These Stupid Trucks are Literally Killing Us

Last updated: May 7, 2023

SUVs, or sports utility vehicles, have become increasingly popular in America over the past few decades.

They are classified as light trucks and are not subject to the same safety and emission standards as cars. This means that SUVs are more dangerous than regular cars, both for drivers and pedestrians.

They are also bad for the environment because they have poor fuel economy and contribute to congestion on the roads.

Automobile manufacturers marketed SUVs as being safer than regular cars because they were classified as light trucks. However, this has been disastrous for actual safety.

SUVs have a higher bumper and are stiffer than regular cars, which means they are more likely to cause fatalities in a crash.

SUVs have also caused an increase in what are called front overs, where a person, usually a child, gets run over by an SUV by a driver who can't even see them.

Despite this, the industry solution for this problem is proximity sensors and front-facing cameras.

  • SUVs are classified as light trucks and are not subject to the same safety and emission standards as cars
  • SUVs are more dangerous than regular cars for both drivers and pedestrians.
  • SUVs contribute to congestion on the roads.
  • SUVs are marketed as being safer than regular cars, but this has been disastrous for actual safety.
  • SUVs have a higher bumper and are stiffer than regular cars, which makes them more likely to cause fatalities in a crash.
  • SUVs have caused an increase in front overs, where a person, usually a child, gets run over by an SUV by a driver who can't even see them.
  • Americans believe they need big trucks and SUVs, but regular cars can tow too.
  • SUVs and pickup trucks take up space and cause congestion, and are dangerous for people outside the car.
  • Station wagons and minivans are better for families and are more fuel efficient.
  • Auto manufacturers convinced people to buy light trucks, which are not practical for families who need to carry a lot of stuff.
  • Light electric trucks and micro cars are more efficient, cost-effective, and require fewer resources.
  • Light trucks should meet safety standards and be tested for fuel efficiency like other vehicles.

History of SUVs 02:12

  • In the past, almost everyone drove a car or van, and SUVs were not common.
  • Light trucks and SUVs now make up almost 80% of all new car sales in the US.
  • The auto industry has been heavily promoting these vehicles for years to avoid regulations and make more profit.
  • In America, SUVs are classified as light trucks, which are not subject to the same safety and emission standards as cars.

SUVs and safety 00:44

  • If you're walking and you get hit by an SUV, you're three times more likely to die than if you've been hit by a regular car.
  • If you're in a regular car, you're more likely to die in a crash if it's with an SUV.
  • SUVs are more likely to hit people in the first place because they're big, unwieldy, and have poor visibility.
  • SUV drivers themselves are twice as likely to be killed in a rollover than car drivers.

SUVs and the environment 01:07

  • SUVs make congestion worse because they take up more space on the roads.
  • They have terrible fuel economy, which contributes to climate change.
  • SUVs are oversized, unnecessary death machines that are literally killing people, including their own drivers.

History of SUVs in America 02:58

  • In 1962, Europe placed a heavy import tax on American chickens, and America levied import taxes of their own, specifically targeting European light trucks.
  • American automakers wanted to shift to a vehicle where they didn't have to compete, so they carved out light trucks as their own category in America.
  • SUVs were classified as light trucks because they were built in the same factories and using body-on-frame construction as traditional pickup trucks.
  • This allowed American car manufacturers to save a lot of money by using existing design parts and factories.
  • It also allowed them to avoid any regulations for passenger vehicles, including safety regulations.

Marketing of SUVs 05:23

  • The earliest SUVs were Jeeps marketed to rich guys who went hunting on the weekends.
  • Marketers used an outdoorsy image to lure people who wanted to be cool.
  • The real winning strategy was to make scared people feel safe.
  • Early focus groups showed that Americans were obsessed with crime and violence, so automobile manufacturers took advantage of that.
  • The city is a big, scary place, so protect yourself with a big stupid car.
  • Vehicles became bigger and more aggressive every year, turning road safety into an arms race.

SUVs: Not as Safe as Advertised 07:29

  • SUVs were marketed as being safer because they were classified as light trucks.
  • This classification has been disastrous for actual safety.
  • One of the most dangerous things about SUVs is their bumper height.
  • American cars are required to have bumpers between 16 to 20 inches off the ground.
  • Light trucks don't have to deal with that regulation, so they can have their bumpers pretty much as high as they want.
  • SUVs were also stiffer than cars.
  • The original light trucks were built to haul or tow heavy weights, which means they needed a heavier stiffer chassis.
  • The chassis on light truck acted like a battering ram, and the people inside became a crumple zone.
  • Combine that with a high bumper and you run into a problem known as crash compatibility.
  • When two normal sized cars crash into each other, they are compatible in that their safety features are pretty much aligned and designed to work together which provides more protection to the drivers of both cars.
  • But when a regular car and an SUV crash into each other, the bigger, higher, stiffer vehicle doesn't line up with the smaller car's safety features which can make the crash more deadly.
  • It's even worse for anyone outside of a car.
  • When a person gets hit by a car, they're typically thrown onto the hood.
  • This can cause injury to the lower legs which sucks, but generally doesn't kill you at low speeds.
  • The higher front end of an SUV means the impact is centered near the torso and head which is much more deadly.
  • People hit by SUVs are also more likely to hit their head on the ground or go under the vehicle thanks to their high ground clearance.

