The War on SUVs

In a discussion that developed in the comments to an entry I posted about the different threats faced by New Yorkers and non-New Yorkers (in which I noted–perhaps hyperbolically–that “riding the subway is orders of magnitude safer than driving, so much so that even if there were a suicide bombing on the subway every day, the average subway rider would probably still be statistically safer than the average automobile commuter,” and asked, “Where’s the War on Drunk Driving?”) Marijo commented:

Do you see how, even though the percentage of auto fatalities caused by drunks has diminished steadily, the overall number of fatalities stays roughly the same? Not that I advocate drunk driving, or anything like that, but it’s clear that automobiles are a fundamentally unsafe mode of transportation, even when the drivers are stone cold sober and fully licensed. Drunks are being used as a smokescreen here.

I do think drunk drivers pose an ongoing and reducible risk to themselves, their passengers, and others on the road, and so aren’t being used as a smokescreen. But if blaming drunk drivers is screening anything, I suspect it’s screening the fact that the growth of SUVs as a proportion of American vehicles is why traffic fatalities haven’t dropped as the fatalities caused by drunk driving have (both because they’re more likely to be in accidents and because when they’re in an accident, they’re more likely to cause fatalities in whatever or whoever they hit). I’ve never been enamored of SUVs for the average driver, and I find SUVs decorated with “Support Our Troops” magnets on them especially offensive, but I’ve never really felt directly threatened by SUVs. However, today Gothamist notes of SUVs:

Though they comprise [sic] fewer than 15% of passenger vehicles in the city they were responsible for 26% of pedestrian deaths from passenger vehicles.

SUVs truly threaten us all.

3 Replies to “The War on SUVs”

  1. Dude! Michael drives a ginormous Tahoe! With removable third row seats! I think he also has an American flag magnet on it! I’m taking this personally! GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!


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