Malcolm Gladwell: Big, Bad Road Killers

This week’s New Yorker has a stunning piece by Malcolm Gladwell on car safety and the public interest in difficult-to-handle SUVs and an online Q&A with the author. Gladwell goes up to Consumer Reports and test drives cars with the head of the auto group, talks with car designers and safety experts and concluded that American ideas about what make a car safe have changed–for the worse–over the past few years. “The SUV boom happened when drivers decided to treat accidents as inevitable,” Gladwell says–and then he sets out to prove it, along the way publishing a chart of vehicle fatalities for drivers of particular makes of cars and the drivers of cars they hit. Using this metric, Toyota Avalons, Camrys, and Volkswagen Jetta are the safest cars–with the highest number of drivers surviving–which Ford F-series trucks (my son’s dream vehicle), Dodge Neons, and Pontiac Grand Ams are among the worst.
This is a must-read piece…in fact, this is a terrific New Yorker issue.