Reflections: The future wave of fuel efficient cars

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By Thomas W. Ivines

With the advent of high fuel prices, vehicles are bound to change in America. Obviously the cars of the very near future will be smaller and more fuel efficient.

Unfortunately, the American Government in its wisdom has made it nearly impossible to manufacture a small car such as what we saw in the late 1970s. The Honda CR for instance, a motorcycle with four wheels and a body, is illegal to operate on public highways now. Why is that you might ask?

There is this formula that Congress came up that involves weight verses power. For every horsepower there is a given required amount of weight mandated. Their logic is safety. The Honda CR is not deemed safe enough anymore in case of a collision. A car like the Honda CR could never be registered again, and too bad. They got nearly 50 miles to a gallon.

Reasoning says if all the cars were small, lightweight vehicles, there would be no problem. But, here in America we are in love with our SUVs and Bubba pickup trucks no matter what the cost of fuel. A collision between a small, lightweight compact and a bubba truck or SUV is no contest. The small, lightweight cars will almost always lose.

My logic has been the same until recently. I felt I would not have a small car until all the other cars on the road were small, too. Unfortunately that has not happened, though I have downsized somewhat. I now drive a Toyota Tacoma pickup that gets 28 miles to a gallon. I would have no problem downsizing even further if I thought I had a chance of surviving a collision.

The real scenario is teenagers driving seven thousand pound Cadillac Escalades. If not driving one of those then it would be a Ford Excursion. There is a young, irresponsible teenager wheeling one these things around on every road in America.

When I got rid of my gas guzzler, a Ford F150 pickup a few years ago, it was a parent who bought it for their 16-year-old son. Right!

As a high school teacher I learned a long time ago that most teenagers get in an accident within the first year. And guess what? Ask them who was at fault and it will almost always "NOT be them." Right again! Fact is most teenagers are driving big vehicles with big inexperience and causing a lot of accidents.

Then there are those 18-wheelers. There is no contest with them, either. It's best not to even drive near a big truck. I always make my way clear of big rigs and if they want to get by me, I quickly get out of their way. Statistics show that nine out of ten collisions between semi-tractor trailer trucks and small cars involve fatalities-- and guess what vehicle sustains the fatalities?

Well, with the laws the way they are along with the diehard, spoiled ways of Americans, it will be a long time before we will catch up with other countries and their dominantly small, fuel efficient cars. We will pay through the nose for our driving privileges until gasoline truly breaks our wallets. In the meantime the cars in America will get smaller with better fuel mileage, but not that much.