BBC Radio 4 has just interviewed Desmond O'Neill from Trinity College Dublin, who is calling for health warnings to be placed on 4x4 cars because of the increased danger they pose to other road users and particularly pedestrians. He argues that the likelihood of a fatality in collision with a pedestrian almost doubles for a large SUV compared with a passenger car. This is because a collision with an SUV will most likely impact the more vulnerable areas (head, thorax and abdomen) as opposed to the pelvis and thighs.
He does not suggest that these vehicles should be banned from the roads, but does say that warning labels should be affixed to the vehicles in the same way as cigarette packets.
It's hardly a new viewpoint, however. In November last year Science and Nature stated that 4x4s should carry a 'health warning', and in May 2003 there were calls for a ban on the use of 4x4s for the school run.
Not surprisingly, a spokesman from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said that "SUVs are no more unsafe than any other type of car.", although conceding that "all vehicles can be dangerous when in an accident with a pedestrian."
In my opinion, the fewer of these vehicles on the road the better, and would support Mr O'Neill's thoughts on going about it.