Bannin Sport Utility Vehicles Essay Research Paper

Bannin Sport Utility Vehicles Essay, Research Paper

A Collaboration of Research About Banning Sport Utility Vehicles From the Roads

Eric Larson

Sport utility vehicles should not be permitted on the road due primarily to safety concerns.

I. Safety Concerns

A. Prone to Rollovers

1. High center of gravity

a. Taller than most other vehicles

b. Weighted more towards the top

2. Track width

a. The gap between tires

b. The wider the width, the lower the rollover possibility

3. Many deaths due to rollovers

a. Four times more likely as cars to rollover

b. Passengers are ejected from the vehicle

i. Due to passengers not wearing seat belts

ii. Think they are invincible

iii. If vehicle were to have less chance of rolling over, the person would still be safe.

B. Overloading

1. More room does not mean you can fill the car

a. Too much cargo can result in a higher likelihood to rollover

b. It can be potentially fatal

2. Overloading is easy to do in an SUV

a. With five 180-pound adults, there’s only 100 pounds left for cargo in the average SUV

b. Just because there looks to be a lot of room, does not mean that it can be filled

C. Bumpers

1. Bumpers are higher on SUVs than on most cars

2. Much damage caused in low-speed crashes.

a. More than if the bumpers would meet

c. Damages cost more

D. Car to SUV collision

1. The smaller car comes out worse off

a. 4 out of 5 people who die are in smaller cars

b. There is a relationship between SUV sales and death in accidents with smaller cars

2. Only the SUV is safe

a. The SUV driver is safe

b. The occupants in the other car are injured

E. Poor maneuverability in urban traffic conditions

F. Headlights

1. SUV headlights are too high.

a. Shine into other cars.

b. In traffic, can shine into a lower car s mirrors and blind the occupant.

c. Oncoming SUVs blind other drivers

2. Lower headlights will increase safety

G. SUV owners are not driving them for the intended purpose

1. SUV drivers lack the necessary training to drive as advertised.

a. Commercials show SUVs plowing through snow, mud, and other difficult terrain, making the public want to buy them.

b. Most of the time in these commercials, the fine print says something such as Professional driver on a closed course. Do not attempt

c. When people do try to attempt what commercials depict, the results are not good

2. Most drivers do not take their SUV off-road

3. Because they own an SUV, drivers think they can handle anything on the road

a. Drivers believe they are the kings of the road

b. They drive aggressively and carelessly

II. Safety for the elite (buying the way to safety)

A. The prices of SUVs are high

1. In turn, these prices pay for safety

a. To be safe, more money must be spent, which causes drivers of smaller cars to be less safe.

b. A type of discrimination is in play here; only the rich can afford to be safe.

2. People are paying high prices for low gas mileage

B. Paying more money and polluting the air is one way to be safe

III. Pollution

A. The gas mileage of SUVs is low

1. SUVs get an average of 13 miles per gallon

a. Due to poor aerodynamics

b. Height and weight

2. The rise of gas prices and the inefficiency of SUVs have left some drivers desperate

B. Have an effect on global warming

1. U.S.A. is number one global warming polluter

2. Autos contribute greatly

IV. Governmental intervention

A. The SUV loophole allows manufacturers to not pay taxes, and continue making gas-guzzling, polluting vehicles.

1. Just to save money, car makers are killing the environment

2. Cars are not exempt, only low gas mileage SUVs, light trucks and trucks are.

B. SUV owners who use their vehicles for business are getting tax breaks too.

C. The government is contributing to air pollution

1. They are offering this break

2. California has successfully passed a clean air law

The driver of the Ford Excursion was slightly bruised; the driver of the Honda Civic was killed on impact. Sport utility vehicles (SUVs), a breed of light trucks, and a fad that has grown on the American Society within the past several years, have been causing increasing numbers of problems. Recently, a number of rebellious voices have spoken. These include environmental action groups such as the Sierra Club and Greenpeace. Aside from the common environmental concerns are concerns for safety: for the drivers and occupants of the other vehicle in an accident. Most people purchase sport utility vehicles for the wrong reasons. Many believe they need the functionality of a four wheel drive vehicle, when in truth most do not. Therefore, sport utility vehicles should not be permitted on the road due primarily to safety concerns.

