New SUVs, trucks protect passengers and the environmentTom...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

May 27, 1999

New SUVs, trucks protect passengers and the environment

Tom Horton's May 15 article, "Down with sport utility vehicles," misrepresents the emissions levels of current SUVs and light trucks and could lead consumers to make purchasing decisions hazardous to their health.

His assertion that 65 million light trucks produce higher emissions than 120 million cars is not supported. The fact is that late-model cars and light trucks, especially those built since 1994, are already low-emission vehicles, with emissions of major pollutants reduced more than 90 percent from earlier vehicles.

And models introduced in 1999-2001 will cut emissions even further.

The big pollution difference is not between cars and light trucks, but between clean-running late-model vehicles and older models or cars badly out of tune. Focusing on light trucks or new vehicles overlooks the real problem vehicles.

While Mr. Horton fumes about SUVs, he grudgingly admits that pickups are useful for farmers.

But in fact, all light trucks provide great utility to their owners, which is why consumers buy so many of them.

Families rely on minivans for weekend trips, shopping and transporting children; repair and delivery services rely on vans and construction and landscape crews need pickups.

If Mr. Horton wants to restrict light trucks, which consumers should be denied their vehicles of choice?

And should we also restrict (or ban) the vans that are built in Baltimore?

Those vehicles are used for shuttle services and help reduce traffic congestion and related emissions. That's more efficient (and less polluting) than more passenger cars.

Most important, by focusing only on environmental issues, Mr. Horton ignores safety concerns.

Larger vehicles protect their occupants much better than smaller ones. And large SUVs are among the safest vehicles.

Today, the most environmentallyfriendly vehicles tend to be the smaller ones. But they are less safe and most polls show that safety and utility are the things consumers want most in a vehicle.

Diane Steed Washington

The writer is president of the Coalition for Vehicle Choice.

Perhaps more city officials should be visiting Cuba? So, after all these years, a medical delegation from Baltimore, led by Health Commissioner Dr. Peter Beilenson has traveled to Cuba to study its medical system and explore why its infant mortality rate is only 7.9 per 100,000 births while Baltimore's is 11.6.

When is Baltimore schools Superintendent Robert Booker going to lead a delegation of city educators to Cuba to explore how that country has practically eliminated illiteracy while Baltimore's illiteracy rate remains high?

And when is Housing Commissioner Daniel Henson going to lead a delegation of building contractors to Cuba to explore how the Cubans built decent housing for practically everyone inexpensively and why there are no real slums in Cuba despite the the U.S.-imposed embargo shortages of paint and plaster?

And when is Social Services Director Yvonne Gitant going to lead a delegation of sociologists and social workers to see why Cuba has no need for homeless shelters and soup kitchens?

And, finally, when is Police Commissioner Thomas Frazier going to lead a delegation of cops, judges and penologists to Cuba to explore why Cuba's murder rate is a fraction of Baltimore's and its rate of other crimes and incarceration is so much lower than ours?

Nancy Miller Baltimore

Cuba, other countries offer health care lessons

The Sun's recent articles on the most oppressive nation in the Western Hemisphere, Cuba, confirm the ability of a dictator to produce a healthy baseball team.

While that may be a wonderful thing, it's a rather short list of achievements.

Still, the comparison of the health climates in Baltimore and Cuba ("Health system in Cuba praised," May 15) raised two important points.

It served as an indictment of our failed health care system and showed there are lessons to be learned from other nations.

More and more Americans are without health insurance or presented with barriers to access.

Among industrialized nations, the United States is the runaway big spender per capita for health care, yet its citizens receive inferior treatment and services.

I would recommend that we experiment with a national system proven to provide quality, cost-effective, universal care such as the one that has worked for more than 100 years in Germany.

Dr. Ross Z. Pierpont Timonium

Some Baltimore residents need access to pay phones

The saying, "There is never an ill wind that doesn't blow some good" ought to be kept in mind when you consider removing the pay phones from drug-infested neighborhoods ("City aids drug dealers through illegal phones," May 9).

While the calls to and from drug dealers are obviously ill, the calls to 911 from families who don't have a phone are not only good, but life saving.

There are pay phones that will not accept incoming calls. Why not let a responsible company install such phones?

Barbara Judd Baltimore

Bulldozing Baltimore isn't the answer

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