SUVs were originally designed and built to be work vehicles, and most are still built using a truck chassis and have not been comprehensively re-designed to be safely used as passenger vehicles.
In a crash, the high bumper, stiff frame and steel-panel construction of SUVs can override crash protections of other vehicles, making them dangerous for other motorists in two-vehicle crashes. SUVs are also dangerous for their own occupants. The vehicles' high profile and narrow track width makes them very rollover prone. Because the typical SUV also has a weak roof and poor crash protection, this combination of hazards places SUV occupants at a high risk of death or paralysis. Although rollover crashes are rare as a type of crash, the death toll from these crashes accounts for a third of all highway motor vehicle deaths, and is sixty percent of the deaths in SUVs.
SUVs also get fewer miles to the gallon than cars do, making them more costly, both for their owners and for the environment.
Congress must act now to pass new legislation closing the safety and fuel economy loopholes that exempt SUVs, requiring that manufacturers make meaningful safety and efficiency improvements. Manufacturers should also begin now to redesign SUVs with the safety of their occupants, as well as others, in mind. In the meantime, owners of SUVs and others should insist that a better -- safer, cleaner -- SUV is not only possible, but a moral imperative.
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