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SUV Debate

This topic contains 60 replies, has 19 voices, and was last updated by  JustRay 11 mos, 4 weeks.

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ericf

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Apr 26 2013 at 4:49am #

In light of the tragic nature of recent events, as others have suggested,
I will start this thread. Even though this horse has been beaten, I will offer this, from wikipedia: (it must be true, it’s on the internet)
“While SUVs are often perceived as having inferior rearward vision compared with regular passenger cars, this is not supported by controlled testing which found poor rearward visibility was not limited to any single vehicle class.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_sport_utility_vehicles

I am not here to defend anyone’s choice of vehicle, including my own, it is a personal choice. I would, however, like to illustrate that poor driving is the problem, not the choice of vehicle.


jonawebb

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Apr 26 2013 at 7:33am #

I’m not really opposed to SUVs in general (I just think lots of people who own them don’t need them and don’t have the skills to drive them properly), but these folks are: http://thedetroitproject.com/readmore/myths.htm.


Benzo

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Apr 26 2013 at 7:54am #

Mom’s need to wise up, full sized vans are where it’s at for interior space and huge blind spots.

I think the real issues of safety are:
*Reducing distracted driving, especially cell phone use (which reduces chances of accidents)
*Using infrastructure and enforcement to reduce speeds on city streets (which increases accident survivability)
*More driver education for all rules / regulations with some focus on pedestrian and cyclist safety (materials could be sent out with drivers license renewals and included on drivers tests, which IMHO should be re-tested every 5ish years).
*Good cyclist education materials available for free at EVERY BIKE SHOP, along with a simple to read / understand list of local and state regulations with respect to cycling.


AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe

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Apr 26 2013 at 7:58am #

http://skepchick.org/2012/09/the-science-of-cyclist-hate/


AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe

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Apr 26 2013 at 7:58am #

http://www.news-record.com/home/1090975-63/update-bicyclist-in-greensboro-critically


ericf

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Apr 26 2013 at 8:08am #

jonawebb wrote:(I just think lots of people who own them don’t need them and don’t have the skills to drive them properly)

The same argument can be made against bicycles.


Mikhail

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Apr 26 2013 at 8:11am #

jonawebb wrote:I’m not really opposed to SUVs in general (I just think lots of people who own them don’t need them and don’t have the skills to drive them properly), but these folks are: http://thedetroitproject.com/readmore/myths.htm.

Where? It’s quite opposite:
Like sitting on a thick phone directory at a theater, driving a tall vehicle does improve a motorist’s view, but at the expense of those driving behind. Drivers of tall vehicles are able to avoid some crashes by seeing dangerous situations in advance.

so for a motorist it’s improve motorist’s view.


steevo

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Apr 26 2013 at 8:37am #

The difference between the SUV and the Bicycle is that the SUV has
a 10 cylinder engine. When I first drove one it blew my mind how powerful it was


jonawebb

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Apr 26 2013 at 8:38am #

@ericf true, but of course with bad cyclists the danger is to themselves, while with bad SUV drivers the danger is to others.
@mikhail, the view of objects in the distance is improved, but close up, not so much, and certainly objects close up and low are moved farther out of your peripheral vision.


ericf

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Apr 26 2013 at 8:39am #

@benzo,
+1, especially the bit about distracted driving.
I know it is cool in the cycling circle to hate SUV’s, because most cyclists don’t own one. The anti-SUV posts on here are just rehashed garbage that you read on the internet, or heard from your cool friends. I haven’t seen any real evidence that SUV’s cause more cycling related accidents.

