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LA Times op/ed: SUVs s/b restricted & taxed

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  • De Clarke
    This is an interested op/ed coming as it does from the very heart of Car Nation. However, I think we should beware the tendency to blame those SUV drivers
    Message 1 of 5 , Mar 18, 2002
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      This is an interested op/ed coming as it does from the
      very heart of Car Nation. However, I think we should beware
      the tendency to blame "those SUV drivers" for everything
      that is wrong with the car system -- as if just driving
      compact cars would make all our problems go away :-) drivers
      of other car types may find it convenient to project their
      frustrations (and guilt?) onto SUV drivers, demonize just
      one type of automobile, in order to continue feeling good
      and right and normal about their own car-dependence... a
      compact car still costs much energy and pollution to produce
      and can still kill or maim an unarmoured road user too easily,
      though not so easily as the bigger vehicles.

      all that said, I still do rather like this article.

      ==========================================================

      March 17, 2002
      Los Angeles Times
      SUVs Should Be Driven Into a Truck Lane
      Big guys on the right, little guys on the left. It has a nice ring,
      doesn't it?
      by John Balzar

      Fine, OK. You want your SUV truck. You need it. Not only that, it's your
      right. Right? Didn't the Army do battle in Kuwait and Iraq so you can
      drive as much iron as you can afford? Don't the United Auto Workers and
      the visionaries at the Big Three (do they still call them that?) know
      what's best, as always?

      I feel as if I'm back in the early years of the tobacco debates. Common
      sense is a weak rival to desire.

      So maybe it's time to alter course radically in this debate about highway
      mileage standards. Conservationists and sensible citizens of all stripes
      would do better to surrender their complaints against the gas-guzzling
      SUV crowd. It's apparent with the latest vote in the Senate that they
      aren't going to win anyway. The country is tight in the grip of a
      socially aggressive fad that just won't yield to reason.

      Before we make ourselves crazy, we should reach accommodation. Live and
      let drive.

      The SUVers want all the advantages of trucks, great. Let 'em roar. They
      don't want to be held to the mileage standards of regular automobiles?
      Swell, never mind.

      Safety has emerged as the molten core of the freedom-of-choice SUV
      debate--more important than energy independence, our shaky and dangerous
      sources of oil supply, global warming and the last of our wilderness. For
      now, let's concede that safety is paramount. Both for the SUVers and for
      those of us who think that half a V-8 is plenty, and it's silly to get
      caught up in this pyramid scam of marketing in which every bigger SUV has
      to be topped by another bigger still, all for our own good.

      SUVs are trucks; they're special. In return, and for reasons of safety,
      they, along with pickups and their hybrid cousins, should be treated as
      trucks. Eureka, we could start with three steps:

      * Lower speed limits. On some of the highways where I drive, truckers are
      restricted to a lower speed limit--say, 55 mph instead of 65. This is for
      safety's sake. Slower is safer. And since the SUVers are concerned about
      safety above all, slow them down. It would be less dangerous for them
      (cannot deny that, can you?) and it would be far safer for those of us
      who drive Honda Civics.

      Personally, I think the limit ought to be 45 mph for trucks, and perhaps
      the Teamsters would support me on this. That would make for less
      dangerous roads and create more jobs for truck drivers.

      * Lane restrictions. Some states, including California, restrict trucks
      to the right-hand lanes on major freeways. So let's put the SUVs there
      too. Since they are going to be traveling slower, that's where they
      belong anyway.

      Those of us who drive 33-miles-per-gallon cars instead of their
      12-miles-a-gallon behemoths would at last be able to see where we're
      going. Big guys on the right, little guys on the left. It has a nice
      ring, doesn't it? With safety a shared concern, who could possibly argue
      with the wisdom of lane separation? Oh yes, that would include a
      prohibition on SUVs in carpool lanes too. For safety's sake. True, this
      step won't help much on city streets. But it's a start.

      * Increased vehicle fees. This is a big one. Years ago, pickup trucks
      were licensed as commercial vehicles and paid premiums for registration.
      We should revamp and modernize this idea to account for the added costs
      SUVs impose on society.

      As ultimately happened with tobacco, Americans decided that personal
      actions jeopardizing public health should be taxed unmercifully. The same
      should apply right away to SUVs with stiff new truck fees.

