LA Times op/ed: SUVs s/b restricted & taxed
- 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,
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
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
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:
- --- In CarFree@y..., De Clarke <de@u...> wrote:
> all that said, I still do rather like this article.Etcetra. It's nice to be prejudged all into one group! That all SUV's
> 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.
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
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
But no, it's an SUV, you're evil and you should be persecuted.
Surely the way to win supporters.
("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)
- --- In CarFree@y..., "ensignaurora" <tappants@h...> wrote:
> ("Crucifixtion? Down the hall, turn right, and pick up a cross.Sorry, that should be Life of Bryan.
> 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)
("CRUCIFY THEM ALL!"--Calisto, Xena)