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View Full Version : Any studies about the effects of all the @#$% big cars and SUVs on the road?



JoZ
Nov. 25, 2009, 02:12 PM
Not for the environment or the economy, I'm talking about road safety.

I drive a car. I am amazed at how little I can see when I am driving. Example -- in traffic, even though I keep a safe and consistent distance from the car in front of me, it is nice to get SOME warning about upcoming slowdowns. That used to be possible because the driver could look ahead and see brake lights going on 5, 10 even 20 cars away, if the road was straight. Usually now I am looking at the back window of a big SUV and that is ALL I can see. If they are slow to react, it takes me down with them.

And parking lots -- no visibility whatsoever when backing out of a parking space because I am surrounded by vehicles that block my view.

I'm not asking for or expecting anything to change, even with the high cost of living and of fuel. We Americans are addicted to our wheels! I'm just curious as to whether other people are noticing the same thing about visibility -- and whether you think or know that it is creating a more dangerous road situation overall.

MyGiantPony
Nov. 25, 2009, 02:17 PM
Yes - I've noticed the same things!

I drive a Chevy Blazer - 2 door sporty version. It's not a huge SUV by any stretch, but one day running around with a friend in her Scion, I was scared!

Erin Pittman
Nov. 25, 2009, 02:35 PM
YES!! I hate getting behind an SUV in traffic!!! Even if I know the back-up is long, I like to be able to see where I'm going.

Wellspotted
Nov. 25, 2009, 05:17 PM
Hey, JoZ!

Yes, I feel the same way about SUVs. I absolutely hate backing out from a space next to one, because I just can't see around them to see any oncoming traffic from my car. In one particular parking lot that I have to use regularly, other vehicles go so fast that it is really scary trying to back out from a space next to an SUV.

I also don't like the way they block the traffic light when I'm waiting at a light behind an SUV.

Another problem I have with SUVs and the lack of visibility is that hedges on medians and at corners seem to be higher now than they used to be; when I am riding in an SUV I can see over the hedges, but I can't when I'm driving my car.

Nor can I reach ATMs from my car, because they all seem to have been replaced by ATMs mounted high enough for the drivers of huge SUVs. So now I have to park my car, leaving room to open my door, get out of the car, walk over to the ATM, do my transaction, walk back to my car, etc. -- grrrr!!!!

And what I absolutely HATE is that SUV headlights are so high that they are on eye-level with drivers of ordinary cars. Headlights used to be all on the same level, below eye-level. You would meet the odd truck or bus at night, but now it seems that almost every other "car" I meet head on is a huge SUV with very bright lights shining right into my eyes.

AAArrrrggghhhh.

OK, soapbox now open for the next poster ...

jn4jenny
Nov. 25, 2009, 05:44 PM
Not that I know of, but if this subject interests you, look up Malcolm Gladwell's New Yorker essay "Big and Bad". Great essay about the psychological draw of SUV's, why the car companies invented them, why people buy them, and why you're safer in a VW Jetta than you'd ever be in an SUV.

Personally, I DID need something that could go off road (I lived in Michigan for 5 years and Michigan doesn't pave its country roads. Potholes + ice + snow + unpaved + horse emergency at the barn = need a genuine off-road vehicle). I was not willing to go SUV, so I bought a Subaru Outback. My insurance agent told me that the Subaru Outback has one of the biggest safety discounts out there. And it doesn't hurt anybody's visibility on the road. :)

CiegoStar
Nov. 25, 2009, 07:06 PM
I don't have an answer but I do think this is an important question. I would recommend reading this commentary on SUV's that are increasingly getting into the hands of teen drivers as SUV's become older and are passed down to the next generation. Really interesting and scary stuff. http://www.theawl.com/2009/08/real-america-the-great-american-teen-suv-death-race

Heinz 57
Nov. 25, 2009, 07:42 PM
The only gripe I have is that a percentage of SUV and full sized truck drivers seem to think that because I am a small car (MINI), they can rightfully cut me off, pull out in front of me, or just plain try to run me over. And don't tell me that the big boys can't SEE me when I watch them LOOK RIGHT AT ME and then commit driving sin anyway. I'll bet you don't want to know where I'd like to shove my chin spoiler at that point.

Otherwise, driving a midget clown car isn't as bad as some would think. Get thee some HIDs and a loud horn and make thyself known!

LisaO
Nov. 25, 2009, 08:09 PM
I proudly drive a Ford F-250. It is my farm truck. It is also the vehicle I choose to commute in because I am surrounded on Interstate 10 by 'kabillions' of even bigger trucks (commercial 18 wheelers). I don't feel safe when I'm driving a small car. I had an accident with a small car while towing a trailer full of horses (he was cited for turning left in front of us - you know how THAT is...gotta beat the truck and trailer!!!). We barely felt the impact, but his Infinity EXPLODED into flying chunks of plastic - absolutely demolished the car. He was OK, fortunately, but I think of the outcome of this accident at about 30 mph and consider what could happen at 70 mph. Give me the truck any day!

