Letters to the Editor

From the week of June 8.

Size Matters

Fashion victims: Thanks for Michael Roberts's great article on SUVs, "A Sporting Chance," in the June 1 issue. It should be required reading for all those considering purchasing one of those Stupid Useless Vehicles, as well as for those lemmings who have already followed the latest fashion by buying one.

Several things you failed to discuss, however, were the fact that these vehicles pollute more than "regular" passenger cars and are not even subject to the same pollution standards. In addition, they use more gasoline, which, as much as we do not like to think about it, is a finite resource. And recently, we have heard that as these behemoths have gotten bigger, the morons buying them are whining that they do not fit in their garages! One can only imagine how sorry I feel for them.

To summarize, then, SUVs pollute more than cars, use more gasoline, are more difficult to handle, are more dangerous to other vehicles, are involved in more than their share of accidents and don't fit in the garage. Would someone enlighten me, please: Why, exactly, are they so popular?
Mark Lieberman
Littleton

Na-na-na-na-na-na: Let me enlighten you and the readers of Westword to some facts of life. You get better medical care if you're rich like Mickey Mantle. You get better treatment from police if you're well connected like Mr. Sam Riddle.

You get away with almost anything if you're a member of the Denver Police Department. You're more likely to try a trip to Leadville, over a snowy pass in a storm, in your Toyota Land Cruiser than in your Toyota Tercel. You're more likely to survive any crash in your QX4 than in a Simca. That's simply the way it is.
Nat Bostwick
Denver

Assault and batteries: Mr. Roberts's "A Sporting Chance" raises some important issues about the design and safety of SUVs -- or "Urban Assault Vehicles," as I called them when they first became a fashion item while I was living in Los Angeles in the late '80s. Such vehicles have been around for a long time. The early Chevy Suburban and the Chevy Blazer have always been monsters. The Ford Bronco was famous for its ability to roll over on its back. So I doubt the quote from the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association's Carole Walker that "SUV testing is in its infancy."

I owned a new Toyota Land Cruiser station wagon in 1973, purchased for family-carrying capacity and outdoor fantasy. I traded it after six months because the outdoor fantasies were too infrequent and I couldn't really see the difference between the four-wheel drive performance and the off-road performance of a pickup with a low gear in the hands of an experienced driver. Why carry all that extra transfer-case weight around?

The design issues need to be taken into account. Still, the mentality of inexperienced drivers who respond to "deal with it" and "no boundaries"-themed marketing campaigns aimed at Dilberts with Indiana Jones/Banana Republic/Eddie Bauer/REI fantasies who travel Colorado dot-com's frustratingly overcrowded highways are also important factors.
SUV's don't kill people. People kill people.

Harry T. Spetnagel
Aurora

The invisible man: I drive a small, fuel-efficient car and will continue to do so. Lately, however, driving around surrounded by SUVs gives me the creeps: Their drivers have no realistic sense of their speed, they barrel through wherever they want to go, and the worst part is, they can't even see me!
S.P. Williams
via the Internet

When SUVs are outlawed: After reading Michael Roberts's cover story, I have finally realized that some of your writers have lost touch with reality. Yes, SUVs are bigger and stiffer than the sheet-metal coffins that pass for cars these days. And, yes, people survive accidents in the SUV more than their car counterparts (duh). But does eliminating the SUV make sense? What's next? Will tractor trailers be banned for the same reasons (bigger, stronger, their drivers survive)? Will Volvos be banned because they are safer cars than the Escort or Civic? Perhaps the author would feel better if we just eliminated all of the major car manufacturers and had the government design and build one car for all Americans. Then every driver would be safe, knowing that he was just as safe as the guy next to him.

By the way, I do not own an SUV.
Don Carroll
Denver

Only outlaws will have SUVs: Many SUV drivers are assholes, pure and simple. They're tailgating, stereo-blasting, cell-phoning jerks who don't have enough hands or brain cells to use their turn signals. Allowing Sherman tanks on city streets makes less sense than permitting automatic weapons in private homes.
David Hakala
via the Internet

Arms and the man: It's all but impossible to find an SUV owner who isn't a "responsible driver who just wants safety." Okay, I reply, surely you could have no objection to speeding and other traffic penalties for SUVs that reflect their true potential hazard to other drivers, pedestrians and cyclists? Such conversations usually end abruptly at this point. People like Bill Brouse not only want to swap other people's safety for their own, but they want to do it as cheaply as possible, without regard to any present and future social costs of the automotive arms race.

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