Part-Time Mom

Are Small Cars a Threat to SUV Drivers?


by Maureen Jambor

I'm writing this piece because of what happened to me this morning on my way to work.  It scared me and I know it might make you a little concerned too. 

Let me start by saying that something has been bothering me on the freeway lately.  Actually, it's been bothering me on the city streets, too.  And in the parking lot.  These things seem to be multiplying like rats, appearing everywhere, getting in the way, making driving difficult.  I'm talking specifically about that modern urban blight professional mothers like myself have to deal with every single day -- small cars taking up the road.

My Hummer H2 as it rests in my driveway.

It was clear and sunny this morning, and I was in 8am rush hour traffic on the freeway, start-stop-start as usual, with my typical morning commute setup - a Venti latte in my left hand, a cell phone in my right hand, and my palm pilot in my lap.  As I neared my exit, I was just getting through my second latte, I had my boss on the phone and my son waiting on hold, and I was trying to jot some things down into my Outlook calendar with the stylus I was holding in my teeth.  Then suddenly, out of nowhere, I look up and there's this tiny Ford Focus in front of me, or should I say, going underneath me as my front tires rolled right up onto its trunk and onto its tiny roof.  I drive an average-sized Hummer H2 "Road Bully", it weighs four tons, and this miniature Focus couldn't have been more than one tenth my vehicle's weight and size.  I could barely even feel it until I was right on top of it.  Luckily I managed to stop before I rolled right over the driver himself.  Long story short - I almost didn't make my 9:30 department coordinator meeting, but luckily I was able to back up off the Focus.  I made it out of there before the police came thanks to four wheel drive and off-road tires.  You can go right through a swampy ditch in an H2 and it feels like you're driving on brand new pavement, I swear. 

After my little scare with the blue Focus, I started to look around more, and I noticed that there were a lot of small cars on the road...a lot!  If you just tilt your side mirrors ten degrees down you'll be surprised what you see driving next to you.  There's all these little silver Accents and red Miatas, tiny little Echos zipping this way and that.  I started to wonder if maybe the Focus I ran over this morning wasn't my first - just possibly the first I ever looked up in time to notice?  The suspension on an H2 is excellent, you can drive over a foot-tall curb and not even feel it, so it's likely my Focus incident wasn't my only accident that morning.

I pulled into the parking lot outside my office building, and there were small cars there too.  I was always aware that there were a few small cars in the parking lot, but I just assumed building management placed them there to help people step down out of their SUVs.  But now that I was paying more attention, I noticed they were driving around the parking lot too, and people were getting in and out of them.  

There was no damage to my vehicle, thank God.  My husband and I had to take out two separate loans and pull our son out of private school just to buy it.  Between monthly payments and the ridiculous gasoline prices lately—it costs me close to eighty dollars every three days just to fill up my tank!—there isn't much in the family budget left for higher insurance premiums or body work.

Later that morning during my break, I pulled into the Starbucks lot, and I noticed more of the same.  Small cars, everywhere.  I watched a family of four squeeze out of a little Corolla, which I just couldn't believe because I thought those only seated one. 

I don't know what mothers are thinking towing their children around in those flimsy, matchbox-sized tin boxes.  Not only does the diminutive size of these vehicles make them difficult to see on the street, but they are also virtual death traps.  Imagine if you hit one head-on in your H2, your Excursion, your Nissan Xterra, or your Chevy Avalanche; you would pulverize someone!  How can a mother in good conscience tow her precious children around in one of these tiny things?  I'm one hundred percent comfortable hauling my first-grade boy and all his little boyfriends to and from their activities, because all modern SUVs have front, side and back airbag curtains, and in an H2 we're high above traffic. Nobody has to bother even putting on their seatbelts.  But these little cars could be squashed by my truck and I might not even feel it given how low they ride and how light their bodies are.  I'm actually scared to look at my undercarriage.

I wrote a letter to my congressmen asking that they look into the issue and possibly propose legislation that would set a minimum size a passenger vehicle must be to be allowed on the road.  I think a reasonable minimum size would be like a Jeep Cherokee.  I will let you know what I hear back.

As a full-time management consultant for a large insurance firm and a part-time mother, naturally safety is a major concern of mine.  I urge every mother reading this to look at the size of her own car, and ask herself if she really feels safe towing precious cargo like her children and groceries around in it, or if maybe she should trade it in for something a little bigger.  Let me know what you think.


Maureen Jambor is an executive management consultant, a business systems analyst, a published author, and a part-time mom.

Previous Maureen Jambor articles on DivisionTwo:

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