Too Thirsty?

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 30, 2002

If the United States enters a war with Iraq, SUV owners could be a casualty.

SUV drivers may be forced to leave their big rigs at home, suggests Dr. Dan Turner, professor of civil and enviromental engineering at The University of Alabama’s College of Engineering.

“I certaintly hope that we do not go to war, but if we do, it can cause major changes in people’s lifestyles.” Turner said. “They may no longer be able to afford to drive SUV’s or to drive so many miles daily.”

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Americans are the most mobile people on the earth, and take for granted their ability to drive (cheaply) anywhere they want to, whenever they want to.

Since the United States relies heavily on oil any disruption could be devastating. SUVs consume more fuel than the average-sized vehicle, so owners of this type of vehicle would be harder hit by another Persian Gulf crisis.

“Driving my SUV will become a hassle, instead of the luxury that I usually view it as,” states SUV owner Samantha McCraw, “If I have to pay more for

the gas that it takes me to do errands it, then I won’t want to drive it unless it’s absoloutely necessary.”

Many people don’t realize the costs of operating a vehicle.

“The price of owning and driving an automoblie is hidden from us,” Turner says. “We pay for it with plastic.”

But if the price of gas doubles at the pump, like it did in the late 1970’s, the shock will be enormous. People will suddenly realize how much they are paying, and the gas increase will reduce the amount of income that they have, and will probably change their lifestyle as well.

Despite higher costs, some people would rather have the luxury of an SUV, versus an average-sized car.

“As a rule, my family and I try not to take a lot of unnecessary trips while we are in town,” said long-time SUV owner Thomas Berry, “If we go on vacations or take long trips, then we still get pretty good gas mileage on the highways. Overall, I don’t think that the gas price increase will affect neither the amount that I travel, nor the income that I have for gas.”