MeFi (I suspect) I actually used to work for the big 3. Facts:
  • SUVs are not as safe as regular cars: since most of them are classified as trucks, they have to face lower safety standards than a passenger car --which is partly why they are so profitable to the manufacturers; more on that later. It is true that they have more mass, so they are more likely to damage the other vehicle instead of suffer damage themselves, *but* the increased mass also means much worse cornering, much worse handling, especially on asphalt --which they are not designed to do-- and of course much worse braking. Not to mention flipovers. Also, as trucks/off-road vehicles, they have to pretend that they can go off-road. That means, besides the increased mass and higher center of gravity, they have to wear harder tires with bigger threads. In effect, the only part of the car that is making contact with the road (the tire thread) is actually *smaller* in an SUV, and is usually a harder rubber compound, meaning it doesn't grip as well. SUVs were originally designed to haul small farm animals, not children.
  • The fact that cars are made to go way faster than the speed limit doesn't mean that these cars are inefficient. For one, there is the whole safety issue: you can't limit the top speed of a vehicle at cruising (i.e. speed limit) as you will make the driver's job much harder in case of an emergency --passing, accident avoidance, etc. Besides, as with any engine you can tune a car's engine to be most efficient at a specific 'sweet spot' which for most cars is highway cruising speeds (50-60mph).
  • SUVs have single-handedly saved the US automobile industry. When Chevy can pay off its frame/suspension R&D from the S-10, the Blazer (same platform) is pure profit. Same deal with Ford and Jeep/Chrysler. The markups on SUVs are astonishing, they are by far more profitable to manufacturers than passenger cars. And that's why the SUV trend will be very hard to kill: the Big 3 can keep introducing cheaper and cheaper SUVs and *still* make a killing.

    posted by costas at 11:31 AM on December 27, 2000

  • I ride the bus and train everyday, I get a lot of reading done.
    I would much rather get a surprise punch in the gut that have a conversation with my fellow goons. When someone talks to me, I know it will be a bad day.
    People often talk to me.
    In short form, I don't feel the need to be in a car, but the "bunch of strangers" are easily the worst part of the experience.
    posted by thirteen at 11:34 AM on December 27, 2000

    And as for that "bunch of strangers"? Well, you often have the socially-liberating thrill of, say, a conversation, rather than FM radio.

    I've found that socializing with random members of the American public usually results in disappointment. People talk and talk about nothing at all. True, the radio's not any more interesting than people, but it has one advantage: you can turn it off. If things are different where you are, holgate, consider yourself lucky.

    I'm still thinking about trying the bus, though; the idea of saving all that money and having half an hour or so to catch up on my daily AvantGo reading on my Visor on the way to work is very attractive. Doing that while piloting a Buick Le Sabre down I-5 would probably not be such a swell idea.
    posted by kindall at 12:15 PM on December 27, 2000

    kindall, which bus number would you have to ride? I'm just trying to get an image of who your bus buddies would be. The "bunch of strangers" varies widely from bus to bus.

    posted by gluechunk at 12:52 PM on December 27, 2000

    Well... this is a little offtopic, but I'm not sure how authentic is...

    They promote a song on their site. The song is published by Virgin Records. Virgin Records' parent is EMI records. So... whois

    EMI International (PHONEBASHING-DOM)
    30 Gloucester Place
    London, W1H 4AJ


    Administrative Contact, Billing Contact:
    Borkett, Chloe (CBW274) webmaster-uk@EMIMUSIC.COM
    EMI Records Ltd
    30 Gloucester Place
    London, W1H 4AJ
    020 7467 2000 (FAX) 020 7935 6364

    It's all a thinly veiled plot to sell more records.
    posted by vkurup at 12:54 PM on December 27, 2000

    Don't know what bus I'd have to ride. I haven't got to the stage where I really need to find out. Yet. I'd be going from Lynnwood to aroud 5th and Union, though. I imagine my co-riders would be fellow suburbanites since we'd be on an express bus that doesn't stop much between the burbs and downtown.

    Another thought a co-worker put into my ear: for the difference in price between parking downtown and a monthly bus pass, I could get Ricochet wireless Internet service. They're coming out with a Ricochet modem for the Visor next spring. Wireless Internet on the bus every morning and evening (and every other time)? Yum.
    posted by kindall at 2:30 PM on December 27, 2000

    i spend a lot of time on 2 tracks. michigan has 10's of thousands of miles of ORV trails/seasonal roads in it's state and national forests. there is nothing i have more fun doing than poking along a 2 track winding its way through the woods, just to see where it goes and just to see what there is to see. i have totally brutalized my personal vehicular transport apparatus. (warning for the anal retentive: the preceding links were {gasp!} self-blogs) i have been lusting for a small SUV with 4WD (AWD is lame, thank you!) for 6 years. this year i reached a point where i could finally afford to own and run one. 3 weeks ago, i got one. it disturbs me when i read how people view these machines lately as indications of vanity and narcissism on the owners part. LA and the Valley are one thing, Boon and Yuma quite another! :-)
    posted by quonsar at 3:24 PM on December 27, 2000

