The SUV Controversy

by Kristine Ching of Driver Alert Magazine

Because the SUV's are so large the tendency for them to crush other motorists in accidents are common.

What I will do in this report is to define for you what a SUV is and what its' supposed use is. I will then discuss why people feel that SUV's are a problem and later what its advantages are. Of course we can't end without the writers comments. My sources for the information in this report is from sites on the Internet. I will give you links to the sites in case you want to check them out.

SUV stands for Sports Utility Vehicle. It has been named a sport utility vehicle because of its use. "Sport" because it enables people to carry all sorts of gear for activities. Some uses for the SUV include towing boats, carrying surfboards etc... and it allows you to take the family and your gear to other such out door events like camping. It is a "Utility" vehicle because of its usefulness. Besides those above mentioned activities it can take you to any other activity that you desire. Finally, it is a "Vehicle" for obvious reasons.

SUV's differ from something like a van because it may come with a four wheel drive feature with is used for off roading. It doesn't come with a sliding door and the look of the SUV is more sporty and rugged. It is a kind of all purpose vehicle. The van was not created to go off roading. It is more a cargo vehicle built to carry a lot of cargo and take its passengers for point A to point B.

The controversy surrounding the SUV's are the danger that many feels it poses. Because of the increasing popularity of sport utility vehicles there have been many who oppose its use for everyday tasks. There have been some controversy over the safety of them for those who operate the vehicle and the safety of others on the roads with them. Many feel that people are purchasing them for its appearance and not for its proper use, what ever that may be.

The Advantage to Owning a SUV

According to the SUV Safety site the advantages to owning an SUV are many. First, many of the vehicles are equipped with four wheel drive. These vehicles handle better in the rain and snow or what ever extreme conditions the weather may bring. There is more traction because of the four wheel drive there fore better control over the vehicle in those conditions. Besides better traction the, four wheel drive feature allows the operator of the vehicle to drive in places that other cars are unable to go. Also due to the generous amount of space from the ground to the bottom of the vehicle there is less chance of damage. The height also allows better visibility so the driver can see in to traffic easier than smaller cars.

The site mentions that the SUV's are much safer than other cars because of the large amount of metal that surrounds the car. It provides the vehicle with a larger frame structure and thus protects the occupants of the car. In general due to the large size of the vehicle it is safer than driving a tiny sports car. On impact an SUV will be less likely to be crushed or tossed around.

In defense, the site claims that the problems with the vehicles turning are not really a problem at all. According to the NHSTA, rollovers "typically involve dangerous driver behavior. Lower seat belt use, speeding, and alcohol use are common factors in more than 90 percent of all rollover fatalities." Basically if drivers of utility vehicles follow the traffic laws then problems with roll overs should not occur. They feel that all vehicle pose problems for motorists. It is possible for any kind of car, truck or van to tip while taking turns if they are breaking traffic laws. Besides this point, they say that other large vehicles pose the same problems as SUV's.

The Problems with SUV's

According to the site that I searched The Sport Utility Vehicle Anit-Fan Club the main problem with the SUV is its tendency to roll over while taking turns. Supposedly the manufacturer of each SUV is required to place a sticker in each vehicle which advises the driver to be cautious while taking turns. The sticker should read, "This is a multipurpose passenger vehicle which will handle and maneuver differently from an ordinary passenger car, in driving conditions which may occur on streets and highways and off road. As with other vehicles of this type, if you make sharp turns or abrupt maneuvers, the vehicle may roll over or may go out of control and crash. You should read driving guidelines and instructions in the Owner's Manual, and wear your seat belt at all times." What this club is saying is that not all manufacturers do this. The reason they say for the vehicles tendency to roll is the vehicles high center of gravity. The closer the center of gravity to the ground the less likely the car is to tip.

A second problem that some have with SUV's are the the size of the vehicles. There are those who feel that the large size of the vehicles are a problem on the road. Because the SUV's are so large the tendency for them to crush other motorists in accidents are common. Also, in fender benders the height of the SUV's are a problem. The fenders on the vehicles are so much higher then those on normal sized cars that they over ride the smaller cars bumpers crushing the occupants in the car. Also because of the cars height when it flips over it crushes the smaller vehicle as a can crusher crushes a can.

The anti lock breaks have been reported to be defective in three thousand five hundred and fifty cars but approximately fifteen thousand consumers have complained of problems with their anti lock breaks. Aside from these problems other problems that people feel are caused because of SUV's are air pollution. The vehicles are as many call it "gas guzzlers." So they require more amounts of gas then other smaller vehicles thus more pollution.


Both sites have valid arguments as to the safety of sport utility vehicles but as a sport utility vehicle owner I have to side with the advantages of owning one. Every vehicle has its faults and other larger vehicles may possibly pose the same dangers as SUV's. Also every car on the road add to the pollution of the air and the destruction of the environment as well as uses a large amount of gas. I can not understand why people feel the need to target SUV's. A site that I found lists the top ten reasons people own sports utility vehicles and one of the reasons is because everyone else drives one. I agree, sports utility vehicles may be the fad now but so were hondas and even station wagons at one time. Personally I enjoy my SUV. I like being able to see over smaller cars and carry more passengers. Aside from that my vehicle allows me to carry a lot of cargo both inside and on top of the roof. It is in my opinion an all purpose vehicle.

As you browsed 'The SUV Controversy' you may find interest in following articles . . .


The NHSTA report I read supported that most of the rollovers related to SUV's were due mostly to the design not the driver. Ford even released a report acknowledging their design flaws in an attempt to become more 'transparent'. But stated that they would continue to produce the vehicle to keep up in competition.

SUVs are a major irritant and source of hazard for other drivers on city streets and highways. They are just too big for roads that were built to accomodate much smaller vehicles and decades before the SUV concept was introduced to our society. An SUV parked on a residential street narrows that street and makes it difficult for others to navigate out of their driveways. They create similar safety problems to others when parked near intersections. On the road, driving behind anSUV limits your visibility of what is ahead. They pose similar problems to others as pick-up and larger trucks do. Although they are smaller than the monstrous trucks one sometimes encounters on highways, their sheer large numbers on the road make them just as much of a nuisance. In my view, the spread of SUVs is an indication of the selfishness that permeates even the most civilized of our societies on this planet. I think that the responsible agencies at the national and state levels should limit their use to certain roads that are wide enough to minimize their impact on the visibility of the majority of other drivers.

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