What if we take a look at something that really causes problems when driving, cellphones / smart phones. How come nobody hates them?


jonawebb

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Apr 26 2013 at 8:45am #

@ericf, people totally hate them. Another thread…


gg

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Apr 26 2013 at 8:46am #

So long as drivers realize SUVs should NOT be driven like cars, but as I see every day they are driven the same as cars. That is the problem. Sure SUVs are as safe as a car towards cyclists so long as you drive them like the trucks they are. Leave more room when following other cars/cyclists or whatever. Slow down way more if negotiating curves in the road because you don’t know what will be around that curve. A cyclists or pedestrian perhaps? Remember, they don’t handle well and they don’t brake well and they certainly can’t do both at the same time very well. They are top heavy and just don’t maneuver well. Therefore, don’t drive them like a car. Do we see SUV drivers not tailgating, driving slower and driving as they should? No. Therefore, I do feel they cause more accidents due to drivers watching all those dumb commercials showing SUVs going through slaloms as if they can handle well and blowing fast through that snow drift like they can magically stop better than a car. They are good for very little. They don’t have much more utility than most cars. It is more smoke and mirrors really. Anyway, you are correct that it is the driver, BUT as we all see every day, SUVs are driven like cars and that is the problem. They really should be driven much slower and that includes highway driving. I see the flipped over on highways pretty often because once they start getting out of control, they have very little chance of recovery.

With regards to SUVs in the city, I feel they can’t see what is near the ground as well. Why else would they put those stupid little cameras in them to show what is behind them? Lets face it, they are a very poor choice 9 times out of 10 when considering a vehicle and are usually purchased due to a false sense of safety AND to bully others.


ericf

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Apr 26 2013 at 8:48am #

@steevo,
Bicycles are inherently safer than cars, because they don’t move very fast. Even the most inept cyclist has a huge margin of error because they are moving so slow.
BTW, most SUV’s have 6 or 8 cylinders. The only 10 cylinder SUV’s I know of are the Ford Excursion and the VW Touareg.


ajbooth

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Apr 26 2013 at 8:49am #

Great point Eric. I have been driving to work this week instead of riding (recovering from pneumonia) and have been very nearly side-swiped twice by vehicles whose drivers were fully engaged with their phones. One ended in a shouting match at a light, because the driver didn’t like my use of the horn. The other ended with me shaking my head because the driver, who was all but bouncing off the walls of the Liberty Tubes, had a nice Cannondale road bike on his trunk rack. I bet he doesn’t text while riding…at least I hope not.


ericf

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Apr 26 2013 at 8:59am #

@gg
Your advice applies to all vehicles, not just SUV’s. Everyone should slow down, not tailgate, leave more room, etc. When you drove SUV’s, did you always follow your advice?
You can “feel they cause more accidents” all you want, but please show me the evidence.


gg

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Apr 26 2013 at 9:10am #

ericf wrote:@gg
Your advice applies to all vehicles, not just SUV’s. Everyone should slow down, not tailgate, leave more room, etc. When you drove SUV’s, did you always follow your advice?
You can “feel they cause more accidents” all you want, but please show me the evidence.

Yes, it applies to all vehicles, but SUVs are worse than cars for the most part. That being said, I really don’t see your point. Tailgating is a no-no, but an SUV needs even MORE space than a good car. I see a ton of SUVs every day driving like idiots. When I see an SUV in my mirror, I know to be ready to get fully off the road. They seem to attract aggressive drivers and lets face it, that makes perfect sense. What better vehicle to bully than some big Hummer or Suburban or whatever? They are almost meant for it, but yes is about the driver.


Benzo

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Apr 26 2013 at 9:18am #

My Honda Element has a 4 cylinder engine. I guess I”m just an outlier.


Marko82

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Apr 26 2013 at 9:20am #

The problem with most big vehicles (big cars too) is that they tend to isolate you from everything happening around you. They tend to have more sound proofing, softer seats, better radios, etc. This gives the driver the impression that if anything bad happens that they physically wont be involved, only the sheet metal.

Small cars on the other hand make you feel like you are part of what’s going on. It’s probably the number one reason most people would give for NOT driving a Smart car – it’s dangerous, I’d get hurt! Even though it’s probably not any more unsafe than any other vehicle.

I’ve owed SUVs and quite a few two-door compacts. You can be an asshole in either one.


ericf

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Apr 26 2013 at 9:22am #

@jonawebb,
That’s great that people totally hate them, but why do they continue to use them?
Opinions aside, here are some facts:

http://www.nsc.org/Pages/NSCestimates16millioncrashescausedbydriversusingcellphonesandtexting.aspx

Texting while driving is illegal, because it causes accidents.