    I have absolutely nothing against folks that get SUVs when they need them. I have something against folks that are, say, single and want more room for their dog, and something to pull the boat. That is a real-life example of reasons given to me personally. I absolutely clammed up--I haven't had anything to say to that person since.
    posted by frykitty at 3:36 PM on December 27, 2000

    And now, I think I'll use the word "absolutely" again. Absolutely. Hrm. Sorry.
    posted by frykitty at 3:37 PM on December 27, 2000

    I gonna start putting stickers on hippies. :)
    posted by jbelshaw at 3:59 PM on December 27, 2000

    "my dope smoking is changing the climate"?
    posted by quonsar at 4:34 PM on December 27, 2000

    That will only encourage us to buy more hippies.
    posted by frykitty at 6:14 PM on December 27, 2000

    Why is needing a vehicle with towing power in order to transport one's boat such a terrible thing? You can't tow a boat with a Chevy Cavalier. You can't transport a family of seven to nine people and two dogs in a minivan, either.

    And anyone who puts a sticker on my SUV will have to face my considerable wrath.
    posted by Dreama at 7:42 PM on December 27, 2000

    We all know that dope-smoking hippies are contributing to global mellowing.
    posted by kindall at 8:04 PM on December 27, 2000

    Dreama, Dreama, Dreama. How foolish of you not to have realized that buying a boat would also require obtaining a larger vehicle to tow it. Failing to consider the overall environmental impact of the entire boat/SUV purchase is selfish and shortsighted. Obviously, then, if you buy a boat, you are an evil person and will burn in eco-hell for disrespecting our planet.
    posted by kindall at 8:24 PM on December 27, 2000

    especially since the boat no doubt leaks fuel into the lake which you transport it to.
    posted by chaz at 9:22 PM on December 27, 2000

    I believe the percentage of people buying boats and never actually using it in water is small, on the other hand there are an awful lot of people who buy suv's and never enjoy the fun to be had on dirt roads.
    posted by Zool at 9:38 PM on December 27, 2000

    Destroying other people's property does not endure people to your cause; it only hurts it by pissing off the owners of SUVs and every other rational person. You should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. There are plenty of other constructive and far more effective means to your ends.
    posted by Bag Man at 9:46 PM on December 27, 2000

    And destroying the environment needlessly by using vehicles not designed for road use on roads does not endear people to your cause; it only hurts it by making the roads more dangerous and more clogged (bigger vehicles means less room on the roads, accidents in which chances are only someone else is going to get hurt, lots more as quoted already above). You should be made aware of the dangers to yourself and the people around you, as well as the alternatives to driving those death trucks, by any means available.

    There are plenty of other constructive and far more effective means to your ends too, pal.


    Look. I'm not saying the stickers are the best idea. And there are, of course, uses for the things. But given what Costas said above, isn't there some kind of other transportation solution around that doesn't lead to half the country driving around in armored smog-tanks, like the heightened-probability accidents-waiting-to-happen that so many of them are?
    posted by chicobangs at 1:19 AM on December 28, 2000

    Apparently everyone focused on the word "boat" in my post. Perhaps you might have instead focused on the word single?? As in, one person? Driving alone to work every day?

    Her boat was as much a status symbol as the SUV. Or the bloody dog, for that matter.
    posted by frykitty at 2:40 AM on December 28, 2000

    Fuck 'em all. If you fell the need to have a SUV, you do so. I care about the global warming thing but really... we have to resign to the fact that many people could not give a shit.
    posted by pehtes at 5:05 AM on December 28, 2000

    People won't give a shit until it's absolutely necessary. This is how it works, it seems.
    posted by hijinx at 6:24 AM on December 28, 2000

    I think that, for me, it will never be absolutely necessary to give a shit -- I'll be dead long before this planet becomes an unlivable hole, and I don't intend to leave any progeny behind. Nevertheless, I'm actually starting to give a shit. Ten years ago, when my apartment complex back in Detroit instituted a recycling program, I didn't bother with it; it seemed like an awful lot of work to separate out the various types of things to be recycled, keeping them in separate bins (as if I had room for four trash bins in my kitchen!), then haul them to the other fricken end of the parking lot where the recycling pickup was (the regular trash bins were much closer). At some time in the past decade, though, recycling stopped being such a pain in the ass and I do it regularly now. If only I could figure out why I started giving a shit.

