WASHINGTON - March 30 - As U.S. gas prices soar to record levels this month, a projected supply shortage and the upcoming summer travel season may soon push the national average for a gallon of gas over two dollars for the first time in the nation's history. Given the economic, environmental, and national security implications of America's overuse and dependence on oil, the Union of Concerned Scientists announced a new web initiative called "SUV-TV" to provide information and an outlet for American consumers to demand practical improvements of the nation's gas-guzzling poster child-the SUV.
The award-winning SUV-TV.org (chosen as the coolsiteoftheday.com pick for March 28) hosts a variety of online activities, including a satiric cartoon called "Industry Knows Best," a virtual tour of a greener, safer SUV designed by UCS, and even offers a contest to earn "clean car prizes." But all the fun and games lead to one very serious point-the technology exists now to cost-effectively build SUVs that are safer in both rollovers and collisions while simultaneously surpassing the current fuel economy standards set for cars. The campaign's goal is to ensure that proposed changes to regulations from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) actually help improve fuel economy and better shield drivers from gasoline price spikes instead of creating more loopholes for the industry to exploit. NHTSA is currently in the midst of a public comment period on this subject.
"The auto industry is, quite simply, failing the American driving public," said Jason Mark, Director of the Clean Vehicles Program at UCS. "They have the tools, technologies, and talent at their immediate disposal to give consumers all the SUV features they want in a way that will save gasoline and lives. SUV-TV.org is about exposing that fact to the public, and then channeling consumer reaction into a statement that automakers and Washington can't ignore."
UCS hopes to deliver at least 50,000 consumer statements to NHTSA through its SUV-TV Challenge by April 27, the public comment docket's closing date.