Wednesday, May 19, 2021

These Vehicles Should Be Illegal

There are quite a number of vehicles that should be illegal to drive on public streets. Today I saw a good example of one:

I saw this truck from two blocks away, it was so distracting. A lit billboard on all sides of a truck, driving down the street. It has no purpose except to distract other drivers (and I guess pedestrians and others who might see it going past).

The other vehicles that should be illegal would not necessarily be completely unsafe if they required a special drivers license with additional training. Unfortunately, they are much more common than this Christmas tree of a truck: They're full-size pickup trucks and many SUVs. They have high-profile front ends that make it impossible to see anything in front of the driver for many feet in front of the vehicle. 

They're also much heavier than sedans, and often more likely to roll over. For instance, the new electric Hummer weighs more than 9,000 pounds!

How long has it been since drivers licenses were assessed for their efficacy vis-a-vis the vehicles people are driving these days? What if a standard drivers license qualified you to drive only a vehicle under 4,000 pounds and under some front-end height? What if, to get a license to drive a heavier or taller vehicle, you had to have more drivers education to learn about some of the things commercial drivers learn, plus pedestrian safety, for instance?

I wonder what effect such a split in licensing would have on vehicle purchases and therefore vehicle production. 

And now we have the relatively new wrinkle of the extreme pickup of high-powered electric vehicles. Teslas already have this, of course, and now we're hearing about the F-150 Lightning truck going 0–60 in under 5 seconds. As if that's a good thing.

What we need instead are speed-governors on vehicles, at least in cities. There's no technological reason for these not to exist. Cars don't need to be able to go more than 60 or 65 at all (and anything over 80 mph is absurd), and on a city street they don't need to go more than 30. 

Another piece of the shifting worldview.


Late addition: I think I never linked to this Bloomberg article from a couple of months ago by Angie Schmitt, called What Happened to Pickup Trucks? As the lead-in says, "As U.S. drivers buy more full-size and heavy-duty pickups, these vehicles have transformed from no-frills workhorses into angry giants. And pedestrians are paying the price." And, as Schmitt says in summarizing a study, "women — who tend choose smaller vehicles — are suffering higher injury and death rates than their male counterparts, despite the fact than women engage in fewer risks and crash less."


Bill Lindeke said...

These are all over in Japan, but in that case are aimed at getting the attention of the hundreds of people on foot, crossing the street, on the sidewalks, by train stations, etc. That makes sense, but trying to advertise to drivers (!) who should be focused on the road does not.

Jean said...

Oh my golly, what a horrible idea, to put those billboards on a truck. And I hate the pickup trucks so much. They're just a hugely expensive and wasteful way to announce that your main goal in life is to intimidate people. I liked the little Toyota pickups that you could actually do stuff with. Those were fine. These monsters are just ridiculous.