More Calls Worldwide to Ban SUVs

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©. Protests against SUVs in Germany/ TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images

Laura Laker of the Guardian describes growing complaints in Germany and the UK.

Few subjects get readers so riled up as when I write Ban SUVs or Make SUVs and light trucks as safe as cars or get rid of them. But as they become more popular and kill more pedestrians, people all over the world are getting mad. Laura Laker writes in the Guardian about how as many as 25,000 people showed up to protest at the Frankfurt Auto Show after 4 people were killed by the driver of a Porsche SUV. She writes 'A deadly problem': should we ban SUVs from our cities? [and I translate]:

Outlander blocking bike lane and sidewalk in Edinburgh

Outlander blocking bike lane and sidewalk in Edinburgh/ Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

SUVs are a paradox: while many people buy them to feel safer, they are statistically less safe than regular cars, both for those inside and those outside the vehicle. A person is 11% more likely to die in a crash inside an SUV than a regular saloon [sedan]. Studies show they lull drivers into a false sense of security, encouraging them to take greater risks. Their height makes them twice as likely to roll in crashes and twice as likely to kill pedestrians by inflicting greater upper body and head injuries, as opposed to lower limb injuries people have a greater chance of surviving. Originally modelled from trucks, they are often exempt from the kinds of safety standards applied to passenger vehicles, including bonnet [hood] height. In Europe legislation is being brought in to end such “outdated and unjustified” exemptions.

In Europe they already have far tougher regulations on SUVs than in North America. However, the difference between a regular car and an SUV is blurring; the Porsche Macan that was driven into the four Germans has a pretty good pedestrian safety rating. Most SUVs these days are "crossovers" – built like cars, but pumped up to look higher and bolder. But Laker points to Carlton Reid in Forbes, who describes a correlation in the UK between engine size and deadliness.

Seen on Toronto street

Lloyd Alter/ should we regulate big motors or big cars?/CC BY 2.0

SUVs are not specifically pinpointed in crash data but, says [transport policy advisor Adam] Reynolds, “It is clear that the cars with 1.8-liter to 2-liter engines have a higher fatality rate, 2% vs. 1.4%, and this is likely to be speed- and size-related.” More alarming, he stresses, is that the 2-liter to 3-liter category shows a 2.4% fatality rate, and he states this “will be due to larger size and not just speed.” But really, who needs a car like this in the city?

Lincoln front end

Lincoln front end/ Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

Then, of course, there is the issue of emissions. The bigger the car and the bigger the engine, the more they put out. Laker writes: "Their larger engines and bulk mean on average SUVs have CO2 emissions 14% (16g/km) higher than an equivalent hatchback model. Every 1% market shift toward SUVs increases CO2 emissions by 0.15g CO2/km on average."

Seen in Toronto: giant pickup trucks

Seen on Toronto streets/ Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

Maybe a few people need these things for work, although they rarely look like they have ever been near a job site. But they are hard to park, they are deadly, they pollute, and they don't belong in our city streets. It's time to get rid of them.