Front Overs and Proximity Sensors 09:59

  • Since the introduction of SUVs, there has been a massive increase in what are called front overs.
  • A person, usually a child, gets run over by an SUV by a driver who can't even see them.
  • Kids and Cars have been documenting the rise of front overs in America and the results are shocking.
  • In any civilized society, this information alone would be enough to regulate the hood design of SUVs and light trucks.
  • Instead, the industry solution for this is proximity sensors and front-facing cameras.
  • Car companies are happy for any regulations that mean they can sell you more stuff.
  • Drivers should be looking at the road and not a screen inside their SUV.
  • The market research determined that the average Light Truck purchaser was obsessed with status, less likely to volunteer or feel a strong connection to their communities, less giving oriented toward others, more afraid of crime, more likely to text and drive, more likely to take risks while driving, and more likely to think stuff looks cool.
  • Mark Rober put plastic animals on the side of the road to see which ones were most likely to get hit.
  • He found that some drivers would purposefully swerve to run over the animals and 89% of those people who tried to murder animals were driving SUVs.

SUVs: Not Suitable for Off-Road Driving 12:55

  • SUVs are marketed for going off-road, towing a boat or for going camping.
  • In reality, 75% of light truck owners tow something once a year or less and 70% go off-road once a year or less.
  • The vast majority of SUVs are driven in cities and will never go off-road.
  • They are just used for everyday tasks like commuting and buying groceries.
  • Many Americans think that they need giant trucks and SUVs to tow anything.
  • However, this is not true, and you can see regular cars with trailers in Europe.
  • SUVs and pickup trucks have become the most popular vehicles on the road in America.
  • Light trucks and SUVs are widely seen in suburban areas and driven by people who don't need them.
  • Luxury SUVs are particularly useless and cannot haul anything.
  • SUVs take up more space and make congestion worse, which is especially problematic in cities.
  • They cause parking issues because they take up more space at the curb.
  • Light trucks are wider and reduce the space that cyclists have on the roads.

SUVs are Dangerous 16:25

  • SUVs are dangerous for everyone outside of a car.
  • They cause pedestrian deaths and hit people in bike lanes or crosswalks.
  • Cyclists cannot see or be seen over the roof of a truck.
  • SUVs cause more pollution than smaller cars and are a significant factor in the rise in emissions.

Light Electric Trucks and Micro Cars 18:11

  • North Americans believe that you need a large, heavy vehicle to be safe on the roads.
  • However, this is not true, and we should be moving towards electric vehicles that require smaller batteries.
  • Light electric trucks and micro cars are more efficient, cost-effective, and require fewer resources.
  • Auto manufacturers convinced people to buy light trucks, which made them more money.

Station Wagons 19:40

  • Station wagons are more useful than SUVs and light trucks.
  • They were the vehicle that every family used before auto manufacturers convinced people to buy light trucks.
  • They are perfect for families with kids, people who need to stop by Home Depot, and those who want to head out into the wilderness.

SUVs Are Not Practical 19:52

  • SUVs are easier to park in cities and more maneuverable
  • SUVs are built to be cool and curvy, which means the actual usable space inside is shockingly low
  • The monstrously large Cadillac Escalade has 25.5 cubic feet of carrying space behind the last row of seats which is less than something like a Subaru Outback or Audi A6 Allroad both of which have over 30.
  • SUVs hold much less than you'd think because so much space is wasted by fancy styling, unnecessarily high ground clearance, car-smashing bumpers, and pedestrian-killing hoods.
  • SUVs are not practical for families and people who need to carry a lot of stuff.

Station Wagons and Minivans Are Better Options 20:59

  • Station wagons and minivans are superior vehicles for families with more storage space, better fuel efficiency, and plenty of room for kids.
  • Station wagons are still very common in Europe because they are practical and efficient.
  • Minivans beat an SUV every time, as they hold more stuff and are easier for passengers to get in and out of too because the doors are bigger and it's lower to the ground.
  • A minivan will hold more stuff and it's easier for passengers to get in and out of too because the doors are bigger and it's lower to the ground.

Pickup Trucks Are Not Practical 22:06

  • American automakers are promoting SUVs and pickup trucks because it makes them more money, not because they are practical.
  • Pickup trucks are mostly useful if you're loading heavy dirty items into the bed like on a farm or construction sites, so outside of the US that's usually the only place you'll find them.
  • For almost any other use case, moving people or cargo, a van or minivan is a better option.
  • Pickup trucks have become heavier and less practical over the past 40 years.

