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High and Mighty: SUVs--The World's Most Dangerous Vehicles and How They…

by Keith Bradsher

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1394149,266 (4.11)1
SUVs have taken over America's roads. Ad campaigns promote them as safer and "greener" than ordinary cars and easy to handle in bad weather. But very little about the SUV's image is accurate. They poorly protect occupants and inflict horrific damage in crashes, they guzzle gasoline, and they are hard to control. Keith Bradsher has been at the forefront in reporting the calamitous safety and environmental record of SUVs, including the notorious Ford-Firestone rollover controversy. In High and Mighty, he traces the checkered history of SUVs, showing how they came to be classified not as passenger cars but as light trucks, which are subject to less strict regulations on safety, gas mileage, and air pollution. He makes a powerful case that these vehicles are even worse than we suspect--for their occupants, for other motorists, for pedestrians and for the planet itself. In the tradition of Unsafe at Any Speed and Fast Food Nation, Bradsher's book is a damning exposé of an industry that puts us all at risk, whether we recognize it or not.… (more)
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This might be mistaken - at first glance - for a book that looks askance at SUV's and 4 wheel drive vehicles generally, and the people who drive them. Mostly it's an account of how Detroit designed an unsafe style of vehicle, and worked successfully to cover up its faults for decades. As Bradsher points out, there was a very good understanding very early on about what dangers SUV's posed and how to (largely) fix them. All of those solutions, however, involved some extra expense, and stepping away for a very successful (and cheap) marketing image built around notions of invulnerability and an aggressive approach to terrain - and other road users.

In that sense it's a classic text about corporate deception, putting profits ahead of safety in the full knowledge that they were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of their customers and other road users. Bradsher also describes how systems of Government oversight had been emasculated by politicians at the behest of those same Corporations. It's a familiar theme, both from the tobacco industry and the carbon polluting companies fighting recognition of climate change. That - to some extent - the car industry has begun to do something about some of the worst aspects of SUV design, by improving anti-roll characteristics and lowering the front grills, is testament to the power of public shaming, and the influence of corporate insurers. ( )
  nandadevi | Jul 20, 2015 |
A look at the popular SUV. The author questions the conventional wisdom that SUVs are safer, and finds that studies demonstrate a greater risk in certain types of accidents. ( )
  Devil_llama | Apr 11, 2011 |
This is an outstanding history of the rise of the SUV in the US since 1985, its sociologial effect on Americans by an author well versed in the history of American automobiles. This book is a warning about what is happening and will probably continue to happen to erode highway safety because of this trend that was really begun because a tax loophole. The paperback edition has an important addendum to the hard copy published in 2002. ( )
1 vote carterchristian1 | Jun 7, 2010 |
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SUVs have taken over America's roads. Ad campaigns promote them as safer and "greener" than ordinary cars and easy to handle in bad weather. But very little about the SUV's image is accurate. They poorly protect occupants and inflict horrific damage in crashes, they guzzle gasoline, and they are hard to control. Keith Bradsher has been at the forefront in reporting the calamitous safety and environmental record of SUVs, including the notorious Ford-Firestone rollover controversy. In High and Mighty, he traces the checkered history of SUVs, showing how they came to be classified not as passenger cars but as light trucks, which are subject to less strict regulations on safety, gas mileage, and air pollution. He makes a powerful case that these vehicles are even worse than we suspect--for their occupants, for other motorists, for pedestrians and for the planet itself. In the tradition of Unsafe at Any Speed and Fast Food Nation, Bradsher's book is a damning exposé of an industry that puts us all at risk, whether we recognize it or not.

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