And there was a eight-year old boy struggling to his knees, then to his feet, his lower face a bloody mess. He had been struck by a young man in an Izusu Trooper who had been going too fast in a residential area and had been unable to stop in time.
I stopped breathing.
The boy was my son.
That was eight years ago.
I went to the E.R. (More accurately, was driven to the E.R. — I was in shock myself — after having dropped off my two younger children with a neighbor.) There are things you never forget in life, and that E.R. visit is one of them.
The doctor told me “The front of his upper jaw has been shattered. His coach saw one of his teeth lying there — we may be able to do something, but probably not — he’s lost three permanent front teeth.”
He paused. “He’s one lucky boy. Had that car struck an inch or two higher, he’d be dead.”
My son was lying in one of the rooms, waiting to have a CAT-scan done; they had not yet moved him to the ICU yet. When I came in, he turned to me and said “‘Ell, I ould al-ays ‘ee a ‘entilokist.” I started sniffling — the nurse started sniffling. “You’re not supposed to be trying to tell me jokes now, you’re not supposed to be trying to cheer me up.”
They repaired his jaw. He’s had a bridge for the past seven years, and in eleven days he goes in for bone graft surgery, the first step to having dental implants, and getting close to whole. We were lucky in other ways as well: there was no trauma to his neck or his brain.
The SVU he was struck by was not going fast at the time of impact (had the road not been wet, the driver might have been able to stop, even though he had been speeding) or my son would be dead. Had he been struck by a car, he would have suffered a broken arms or ribs.
The higher profile of SVU poses a direct threat to pedestrians.* A pedestrian struck by an SUV is more than twice as likely to die as one struck by a sedan.
So, aside from the ecological considerations, and the fact that a many of them are unnecessary (driven by people who need neither the off-road nor the cargo capacity), and the fact that they are a rollover hazard, SUVs are a menace. While I am willing to admit that there are people for whom it is appropriate and neccessary for them to own or drive one (living in isolated areas that get a lot of snow or mud, for instance, or having many kids with sports gear and needing to tow a boat), just as I recognize that double tractor trailer trucks are a necessary evil, I feel that people who own them who do not need them are engaging in anti-social behavior. Not that I’m perfect — I engage in my own anti-social behaviors. I’m working on them.
I find myself viewing owning an SVU as a sin needing to be forgiven. I do have friends who own them, and I keep my peace. I don’t say, “Don’t you realize what you’re doing?”
But I want to.
*Many of the safety concerns about SVU are just as pertinent applied to pickup trucks with high profiles. And again, there are many people driving around who don’t need the cargo capacity of the trucks.