All of this SUV hate is just mimicry by people who think it makes them cool to jump on the bandwagon.


Mikhail

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Apr 26 2013 at 9:23am #

jonawebb wrote:
the view of objects in the distance is improved, but close up, not so much, and certainly objects close up and low are moved farther out of your peripheral vision.

John, it depends. If you head much higher above non transient part of the door then visibility is better on your left and forward. And even to the right. But URL you gave as a confirmation of your statement does not have anything about peripheral vision. And anyway peripheral vision is “designed” to catch more movement then details.


jonawebb

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Apr 26 2013 at 9:29am #

@ericf, I meant people here.


reddan

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Apr 26 2013 at 9:42am #

I suspect that many people in our circles dislike SUVs for the same reason that many others hate on “brakeless fixies”; there is a perception of more unacceptable behavior committed by operators of said vehicles.

Personally, I see no problem with making note of general trends (e.g. “more SUV owners drive aggressively” or “more fixie riders run red lights”), but it gets kinda silly when that gets transformed into definitive statements about individual behavior, or blameshifted onto the vehicle rather than the operator.

Every vehicle on the road has different capabilities and limitations; it’s the responsibility of the operator to be aware of both, and to understand how they apply in different settings.


edmonds59

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Apr 26 2013 at 10:02am #

I’m not even sure how committed I am to this discussion, not passionate about either side, but I have things clogging my thoughts that I’ll just get out.
I’m totally on board with the driver being the single worst cause of accidents of any sort, cycle or otherwise. Getting and keeping a drivers license in this country is a complete freaking joke. And people just don’t get that they are operating a potentially deadly device.
The continued loading of vehicles with navigation, entertainment systems, even accessories to facilitate drinking is complete irresponsibility on the part of manufacturers. And meaningful regulation is nowhere.
Having said that, any vehicle that is required to have a label on the visor that indicates that it will roll over when cornered – really? And as others have said, most people completely disregard that warning and drive them as they would a sedan.
As Nick D said in the other thread, very few people buy vehicles, or anything really, based on rational decisions. I know an accountant who is loaded $$ to the eyeballs, he drives a 15 yr old Geo sedan, he buys rationally. If it were really a case of needing to move stuff and people, everyone would just drive minivans, minivans are awesome. And yet the primary reason for not driving a minivan seems to be because everyone hates on those also.
I have an “acquaintance” who drives a Lincoln Navigator, one of the biggest most ridiculous things on the road. He practically shudders with fear when he sees me driving my “fun” car, 1973 Mini 1000, about the size of a large desk, no airbags, side guard doors beams, no any safety at all really. He drives that thing because he is terrified of getting in an accident (this is tremendously ironic to me, since controlling that thing on the road is also ridiculous). Coincidentally, (not making this a generalization, just for this specific case, please) he is also a Fox news watcher, Republican, and gun owner. He has totally bought into the scenario that you can’t trust anyone, the world is scary, aaaaaa! I believe that some people (just some people I’m saying, don’t shoot me) drive these monsters because that’s what you do to be safe, and the hell with everyone else. Not saying anyone is Bad People, but that is how SUV’s and many other things are marketed to the public, selling thru fear. It works. In the larger picture, that really is what irks me, that people buy that nonsense.
Not sure what this contributes, just thoughts and observations, no data.
Lastly, not to inflame things, but I am also not clear as to why anyone would become passionately defensive of SUV’s. People dump on all sorts of things, that’s just people.


edmonds59

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Apr 26 2013 at 10:09am #

Also Honda Elements are one of the most rational vehicles on the road, awesome. I miss mine terribly.


ericf

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Apr 26 2013 at 10:50am #

@edmonds59,
I am not for or against any vehicle including SUV’s, they are just things. I am, however, passionately against people who simply parrot what the cool kids are doing because they can’t come up with an original idea on their own.
As I see it, SUV’s are bad because they don’t get very good mileage, and when accidents do occur, they can cause greater injury to people in smaller vehicles because of their mass and higher bumpers. As far as not being able to see around the large SUV in front of you, in that case it would be your responsibility to leave more space between you and the offending SUV, so that you can operate your vehicle in a safe manner.