Many American consumers believe that bigger is better. This thought has come into play in the vehicular world. Many Americans are purchasing enormous sport utility vehicles because they feel the need to be safe, and a larger vehicle will do this for them. The problem with this issue is that they are putting occupants of smaller vehicles at risk.

Aside from the inherent dangers that SUVs can cause to nature and other cars, there is a danger that they can cause to themselves and their occupants. SUVs have a high probability to roll over in many instances. That sport utility vehicles are more prone to rolling over and are less maneuverable in urban traffic is well-documented (Baumgartner 1). In one study that tested numerous makes of vehicles on rollover probabilities, SUVs scored the lowest. The Chevrolet Blazer received twenty-two percent to twenty-seven percent. That is more than twice as likely to roll over than a Ford Taurus, which received a four to seven percent chance to rollover ( Predicted 1). Rollovers are the leading cause of death to the occupants in SUVs. And while the bigger, heavier SUVs offer some protection to their occupants in crashes with smaller passenger cars, higher death rates in rollovers offset lower death rates in other types of crashes (Baumgartner 1). The SUV allows the drivers be safe in an accident with another vehicle, but in single vehicle crashes, where rollovers are likely, the driver s safety is compromised.

Two main factors contribute to the possibility of a rollover in a SUV: height and track width. Because SUVs are so tall, they have a high center of gravity. They ride high off the ground, causing most of the weight to center high on the vehicle. An object with a high center of gravity is unstable. When turning a corner, if the driver tries to avoid an obstacle by turning the wheel quickly, the vehicle can spin out of control and possibly rollover. This is due to the shift in weight from one side to the other. Because the vehicle is so high, it may begin to rollover. The second factor is the track width, or the gap between the tires. A wider track width will result in a lower possibility to rollover. This is attributed to the weight of the vehicle being spread over a greater area. The narrower the vehicle, the more advantage that is gained when a force is applied to it. It is easier to tip an object with a small base, and it is more difficult to tip an object with a large and wide base. These laws apply to vehicles. Dividing the height of the vehicle by the track width yields a ratio. The safest vehicles have a larger track width than their height, making the ratio less than one. This ratio applies equally to cars as it deos SUVs, but when comparing the ratio of a car and an SUV, drastic differences can be seen.

The difference of the width to height ratios separate SUVs from cars because SUVs are four times as likely as cars to roll over (Baumgartner 1). Because of this, SUV rollovers cause many deaths. They are just two percent of accidents, but account for thirty-two percent of deaths (Healey 1). This data shows that SUV rollovers are rare, but are quite dangerous. In comparing fatality rates of SUV rollovers to car rollovers, a tremendous difference can be seen. About sixty-three percent of SUV fatalities involve rollovers, while only about twenty-three percent of car deaths do, federal traffic data from nineteen ninety-eight and ninety-nine show (Healey 1). Cars account for fewer deaths in rollover accidents. This is primarily due to the height and width of the vehicle.

The use of seatbelts may be another factor in SUV rollover deaths. More than 9,400 people died in rollover crashes in 1997, the latest year statistics were available. Government officials say some 85 percent of rollover deaths involve passengers not wearing seat belts (Strong 1). Because of this, passengers may be ejected from the vehicle during a rollover. Most of the time this is fatal. Despite government warnings and labels, some people refuse to wear their seatbelts. This could be tied to the fact that people feel invincible in SUVs. If the vehicle were to not rollover in the first place, then none of this would have happened.

