The Hummer. It is unmistakable on the roadway, and it is probably the closest a civilian will ever get to driving a tank. That’s not surprising, since the Hummer is essentially a military vehicle that was re-purposed for civilian use. It looks a lot like the army’s Humvee because it essentially has the same chassis. The Hummer is heavy, can cross extremely rough terrain, and is durable and reliable. These perks come with a slew of serious drawbacks, however. Those and other oddities that separate the Hummer from a standard SUV have brought into question the lawfulness of Hummers in general.
Not a Typical Vehicle
A Hummer is not just a fancy road vehicle. Its specifications put it in a class all its own. It is considered a Class 3 truck. That means it is exempt from many of the DOTs classic safety regulations. This includes the need for child safety locks, side air bags, and stability controls. Hummer’s also have excessively large blind spots, making them difficult to park correctly or use in freeway traffic. Their weight and durability compared to normal vehicles make them outright dangerous to other drivers in anything but a semi. A Hummer could roll right over a standard passenger car.
Despite the lack of regulations, Hummers are among the safest vehicles to be driving on the road, at least for the occupants. Everyone else should probably watch out. Hummer drivers receive as many as five times the average in traffic tickets. Maybe driving such a vehicle encourages less defensive driving. Maybe the Hummer is just too ungainly to be well-controlled. Whatever the reasons, it is probably best to give Hummers plenty of extra space on the roadway.
Not Designed for Common Public Roads
Roadways, parking spaces, and lanes simply aren’t designed for something as bulky as a Hummer. With a curb weight in excess of 6,000 lbs, the Hummer is so heavy it is illegal to use on some U.S. roads. This weight creates predictably terrible fuel economy. The Hummer gets on average 14 mpg highway and a measly 10 mpg city. Diesel engine options improve this fuel economy, but not by much, and diesel fuel is more expensive than regular unleaded. In terms of fuel usage and carbon emissions, the Hummer is worse than even the largest pickup truck.
Is it Worth Outlawing?
Are safety and environmental concerns enough to consider the Hummer unlawful to drive? A few things should be considered here. First, the Hummer does not outright violate any laws or regulations. Second, there are quite a few Hummer owners. What happens if the government suddenly declares the vehicle illegal? Is that fair to current owners? What if a Hummer is their only vehicle? Third, the Hummer was not exactly a best seller. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know how inefficient the vehicle is and how expensive it would be to drive and maintain. Is it worth the hassle to generate and enforce laws over such a minority vehicle?
Finally, there is the question of general consumer rights and freedoms. Americans like their cars, and they like their ability to choose whatever they want. The potential political backlash of such a big-brother attitude from government over so small an issue may be more trouble than it’s worth. Consumers may rightfully feel infringed upon. After all, if a person is willing to float the bill for an obviously ridiculous vehicle, why stop them?
There may be no definitive answer to the lawfulness of the Hummer, but there are probably more important things for lawmakers to worry about when it comes to protecting the environment.
Article by Henry Chalmers, a freelance writer based in St. Louis, Missouri focusing on car gadgetry, the car industry, car maintenance & upkeep, motorcycles and other issues related to motor vehicles. Those interested in motorcycles should consider viewing the 250cc motorcycle.