Fatal Attraction

By: Erin Tate
By: Erin Tate

Patrick Molloy is a salesman at Harrisonburg's Steven Toyota.

"Out of the fifty people I talk to on a weekly basis, I'd say half of them are interested in a SUV of some sort or another," he says.

There are 22 million sport utility vehicles on America's roadways today. They come in all different shapes, sizes, makes and models. And despite government figures, which show the rate of fatal rollovers for SUVs is almost three times that of cars, American families can't get enough of them.

"There is the stigma of the minivan soccer mom and they get tired of that stereotype and want to move into something more aesthetically attractive," says Molloy.

Also, something more safe, yet adventurous. A vehicle that can handle sharp mountains and shopping malls. For many SUV buyers, money is no object, but image is.

Psychologists say you can tell a lot about people just by looking at the cars they drive. And SUVs are certainly big, strong and trendy. Dr. David Reid says those are very attractive attributes to many people.

"I think a lot of people buy these vehicles because they're pretty big and powerful cars and that can reflect something we want to express to the public, to our friends or to our families," says Reid.

But Molloy says keeping up with the Jones' should come second to keeping your family safe. And that's something he says no vehicle on its own can guarantee.

"The absolute safest feature of any vehicle is the part between the seat and the steering wheel and that would be the driver," says Molloy.

Legislators are proposing tough laws to make SUVs and highways safer. Automakers say they are also working to do the same.


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