Americans Love Their Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs), Eco-Unfriendly Or Not
by Miranda Yearwood-Brumbaugh
(Cornelia, Georgia, US)
Sport utility vehicles, or SUVs, are the consumer vehicle of choice in the United States. This trend started in the 1970s with only five percent of Americans using SUVs, and today it is over 25% nationwide.
Does this mean Americans once were eco friendly green citizens?
In the state of California alone, there are more than 50% of the total vehicles on the road that are SUVs. Why is this a problem? Why should we care about what types of personal transportation are on the highways?
There are a few explanations to the popularity of SUVs in the U.S., dealing with the size, use as a status symbol, the myth of sitting higher off the road as being safer, and the idea of being closer to nature while driving a SUV. All of these are false assumptions.
The size of the vehicle only increases gas and oil usage, and this leads to fewer miles per gallon and a costly fuel expense. For example, the Ford Excursion advertises 14 miles per gallon of gas, while releasing 100 tons of carbon dioxide. In reality, in the city where most people who drive SUVs are traveling, Excursions only get 3.7 mpg while releasing 134 tons of carbon dioxide.
SUVs contribute like 30% more carbon monoxide and nitrogen (which is ground level ozone), more than cars do.
Many Americans feel that if they drive a big fancy automobile that increases their social status. In reality, this is a really, really costly and superficial way to raise one's self-esteem, not only in their pocket but in the environment.
Also, SUVs have more maintenance issues and higher insurance premiums due to the perceived risks and dangers of driving this type of vehicle.
SUVs are more likely to be stolen because the price of individual parts of SUVs can be sold for twice their value on the black market, as noted by the National Insurance Crime Bureau, as there is such a great demand for spare parts to fix wrecked SUVs.
Suvs Are Dangerous
For those American drivers who swear they are safer because they are sitting higher off the road, this makes zero sense from a physics standpoint. The center of gravity is thrown off with SUVs, and as reported in a 1988 Consumer Reports analysis, there is a “tipping problem” with SUVs.
The NHTSA said that SUVs are so poorly designed that they cannot even be modified to have a safe standard. SUVs are three times more likely to be involved in roll overs, resulting in 37% more deaths compared to 15% in cars. To other drivers involved in SUV accidents, the side impact force from a SUV increases their chance of death by 27 times. The size and location of the bumper on SUVs also creates hazards to other vehicles when in a car crash. In fact, SUVs do not have bumpers that are capable of handling impact over five mph, so in other words, their bumpers serve almost no purpose.
Bill O-Reilly Fox News SUV Talking Points Commentary
Those who buy SUVs, such as Hummers and Jeeps, for their all-terrain use will rarely ever take the SUV off of the road. Instead they drive on highways and over paved roads, causing greater stress on the vehicle because they were not built for everyday use. This causes more engine problems, tire issues and regular maintenance.
All in all, it is the freedom of choice that lures many Americans. However, every choice has a price.