Many people purchase a sport utility vehicle because of the large amount of space to carry cargo- which is the utility part of sport utility vehicles. Recent studies have shown that overloading an SUV is easy to do. When looking inside an SUV, it is easy to see that there is lots of cargo space. The average consumer thinks they can fill that cargo space until nothing more can fit. With the car filled, they and their spouse will get out on the road. The driver notices that the vehicle is a bit sluggish on the maneuvers, but continues. On a moderately paced road, the car in front of them quickly stops, causing the SUV to swerve quickly because it would not have been able to break in time. The driver steers left- the front, right tire hits a stick on the road- then slams on the breaks. Due to the minor imbalance from the car hitting the stick and the high center of gravity from the luggage, the vehicle spins out, and begins to rollover. When an SUV is overloaded, handling and braking are affected, and the vehicle could be more prone to rollover (Laliberte 1). If this SUV was not completely filled, the driver might have been able to break in time. Overloading affects breaking because there is more weight in the car. More weight in the SUV creates more momentum, making the vehicles have more difficulty stopping. This, combined with poor breaking ability to begin with is potentially hazardous.

People overload SUVs without knowing it. Most people see the extra room and automatically assume they can fill it. Most vehicle manuals document the load capacity, but few people take the time to read these facts. Consumer Reports tested the weight capacity of a nineteen ninety-seven Ford Explorer.

The five-passenger nineteen ninety-seven Ford Explorer is designed to carry one thousand, twenty-five pounds. Testers loaded five men in the truck, and that equaled one thousand, fifty pounds. With passengers alone, the SUV was overloaded (Laliberte 1).

If those five men were thinking about bringing luggage along with them, they had better think again. Adding more weight to a vehicle that is already overweight is extremely hazardous and increases the rollover possibility, increases breaking distance, and decreases the maneuverability of the vehicle. Ironically, some smaller cars are designed to carry more weight than an SUV can.

Some smaller vehicles can carry more weight than some SUVs. For example, a Ford Taurus station wagon has a load capacity of one thousand, two hundred pounds – nearly two hundred pounds more than the Explorer (Laliberte 1).

According to Consumer Reports, some studies have shown that even the Volkswagen New Beetle can safely carry more weight than the typical SUV. Just the idea of how a large SUV technically cannot carry as much weight as some smaller cars makes it apparent that SUV manufacturers are not designing these vehicles in the right way. A larger vehicle should be able to carry more weight.

The high front end of the Suburban struck Albert in the chest, killing him almost instantly. The force of the five thousand-pound Suburban threw the Concord fifty feet, until the passenger side slammed into a tree, blinding and critically injuring Marianne. The driver of the Suburban was not injured (Nomai 1).

It is an everyday fact that there are collisions between cars, and people die as a result. SUVs are adding to this factor substantially. One reason is due to their bumpers. Bumpers are much higher on SUVs than on cars. Because of this, more damage is done to a car in a collision. Even when the weights are comparable, there are characteristics that still make (light truck vehicles) aggressive like height and stiffness (Skruck 1). The height of these vehicles makes them extremely dangerous. Most doors on ordinary cars are reinforced with side rails from 14 to 20 inches off the ground, the same height as car bumpers. But the bumpers on SUVs can be as high as 30 inches off the ground (Mulshine 1). The SUV bumper towers over the impact rail, making any collision with a car unsafe. Cars are reinforced to protect them against collisions involving other cars, not SUVs. The height of SUVs is often a threat to small cars in accidents, said Panacopoulos, because the front end is often even with the head and shoulders of occupants in smaller cars (Skruck 1). This is the main reason that causes SUVs to be safer in collisions with other cars.

Sport utility vehicles have poor bumpers. In single vehicle crashes, the bumpers have been proven to crumble easily. Along with this comes a substantial repair cost.

Out of four new models of midsize SUVs it tested, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said three had a repair bill of more than four thousand dollars each after hitting an obstacle at five miles per hour. The two thousand Isuzu Trooper suffered eleven thousand, one hundred fifty-eight dollars in damage ( Institute 1).

One possible explanation for the poor bumpers is related to regulations made by the government. Passenger cars have requirements to have bumpers that can hold up to a two and a half-mile per hour, whereas SUVs have no requirement. Light trucks were exempted from safety rules because it was assumed that they were going to be used for the purposes for which they were intended, hauling things around (Mulshine 1). If SUVs were to have the same regulations as passenger cars, then the bumpers would most likely be lowered, and made stronger in order to withstand a low speed crash.