    I have no real desire to purchase an SUV, and probably won't, but God, it sure would be nice to be able to see around other vehicles again. I can't get everyone else to buy smaller vehicles, so my only option is to buy one as big as theirs, it seems.
    posted by kindall at 7:33 AM on December 28, 2000

    Nice set of priorities you got there, kindall. Leaving that aside and returning to your previous point for a sec, didn't attitudes towards wearing fur change as a direct result of the 'morons' who threw paint at fur coats? And haven't attitudes towards recycling changed to the extent that you no longer feel like a hippy when you sort your recyclables?

    Attitudes towards car use are starting to change (in Britain, anyway - when New York gets the kinds of floods Old York got this year, I suspect the US will start to catch up). In ten years, progeny or not, you're unlikely to be tempted by a SUV. It'll just look wrong, like lighting a cigarette in a maternity ward.

    posted by ceiriog at 8:57 AM on December 28, 2000

    My point was indeed that people's attitudes can and do change before it is absolutely necessary for them to give a shit. I illustrated this thesis with an example from my own life, of how I came to care somewhat about environmental impact (or at least to act like I do, which is just as effective) even though doing so offers me personally no benefits. In other words, I think we agree...? Obviously if one has a more personal stake in the future, it's even more likely they'll change their behavior, but my intent was to show that even selfish bastards like me are not entirely beyond hope. Why, if I can learn to recycle, maybe drivers can be weaned from their SUVs.

    I'm not entirely convinced that attitudes toward big cars will change in the US as quickly as you think, though. SUVs are merely the modern replacements for the gas-guzzling Detroit behemoths of the '70s. When it became unpopular to drive those, we merely switched to something bigger and even less fuel-efficient. If SUVs go out of fashion here, my bet is that they'll be replaced with something just as bad or worse. If New York starts to flood, by the way, the American way of solving the problem would be to build a dike around it and change the name back to New Amsterdam.
    posted by kindall at 9:18 AM on December 28, 2000

    I care about the global warming thing but really... we have to resign to the fact that many people could not give a shit.

    Or we could try to do something about it. Really, this is what the government is for: regulation. The fuel efficiency standards that SUVs and other "light trucks" must meet are far to lax. The standard hasn't been updated since 1975 and with the surge of SUV buying, the national fuel efficiency average (presumably of newly sold cars) has been falling, and is today at its lowest level since 1980.

    Sure, most people couldn't care less about fuel efficiency when gasoline is cheap and there's no noticeable immediate impact on the environment (not that there ever will be). Most people also wouldn't care enough to buy a car with seat belts, or to drive anywhere near the speed limit, or to get air bags, brake lights, turn signals, or backup lights, if those things weren't mandated by the government.
    posted by daveadams at 9:37 AM on December 28, 2000

    That's "too lax," not "to lax." Yuck.
    posted by daveadams at 9:41 AM on December 28, 2000

    If only I could figure out why I started giving a shit.

    Herd mentality? Seems to buy why people buy SUVs. ::shrug::
    posted by hijinx at 10:13 AM on December 28, 2000

    buy = be. That was "new English".
    posted by hijinx at 10:46 AM on December 28, 2000

    I love the presumption that everyone who owns a SUV has it for the status, for their own (presumed) security, or just because they feel like being tall and powerful on the road, everything else be damned.

    I'd be interested to know who, in the opinion of some of the anti-SUVers, is entitled to drive a big vehicle?
    posted by Dreama at 11:11 AM on December 28, 2000

    I'd also like to note for the record that the boat I tow with my SUV is a motorless sailboat. It's a beautiful thing.

    But I guess I'm still doomed to eco-hell for disrespecting the freedom of the wind, right?
    posted by Dreama at 11:13 AM on December 28, 2000

    But of course. Everyone is always damned to eco-hell for one reason or another, and there's nothing anyone can do to prevent it. We are all eco-sinners and there is no eco-Christ to die for us. Bummer, eh? (In case it wasn't clear, I was not being at all serious the last time I damned you to eco-hell, Dreama.)

    Hijinx: You're right that there's a herd mentality. I did some more thinking about why I actually recycle now on my pollution-spewing 30-minute commute this morning, and came to the conclusion that I really do it so as not to stand out. I hate giving anyone any reason to single me out, at least in my domestic life. (In my professional and online life, it's completely different, of course.) So it's peer pressure, I guess, but of a twisted, misanthropic sort. Nobody ever frowned at me for not recycling; it's just that the point came where not recycling was actually marginally more likely to get me noticed than recycling.

