Think about that: this so-called do-gooder effort to improve safety on the highways, killed
We hear a lot about drunk drivers, but they killed 16,653 in 2000 – still not as much as these CAFE laws. I urge you to look at these numbers on in the EIB Excerpt linked below, because we can’t elevate these numbers even higher – and see tens of thousands more dead on the highway – because people like John F. Kerry want to advance their political careers. I mean, here you have Democrats, the party of Bill Clinton, and look at what they’re doing to these soccer moms in their SUVs!
They’re telling them to drive plastic cars like the “Ford Excuse” which we parodied on Wednesday’s show, and risk the lives of their children! The cost of the CAFE standards has been roughly 7,700 deaths for every mile per gallon gained! Liberals are for this, and they’re the ones who get all the credit for caring about saving people and protecting people and making sure that people live. This requires a victims’ compensation fund!
Debate on fuel economy standards opens, pitting conservationists against soccer moms
H. JOSEF HEBERT, Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, March 12, 2002
One side sees improved auto fuel economy as key to the nation’s energy security. The other side predicts an end to affordable and safe SUVs, minivans and pickup trucks.
The debate over how best to cut the amount of gasoline consumed on U.S. highways took on an emotionally charged tone Tuesday as the Senate began considering a 50 percent boost in auto fuel efficiency.
Critics of the proposal argue the mileage requirements, which would be phased in over 13 years, can’t be met without making cars smaller, lighter and less safe and limiting consumers’ choices on the kinds of vehicles they are able to buy.
They offered an alternative that would require the Transportation Department to increase auto fuel efficiency within two years, but sets no specific standard. This would do nothing to improve fuel efficiency, said senators seeking the 50 percent increase.
“American women love their SUVs and minivans … because of their safety,” proclaimed Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., who warned that the wrath of “soccer moms” would be heard if the Senate approved the tougher standards.
Another senator said motorists would end up “in glorified golf carts.”
John Kerry, D-Mass., sponsor of the fuel economy measure, called such predictions “Alice in Wonderland comments” that ignore that “we are going backward” in reducing the amount of fuel used by motorists.
“It’s a scare tactic on soccer moms,” complained Kerry.
Kerry wants automakers to increase the average mileage of their new fleets to 36 miles per gallon by 2015, about 50 percent from current federal standards. He insists they have the technology to do it without making vehicles smaller or less safe, or sacrificing the popular SUVs and minivans.
Nonsense, argue his critics.
In an opening salvo Tuesday, they enlisted the fear of retribution from “soccer moms” and “pickup pops” who, they maintain, would no longer be able to buy the vehicles they love. And, they argued, it would mean lost auto industry jobs as U.S. manufacturers find it harder to compete with foreign producers.
Supporters of the new measures argued that it’s impossible to address the broader issue of energy conservation without dramatically reducing the amount of fuel guzzled on America’s highways. Passenger vehicles account for 40 percent of all the oil used today, they said.
While auto fuel efficiency increased dramatically in the late 1970s and early ’80s, there has been no progress since 1988, when the motor fleet reached a peak of just under 26 mpg. The average for all vehicles was 24 mpg in 2000, about what it was 22 years ago.
The primary reason has been the huge popularity of sport utility vehicles, or SUVs, and minivans, which are subject to less stringent fuel economy requirements and average about 20 mpg, as opposed to 28 mpg for passenger cars, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. These vehicles, along with pickups, now account for nearly half of all vehicles sold.
The proposal crafted by Kerry and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., would close the gap between cars and SUVs in addition to boosting overall mileage of vehicle fleets. In an attempt to garner additional support, Kerry said he is considering exempting larger pickups.
“No one in America will have to drive a smaller car,” insisted Kerry. “The technology is available today to meet the higher standard.”
Sen. Christopher Bond, R-Mo., said larger vehicles would be sacrificed. “About the only way we could get there is to put everybody into glorified golf carts,” said Bond. “You’d have families picking up their kids in subcompacts.”