One of the largest problems with SUVs is the damage that they do to another vehicle. If that other vehicle is a passenger car, the results of the collision are terrible. Four out of five people who die in a car to SUV collision are drivers or passengers of smaller cars. In the past twenty years, the number of fatal car to car collisions has decreased, but the number of fatal SUV to car collisions has increased.

The popularity of light trucks, including sport utility vehicles, pickups and minivans, has exploded in the past ten years (from one million sales in nineteen ninety to more than three million last year, according to J.D. Power and Associates). And so have the number of fatalities in accidents involving these vehicles versus smaller cars, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (Skruck 1).

There is a direct relationship between the sale of SUVs and the number of deaths in accidents with smaller cars. With more SUVs on the road, the more accidents will be caused. That is true with any vehicle. The more cars that are put out on the roads will increase the odds of getting in an accident, but the number of accidents is not what is being compared. The number of fatal accidents is what is looked at when comparing the two. In 1996, there were about 5,100 fatality victims who were occupants in cars struck by light truck vehicles, according to the NHTSA, compared to 4,000 fatalities in accidents where a car strikes another car (Skruck 1). By comparing these numbers, it can be seen that SUVs create more risk of death when in a collision than do cars.

The largest SUVs have many characteristics that attribute to poor maneuverability. The high center of gravity, their weight and the momentum gained traveling at high speeds all make SUVs difficult to maneuver. Over-size SUVs, although much safer statistically for their occupants, can nevertheless be dangerous as well – especially to others – with their poor braking, limited maneuverability and significant crash incompatibility (Millers 1). If an obstacle appears on the road suddenly, the vehicle might not be able to swerve out of the way. SUVs are not cars, and they handle differently. This is usually stated in most driver manuals, but most people continue to drive SUVs as they do cars, causing potentially fatal situations.

Another concern of SUVs is not only a safety factor, but also an irritability factor. They’re also considering regulations on headlight height, an aspect of the SUV that is even more irritating than the attitudes of their drivers (Mulshine 1). Because the bumpers are high on SUVs, the headlights have to be higher too. When an SUV pulls up behind a small car, its headlights can shine right into the rearview mirrors, which can be reflected into the driver s eyes. All oncoming traffic during the night shines light into the driver s eyes. SUVs do the same thing, only it is worse. The small amount of added height makes the angle of light that is shining at the driver greater. Therefor, the direct rays of light are hitting the driver for a longer period than a passenger car would. By lowering the bumpers on the vehicles, the headlights would also be moved down solving the problems that are created.

People buy SUVs despite the crash test ratings and rollover probabilities. They might just buy it for the way it looks, or its color, or even for social acceptance. The sales pitch that car manufacturers are throwing out is that SUVs have the power and durability of trucks, the luxury of a sedan, and all time, four-wheel drive. Commercials depict these vehicles conquering the worst of terrain, including snow, mud, water, and mountains. People buy these vehicles, and all of the sudden they feel invincible But some people come straight from these jump-and-splash commercials and try to emulate them (Emmons 1). What these people are missing in the advertisements is the fine print. Most of the time it will say, Professional Driver, Do Not Attempt. Nevertheless, someone gets the SUV and assumes that if the television says it is possible, than they can go out and do it themselves. People that take SUVs off road without training are headed for trouble. Their ignorance of what a four-wheel-drive vehicle can and cannot do cost them a totaled vehicle (Emmons 1). There have been numerous cases of people being injured, or dying due to a lack of off road, driver training.

Sport utility vehicles are designed for use off the road, but not many consumers buy them for that purpose. The advertisements are all about adventure and outdoors, but when was the last time you saw one off-pavement (Strauss 1). It is true that most owners of SUVs have them for the wrong reason. About ninety-five percent never leave the pavement , In fact, sixty percent of the sport vehicles sold in California are two-wheel-drive versions (Emmons 1). This shows the amount of people that do not use their SUV for its intended purpose. They own them, instead, for a completely different reason, such as for cargo space, to feel safe, or even for social acceptance. But the people who want SUVs for cargo space are putting themselves at risk, and the people who want SUVs to feel safe are putting others at risk.

