Gladwell on SUV’s

DCM and I followed the same path from Aaron’s blog to Malcolm Gladwell’s January New Yorker piece on the safety of SUV’s. I couldn’t possibly afford the time commitment of a New Yorker subscription, but Gladwell is quite literally my favorite journalist writing today, so I’ve been feeling a llittle bit parched by his recent hiatus. But his take on SUV safety doesn’t disappoint, a classic Gladwell disquisition that gets once again at the intersection between culture and psychology’s quiet truths.

According to Bradsher, internal industry market research concluded that S.U.V.s tend to be bought by people who are insecure, vain, self-centered, and self-absorbed, who are frequently nervous about their marriages, and who lack confidence in their driving skills.

OK, that’s easy, picking on poor SUV owners. But the real revelation is the safety data: SUV’s are demonstrably more dangerous than smaller cars – certainly for other drivers, but also for the people riding in them. Yeah, they have all that metal to protect you when you get in an accident. But they are far worse at avoiding accidents.