Being uninformed and doing ,saying, or believing things just because other people do just doesn’t sit well with me.


edmonds59

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Apr 26 2013 at 11:04am #

Cool.
Just an aside; I don’t like guys in suits. My initial reaction is “dick”. I effing hate suits. Ties too. And I’m not even kidding about that. I despise them and resent ever having to wear one. That’s just my bias, and no one will ever change that.
Except for Mick. Mick is awesome in a suit.


rice rocket

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Apr 26 2013 at 11:06am #

ericf wrote:@edmonds59,
I am not for or against any vehicle including SUV’s, they are just things. I am, however, passionately against people who simply parrot what the cool kids are doing because they can’t come up with an original idea on their own.

Is driving SUVs cool? I had no idea I was in the cool club for so long!!!


edmonds59

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Apr 26 2013 at 11:13am #

Depends who you talk to.
In some circles it’s “cool” to buy “organic” and “whole” foods from a right-wing shitbag who is totally scamming you.


Mick

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Apr 26 2013 at 11:14am #

@ ericf http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_sport_utility_vehicles

Thanks for starting the thread and for posting that. That seems to be a really good article, regardless of the disclaimer on top.

Every year I visit my old home down of Ishpeming, MI. It’s in a county with 36 people per square mile, but is far more populous than the counties around it (for reference Allegheny has 1675 people psm and summerset county has 72 psm). Plenty of dirt roads and snow on the ground between Thanksgiving and the beginning of May.

When I’m there, I have to consciously calibrate my impressions. In the urban environment, the most typical reasons for buying an SUV are indications of some thought process I do not respect.

(“Lack-of-thought” process may be more like it. Hypnotized by the bright colors of the TV.)

Not so in Ishpeming.

That being said, Edmund59′s friend certainly meets my sterotype of SUV owner.

I think of it as paranoia when fear leads people to make choices that actually put them at more risk Not compared with Edmund59′s min-death trap of course, but certainly compared to modern high-end car that is still cheaper than the SUV. (Cheaper, safer, less environmentally damaging, less consumption of irreplacable hydrocarbons, cheaper insurance, cheaper maintainence.)


Mick

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Apr 26 2013 at 11:19am #

@ edmunds59

Mick is awesome in a suit.

Wow! Thanks!

That suit is now moth-eaten and I need to get a new one- but every single time I’ve worn that suit, I’d ridden a bike somewhere. I think if more suit wearers had that habit, perceptions might change.

That, and I’m a dick.


dooftram

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Apr 26 2013 at 11:26am #

Because, you know, reading is fundamental and this is hardly a new subject…. try Malcolm Gladwell’s “Big and Bad”-

http://www.gladwell.com/2004/2004_01_12_a_suv.html

or Jack Hitt’s “The Hidden Life of SUVs”-

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1999/07/hidden-life-suvs

Very little is ever simply good or bad, but the rise of the SUV is a phenomenon that reveals some of the very worst things about us.


rice rocket

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Apr 26 2013 at 12:09pm #

Gladwell is a hack. I have his book “Blink”, I rate it 1/10 as journalism. These are all things he thought up in his head, and went searching for anecdotes to backup his arguments. Anecdotes are not science.

And from what I’ve heard, Hitt isn’t any better.

Care to cite any not hack-ical sources? ;)


ajbooth

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Apr 26 2013 at 12:19pm #

edmonds59 wrote:Lastly, not to inflame things, but I am also not clear as to why anyone would become passionately defensive of SUV’s. People dump on all sorts of things, that’s just people.

Not sure if I’m one of the “anyones” because I don’t think I defended SUVs, and certainly not passionately. But I am passionately offended by stereotypes and profiling, and that’s most of what I’ve read about the evil SUV owners.

For the record, I drive an SUV. I chose it for the rational reason that I need to fully load it with equipment that I transport about once per weekend. A sedan is too small, and a truck is too big. I actually test-loaded my SUV before I bought it, to make sure it fit my needs. It does.


