Ban SUVs

CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. Duncan Creamer via Flickr "Protest Art"

Yet another needless death caused by a driver who cannot control her car. Why do we allow these in cities?

Vancouver's Granville Island is not like the mean streets of New York City. It is more like... Disneyland. You don’t go to a store or restaurant in Disneyland and expect a car to come through the wall and kill you, but that’s what happened yesterday on Granville Island- a woman in an out-of-control Ford SUV reversed at high speed into a tin-clad building where a 23 year old student was shopping. You don’t expect that, really, inside a building, or when you are walking on the sidewalk with your friends and your family. Yet in the last few weeks this has happened, again and again.

What happened on Granville Island is confusing, but had it been a Honda Civic that was out of control, I doubt anyone would be dead. If Anton Yelchin’s car had been Chrysler’s Fiat 500 instead of a Jeep Grand Cherokee, he probably would have broken legs instead of being dead. If Victoria Nicodemus had been hit by a Chevy Cruze instead of a Suburban, she might well be alive.

Most of these big SUVs are disproportionately deadly by design, with their big flat walls of front ends and huge inertia. They are harder to handle, have poor visibility low in front of the car and are clearly more sophisticated and complicated than the people who are driving them can deal with. Even the so-called “cross-overs” are higher, and more bloated than cars and are harder to handle.

And to think that we used to just complain because of their gas mileage; now it’s because they are an urban menace, fundamentally dangerous and killing pedestrians at three times the rate of normal cars.

Granville Island

Lloyd Alter/ Granville Island/CC BY 2.0

Really, if you cannot go shopping on Granville Island in Vancouver without getting killed by an out of control SUV then there is something wrong with the system.

When I previously wrote that we should Make SUVs and light trucks as safe as cars or get rid of them and suggested that their drivers should have special licences, I was told that it doesn’t take more skill to drive an SUV than a sedan. This may be so, (thought I doubt it) but they still are fundamentally more dangerous to pedestrians; the statistics show it.

They simply do not mix well with pedestrians and do not belong in cities. These are not cars, they are not subject to the safety design constraints that cars are, and people should not be allowed to drive them as cars. Let’s get rid of them.

There was a terrible ad for an SUV that has been running in Canada, that starts with the sentence "we can't create a world without accidents." First of all we can, it's called Vision Zero. The driver cannot keep her eyes on the road and more importantly, cannot see the kid running out in front of her car because a) she is distracted and b) the hood of her car is taller than the kid. Should she, or this vehicle, be on the road? I don't think so.