In European countries like Germany and the UK, there have been protests and marches against SUVs, with protestors attaching fake parking stickers to SUVs saying "Poor Vehicle Choice". The city of Rome has tripled the parking rates for SUVs within the historic city, and other European countries are proposing legislation against the SUV.

These ideas seem very unusual by Bermudian standards, so what is it that the rest of the world knows that we Bermudians are failing to grasp?

A number of reasons:

1. Accident. An SUV is far more likely to be involved in an accident. It's bigger, it's harder to handle, takes longer to stop and therefore it kills more people in accidents. Churchill Insurance in the UK shows an SUV is 25 percent more likely to be in an accident and it's 27 percent more likely to be the SUV driver's fault. I am sure we have all witnessed people unable to even park these cars in Bermuda, let alone operate them safely. Road fatalities spiked sharply when these vehicles were introduced and in 2005, the British Medical Journal called for health warnings on 4x4s because of the dangers they pose for pedestrians. Obviously driving a dangerous vehicle means your insurance premiums are also going to be far higher. Deservedly so.

2. Fuel Economy. Over the lifetime of an SUV it will cost tens of thousands of dollars more in gas. An SUV uses at least 30 percent plus more gas as a family car. Even over ONE year, driving a 13mpg SUV rather than a 25mpg car will waste more energy than leaving the fridge door open for seven years, leaving the TV on for 32 years or leaving the bathroom light on for 34 years!

3. Pollution. All the extra gas means extra pollution. Over the lifetime of the vehicle, you will have emitted tons more CO2 than a family car. This pollution is what is causing climate that will stop the Gulf Stream and increase sea levels.

4. Manufacturing costs. An SUV is a more complicated car. It takes more natural resources and more energy to manufacture an SUV. Extra features like the 4-wheel drive to help us drive on snowy roads and cope with the mountain roads of Bermuda (not!) use more parts. Before you even start driving the car you are behind environmentally.

5. Licensing. Of course the SUV costs around $500 to $1,000 more annually to license at TCD than a family car.

There has been a popular song recently "Proud to be a Bermudian". If people were really "Proud to be Bermudian", they would stop buying SUVs and help to make sure our children have a country they can be proud of too. Helping to fuel climate change will help sea levels rise faster and cause disruption of the gulf stream on which we depend. Not something to be proud of.

Felix Tod is part of the Greenrock management team.

This article appeared in The Royal Gazette, 6 Sep 2012.

About Greenrock

According to The Footprint Network, which measures the ability of the planet to produce resources and absorb waste, our resource use and waste production is 60% more than the earth can produce or absorb annually.

This overshoot is the result of decisions that we each make every day. We seek to generate debate and to influence people to change their behaviour.We strive to be catalysts: Success for us is when we can Change the Mindset so that sustainable use of resources is included in decision-making for individuals, government or businesses. ... read more


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