Saturday, February 10, 2007

road hogs

The last Inside New Zealand show was quite interesting. It was about 4-wheel-drives, or SUVs as North Americans refer to them (and what I'll refer to them as, because it's easier to type), and how they are a menace to society, their owners and to the environment.

I'm sure I 'm not the only one who hates SUVs. They take up road space and parking space, and their drivers have a reputation for driving dangerously and irresponsibly. But one of the interesting things shown up in the TV show was how easy it was to become corrupted by the feeling of greater power, ease of use and the ability to literally look down on other drivers.

They gave two non-SUV drivers each the chance to drive one for a day or two, kept an eye on their driving and asked them for feedback throughout. By the end of their time as SUV users, the single working mum was a total convert, though the guy had gone from thoroughly enjoying his exalted position to feeling a bit silly for having such a large vehicle for no good reason. Both drivers had started to display deplorable driving habits.

But knowing that you're more likely to kill another driver or pedestrian (or trike-riding family member) whilst driving an SUV than a normal vehicle, doesn't seem to be enough to put people off buying them, because for the most part they themselves are generally safer in an SUV than in a car.

So I reckon any strategy aimed at reducing SUV-caused road carnage has got to focus on the desire for self-protection rather than the relatively altruistic notion of wishing to do no harm to others.

Whaddya reckon?


Angela said...

I think we all should go to public transit. But seeing as we are not any time soon I think we all should just wear bubble suits. Just kidding

onscreen said...

Don't like SUVs myself, and after seeing the program, I had an idea that all SUVs should be re-classified as light trucks so that you need to sit for a light truck license to be able to drive one... at least then the drivers would have a little more understanding of what they are driving!

Nigel Patel said...

I have never liked sitting up at truck level.
But it does bring me back to my first few cars, a '79 Bonneville and a big ol' Caddy, the '75 El Dorado. Big huge land yaghts with engines nearly-or-over twice the size of economy models of the day, the weighty mosters drifted on their suspensions and lurched and surged with horse power.
But all that was slung at car-level, giving everybody a fighting chance. And the only way to flip an El Dorado was on TV.

Violet said...

angela: I like using the buses too, but it's not so convenient when you've got groceries, babies or infirm family members with you.

onscreen: I totally agree with you.

nigel: I never enjoyed driving a bus when I was working at the library. It always felt like there was a power struggle between it and me.