- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 26, 2000

It's not hard to drive fast in a new car though maybe it should be, given the recent hubub about tire-failure accidents and rollovers. This is an issue not being addressed by the majority of self-styled "safety" advocates, who continue to berate the automakers when what's needed is the judicious exercise of a bit more prudence by those behind the wheel of sport-utility vehicles (SUVs).

Unfortunately, not everyone has lived long enough, or seen what a high speed accident can do to a frail human body, to appreciate this fact. And today's SUVs are so very good that it is easy to drive extremely fast and yet feel completely safe. But the laws of physics and inertia have not been repealed by advances in tire technology or improvements in chassis design.

This means that when the vehicle begins to get away from the driver, not only will things happen much faster, the driver will be much less likely to be able to deal with it the vehicle's limits being so much higher than his own and the results will tend to be catastrophic.

Trucks, until the fairly recently, were very clearly trucks. They let you know in myriad ways that you were taking your life in your own hands if you pushed it much faster than 65-mph. Groaning tires, hurricane-levels of wind noise and the straining mechanical sounds of an engine tied to a non-overdrive transmission were better safety "checks" than all the air bags in the world. People today think nothing of driving their SUVs and pick-ups at 70-plus, however lulled by the silent, smooth drivetrain and quiet, well-insulated interior. This, more than any supposed "design flaw," is at the root of the escalating problem of rollover accidents involving these types of vehicles. A truck is a truck no matter how gussied up. And it was never meant to be driven fast. It only feels like it's OK to do so.

These are facts lost amid the din generated by the Firestone/Ford tire fiasco yet they are determinative factors in many, if not a majority, of the accidents attributed to other causes.

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