So lately I’ve been thinking about the problems the US faces with emissions and large cars. Energy guzzlers like SUVs (and even minivans) are exceptionally commonplace in the US. As a result, the American government seems to come up with new ideas of ways to incent people to use smaller, more gas efficient, less waste producing cars. They use hybrid deductions and other plans. Somehow, I think they’ve lost sight of the fact that they caused, in part, this upswing in car size. Wondering how? I’m glad you asked ;).
Here in Jordan, there are far fewer SUVs, minivans, and other large vehicles and far more wee ones. The family sedan (midsize) is most popular. This is especially interesting in light of the fact that El 3atal and I with our 3 Beans (a semi-large family in the US) have a small family in Jordan. I mean really. I can only think of one or two friends who have fewer kids and can think of oodles who have more. So, clearly, in Jordan you would expect to find more people in larger cars, right?
Well, here’s where the government came into creating the large-car problem in the US. In Jordan, your children have to be safely secured into the car until the age of… of wait. In Jordan, there are no car seat laws. No child is required to be in a car seat and most are not. Using car seats with infants is becoming slightly more common among wealthier Ammanis. We Beans are freaks. We have out big kids in booster seats. Yes, even ButterBean is in one. So, in Jordan, a care of 10 can easily fit in a small family sedan, You put Dad driving, Mom and two kids on her lap, then the remaining five in the back bench seat. You think I’m kidding don’t you? I’m definitely not. I will admit that it’s more often the family of 7 or 8, but still. They are squeezed in like sardines.
In the US, once you hit 3 kids, you are likely going to buy a minivan or SUV. If your car isn’t big enough for 3 car seats across the back (or if you ever have guests visiting and prefer not to take 2 cars everywhere you want to go), you’ll have to graduate to more seats. This is why you see behemoths like the Ford Excursion. And it’s why there’s such a huge explosion of minivans. The first Beanmobile minivan was purchased once the twins outgrew their infant seats. Before that, we could fit ButterBean and the TwinBeans across the backseat of our largest car (actually it was a small SUV, but let’s not go there). They wouldn’t fit in my car, but they did in the slightly larger family car.
Once the TwinBeans moved to forward facing big-kid car seats, we couldn’t fit more than 2 on a row. So, we graduated to a minivan. And we only have 3 kids. Imagine families with more… So, when the US starts thinking about ways to decrease the carbon footprint of American families, they need to give serious thought to decreasing emissions rather than decreasing car size. Because, unless we want to go back to the free-for-all 1970s where your beetle could fit 10, supersized cars are here to stay. And, as for Jordan, it’s another thing to consider as you think about how to make children more safe. Safety comes at a price, both a short term and long term one. Both require consideration… after all large cars will mean no more mini-parking spaces…
Happy Clown Cars!