Get Over Your Damn Self
Look, if you want to buy an SUV, that’s your business. I’m not gonna lecture you about it on the basis of their poke in the eye to Judeo-Christian morality or their laughable fuel economy or their miserable safety records or any of that stuff. Instead, let’s talk about something more practical.
The parking garage in my apartment building has assigned spaces for all residents. As I’ve mentioned before, I drive a Subaru WRX, which is the height of a standard sedan. My assigned space puts me smack between two SUVs. And not any of the semi-acceptable, mini-SUVs that are starting to show up these days, either; no, I’m talking about the full-out monstrosities that are apparently de rigeur for suburban moms these days. These damn things are both so tall that there’s no way I can see over them.
The result is that, every morning, when I go to pull out of my space, I’m essentially pulling out blind — I have to back out veeeeeeeeeery slowly, hoping that some nut bar who’s late for work isn’t speeding through the garage and not seeing me Until It’s Too Late. Because if they are — if they’re barreling down the lane at 20 MPH, and are already on top of me, and don’t know I’m pulling out — there’s really not a damn thing I can do about it except put my head between my legs and kiss my ass goodbye.
You could say the same thing, of course, about other types of vehicles; vans and commercial trucks spring to mind. But this problem never seemed to arise with vans to the degree that it has with SUVs. (This doesn’t just happen to me in my garage; I can’t count the number of times in other parking situations I’ve had to gently nudge my way out of an SUV canyon with no idea what I’d find when I could finally see what was coming.) This is mostly because these other types of vehicles were intended to be the exceptions on the road, and were priced and regulated accordingly.
SUVs, however, are increasingly the rule, which is why there’s a problem; we have a road system now where drivers of passenger cars are suddenly confronted with the quite threatening possibility that their class of vehicles may be de facto obsolete, and that the only way to safely drive in America is to “adjust” and buy an SUV of their own to meet the new height “standard” set by the marketplace. Unfortunately, though, the cost of this adjustment isn’t going to be found in the nice supply-and-demand curves from the Econ 101 textbooks; barring some change in course, it’s going to be found in the injuries and deaths on the roads that result as SUVs muscle passenger cars off the road.
So, here’s the thing. As far as I’m concerned, you can buy any car you want. Go nuts. Far be it from me to stand in the way of you being able to own the Arab-oil-guzzling Ben Hur-meets-Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome bling bling war wagon of your freaking Walter Mitty dreams. But when the SUVs get so tall that drivers of ordinary cars (who the roads are theoretically designed for) can no longer see around them and are forced to make dangerous maneuvers as a result — in other words, if the cost of your automotive preference is my safety — well then, my sympathy runs out, soccer mom. Either learn to squeeze tubby little Tyler and Madison in the back seat of a Chevy Cavalier, shell out the extra dough for a proper van, or (shudder) learn to think the unthinkable.