washingtonpost.com  > Business > Columnists > Click & Clack
Click & Clack

CLICK & CLACK : Responsibility for Dummies

Sunday, March 13, 2005; Page G02

Q Dear Tom and Ray:

I've enjoyed both your radio show and your columns, until I read your criticisms of sport-utility vehicles. I understand your position, that most people don't need them, and I agree that some people drive them recklessly, but to suggest that accident victims or their families sue the manufacturer is totally irresponsible. You should be ashamed. -- Kenneth

A RAY: We're not that good at "ashamed," Kenneth. It's something we should probably work on. Television is absolutely plastered these days with video of SUVs barreling through snowdrifts at high speeds -- throwing snow in all directions as they move unstoppably through arctic conditions. The message is clear: If you buy our vehicle, you'll be able to drive like this.

TOM: And so when someone does drive like that, is he entirely at fault for the results? Isn't the manufacturer also responsible for telling the guy that his vehicle is designed to be driven that way -- even when it's not safe to do so?

We're all for personal responsibility. But it's our opinion that a number of manufacturers are deliberately misleading people. They're suggesting through their ads that SUVs can overcome the basic laws of physics -- and they can't.

RAY: Since people are dying as a result, we feel that these irresponsible ads -- and their misleading messages -- need to be stopped.

Dear Tom and Ray:

I recently left a career as a pizza-delivery driver. I'm thinking about going back to the pizza business. My question for you folks is this: The vehicle I bought for my new job is much too nice to use for delivering pizzas. I'm going to need a cheap car that gets reasonable gas mileage and is relatively easy to work on. I can spend about $5,000. I was thinking about a Toyota, because I hear they are very reliable. -- Bo

TOM: You certainly could buy a Toyota Corolla. They're easy to find, reliable and economical. And you can probably get a 5- or 6-year-old one for $5,000.

RAY: But why not really go for the sympathy, Bo? I see you in a 1987 Hyundai Excel, blue smoke belching out the back . . . one headlight working.

TOM: Plus, it's got vinyl seats, so you can just wipe up the melted mozzarella and spilled tomato sauce. Try doing that with your beautiful Toyota velour!

Got a question about cars? Write to Click & Clack in care of The Post, or e-mail them at www.cartalk.com.

©2005 by Tom and Ray Magliozzi

and Doug Berman

© 2005 The Washington Post Company