Barry McCahill Named President of Sport Utility Vehicle Owners of America

Former NHTSA Spokesperson Brings Strong Vehicle Safety/Advocacy Expertise

WASHINGTON, Jan. 21 -- The Sport Utility Vehicle Owners of America (SUVOA) today announced the appointment of Barry W. McCahill as president of the consumer organization committed to providing choice in the motor vehicle marketplace, and fair and balanced information about safety and other performance characteristics of sport utility vehicles (SUVs).

"As the former long-time spokesman for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and a respected national public relations practitioner, Barry McCahill has an extensive background in motor vehicle safety and many other public policy matters. He knows all the issues well, knows all the players, and has excellent relationships with reporters who cover the transportation beat," according to Larry Innis, SUVOA chairman and Washington, D.C. representative of the Marine Retailers Association of America.

"Barry not only understands the Washington, D.C. political, regulatory and media environment, but because he now resides in Idaho, he brings important insight about the lifestyles and work needs of tens of millions of Americans who live far from the large urban centers. This perspective usually is missing in policy discussions about SUVs and light trucks," Innis said.

"There is a steady drumbeat of disinformation from groups and individuals who dislike SUVs," McCahill said. "Unfortunately, these critics tend to view the world from their own narrow viewpoints. They don't respect the vehicle needs or interests of actual consumers whose lifestyles are different from theirs. Many consumers prefer the comfort, safety and usefulness of SUVs and light trucks, which is why these vehicles remain so popular despite waves of agenda-driven criticism."

He applauded the recent agreement between NHTSA, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the motor vehicle manufacturers to work cooperatively to make SUVs and other vehicles safer in crashes. "SUVs are among the safest vehicles according to crash data, and in the years ahead the record will be even better as smart engineering and technology combine to provide the next generation of crash protection for all passenger vehicles that share our roads."

McCahill has more than 35 years of experience in all aspects of public communications. He is president of McCahill Communications, Inc., Eagle (Boise), Idaho, and serves a national client base as a consultant on transportation and other issues. He also teaches media training and lectured on public relations for Syracuse University's Newhouse School of Public Communications and Boise State University.

He served at the center of federal transportation policy under six NHTSA Administrators and eight Secretaries of Transportation. He was on the strategy team that developed the successful national campaign that increased safety belt usage in the U.S. and helped develop the award-winning seat belt spokesdummies, "Vince and Larry(R)," and the "Friends Don't Let Friends Drive Drunk" advertising campaigns. He retired in 1996 as Acting Director of NHTSA's Office of Public & Consumer Affairs. NHTSA is the high-profile federal agency that regulates the motor vehicle industry and promotes highway safety.

McCahill served as public relations counsel and spokesman for the marine industry's National Clean Boating Campaign, an environmental education effort for recreational boaters; executive director and spokesman for Americans for Responsible Alcohol Access, a coalition of safety and other groups that fought against illegal alcohol shipments; and is the public relations advisor to the school bus industry.

A graduate of the George Mason College of the University of Virginia, McCahill was an Army officer during the Vietnam conflict, and is listed in Who's Who in America. A long-time advocate for those with mental retardation and developmental disabilities, McCahill is on the board of directors of Voice of the Retarded, the leading national advocacy group for these individuals. An experienced boater, he holds a U.S. Coast Guard Master license, and also enjoys motorcycling, snowmobiling, and camping.

McCahill succeeds Jason Vines, who was recently named vice president of communications for DaimlerChrysler.

Founded in 1999, SUVOA gives voice to 24 million SUV owners by defending their interests on the national scene. It believes that American consumers know best what vehicles they want or need for their family, work and lifestyle, and deserve accurate information about SUVs and all other available vehicles so they can make informed decisions. The organization is a non- profit, consumer organization. Its board of directors is made up of individuals representing recreational groups whose members wish to protect vehicle choice. The group's bylaws prohibit automotive industry board members. For more information, visit www.suvoa.com .

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