Dicky's Doodles &Scribbles

Cartoons,editorials and comment about current events and more.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

SUV's, Badly Designed Status Symbols

SUV's, a Danger to Drivers, Riders,
Disaster For Environment

Watch the local news each night and observe the frequency in which auto accidents involve one or more SUV's. Now notice how often these vehicles roll over. It is on the TV screen just about every night.
Why is this? Because these vehicles are inherently dangerous because of their design and because people often drive them recklessly.
The SUV phenomenon is a fairly recent development,as is the term "SUV." The popularity of this class of vehicles has been fueled by extremely successful massive ad campaigns by auto makers that have tapped into the strong desire to own and possess status symbols. Another factor in this sales success story is the ability of the auto maker ads to combine elements of adventure, performance and style into a vehicle that can replace the staid, old images of the family station wagon or mini van.
Unfortunately there are many problems with this new "Walter Mitty" ride. The geometry of this class of vehicle causes them to overturn with less lateral force than an automobile or even a normal truck. This is because they have a higher center of gravity, a shorter track width and a shorter wheelbase. Combine these characteristics with high powered engines and drivers who envision themselves in the Baja 1000 and you get a lot of accidents, often involving a roll over.
SUV's also fall through the cracks of EPA emission and fuel mileage requirements because they are classified as "trucks" and not passenger vehicles. This classification also enables them to escape requirements concerning bumpers and other safety equipment.
These are inefficient, overly expensive and flawed vehicles with a built in design factor creating a dangerous environment for their drivers, occupants and others on the road. Most SUV's are rarel, if ever, driven off the pavement. And, like most other vehicles, they usually carry just one occupant, the driver.
And SUV's pose a greater danger to pedestrians as well according to a study done by Irish scientists. Ciaran Simms and Desmond O'Neil, of Dublin's Trinity College, released a study that claims pedestrians involved in an accident with an SUV or a 4X4 truck are two to four times more likely to suffer death or serious injury than in similar accidents with other vehicles.
Design once again comes into play in this scenario because the bumpers on these vehicles are higher from the ground and more likely to strike a pedestrian in a vital area.


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