Careless SUV drivers dangerous to other vehicles

I was stopped in traffic last week when a sport utility vehicle, traveling at 40-plus mph, plowed into the rear end of my car. The girl who hit me hadn’t even seen my car; she hadn’t even attempted to brake. The force of impact shoved the front end of my car underneath the car in front of me; thus, the crash crunched both ends of my car. While my car is totaled, I remain astonishingly intact.

After spewing expletives for a while and waiting half an hour for the police, I reflected on the past year when I had owned my cute, though now destroyed, 1997 Dodge Neon. Last December, I had been rear-ended in an accident that eerily resembled my current vehicular assault. That time, I was stopped in traffic on campus when a ditzy girl driving an SUV hit me. One cannot help but notice the pattern.

While I don’t blame women drivers for my accident, I do blame careless SUV drivers. In the past few years, the yuppie fad of owning an SUV and other types of off-road vehicles has become popular among suburbanites around the country. The gas-guzzling monsters appear to be safe because of their size, and both girls who hit me had minimal damage to their cars. So even though these mammoth cars might protect those driving them, they pose a potential safety hazard if operated carelessly, more so than a regular-size car.

SUV drivers must take extra precaution to look down at the road, as opposed to directly in front of them, because their vehicles are so high. Drivers of these pseudo-tanks also need to take account of their vehicle size and weight when braking. Obviously, they need to allow more braking distance than one would need for an average mid-size car. This is not rocket science; the bigger something is and the more it weighs, the longer it will take to come to a complete stop.

SUVs also give consumers a false sense of security. Because drivers feel invincible in such a large car, they tend to flaunt basic driving courtesies. These issues are of grave importance, especially during winter. When roads are icy, drivers need to be extra cautious and maintain even more distance behind other cars.

SUVs aren’t inherently evil vehicles, unlike minivans. They are a lot less likely to get stuck in the snow since they can barrel their way out, a definite plus for Minnesota drivers. So, while I am not totally lost on the positive aspects of SUVs, drivers of these giants must be extra cautious and aware.

There are many people, however, who irrationally loathe SUVs with a burning passion. There are numerous Web sites, organizations and movements demanding something be done about the road hogs. Whether it’s because of owners’ negligent driving, the insane gas consumption or the high rollover rate among the vehicles, many people, for one reason or another, want SUVs off the road. So my plea to all of the SUV drivers out there is to think of the safety of other drivers around you – not just your own – and use some common sense.

 

Robyn Repya is a classified account coordinator at the Daily. She welcomes comments at [email protected] Send letters to the editor to [email protected]