By Keith Bradsher
SUVs have taken over America's roads. advert campaigns advertise them as more secure and "greener" than usual automobiles and straightforward to deal with in undesirable climate. yet little or no concerning the SUV's picture is actual. They poorly guard occupants and inflict awful harm in crashes, they guzzle gas, and they're not easy to control.
Keith Bradsher has been on the vanguard in reporting the calamitous protection and environmental list of SUVs, together with the infamous Ford-Firestone rollover controversy. In excessive and powerful, he strains the checkered heritage of SUVs, displaying how they got here to be labeled no longer as passenger vehicles yet as mild vehicles, that are topic to much less strict rules on defense, fuel mileage, and pollution. He makes a strong case that those autos are even worse than we suspect--for their occupants, for different motorists, for pedestrians and for the planet itself.
In the culture of Unsafe at Any Speed and Fast foodstuff Nation, Bradsher's booklet is a damning exposé of an that places us all in danger, no matter if we realize it or no longer.
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Extra resources for High and Mighty: The Dangerous Rise of the SUV
To certify a van as a light truck instead of a car, the Transportation Department only required that there be a flat floor extending from behind the front seat to the back of the vehicle, with seats that could be removed with simple tools. The rule had been written in the mid-1970s to make sure that about 12,000 full-size vans being sold each year then qualified as light trucks. The first minivans were carefully designed to meet this test, and while most of the minivans built since then have essentially been modified car designs, they all have the flat floor to qualify for light-truck status.
Cars also became less tall, so as to improve their aerodynamics. But this made it harder for older people to climb in and out. Seats were mounted so low in the passenger compartments that drivers felt as though they were sitting on a cushion on the floor, with their legs out in front of them to push the pedals, instead of sitting in a comfortable, upright chair. Some car engines were hastily redesigned, but became more prone to stalling and other reliability problems, worsening Detroit's increasingly poor reputation for quality.
Because of the dispute, foreign automakers were essentially shut out of the American market for pickup trucks until the late 1990s, ensuring that pickups and their descendants, SUVs, would be the virtually exclusive fief of Detroit automakers for more than a quarter of a century. In turn, this gave Washington a powerful incentive to go easy on SUV regulations even when it got tough on car regulations, as a way to mollify Detroit automakers and the powerful United Automobile Workers (UAW) union.