February 10, 2000

Governor Gary Locke
Legislative Bldg. PO Box 40002
Olympia WA 98504-0002

Governor Locke;
The size and mass of the SUV and similar vehicles constitutes an immediate danger to the unarmored public. It has been firmly established that the occupants of small cars, as well as bicyclists and pedestrians, do not fare well in collisions with these machines. In addition, such large vehicles produce excessive pollution, waste energy, deplete petroleum reserves, and contribute to environmental degradation and climate change. Further, it doesn't take rocket science to understand that large numbers of over length vehicles can have a significant impact on traffic congestion. The increasing risk to small car operators itself has helped to escalate the numbers of drivers opting for the oversize vehicles. In summary, although a car purchase may be "good for the economy" the physical presence and operation of large numbers of SUVs and other large personal vehicles is detrimental to the community.

We understand that TV commercials have encouraged citizens to play (Washington State) Lotto in order to win an SUV. Thus, Washington State has profited by advertising SUVs, which in turn has fueled the SUV craze, which in turn has further fueled the increase in numbers of SUVs on the roads.

Unfortunately, this plan appears to have backfired on Washington State, in the sense that these large expensive vehicles became so popular that a majority of the people allowed Initiative 695 to became law. Before I-695, the detriment to the community by large scale purchases of this type of vehicle was somewhat compensated by a giving back to the community in the form of services provided by the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (MVET). With the passage of I-695, there is no giving back to the community.

Because Washington State has profited from the encouragement of SUV purchases, WEC wants to know what Washington State is doing to protect our remaining unarmored citizens, including pedestrians, bicyclists, and the operators of economical and environmentally sound compact and small cars.

Sincerely,

Rodger Herbst
Chair WEC Pollution and Health Committee

CC: Dave Mann, WEC President