Bond and Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., offered a more industry-friendly proposal that would require the Transportation Department to increase fuel economy requirements, but would set no specific standard. It requires the agency to consider safety, job losses, industry competition and energy conservation in crafting a new rule.
As the Senate debate unfolded Tuesday, both sides cited a study last year on fuel economy by the National Academy of Sciences.
Kerry said the study concluded that significant fuel economy gains can be made using current technology over the next 10 to 15 years without making vehicles smaller or sacrificing performance. The report also said the costs of these improvements can be recouped through fuel savings.
Levin noted that the scientists refused to recommend a specific fuel economy standard and acknowledged that past increases in fuel economy led to smaller, lighter cars and thousands of additional traffic deaths.
Hefty SUVs drive home safety concerns
Traffic experts keep an eye on the growing number of large vehicles on state roads
Wednesday, March 13, 2002
By CANDACE HECKMAN
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER
It could be the bright headlights glaring from side and rearview mirrors, the blocked views of traffic ahead or the careful squeezes into parking spaces encroached upon by oversized automobiles.
How many SUVs are there? See our detailed census of what’s on Washington’s roads.
Whatever sparks the suspicion, frustrated drivers who claim that every other car they see is some kind of tall, sporty-looking utility vehicle are not far off: There are now more sport-utility vehicles in Washington than people living in the cities of Seattle and Tacoma combined.
That means at least one out of seven passenger cars on the road is an SUV — 800,000 sport-utility vehicles were privately or commercially registered in December 2001, according to a state Department of Licensing database reviewed by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
SUVs have become the new-age luxury vehicle, lavish and large. But the increasing number of large vehicles is a growing concern for traffic-safety experts, who point out that when SUVs and standard-size cars collide, people in the cars are killed far more often than occupants of the larger vehicles.
And people who drive SUVs often fail to recognize that the bigger vehicles are more prone to rollovers and harder to maneuver, especially in bad weather.
For many SUV drivers, however, the safe feeling of driving something big outweighs other factors.
“I had a Jetta for a long time, but we decided to buy a bigger car,” said Carol Smith of South Seattle, who totes two Labradors in the back of her Acura MDX. “It can hold the dogs and our gear when we go camping. It’s comfortable, too.”
Smith said she drives carefully, because the MDX is slower to stop than her old Jetta, and she read about SUVs’ propensity to roll before she and her husband decided to buy one.
Mike Dalry, a salesman at a local Chevrolet dealership, said his customers appreciate the size of SUVs. “If you’ve got three kids in here and you get into an accident with this thing, more than likely you’re going to win,” Dalry said.
It is for precisely that reason that traffic-safety experts worry about the growing number of sport-utility vehicles.
Vans, pickups and SUVs are the most aggressive on the road, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Vehicles are rated as more aggressive if they have a greater chance of killing someone in other cars they hit.
“Just the mere fact that there are more cars out there that weigh more would be a concern to most officers,” said Sgt. Greg Dymerski, spokesman for the King County Sheriff’s Office, who drives a Ford Explorer. SUVs are considered incompatible with passenger cars because they are taller and heavier.
For the past three years, federal regulators have pursued studies outlining the safety consequences of the increase in big vehicles. Statistics examined at the University of Michigan show that for every SUV occupant who dies after a head-on collision with a car, even a large luxury car, five car occupants die. In crashes in which the utility vehicle slams into the side of a car, there are 30 car deaths for every SUV death.
At some point in the near future, the findings will mean changes to the country’s most popular models, either to make standard cars less vulnerable, or to make SUVs less threatening, said Rae Tyson, a NHTSA spokesman and expert on the truck-vs.-car debate.
As far as Neil Peterson is concerned, the real problem with SUVs is that drivers are using them for mundane tasks instead of taking them to the mountains.
“We have people taking an SUV to the grocery store, for goodness’ sake, when it’s not needed,” said Peterson, the president of Flexcar, a local car-sharing company.
Peterson should know — he’s on the last month of a three-year lease on a sport-utility vehicle. He said he’ll gladly give up driving one and will use his smaller, fuel-efficient Flexcar full time. Like many SUV drivers he knows, Peterson did not use his as often as he thought he would, and the vehicle became a burden.
