European Roads Struggle to Accommodate Increasingly Bulky SUVs

    Cars Are Getting Bigger: A Disturbing Trend That Needs Regulatory Intervention

    Have you ever noticed that cars on the roads are getting bulkier and wider? Well, you’re not alone. A recent study has confirmed what most of us already suspected – cars are indeed getting bigger. The European Federation for Transport and Environment, an association of non-governmental organizations, has conducted a comprehensive analysis that sheds light on this concerning trend.

    SUVs, in particular, have emerged as the worst offenders in Europe. Unlike in the United States, where pickup trucks dominate the roads, SUVs have become increasingly popular in the Old Continent. This shift in consumer preference has contributed significantly to the problem of oversized vehicles. The data collected by the European Federation for Transport and Environment reveals that new passenger vehicles are expanding by approximately one centimeter every couple of years. This may not seem like much, but when you consider the cumulative effect, it becomes evident that these fatter cars are posing a serious challenge.

    With the average new car now exceeding 180 centimeters in width, which is roughly the size of a typical parking space in Europe, the usability of driving lanes is being compromised. This poses a particular problem in historic towns with narrower streets, where maneuvering these oversized vehicles becomes increasingly difficult. The study highlights several examples of notably wide vehicles, all of which unsurprisingly belong to the SUV category. Models such as the BMW X5, X6, X7, and XM exceed 200 centimeters in width, while the Mercedes GLS, Audi Q8, Porsche Cayenne, and Volkswagen Touareg are just below that threshold.

    However, it’s not just SUVs that have undergone size inflation over the years. Even regular cars have experienced significant growth. Take the Skoda Octavia, for instance, a popular compact car in Europe. The latest model stretches at an astonishing 4.68 meters in length and 1.82 meters in width. Compare this to the original Skoda Octavia, which was a much smaller vehicle at 3.7 meters in length. Similarly, the iconic Volkswagen Golf, the best-selling vehicle in Europe, has also grown larger. The current Golf measures 4.28 meters in length, while its predecessor was only 3.7 meters long.

    So, what’s driving this concerning trend of car “obesity”? Well, it’s a combination of factors. Firstly, there’s the increasing demand for more spacious and comfortable cars, which automakers are eager to fulfill. Additionally, stringent safety regulations have played a significant role in the size expansion of vehicles. Today’s cars come with widened pillars and additional safety features that require extra space. While these safety measures are undoubtedly crucial, they also contribute to the overall weight and size of the vehicle. This, in turn, leads to higher fuel consumption and increased emissions, exacerbating environmental concerns.

    Among all vehicle types, SUVs have emerged as the primary driver of this trend. Consumers can’t seem to get enough of these larger-than-life vehicles, and automakers are eager to capitalize on this demand. However, there’s also a safety concern associated with SUVs. A study conducted by the Belgian Institute for Road Safety revealed alarming results. It found that raising a vehicle’s front by just 10 percent increases the risk of a pedestrian or bicyclist fatality by a staggering 30 percent. This highlights the need for urgent action to address the growing size of cars on our roads.

    The European Federation for Transport and Environment believes that regulatory intervention is the key to reversing this troubling trend. Without proper regulations in place, this trend is unlikely to change. European lawmakers must step up and take action to curb the increasing dimensions of vehicles in order to ensure safer roads and preserve the urban landscape.

    In conclusion, the issue of cars becoming bigger is not just a perception – it’s a reality. SUVs, in particular, have played a significant role in this size expansion, posing challenges for road users, pedestrians, and the environment. It is imperative that regulators address this issue promptly to promote safer and more sustainable mobility. Only through regulatory action can we halt this disturbing trend of car “autobesity” and safeguard our cities for generations to come.

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