Carzilla: How Huge SUVs and Trucks Hurt Pedestrians and Walkable Communities

Ever wonder where the supersizing of cars is going to end? Kaid Benfield dives deep into the subject and suggests five actions we can take to get to a safer spot in the road.

2 minute read

May 8, 2023, 8:00 AM PDT

By Hazel Borys

View from below of row of parked trucks in lot

Virrage Images / Trucks in a lot

“I’ve become obsessed with the size of personal vehicles, and I’m pretty sure it’s driving my wife crazy.  Every time we take a walk, run an errand, or find ourselves in a parking facility, I can’t help myself from commenting constantly about the enormous size of many newer cars, trucks, and especially SUVs compared to any older ones nearby. I worry that my obsession is getting annoying, so bear with me while I dive into the subject in some detail in an attempt to purge it from my system,” Kaid Benfield says. He provides a lengthy description of why this is, and wraps up with five actions we can take to make a difference:

  1. Close SUV Loopholes and regulate all everyday vehicles the same under CAFE and other government programs. 
  2. Clarify that the mission of the Highway Traffic Safety Administration and National Transportation Safety Board includes protecting pedestrians and others outside of vehicles from dangerous vehicle design. 
  3. Tax vehicles on size and weight, not just price.  The Los Angeles Times editorial board is among many observers endorsing this measure, citing with approval weight-based taxes (generally assessed when the vehicles are registered each year) in Washington, DC, New York, Florida, and Virginia. 
  4. Create incentives to improve the design of large vehicles to allow greater front- and rear-end visibility. 
  5. Reduce the demand for heavy EV batteries.  As noted, we need EVs and the pollution-reducing benefits that they provide.  But given the downsides, we should be creating incentives to design, manufacture, sell and purchase ones that don’t require such additional weight and natural resource consumption.  

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