Drewbacca

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Apr 26 2013 at 12:40pm #

I really don’t have much add that hasn’t already been said…

ericf, first I just want to say thank you for starting a new thread; we all let that other one go on too long with off topic posts (myself, clearly included).

I’d also add that cell-phones were mentioned in that other thread but that particular conversation didn’t go anywhere since we have no idea if the driver was talking on the phone or texting at the time. It is a valid concern and a much bigger problem if it occurred.

I want to reemphasize that I wasn’t SUV-bashing by any stretch in the other thread. I believe that I raised valid points and that I did so objectively. I don’t have a problem with SUVs; in fact my girlfriend may be buying one and she has a need for one. Either I did a terrible job at being clear in what I said or you misread my comments; that seems to be the norm of internet conversation, anyways.

I can only speak from my own experience, but most people that I know who drive an SUV don’t have children and don’t have a band. I think that higher gas prices have toned down the over-consumption of SUVs a bit over the last decade… but for most who drive them, they are a luxury vehicle rather than a utility vehicle.


Nick D

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Apr 26 2013 at 2:04pm #

I just realized someone lumped together a Mustang and Corvette together in the other thread. Combine that with the idea that SUV’s have 10 cylinders [sorry steevo] and that cars weigh 2000lbs, I am convinced that no cyclists know anything about cars ;-)


edmonds59

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Apr 26 2013 at 2:12pm #

My mini weighs 1,375 lbs., like 1,390 with gas. 1 litre 4 cylinder carburetted transverse pushrod iron block with 4 speed integral crankcase transmission, like a motorcycle, but with a dry clutch.
edit; forgot to mention, it has a dry elastomer type suspension designed by famed bicycle designer Alex Moulton, but I have since replaced that with progressively wound coil springs.


dooftram

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Apr 26 2013 at 3:39pm #

rice rocket wrote:Gladwell is a hack. I have his book “Blink”, I rate it 1/10 as journalism. These are all things he thought up in his head, and went searching for anecdotes to backup his arguments. Anecdotes are not science.

And from what I’ve heard, Hitt isn’t any better.

Care to cite any not hack-ical sources? ;)

What you ask for is ironic considering your rather cheap and unsubstantiated ad hominem/hearsay dismissal. Did you actually read the articles?

I’m not a big fan of either writer (especially Gladwell), but both of those articles present more “evidence” than anything I’ve heard/seen from those claiming that anti-SUV sentiment is just some sort of ignorant “cool” pose.

Both pieces are useful in getting us to think about why we buy the cars we buy and question some of the common assumptions SUV drivers have about their safety. Since they are a bit dated and the heavy, truck chassis-based SUVs they are (mostly) referring to have given way to much smaller, car-based ones, things start getting even murkier. Still, it’s worth thinking about, which is not exactly “science” but no less important. Car culture has a particularly outsized ability to shape and influence just about every aspect of our lives. It deserves any scrutiny we can give it.


ericf

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Apr 26 2013 at 3:39pm #

@edmonds59,
That sounds pretty cool, I’ll bet it handles like a go cart! I like the old ones way better than the new ones.


Mikhail

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Apr 26 2013 at 3:48pm #

Nick D wrote:I just realized someone lumped together a Mustang and Corvette together in the other thread.

I combined (or clustered together if you wish) them from the point of view of driver visibility. Due to driver position there is no big difference. :P As math teaches us (yes, I am a mathematician) — you use attributes which are more essential. It’s how process of abstracting works. :)

PS There is no just a number in the real world. But everyone knows what is one or two. :)


ericf

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Apr 26 2013 at 3:53pm #

@dooftram,
Both articles were interesting, and is is scary how we are influenced by marketing. Same thing happens with bicycles, look at all of the $5k plus carbon wonder bikes that never go on anything more than charity rides.
However, neither of the articles show any statistics about accidents *caused* by SUV’s. There may be some implied causality, but the articles offer no evidence that SUV’s cause accidents at a rate higher than any other vehicle.
My question for you is:
Why don’t people hate cell phones and ,for that matter, everybody who uses one at least as much as they claim to hate SUV’s and people who drive them?
The article I linked to earlier from the NSC estimates 1.6 million crashes are caused annually by texting.

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