Unsafe At Any Speed

Studies show that occupants of a sports utility vehical (SUV) are more likely to survive an automobile accident than the occupants of a smaller economy car. Brilliant study. Probably expensive too. Paid for by the automobile insurance interests, probably so they can justify penalizing SUV owners with higher premiums.

On top of this, these same insurance interests (and probably the government) are trying to figure out how to make SUV's less damaging to the smaller, cheaper, less solidly built economy cars. The logic may be that if the SUV's are less solidly built, the insurance interests can raise collision insurance premiums for them. Or perhaps to make them less safe to even out the mortality odds for the SUV passengers?

See if you can follow this scenario.

Some years ago, the petroleum interests decided their profits weren't large enough and so they created a "gasoline crisis" -- twice -- in order to boost rates at the pump from 25¢ per gallon to $1. It worked. Our alert government watchdogs and investigative journalists never caught the fraud but instead concentrated on the automobile industry manufacturing lighter weight, more "energy efficient" cars cluttered up with complicated plumbing and catalytic converters. (A side-effect of this effort raised automobile prices too. After all, the automobile manufacturers had to enjoy some sort of payoff too.)

The result: the beloved American muscle car became extinct. Cadillacs and Lincolns lost their distinction as status symbols. The big steel family sedan or station wagon became a small, cramped, plastic bumper car, aerodynamically ugly. And cheaper? No way. Don't be ridiculous. You would think that plastic is cheaper than steel, but compare replacing a chromed steel bumper to replacing a torn plastic rear end "assembly". (There are no real bumpers anymore. Just moulded plastic components.)

Ok. No more big, comfortable, safe family cars. Since station wagons were no longer manufactured, enter the mom-mobile or the van. And, since economy cars had very little luggage or passenger space, were mostly ugly, and all looked alike, enter the RV and SUV. Notice also that the manufacturers of the small, "cheap" economy cars are now concentrating on Jeep knockoffs. (Watch a Crocodile Dundee SUV commercial. Talk about aggressive driving?)

Where's the humor in all of this?

Don't you see the irony in the intelligent vehicle buyer paying extra for a safer, more practical, and possibly more fun to drive personal car being penalized by the whiners who buy cheap, energy-efficient, cramped, uncomfortable rubber bumper cars?

You'll notice that the Safey Council's survey didn't mention that 0% of the occupants of a small car survive a crash with a tractor-trailor. The survey also never mentioned which driver caused the accident. We suspect it was usually the driver of the smaller car. But then, we're biased. We drive a Jeep. Fire-engine red.

Real Jeep

Not to be confused with the Hummer, which is only an outrageously expensive Jeep wannabee.