Roxy SM
Nov. 25, 2009, 08:26 PM
I'm with Lisa on this!
I have a F-250 also because I have my own trailer, and I am very scared when I am in my friends' little cars! Also, when I drive my grandmother's Honda Accord, I am not nearly as good a driver as I am in my truck. In the truck I can see over most things and therefore can plan better, braking, turning, changing lanes, etc. Therefore I am a more confident driver. In the Honda, I can't see anything and therefore I constantly second guess myself. Like if I want to change lanes, I look over to see if anybody's in the lane I want to go into, and even if I don't see anyone, I'm not entirely sure that's true because I feel like I'm sitting in a hole. I understand that some people in large vehicles use them to bully others, but not only do I not do that but I think those driving around me should feel safer when I'm in the truck vs when I drive the car. I feel like I am a good driver in the truck, but just an OK driver in the car.

BrookdaleBay
Nov. 25, 2009, 08:39 PM
I went from driving an Audi to driving an Avalanche, and I love how much visibility I have now. Like making a left hand turn, for example... I can actually see oncoming traffic coming from behind cars in the opposite turning lane.

Renn/aissance
Nov. 25, 2009, 08:48 PM
I drive an Accord, and I notice a huge difference when I get behind the wheel of the F-250. Even without a trailer behind me, people give me a whole lot more room and do fewer stupid things. Nobody wants to play chicken with a big truck. Nobody cares about playing chicken with my little Accord.

sickofcollege
Nov. 25, 2009, 08:51 PM
I will NEVER own an SUV of any kind. IMO, they are no safer than a sedan and the MPG is disgusting (coming from someone who grew up in an oil/gas family). Maybe I'm just a hippie?

But, I don't feel safer in a large SUV/Truck. They take longer to react than a smaller car. When I need to turn/avoid something...I need it NOW. Plus, parking spaces are not made for massive vehicles and everyone who has one feels the need to take up 2 spaces. Or, better yet, park in 'compact only' parking.

I don't understand why anyone feels the need to play chicken, cut ppl off, etc. regardless of what type of car they drive. I'm such a grandma driver for my age. I'm sorry but cars kill. I don't want to be responsible for ending someones life or losing mine.

Rant over.

LisaO
Nov. 25, 2009, 09:00 PM
And yes, parking is a pain in small spaces. Which is why I park in the back of the lot where there is plenty of space and actually *gasp* walk an extra 100 feet or so to get where I'm going. :-)

Roxy SM
Nov. 25, 2009, 09:04 PM
I will NEVER own an SUV of any kind. IMO, they are no safer than a sedan and the MPG is disgusting (coming from someone who grew up in an oil/gas family). Maybe I'm just a hippie?

But, I don't feel safer in a large SUV/Truck. They take longer to react than a smaller car. When I need to turn/avoid something...I need it NOW. Plus, parking spaces are not made for massive vehicles and everyone who has one feels the need to take up 2 spaces. Or, better yet, park in 'compact only' parking.

I don't understand why anyone feels the need to play chicken, cut ppl off, etc. regardless of what type of car they drive. I'm such a grandma driver for my age. I'm sorry but cars kill. I don't want to be responsible for ending someones life or losing mine.

Rant over.

I don't know about other truck drivers, but for me it's not that I think I'm safer because I'm in a bigger vehicle, I know trucks and SUVs are much more likely to flip. It's about me being a better driver - and therefore a safer driver - in my truck than in a car. As for the parking, I can very easily park in a single spot, and right in the middle at that, unlike some lazy people in little cars that still don't bother to get between the lines. In fact, most of the time that I see vehicles poorly parked they are cars and SUVs, very rarely trucks. And as for those that do the most cutting others off and other stupid, rude driving moves I have definitely found most to be mini-van drivers.

Peggy
Nov. 25, 2009, 09:11 PM
I tend not to be nice about letting large vehicles do cosmetic lane changes that will put them in front of my Acura and block my view. Someone that needs to get off the freeway, even if they didn't plan well--fine. But not someone who decides that "my" lane is faster than theirs. I would be quite happy if any vehicle with a (cheaper) truck license were relegated to the two right lanes of the freeay.

I read something once about the delays caused by SUVs at lights where people have to turn right without a dedicated left-turn signal. Since the person in the car behind the large vehicle can't see the oncoming traffic, they have to wait until the large vehicle finishes enuf of its left turn so they can see. It's only a few seconds, but it adds up at an intersection with a lot of traffic.

