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Advocacy group raises concerns about top-selling SUVs: 'Absolutely ridiculous'

"It's not just you: Cars are getting bigger and bigger."

"It's not just you: Cars are getting bigger and bigger."

Photo Credit: TikTok

The typical size of American families is now smaller than historical averages, but our appetite for huge SUVs seems to be increasing. In a short TikTok video, one woman is calling attention to the worrying impact these supersized vehicles have on our safety. 

Transportation Alternatives (@transportationalt), an account that advocates for improved walking, biking, and public transportation options in New York City, detailed why we should be concerned with the popularity of SUVs.

"It's not just you: Cars are getting bigger and bigger," the caption reads. "Since the 1980s, cars have grown by 33% — more than 1,000 pounds." 

To demonstrate how much bigger cars are today, a presenter in the video stands in front of an SUV and an older passenger vehicle.

@transportationalt It's not just you: Cars are getting bigger and bigger. Since the 1980s, car weights have grown by 33% — more than 1,000 pounds. #nyc #cars #traffic #safety #numtot #visionzero #f150 #newyork #urbanism ♬ Sad Emotional Piano (main version) - DSproductions

"In the year 2000, the top-selling car was the Toyota Camry," says the presenter. "Now the top-selling cars — if you can still call it that — are the SUVs. These cars are taller, wider, and much heavier." 

The video also cites data, seemingly from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Department of Transportation, showing that pickup trucks and SUVs are as much as three times more likely than smaller cars to kill pedestrians in the event of a crash.  

"Taller front ends increase the likelihood of chest and head impact," explains the speaker, adding that "visibility is extremely reduced" — something that is particularly dangerous for young children. 

The video then shows screenshots of reporting on front blind-zone testing for SUVs. According to an investigation by NBC4 Washington, the front blind zone was as much as 16 feet. 

"You can fit 10 kids in front of the hood of the car before the driver can see one [of them]," says the narrator. 

Transportation Alternatives first posted the video in August 2022, so it's unclear which year they are citing the car sales data from. However, SUVs and large pickup trucks have indeed topped the list for a number of years in the United States, including in 2023. Last year, the top seller in New York state was an SUV

Large vehicles aren't just a safety hazard during crashes. They need a lot of space to park, which means more nature-disrupting parking lots. If they are powered by gas, they spew much more planet-warming pollution than smaller gas-chugging vehicles. That pollution has also been linked to a range of health issues, including childhood asthma

Thankfully, since the making of the video, there has been a movement toward a cleaner future. Last year, the electric Tesla Model Y — a midsize vehicle that doesn't release tailpipe pollution, like other EVs — was a top-five seller in the U.S. and the world's best-selling car overall

Many cities in the U.S. have a long way to go to catch up to places like Paris and Amsterdam, which have more supportive infrastructure for healthier modes of transportation, like walking and biking. However, the U.S. federal government has approved millions of dollars in funding for safer walking and biking routes. 

In 2022, Transportation Alternatives called for "the federal government to step up and regulate the sizes of [these cars]."

While there's been no significant legislation of that kind, one commenter couldn't help but state how unnecessary supersized vehicles are for the average driver: "Absolutely ridiculous," they said.

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