Some drivers of SUVs develop extremely egotistical attitudes toward their driving. They believe that they are the kings, or queens of the road. You look down on everybody , Hethorn said, If there s a slow car in front of you and a car coming toward you, you know you can get around them. It s nice to know you have the power (O Brien 1). Some drivers are overly aggressive on the roads, which is a very dangerous way to drive. They are a leading cause for road rage. There are those who really need an SUV, and those whose ego needs one (Strauss 1). These people who get the SUVs just to look good, or to fit in socially, are the ones who cause accidents, and drive very aggressively on the roads.

Every woman, man and child deserves to be safe on the auto roads of America. With the introduction of SUVs into the society, a price is put on safety. The average SUV can cost up to thousands more than an average car. The two thousand one Ford Expedition has an MSRP value of twenty-nine thousand, nine hundred ninety to forty thousand, five hundred forty-five dollars. It can hold a maximum of nine passengers. The two thousand on Ford Taurus Station Wagon has an MSRP value of twenty thousand two hundred eighty-five dollars. The maximum seating capacity is eight ( CarPoint 1). If these two vehicles were to collide, the Expedition would total the Taurus. The twenty thousand spent on the station wagon could have paid for only one model out of the six SUVs that Ford manufactures. In addition, that inexpensive SUV gets terrible gas mileage and is not as safe as the larger SUVs. The more money that is spent on an SUV, the safer the occupants because of the large size of the vehicle. Due to this, only people with more money can afford the largest SUVs. Forty thousand dollars is a lot of money to spend on a vehicle. Not many people can afford to spend that, so they buy smaller cars, such as the Ford Taurus. What is being set into play here is a kind of discrimination, where only the rich can afford to be safe. Spending large sums of money on an SUV pays for safety (for themselves, not others) and inefficient gas mileage. People should not have to spend their life savings on a vehicle just to entitle them to safety, which is something that all people should have equally.

Air pollution is becoming an increasingly dangerous problem that the world faces. Today one hundred seventeen million Americans live in areas where it is unsafe to breathe the air during much of the summer due to ozone or “smog” pollution ( Someday 1). One of the largest contributors to this in the United States are automobiles. Cars have an average gas mileage of close to twenty-five miles per gallon. The average for SUVs is only thirteen miles per gallon. Therefore, aside from costing more, SUVs use more gas, thus polluting the environment more than the average passenger car. Automakers are building SUVs and other light trucks that emit as much as three times more smog-forming air pollution and use 33% more gas per mile driven than the average car ( Someday 1). Due to poor gas mileage and pollutants produced by SUVs, they are contributing to global warming at an alarming pace.

The main reasons for the poor fuel economy are do to the design of the vehicle. SUVs have terrible aerodynamics, which create a tremendous amount of wind resistance. The engine has to work extra hard in order to keep a steady speed. Another reason is due to their height and weight. These contribute to the poor aerodynamics, but also play a role themselves. The weight makes the engine work harder in order to accelerate to a speed.

In the past years, the average price of gas has risen to nearly two dollars per gallon in some areas. This high break has not affected the number of SUVs on the road. Most people are driving their thirteen miles to the gallon, and then filling their tanks. There have been reports of people resorting to stealing gas. Some people have even been seen stealing gas; driving away without paying for their gas, and to top it off, they drove SUVs (Strauss 1). Because of all the gas consumed by SUVs, they contribute greatly to global warming. The United States is the number one contributor to global warming, and the automobiles that are on the roads are adding greatly to that fact.

Governmental loopholes have encouraged manufacturers to continue producing these gas-guzzling SUVs, and are making it easier for the public to buy them. Because of the classification of SUVs, the manufacturers have escaped close to ten billion dollars in nineteen ninety-nine taxes ( Close A12). Normally, if a vehicle does not get at least twenty-two and one half miles per gallon, the manufacterer must pay a gas guzzler tax. This tax is applied to cars, which an SUV, by definition is not. Therefore, manufacturers can profit from these vehicles, making thousands per vehicle, and while contributing to the air pollution and safety problems of the United States, get away without paying taxes. While Congress has mandated stricter emissions standards to cut air pollution, its tax policy favors production of the biggest, most-polluting vehicles on the road ( Close A12). Congress wants to clean up the environment, but their tax policies say just the opposite.