      I am speaking of pollution. Not only do these vehicles burn 21/2 times
      more gas than a five-passenger sedan, but even in states like California,
      with its strictest-in-the-nation emission standards, truck-class vehicles
      are given a pollution loophole, at least through 2007. Thus, a Dodge Ram
      3500 emits eight times as much carbon monoxide per mile as my Civic,
      according to the California Air Resources Board. A Chevy Suburban belches
      three times as much oxides of nitrogen, a chief contributor to smog, and
      a Ford Excursion twice as much.

      New research, compiled recently by Times writer Gary Polakovic, confirms
      that these components of air pollution cause birth defects in urban
      populations. They damage the health of young children, with likely
      consequences throughout their lives. If it's right to tax smokers, it's
      just as right to tax SUVers for the same reasons.

      Surely, safety-minded soccer moms in their SUVs could not argue that the
      extra toll their motoring takes on the health of our young should not
      come without a price.

      It's time to treat a truck like a truck.



      .............................................................................
      :De Clarke, Software Engineer UCO/Lick Observatory, UCSC:
      :Mail: de@... | :
      :Web: www.ucolick.org | Don't Fear the Penguins :
      :1024D/B9C9E76E F892 5F17 8E0A F095 05CD EE8B D169 EDAA B9C9 E76E:
    • ensignaurora
      ... Etcetra. It s nice to be prejudged all into one group! That all SUV s are trucks, that all who drive SUV s believe the same, and all SUVers want all the
      Message 2 of 5 , Mar 24, 2002
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        --- In CarFree@y..., De Clarke <de@u...> wrote:
        > all that said, I still do rather like this article.
        >
        > ==========================================================
        >
        > March 17, 2002
        > Los Angeles Times
        > SUVs Should Be Driven Into a Truck Lane
        > Big guys on the right, little guys on the left. It has a nice ring,
        > doesn't it?
        > by John Balzar
        >
        > Fine, OK. You want your SUV truck. You need it. Not only that, it's your

        > SUV crowd. It's apparent with the latest vote in the Senate that they

        > The SUVers want all the advantages of trucks, great. Let 'em roar.


        Etcetra. It's nice to be prejudged all into one group! That all SUV's
        are trucks, that all who drive SUV's believe the same, and all SUVers
        want all the advantages of trucks.

        If I wanted a pickup truck, I'd buy one. Would certainly be cheaper
        for me. Point is, though, the pickup doesn't serve my needs. And those
        needs, in the short version, are that I carry animals and they need to
        be in the passenger compartment with me. That the area I'm in is the
        high water, high mud type and while there is always deeper water, the
        more height I can get, the better.

        And I'm still down to the Forester (some day I'll be able to get one).
        Does what I need it to do, does it on a small scale, and gets great
        gas mileage.

        And yet, I'm still crucified like others because it's an SUV. Come on,
        tell me that a Forester is like a Jimmy.

        (oh, and btw, since no one seems to sell used Foresters, I'll probably
        be driving it for 10years+, toss that into the calculations for
        resources used.)

        But no, it's an SUV, you're evil and you should be persecuted.

        Surely the way to win supporters.

        -Traci
        ("Crucifixtion? Down the hall, turn right, and pick up a cross.
        Crucifixtion? Down the hall, turn right, and pick up a cross.
        Crucifixtion? Do.."--Nice Centurian
        "No, freedom. They said I didn't do anything wrong and I could go free."
        "Oh! Well, down the hall, turn left, and out the door!" (wtte), Monty
        Python and the Holy Grail)
      • ensignaurora
        ... Sorry, that should be Life of Bryan. -Traci ( CRUCIFY THEM ALL! --Calisto, Xena)
        Message 3 of 5 , Mar 25, 2002
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          --- In CarFree@y..., "ensignaurora" <tappants@h...> wrote:
          > ("Crucifixtion? Down the hall, turn right, and pick up a cross.
          > Crucifixtion? Down the hall, turn right, and pick up a cross.
          > Crucifixtion? Do.."--Nice Centurian
          > "No, freedom. They said I didn't do anything wrong and I could go free."
          > "Oh! Well, down the hall, turn left, and out the door!" (wtte), Monty
          > Python and the Holy Grail)

          Sorry, that should be Life of Bryan.

          -Traci
          ("CRUCIFY THEM ALL!"--Calisto, Xena)
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