CRUISE MISSILES AREN’T THE ONLY WAY TO KILL 10,000 PEOPLE A YEAR….Enough of all this war talk. Let’s talk about SUVs instead.

Apparently SUVs really are killing machines. We’ve known for a long time that SUVs are unusually effective at killing people in other cars ? something their owners and makers have long shown little concern about ? but now the automakers themselves have finally admitted that, in fact, they are dangerous to their occupants as well:

Until now, auto companies have carefully cited statistics to suggest that SUVs are safer than cars. But in a briefing for reporters, the alliance released numbers showing that the death rate in accidents was 3.5% higher for people in SUVs than for those in passenger cars. The numbers were for 2001, the most recent year available.

And the response of our Republican Congress? Why, to call the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on the carpet to explain his statement last month that he wouldn’t buy his children an SUV that has been determined to be a rollover risk “if it was the last one on Earth”:

“My answer was never about SUVs generally,” [Dr. Jeffrey] Runge said. “We believe it is never appropriate to characterize a class of vehicles generally.”

Way to make him back down, guys. Can’t let these safety Nazis get out of hand, can we?

In fairness, after that show of alpha male domination John McCain did go on to admit that automakers have, um, a less than sterling reputation for voluntarily improving the safety of their vehicles:

McCain said it took government demands to make automakers include air bags and safety belts in their vehicles.

“You judge people by their history,” McCain said. “Where is their credibility in establishing these voluntary vehicle standards?”

I eagerly await the Republican party’s latest proposal for letting the unfettered free market take care of this.

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