Americans Have Been Upsold on Pickup Trucks 24:40

  • The cargo-hauling behavior of Americans has not changed that much in 40 years, yet the Ford F-150 was the single most popular vehicle sold in America in 2022.
  • Pickup trucks have become status symbols for insecure suburbanites with a cargo fetish.
  • It's insulting to our intelligence to suggest that all these new pickup trucks are really needed for hauling.
  • As extended cab pickups become the new suburban assault vehicles, there's been a surge in interest in older pickup models as actual contractors seek vehicles that are more practical.

SUVs and Light Trucks 26:10

  • Light trucks are vehicles that are designed to carry cargo or passengers, such as pickup trucks, SUVs, and vans.
  • SUVs and light trucks are oversized in practical vehicles, which were heavily marketed to impressionable people because they make more money for automakers by skirting regulations.
  • The average SUV buyer in early 2000s was likely a sociopath and or easily manipulated by marketing.

Crossovers 27:33

  • A crossover is an SUV built on a car frame instead of a truck.
  • These are just cars that are bigger than they need to be, with more ground clearance than is necessary, higher bumpers than is safe, and lower fuel economy than if they were lighter.

Vehicle Safety and Fuel Efficiency 28:23

  • Light trucks should be required to meet all the same safety standards as every other passenger vehicle and they need to be safer in crashes and have much better fuel economy.
  • Pedestrian crash tests and crash compatibility need to have a more prominent role in determining safety ratings.
  • Now that light trucks are mainstream vehicles, they should be tested for safety and fuel efficiency the exact same way that other vehicles are.
  • Different classes of vehicles should be tested against each other and dock points if a vehicle caused significant damage to vehicles of another class.

Regulating SUVs and Pickup Trucks in Cities 29:57

  • Cities in particular should be doing a lot more to regulate SUVs.
  • They go against every goal that cities have to reduce the effects of climate change, reduce pedestrian deaths, reduce traffic, maintain roads and make the best use of the limited space available.
  • City should tax Vehicles by weight and limit vehicles with bumpers that are too high or require commercial driver's licenses to operate them.
  • Licensing and ensuring SUVs should be more expensive too and since a big part of road safety is the kinetic energy of the crash which comes from mass and velocity than if the weight keeps increasing we should be decreasing the speed in other words cities can and should be lowering speed limits in response to heavier vehicles.

European Cities and SUVs 31:48

  • Even if the U.S is too far gone, European cities need to deal with the issue of SUVs immediately.
  • SUVs and crossovers now account for 40 percent of all vehicles sold in the EU a 900 increase since 2001.
  • I don't think Europeans realize how bad this can get.
  • European cities need to get ahead of SUVs and pickup trucks now before more Europeans end up under them.

Extreme Behavior 31:17

  • A group calling themselves the tire extinguishers have started deflating the tires of SUVs in Europe.
  • It's unclear whether this is a crime, but their stated goal is to make it impossible own an SUV in the city.
  • This group only exists because of the complete and utter regulatory silence that has come from City and federal governments when it comes to curbing the problems caused by SUVs in cities.

The Truck Industry's Influence 32:30

  • Manufacturers have spent billions of dollars to convince people that trucks are necessary.
  • Truck companies have been successful in convincing people that they need big vehicles to be safe on the roads.
  • This is not true, and people should not fall for it.

The Importance of Freedom 32:43

  • The issue of trucks on the roads is ultimately about freedom.
  • People should have the freedom to get around however they want, whether that means driving a small and efficient car or walking, cycling, or using public transit.
  • The constant threat of serious injury or death from oversized trucks is a threat to people's freedom to travel safely.

Taking Action Against Truck Culture 33:06

  • The typical light truck driver is status-obsessed, which can be used to our advantage.
  • People should let truck drivers know that they look like idiots driving oversized trucks.
  • People should advocate for smaller, more efficient vehicles as a way to combat truck culture.

Urbanism and Building Better Cities 33:25

  • Good urbanism is not about hating cars, but about building better cities that are designed for people.
  • Smaller cars are generally better for cities, but people should not just take the creator's word for it.
  • Online urbanism has become a movement, and there are many great creators on Nebula who are discussing these issues.

Supporting Urbanist Creators on Nebula 33:43

  • Nebula is a platform that supports creators who discuss urbanism and other important issues.
  • City Nerd, RM Transit, and City Beautiful are all creators who make videos about urbanism and other related topics.
  • Subscribing to Nebula gives people access to over 150 creators who make videos and podcasts ad-free and sponsor-free.
  • Nebula classes are also available to subscribers as a way to learn more about specific topics.
  • The creator's own videos are released on Nebula first, several days ahead of their release on YouTube, and without any ads.

Supporting the Creator 35:03

  • The creator thanks their supporters on Nebula and Patreon, who help to fund their work.
  • People who want to support the channel can visit or
  • People who sign up for Nebula using the link in the video description can get a discount and access to all of Nebula, including classes, for as little as $30 per year.

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