Sports utility vehicles (SUV) are a danger on the roads because their size and weight and design differ too greatly from the average car. In collisions between cars and utility vehicles, the occupants of cars are more likely to suffer injury. They are a danger to the environment because they consume more petrol and produce more pollutants than the average car.
Because of their designation as "trucks" for regulatory purposes, SUVs have escaped not only the more stringent fuel-efficiency standards applied to ordinary passenger cars but also the safety provisions. Crucial is that SUVs are not subject to the same bumper-height standards that apply to ordinary cars, so in a collision, the SUV often overrides the car it hits, often with fatal consequences for those in the car. Less well known is that SUVs are actually more dangerous for their occupants than ordinary cars – the rate of fatal injuries is actually a bit higher in SUVs than in ordinary cars. This is due to the propensity of SUVs to overturn in circumstances that would leave an ordinary car upright. Worse still, for the SUV users, is that while ordinary cars must protect their occupants during rollovers, SUVs are not required to do so, and most do not. It is the rollover wrecks that make SUVs so dangerous for their occupants.
SUVs (technically off-road vehicles and legally a category of truck) are the largest private passenger vehicles ever built for the road. The worst of them get as little as 12 miles/gallon (roughly 20 litres/100 km) of fuel. They weigh as much as three tons and are invariably equipped with the huge V-8 engines needed to provide swift acceleration in such a heavy vehicle. Most of these vehicles are equipped with four-wheel-drive, which is rarely actually used by their owners.
Since 1990 sales of sports utility vehicles have increased more than 60 per cent. Trucks and sports utility vehicles (SUVs) spew 30 percent more carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons and 75 percent more nitrous oxides than ordinary cars. SUV sales are encouraged by extremely low gasoline prices.