rollover: the hidden history of the suv
With their explosion in popularity during the 1990s, SUVs have become more than mere vehicles -- they are a cultural touchstone with passionate defenders as well as vehement critics. Here is a collection of links to articles and advocacy groups that have staked positions in the SUV debate.
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Advocacy Groups

Sport Utility Vehicle Owners Association of America (SUVOA)
SUVOA is a national association for SUV owners and operators. It aims to help SUV owners enjoy the responsible operation of their multi-purpose vehicles. Top priorities are to: stay up to speed on emerging issues and developments; oppose unreasonable or unfair restrictions, standards, and unnecessary added expenses; represent SUV owners in Congress, state legislatures, and government regulatory agencies; advocate for SUV owners on insurance coverage and rates, on taxes, fuel and other costs; and represent SUV owners in correspondence with the news media and the general public.
SUV Education Center
This site for SUV owners offers detailed safety information for driving an SUV off-road or around town, along with a "Sport Utility Vehicle Driving Knowledge Quiz."
Suv Info Link
"Friends of the Earth launched this website so people looking to buy a new vehicle will have all the facts about SUVs. The proliferation of SUVs on our roads is contributing to the degradation of our natural environment. ... Our interest lies in making SUVs safer and cleaner. The best thing we can do is to ensure prospective vehicle purchasers are educated on their choices, and encourage them to make the most environmentally sound decisions. At the same time, we will work to update the safety and environmental standards for these vehicles, helping to ensure that the vehicles are as safe and clean as they can be."
Changing the Climate
An example of the deep passions aroused by SUVs, this web site for anti-SUV activists outlines its campaign and tactics "designed to tell the world what we think of those mindless suburban drones that insist on getting 8 mpg while driving their kids to soccer practice." [Editors' Note: the link to this site is informational only, and is not meant as an endorsement of this group's tactics.]
Corporate Average Fuel Economy (Public Citizen)
"Raising CAFE standards will carry several benefits: it will save Americans money at the gas pump, reduce the amount of carbon dioxide (a primary cause of global warming) we release into the atmosphere, and reduce the amount of foreign oil we must import each year. If the Senate takes strong action on this issue, Americans will see their vehicle fleet become substantially more efficient and safe in the next ten years." (Public Citizen)


Why I Drive A Hate Crime
"A few months ago, a friend commented on the base villainy of sports-utility vehicles and their owners. I politely told him that I was an SUV owner. He looked at me as though I had just admitted to collecting human-skin lampshades. His response was not new." [LA Weekly, Feb. 20, 2001]
I Want My SUV
"Americans love SUVs because we are a nation of poseurs. We love to buy things that will never really have any practical application -- things like cowboy hats, pit bulls, Corvettes, assault weapons, etc. That we will never use them for their intended purpose is beside the point. The point is that they fulfill the need to pretend." [Sacramento News and Review, June 20, 2000]
The Hidden Life of SUVs
"What's in a name? What do you make of a passenger vehicle called a Bronco? Or one dubbed a Cherokee? How about a Wrangler? Are they just chrome-plated expressions of sublimated testosterone flooding the highways? Check out the herd that grazes the average car lot these days: Blazer, Tracker, Yukon, Navigator, Tahoe, Range Rover, Explorer, Mountaineer, Denali, Expedition, Discovery, Bravada. Besides signaling that we're not Civic or Gallant, they indicate there's something else going on here." [Mother Jones, July/Aug. 1999]
Road Sows
"Not long ago, if you found yourself being tailed within an inch of your life by one of these [SUV] monsters, you could be reasonably sure that testosterone poisoning was at work. But now I don't even bother to check my makeup -- the macho creep back there is as likely to be the soccer mom next door, or even her mom, as the beefy working guy with the big arms and a tiny ... oh, you know." [Salon, May 24, 2000]
Latte Liberals Dropping Their SUVs After 9/11
"With all eyes on the Middle East and Central Asia, many Americans have been reminded of our unsustainable dependence on foreign oil. In an act of guilty patriotism, some of them -- namely, some liberals -- are finally swapping their gas-guzzling behemoths and replacing their SUVs with eco-friendly cars." [Alternet, Nov. 28, 2001]
The Bully on the Block
"Sport utility vehicles are taking an ever greater toll on smaller cars -- and killing the people who drive them. One solution: raise their insurance rates." [Salon, Dec. 8, 1997]
Ford's SUV shocker
In May 2000, Ford Motor Company Chairman William C. Ford announced that his company recognized the environmental impact of SUVs, which account for one-fifth of Ford's sales, and was seeking technological solutions to address it. But he said that Ford would continue to build SUVs to keep up with the strong market demand. Salon asked a number of people involved in transportation and environmental issues for their reaction to Ford's announcement. [Salon, May 13, 2000]
Greener SUVs: A Blueprint for Cleaner, More Efficient Light Trucks
"A dramatic shift in the automotive market has knocked America off the road to reducing the environmental impact of driving. A three-fold increase in sales of light trucks -- vans, pickups, and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) -- now poses a major hurdle to improved air quality, reduced global warming, and lower oil imports. ... SUVs play a key role in the new light truck problem. Almost nonexistent in the 1980s, SUV sales have grown a factor of ten since then. While they are becoming more popular than pickups and minivans, they are on average less efficient. Fortunately, there are a host of technologies available to help SUVs and other light trucks catch up with cars. Applying green technology to the best-selling SUV in America, the Ford Explorer, we came up with a technical blueprint for improvement." [Union of Concerned Scientists]
An Assessment of NHTSA's Rating System for Rollover Resistance
Published in February 2002, this report by the National Academies' National Research Council assesses NHTSA's use of the static stability factor (a mathematical formula calculated by dividing the width of a vehicle's track by two times the height of its center of gravity) as the basis for its rollover ratings. The study finds that the static stability factor is a useful indicator of a vehicle's propensity to roll over, but that U.S. government ratings for new cars, light trucks, and sport utility vehicles do not adequately reflect differences in rollover resistance shown by available crash data. It advocates that the five-star system be revised to allow better discrimination among vehicles and incorporate results from road tests that measure vehicle control and handling characteristics. Moreover, the study warns that the limited procedures used by NHTSA to develop the ratings and evaluate consumers' ability to understand them raise questions about the system's effectiveness. [National Research Council]

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