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SUV Code 'Read' - The Facts The Anti-SUV Zealots Don't Want You to See

SUV Owners of America Fills the Fact Void

WASHINGTON, July 18 -- In response to the Chesapeake Climate Action Network's planned "SUV Code Red Campaign," in which the group plans to ticket 15,000 SUVs in the Baltimore/Washington area, the SUV Owners of America ( has released a list of facts about SUVs that this group and other anti-SUV zealot groups either refuse to accept or are willfully ignoring in order to mislead the American consumer, legislators and policymakers.

"The argument that 'people don't need SUVs' usually is espoused by self- appointed, fact-challenged 'experts' who have no appreciation for people's work, home, lifestyle and circumstances other than their own," said Jason H. Vines, SUVOA president.

Formed in 1999 and turbocharged in May 2003 with an information-rich web site (, and a board of directors representing recreation and small business interests, SUVOA is a non-profit consumer organization dedicated to supporting the rights and serving the interests of 24 million SUV owners in the United States. SUVOA is the voice of and advocate for SUV owners with media and federal/state government policymakers. SUVOA defends SUVs and their owners from unfounded attacks by special interest groups and unwarranted government regulation.

According to SUVOA, the attacks on SUVs and SUV owners are coming from a handful of small but vocal groups who often distort the factual record of SUVs regarding safety, the environment and their use. Their documented tactics range from seemingly harmless, self-described satire to vicious, criminal activities that have put the lives of people, including public servants, at risk.

"The anti-SUV zealots we have heard from and who have generated the greatest amount of media coverage are doing nothing less than encouraging the criminal behavior of eco-terrorists who are setting vehicles on fire and vandalizing individual's vehicles," said Vines. "The statements they make, the ads they run and the tickets they place on SUVs give comfort and justification to those who tend to voice their opinion with a gas can and a lighted match or by smearing an owner's vehicle with animal waste."

                     SUV CODE "READ" - THE FACTS THE

  * Americans rely heavily on the versatility of their SUVs.  About half of
    the respondents in a recent poll use their SUV regularly to haul around
    tools, appliances and other bulky items that just won't fit into cars.
    (Source: R.L. Polk and Co.)

  * During heavy snows and floods, hospitals often put out the call for
    volunteers with four-wheel-drive vehicles (most of which are SUVs) to
    transport patients and to help doctors and nurses get to work.  The
    Baltimore/Washington area experienced this phenomenon this past winter.

  * Americans enjoy the fruits of their labor with almost 24 million boats,
    ATVs, horse trailers, towed RVs, snowmobiles and off-road motorcycles.
    And the vehicles moving most of these leisure machines are SUVs and
    other light trucks, because today fewer than six percent of passenger
    cars can tow more than 2,100 pounds.

  * SUVs do have a higher center of gravity and therefore can roll over more
    easily. However, rollover crashes are relatively rare when compared to
    all other types of crashes.  Federal government and insurance industry
    safety data show SUVs are considerably more protective of their
    occupants than the average passenger car in the most common types of
    crashes -- front, side and rear, which make up 97 percent of all
    crashes. (Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration - NHTSA
    - 2002 FARS database.)  The fact is that no one gets to pick the kind of
    crash they could be in, so it's best to choose a vehicle that offers the
    best protection in the most common situations we face in our daily

  * The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's (IIHS) November 2002 report
    on fatality rates showed the following occupant fatalities per million
    registered passenger vehicles, 1 to 3 years old, in all crashes:

         All Cars      124
         All SUVs      115 (8 percent fewer than cars)

    According to IIHS, driver deaths per million registered passenger
    vehicles, 1 to 3 years old, in all crashes, show SUVs as a class fare
    much better than cars as a class, while the large SUVs are the safest of
    all vehicles:

         Small Cars    109
         Midsize Cars   77
         Large Cars     63
         All Cars       83
         All SUVs       65
         Large SUVs     61


  * Since the mid-1970s, the fuel economy of SUVs and light trucks has
    improved by nearly 60 percent.  Virtually all SUV owners, like all
    vehicle owners, want even better fuel economy.  However, while peer-
    reviewed studies have shown that improved fuel economy is possible, it
    comes with tradeoffs that most consumers are not willing to accept
    (e.g., higher cost, diminished performance and utility, and reduced
    crash protection).

  * Replacing all of the SUVs to be sold in 2003 with passenger cars would
    save one day's worth of oil in this country.  But, because SUVs are more
    protective of their occupants in the vast majority of crashes compared
    to cars, the death rate on our nation's highways would unquestionably
    increase.  Is this a wise tradeoff?

  * In terms of tailpipe emissions, many SUVs and trucks today already meet
    the same stringent federal emissions standards as cars; and over the
    next few years, by law, the difference between car emissions and light
    truck (SUVs, pickup trucks and minivans) emissions will completely

  * A 2004 Ford Explorer or Chevy Trailblazer, two of the most popular SUVs,
    will pollute less driven from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles and back
    to Washington, D.C. than a 1967 station wagon driven one-way from
    Washington, D.C. to Baltimore.

  * The progress on SUV and light truck emissions reduction has been swift
    and dramatic. The emissions from a new midsize SUV, the most popular
    SUVs in America, are cleaner today than those of the average passenger
    cars still on the road today that were built just three years ago.

  * For the first time ever, SUVs have captured the overall market share
    lead among female new vehicle buyers, according to a 2003 analysis by
    R.L. Polk and Co.