Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Sports utility vehicles and older pedestrians

BMJ 2005; 331 doi: (Published 06 October 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:787

Rapid Response:

the psychology of SUV use

Simms and O`Niell warn of increasing death and injury from SUV (
sports utility vehicle ) use(1) and conclude that consumers should be
warned of potential risk to pedestrians through notices on the vehicles.
This solution fails to consider the psychology of SUV drivers, the vast
majority of whom do not need four wheel drive off road capability. There
are few hill farms in Chelsea. SUV ownership represents the conspicuous
display of wealth and a deliberate attempt to look down on, both
physically and metaphorically, poorer less important people such as public
transport users and pedestrians.

In the USA to drive an SUV is seen as a fundermental freedom like the
other lethal freedom gun ownership. Some have tried to curb use by
invoking other belief systems: WWJD " What would Jesus drive?" The
authors cite the success of anti-tobacco campaigns but there is a
difference; smoking mostly damages the smoker and SUV driving damages
others. SUV ownership will only reduce if the cost of the vehicle truely
reflects the cost to the environment through pollution and pedestrians
through impact. Whilst consumers have the "I`ll give up my SUV when you
prize it from my dead fingers " mentality health professionals will have
to carry on prizing dead pedestrians from the front of SUV`s.

1 Simms C and O`Niell D. Sports utility vehicles and older
pedestrians. BMJ 2005;331:787-8(8 October)

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

13 October 2005
David R J Jarrett
consultant geriatrician
Queen Alexandra Hospital, Southwick Hill Road, Portsmouth, Hants PO8 OAW, UK