There are currently about 1,625,000 pickups registered, according to the state database analyzed by the P-I. That database also listed more than 5.5 million passenger cars.
It does not include governmental or otherwise tax-exempt vehicles, which could account for thousands more used by police, fire and park officials. Cars and trucks are counted separately. Because the state does not define which vehicles are SUVs, the P-I accounted for 85 individual models deemed SUVs by Kelley Blue Book, accepted as the authority in automobile values.
Of those, the most prevalent is the Ford Explorer, at about 106,000 registered, followed by the Jeep Cherokee, about 96,000, the Chevrolet Blazer, about 91,000 and the Suburban, made by General Motors, at about 63,000.
Currently in Washington, there is one SUV for every eight people. When the U.S. Census Bureau counted the state’s SUVs in 1997, there was one sport-utility vehicle for every 15 people. Nine other states — including Colorado, Alaska and Connecticut — had more SUVs per people than Washington, according to the 1997 data — the latest year for which such information is available.
“That there are more SUVs and big, heavy pickup trucks out on the road is not a huge issue yet,” said Dymerski of the King County Sheriff’s Office. “But it’s interesting from a public-safety perspective, because we know how they react to certain conditions.”
In inclement weather, drivers in large vehicles not only pose a greater risk to themselves by driving fast, but also to other drivers on the road. Even without a collision, fast, heavy vehicles leave wakes, blinding splashes that can eliminate a driver’s visibility.
Over an eight-year period, from 1993 to 2000, state data show that the likelihood of passenger cars being involved in a fatal crash decreases in inclement weather, while trucks’ and utility vehicles’ chances increase, pickups more so than SUVs, said Dick Doane, a researcher with the Traffic Safety Commission who compiled the information.
For example, out of all fatal crashes in Washington in 2000, 49.5 percent primarily involved cars, and 37 percent involved SUVs, light trucks and vans. However, of the fatal crashes in snowy or icy conditions, 58 percent primarily involved SUVs, light trucks or vans.
Doane added that of the nearly 500 fatal crashes during the eight-year period that occurred in snowy or icy conditions, 9.5 percent of cars overturned, compared with 22 percent of SUVs, 31 percent of vans and 25 percent of pickups.
Although SUVs are bigger, sometimes providing more protection in a collision, experts say they are harder to maneuver. Most vans, SUVs and trucks have a greater chance of rollover because of their height.
“A lot of people think that SUVs are safer because they are bigger and heavier, but the differences are not that great,” said Susan Ferguson, senior vice president of research for the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety.
Police and emergency officials issue repeated warnings year after year not to overestimate a vehicle’s capability, citing how some vehicles, particularly SUVs, likely give drivers a false sense of security.
Even after years of rollover warnings, SUVs are the most popular type of vehicle in the United States, representing one out of every four vehicles sold.
Last year, for the first time in history, Americans bought more trucks than they bought cars, according to preliminary figures from the automotive industry. The buying trend is attributed to the growing popularity of SUVs, which automakers place in the traditional pickup category.
Ten years ago, pickups and SUVs made up about a third of the annual auto sales. Even upscale automakers, such as Cadillac, BMW and Mercedes, have jumped into the trendy market. Lexus now sells more SUVs than it does any other model. And Porsche is set to debut its Cayenne sport utility this fall.
And although many buyers are attracted to the sheer size of SUVS, experts say people have to remember that weight can work against them, especially if they are not strapped in.
“Four-wheel drive doesn’t mean four-wheel stop,” said Kathryn Kruger, executive director of the Kirkland-based Safety Restraint Coalition. “We need to have a little more respect for how much these things weigh.”
In 2000, the latest year for which there are reliable national crash statistics, 72 percent of people who were killed in SUV rollovers were not wearing seat belts, compared with 40 percent of people killed in car rollovers who weren’t strapped in.
What that suggests, Tyson said, is that people in SUVs may be less likely to buckle up.
“If you want a signed death certificate very quickly, don’t wear a seat belt when you’re in an SUV,” Tyson said.