    I also thought about the parallel between the paint-on-furs animal rights activists and this stickering campaign. Ceiriog, you're right that attitudes toward wearing furs changed because of the paint-throwing campaigns. Unfortunately, they changed not toward "I won't wear fur because killing animals for their fur is wrong" but toward "I won't wear fur because it might get ruined by those crazy activists." I suppose the activist would say that it's the results that matter, and that they're happy as long as people wear less fur, but the means to the end basically involved bullying. Which really should be the exclusive province of the government. Now, putting a bumper sticker on an SUV without permission is hardly bullying -- nobody is going to say "I'd better not buy an SUV because one of those crazy activists might put a sticker on it" -- so that's another point at which the analogy breaks down.

    I remain uncomfortable with the idea of changing people's attitudes using the tactics embodied by the bumper stickers. It leans away from education and toward punishment, and I think that is simply the wrong approach to take. It is never your place to punish me for something you think I've done wrong, even if the "punishment" is just having to waste a few minutes of my time to remove a sticker from my bumper. I will do you the courtesy of listening to your point of view if it is calmly and rationally expressed. You, in return, will do me the courtesy of respecting my decision once I have made it, even if it's not the one you wanted me to make. That is how it's gotta be in a polite society.

    (Still don't intend to buy an SUV. In fact, I've fallen in lust with a friend's Beetle.)
    posted by kindall at 11:52 AM on December 28, 2000

    Maybe we forget that in the days before the wild proliferation of SUV's, people used to actually *tow stuff* behind *cars* - regular, two-wheel-drive, curb-height coupes, sedans and station wagons.

    The weird mass adoption of 4x4 utility trucks like pickups, Blazers & Suburbans as symbolic, rugged, "I'd rather be herding cattle up a mountain stream" status symbols has led to the demise of useful full-size automobiles (i.e. the Chevrolet Caprice sedan & wagons, etc.) They were built according to passenger safety standards, not likely to roll over, got respectable gas mileage... and they have largely vanished. The Ford Crown Victoria / Mercury Grand Marquis remains, supported largely by law-enforcement purchases.

    There are people who need, or choose to exploit, the special abilities of a 4WD SUV. I've owned Jeeps myself, when I lived near mud and didn't drive 500 freeway miles a week.

    But when I see a fur-coated suburban dowager tooling alone down the boulevard in her colossal Cadillac Escalade, steering with one pinkie while adjusting the GPS screen with the other, I've gotta wonder how much damage she'll do when she swerves to avoid a squirrel darting into the road. One of those 3-ton monsters tumbling lengthwise could take out an entire Pottery Barn...
    posted by Tubes at 12:19 PM on December 28, 2000

    Hey... how come no one's picking on the Hummer, here?

    posted by baylink at 1:01 PM on December 28, 2000

    There are people who need, or choose to exploit, the special abilities of a 4WD SUV.

    Irony fans will be pleased to hear that after two days of alternating snow and hard frost, my visiting, 4WD-less parents are stranded here for the forseeable.

    We're nearly out of alcohol.

    Help me, SUV Man!
    posted by ceiriog at 1:30 PM on December 28, 2000

    Hey... how come no one's picking on the Hummer, here?

    Hey baylink... Hummers are bad too! (but if you read my other comment you would know i dont care what you drive)
    Fell better now that someone has had a go at the Hummer??
    posted by pehtes at 7:10 PM on December 28, 2000

    How many people have been damn near run off the road in the past 24 hours by a Hummer, as opposed to a garden-variety SUV? Hell, half the problem with SUV's (and cars in general) could be solved by setting higher standards for driver's license tests.
    posted by harmful at 8:15 PM on December 28, 2000

    I, in my SUV (Dodge Durango, for the record, driven on unpaved, snowy mountain roads for most of today's trip) was nearly run off the road this evening -- by a garden variety Pontiac Sunfire. Damned unsafe compact car drivers, they ought to banned!
    posted by Dreama at 8:34 PM on December 28, 2000

    Dodge Durango: 4689 pounds.
    Pontiac Sunfire: 2606 pounds.

    I dunno, Dreama - hardly seems like a fair fight to me. I can offer a budget-minded low-frills "how to drive more assertively while passing it off as simple absentmindedness" course, if that'll help matters any.

    Er, unless the "they" in your last sentence refers to banning unsafe compact car drivers instead of the compact cars themselves. In that case, never mind. :-)

    posted by youhas at 12:07 AM on December 29, 2000

    Well, when the Sunfire kept veering into my lane, requiring me to continually veer off onto the berm, (where I finally pulled off to let him get far enough ahead of me to not be a problem anymore) no, it's not a fair fight. I was driving by the rules, Mr. Sunfire wasn't.

    As for the "they" I did say compact car drivers and, in fact, I'd be glad to see all unsafe drivers' licenses revoked, regardless of what they choose to drive.
    posted by Dreama at 10:23 AM on December 30, 2000

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