This is Monetizing Sociopathy

Matthew G. Saroff
5 min readMar 3, 2022

Not actually a Yukon, but still

You literally can’t see the car in front of you.

Over the past few years, auto manufacturers have made the hoods of their trucks higher and higher, and the grills flatter, and it’s killing people, whether it is because the driver cannot see a person standing in front of them, or because when they do strike someone the geometry of the grill is particularly lethal.

I understand and appreciate that there are people who need trucks for work, to haul stuff, to pull boats, etc, but these aesthetic decisions have nothing to do with that functionality. That all comes down to engine, transmission, suspension, and bed size.

The car makers do this because it sells, and it sells because the average American truck buyer wants to be intimidating and violent.

For some time, and I think that it started with the Reagan years, American has increasingly become a self-destructively hostile place, willing to harm one’s self in order to demonstrate one’s cojones.

There is a deep evil permeating our society, and I have no clue how to fix this:

Whether you bought a Sierra, like the one in the photo above, or a Yukon, which the tweeter mistakenly thought he was standing next to, or a Ram or a Silverado or a Jeep Gladiator or any other megatruck or monster SUV, you’re making an announcement to the world. It’s not the announcement you think it is, though. It’s not about your wealth or your toughness or your masculinity. No, you’ve announced, very clearly, that you don’t care if you accidentally kill a stranger. You’re saying: “I’m totally cool with someone else dying because of a decision I made.”

I’m not saying you’re a murderer if you own a gigantic truck. I’m saying you’re a manslaughterer. If you do kill a person, it won’t be because you carefully planned it. It’ll happen totally by accident, and you’ll be horrified. The person you kill, if it happens, won’t be some jerk who wronged you. They won’t deserve it at all. Heck, there’s a solid chance it’ll be a toddler.

………

Your car is also really tall, and that makes it more dangerous, too. A grille that’s more than 50 inches off the ground — as tall as the roof of my Honda Civic — makes it more likely that a pedestrian will be struck in the head by a collision. Big trucks are also more likely to push a pedestrian under the tires, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, something that increases the likelihood of a fatality. Those big, road-handling tires you love so much? They’ll also do a great job handling some middle schooler’s torso.

………

Plus, those tall grilles create enormous blind spots, ones so big that when you’re behind the wheel you might not be able to see a pedestrian, a whole-ass Corvette, or half a kindergarten class. And kids are the most vulnerable to that blind spot: Most victims of “frontover” deaths — in which a pedestrian in a front blind spot is struck and killed in a driveway or parking lot — are between the ages of 12 and 23 months. Eighty percent of those deaths since 1990 involved a truck, van, or SUV, according to the advocacy group KidsAndCars.org. Maybe you think that if you do run over a kid, it at least won’t be yours? It probably will be your kid, though. In 70 percent of those fatal frontovers, it’s a parent or close relative behind the wheel.

And if you do collide with that Corvette in your blind spot, well, good luck to that Corvette’s driver. It isn’t just pedestrians who are more likely to be killed if they’re hit by a truck — it’s people in other cars. You feel a lot safer in your 5,000-pound tank, I bet. But everyone around you is in more danger. In fact, your pickup truck is 159 percent more likely than other kinds of cars to kill another driver if you’re in a collision, according to the IIHS. (SUVs, which have been getting smaller over the years, are merely 28 percent more likely to kill people in other cars. Comforting!)

………

Look, I get that some people are contractors, or farmers, or boat-haulers — folks in flannel and work boots, as tough as the kinds of dudes always pictured in ads for gigantic pickups. Great. If that’s you, get the giant pickup, I guess. (Although you could always buy a van, which has better sightlines, can carry more than most pickups, and is cheaper.)

But the rest of you, the people who live in the suburbs, who don’t tow or go off-roading or haul around plywood? The drivers who just love the feeling of being way up off the ground, of having a front end that intimidates other cars, of being big? Just remember this. You’ve made a choice, and that choice tells your community that you are absolutely, totally, 100 percent comfortable with killing someone. How will you feel the day you actually do?

Let’s be clear: Much of the problem is not that someone wants to own a truck, but that they are demanding it be styled in a way that turns them into murder machines.

It’s a fashion choice, and it is a psychopathic one.

I should note, however, that I am an engineer, not a psychologist, dammit. *

*I love it when I get to go all Dr. McCoy!

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