I seriously doubt that you could park an F-250 at my school in all but a few places. Some of the compact spaces area challenge even in the Acura, esp if a Flotilla (Armada?) is parked on either side. Fortunately, said Acura has a hatch and I have crawled out that way when the only other option would have been the Jaws of Life as the doors wouldn't open enuf.

There are two aspects to an accident: getting into in the first place and then what happens after impact. Large vehicle + small vehicle colliding isn't going to benefit the larger one as a rule (1/2 mv squared...), but a smaller vehicle might be more maneuverable and thus better able to avoid the accident (assuming the driver can see what's coming:eek:)

Serendipity
Nov. 25, 2009, 10:24 PM
I drive a car. I am amazed at how little I can see when I am driving. ..Usually now I am looking at the back window of a big SUV and that is ALL I can see. If they are slow to react, it takes me down with them.

And parking lots -- no visibility whatsoever when backing out of a parking space because I am surrounded by vehicles that block my view.

.

I agree! And I actually drive an SUV. But, I drive a 1998 Jeep Cherokee (i.e. older model). What I've noticed with the newer SUV's, mini-vans, etc., is that the majority of their back windows and side windows are really, really small, and they are tinted dark. And that serves to block the view, not only for those of us around the vehicle, but also the driver of that car. I get nervous whenever one is backing up towards me.

Last year, I was considering replacing my Jeep, since it's at about 400,000 km, but I couldn't find any current SUV's (and I need to have an SUV for my work) out there that gave me the field of vision that I"m used to. So, for the moment I am still driving my well-used, but very useful Jeep.

tazz001
Nov. 26, 2009, 08:35 AM
I normally drive a Jeep Cherokee (not a small vehicle by any means) but yesterday for work I had to use the "tank" (chevy Suburban) as my hubby was taking sone for his driving road test. OMG I thought I was going to die trying to park that thing.

Are the paving people making parking slots smaller or is it just me??

I don't feel safe in those lil itty bitty tin cans on wheels

Huntertwo
Nov. 26, 2009, 08:49 AM
Usually now I am looking at the back window of a big SUV and that is ALL I can see. If they are slow to react, it takes me down with them.



If they are slow to react, yes then I can see your point. OTOH if it takes you down with them as you stated, you're following to closely.

Sorry, until they get rid of all the idiots out there on their cell phones, texting, reading, putting on make-up, shaving, eating - the impatient people passing in no passing zones, the ones who weave in and out of highway traffic, I'll keep my truck, thank-you.;)

MistyBlue
Nov. 26, 2009, 06:49 PM
I drive an F250 too since I need it for hay pick up and feed orders and lumber and taking my ride on lawn mower from place to place, etc.
I'm used to the big truck and visibility. (it's a 4wd F250 and Ford seems to think the 4wd model needs to be 10 feet taller than everything else for some reason)
I do have to park in the back of most parking lots because it's a supercab with long bed, I don't fit in a single space front to back.
Is it safer? Yes in many cases. However despite it's massive size every freaking person in my town so far it seems has bounced off of it. While it was parked no less. :confused: :o
But I do drive my husband's car more often on weekends to save fuel (I only get 10 mpg :eek: :no:) and I love driving his car because it seems so much more zippy and fun. It's a Ford 500 awd...great car. But I can see the OP's point on visibility...with all the SUVs and large trucks on the road I'm often "driving blind" due to lack of long distance perspective. And it stinks when I'm in the car. I do try to not block people's views when I'm in the F25o though...if I'm stopped somewhere and someone can't see around me to take a different direction I'll look for them and then wave them out if the road is clear because I know they can't see around my truck and how annoying that can be.
My Jeep finalyl died and I used to drive that more often, but now without the Jeep I only have the truck to drive. Lordy I miss that Jeep...Jeeps are *awesome.*

kookicat
Nov. 26, 2009, 07:05 PM
The only gripe I have is that a percentage of SUV and full sized truck drivers seem to think that because I am a small car (MINI), they can rightfully cut me off, pull out in front of me, or just plain try to run me over. And don't tell me that the big boys can't SEE me when I watch them LOOK RIGHT AT ME and then commit driving sin anyway. I'll bet you don't want to know where I'd like to shove my chin spoiler at that point.

Otherwise, driving a midget clown car isn't as bad as some would think. Get thee some HIDs and a loud horn and make thyself known!

It's the other way around over here typically- the smaller cars are the ones that do idiotic things.

I'll admit, I drive a pick up truck, but I need it for work as well as my horses, so getting a small car for work isn't an option. Plus, I hate driving smaller cars. ;)

thatmoody
Nov. 26, 2009, 07:24 PM
I just read the Gladwell article (I love his writing, by the way), and it was eye opening. I drive a VW Golf (the cousin to the Jetta) and I love it, and feel very safe in it. I've been borrowing a friend's SUV lately and have HATED the blind spots and the lack of maneuverability, and now I know why...