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  • Writer's pictureGregory Andrews

Monster Utes and SUVs Endanger Our Lives

In recent years, Australia's roads have seen a dramatic shift in the types of vehicles on our roads. Larger, heavier vehicles like huge RAM, Ford and Chevy pick-up trucks are becoming more and more common. In addition to their climate and congestion impacts, there's another dark side to this trend: supersized utes and SUVs pose significant dangers to other road users, particularly vulnerable pedestrians, cyclists, and smaller car occupants.


A comprehensive five-year Belgian study confirmed what we all know instinctively: the larger and heavier a vehicle is, the more dangerous it becomes for others on the road. According to the study, pedestrians and cyclists struck by vehicles with bonnets 10 cm higher than the average face a 30% increased risk of fatal injuries. This risk is particularly magnified by the increasing prevalence on our roads of US-style monster utes and SUVs, whose elevated designs are inherently more hazardous in collisions with vulnerable road users.


Heavier vehicles also have more severe costs to everyone else. In collisions involving a vehicle that is at least twice as heavy as the other, the occupants of the lighter vehicle are three times more likely to sustain severe injuries compared to a collision of two vehicles of similar masses. Higher-powered vehicles, which are often synonymous with heavier vehicles, also pose the same increased risks. Occupants of vehicles hit by more powerful cars face a 125% higher risk of fatal injuries. In Australia, where our urban environments have a mix vehicle sizes, this disparity has deadly consequences for small car drivers, like young people in a Toyota Yaris or Suzuki Swift.


The evidence on the US-style monster utes is the worst. Occupants of other vehicles involved in accidents with monster utes face a 50% higher risk of severe injuries. And for pedestrians or cyclists, the risks are even graver. Being hit by a monster ute increases the risk of severe injury by 90% and that of fatal injury by nearly 200%!


There's an urgent need to address the imbalance of a two tiered safety environment that is evolving on Australia's roads. The Australian ethos of a 'fair go' means we need policies that prioritise the safety of all road users. That means implementing measures to halt and turn around the the trend of increasing size, weight, and power of utes and SUVs - particularly in urban environments. The growing human cost related to their size is too high to ignore. Safety shouldn't a be privilege of the few who drive these oversized vehicles, but a right for all of us.



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Unknown member
Jun 15

I hear where you are coming from and share your concerns. However, I confess to being a tad bothered by the various letters to the editor complaining about those who drive SUVs without any recognition of the valid reasons some might have. I reluctantly sold my small sedan some months ago and dug into mt modest savings to purchase a larger vehicle. I have since been a reluctant driver of a second-hand Toyota RAV 4 "wagon". Why? Because my wife had several falls then a disastrous car accident (driving an even smaller 3-cylinder car) that put her first into a wheelchair.In order to travel anywhere, but especially away from Canberra, we needed a vehicle with sufficient luggage storage space to…

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Unknown member
Jun 15

I think you also have to look at cars like the Mercedes Benz V8 AMG G class, Chrysler Jeep Rubicon, Toyota Troop Carrrier and a range of other imported V8 SUV's from Porsche, Audi, Maserati etc that are too powerful and have a high centre of gravity for city streets and are driven poorly by drivers who believe that riding high and a high price tag gives them better driver safety which is a falsehood.

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