Top 10 reasons not to drive an urban 4x4
1. You're not a farmer
Or a tree surgeon, country vet, wind turbine repairer, dry stone wall engineer or mountain rescue specialist. Unless you are (or in a handful of other occupations) there's really no need for you to get a big 4x4, particularly if you live in an urban area. Four wheel drive gives you better traction in snow or deep mud, and that's about it. It does not make your car safer, more manoeuvrable, or enable you to stop any quicker.
2. Your family fits into a saloon car or people carrier
Most families and their luggage can in fact fit comfortably into a small hatchback. Even if you have lots of kids (and a big dog), an estate car or MPV often has more space than a 4x4 and can fulfil all your daily needs. What did your dad drive you around in when you were small?
3. You will breathe cleaner air
Pollution studies have demonstrated that, in slow traffic, the dirtiest air isn't being breathed by the cyclists in the gutter or the people waiting for the bus on the pavement, but by those inside the cars in the middle of the road.
4. You will save money
Data at www.vcacarfueldata.org.uk show that it costs around £100 more per month in petrol costs alone to run a 4-litre Range Rover compared with a 2-litre estate car. Currently road tax stops increasing at just 225 g/km of carbon dioxide, so drivers of smaller cars are effectively subsidising the 4x4 drivers. Two-thirds of people support higher taxes for 4x4s and British insurance companies admit that 4x4 drivers are not yet charged premiums that reflect the cost of their claims, so the bottom line could get even worse.
5. You won't have to lie to your grandchildren
Our descendants will be left to deal with the effects of climate change caused by our profligate use of fossil fuels. Drivers of 4x4s should start editing their photo albums now.
6. You will be less likely to kill a pedestrian
Most accidents involving pedestrians are caused when they stray onto the road without warning, so your superior driving skills may not help to avoid an accident. However, a better designed car could make all the difference to their survival chances. The greater height and weight of 4x4s, as well as their flat fronts and stiff bonnets, means they are bottom of the class in Euro-NCAP crash tests for pedestrian safety.
7. You might see a small child early enough to avoid backing over them
Big, tall 4x4s have far bigger rear blind spots than normal cars, making it impossible to see a child for more than 15 feet behind them, and much further for short drivers. Check out the facts about the increased dangers to pedestrians from taller cars at www.kidsandcars.org.
8. You will be less likely to injure people in other cars
The high bumpers on 4x4s can override safety features on other cars, such as side impact bars and crumple zones, and the extra weight of big 4x4s is a hazard in itself. The spare wheel on the back of many 4x4s often takes the place of a rear bumper and increases damage to other cars and the 4x4 itself in a 'shunt' incident.
9. You will have a better time driving
Big 4x4s are notoriously difficult to park due to their poor visibility close to the car. When cornering, the high centre of gravity of a 4x4 reduces the responsivenesss and takes all the fun out of it. Don't expect to nip away from traffic lights either, due to all that extra weight.
10. People will like you better
The aggressive look of a big 4x4 means other people on the road may make assumptions about the person behind the wheel. In an ordinary car, you won't get dirty looks from all and sundry when you drive around town, won't have to avoid eye contact with bus passengers, and cyclists won't mouth obscenities as they squeeze past you in a queue of traffic. As an extra bonus, other drivers might occasionally let you pull out ahead of them.