SUVs are classified as a type of light truck. This law was enacted to help farmers that purchased these light trucks for work. They were tax exempt, but it was assumed that the vehicles were to be used for work. Now, business people have been taking advantage of this tax break, and buying SUVs because of the tax break. However, the same provision intended for agriculture is now being used as a loophole by astute business people who travel in Chevy Suburbans, Lincoln Navigators and other monster SUVs ( Close A12). The government allows a twenty thousand-dollar tax deduction for these people if their vehicle weighs six thousand or more pounds. People in businesses have been buying these large vehicles just to take advantage of the tax break. Shrewd tax accountants have been advising clients to purchase the mammoth SUVs to qualify for the generous tax advantage ( Close 1). In order to save just a little money, these tax accountants are telling people to take advantage of this law.

By administering these tax breaks, the government is indirectly contributing to air pollution and the low fuel reserves. By offering this break, people will purchase these SUVs, despite whether they need it or not. If the government were to stop offering these deductions, fewer people would purchase SUVs, and pollution would be reduced. So far, there has been only one instance where the government has come into play on the pollution issues of SUVs.

In California alone, close to one hundred twenty-six thousand, seventy five tons of nitrous oxide will be avoided each year, by twenty-twenty, as a result of California state regulation, enacted in November nineteen ninety-eight, requiring SUVs and other light trucks to meet new car standards ( Someday 1).

California is hoping that it will act as a role model for the rest of the country.

Sport utility vehicles are a growing problem on the roads of the United States. They offer risk to themselves with the likelihood to rollover, risks to other, smaller cars in collisions, and a risk to the environment. The only way to fix this problem is with governmental intervention. If the government were to make a law requiring all SUVs to meet the safety requirements of regular passenger cars, the roads would be a safer place to drive. Nevertheless, until the government decides to rework the regulations on SUVs, they should be banned from the road, due to the inherent dangers which they can possibly cause to themselves, and to other drivers.

Works Cited

Baumgartner, Mark. Rollovers Reduce SUV Safety. 12 Dec. 1997: 1.

Close the SUV Tax Loophole. The Hartford Courant. 26 Feb 2001: A12.

Emmons, Steve. Sport Utilities: Have Fun, but Play It Safe . Home Edition. 17 Feb 1995: E1. Newsbank. Online.

Healy, James R. SUV Drivers Can Reduce Rollovers. 26 Sept 2000: 1.

Laliberte, Monica. Overloaded SUVs can Create Rollover Problem. 14 Nov 2000: 1.

Millers, LS. 2001 RAV4: Unsafe at any speed?. 31 Dec 2000: 1.

MSN CarPoint. 2001

Mulshine, Paul. SUVs: High Rollers, Licensed to Kill. 15 Aug 2000: 1.

Nomai, A.J. The SUV Fad: A Public Message. 1997: 1.

O Brien, Keith. SUVs Popular Despite Pollution. Statesman-Journal. 22 March 1999. Newsbank. Online. 25 Feb 2001.

Institute Says SUV Bumpers Poor for Low-Speed Crashes. 14 Sept 2000: 1.

If you Drive an SUV, or Hope to Someday, Read This!. March 1999: 1.

Skruck, Jeff. No Contest: SUVs vs. small cars in crashes. The Sun. 10 June 2000. Newsbank. Online. 25 Feb. 2001.

Strauss, Gary. SUV s Bleeding at the Pump. USA Today. 3 March 2000: 1A. Newsbank. Online. 25 Feb 2001.

Strong, Catherine. Ford Offers Air Bag System for Rollovers. 12 Jan 2000: 1.

Predicted Rollover Probabilities. 2000: 1.


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