THE BIG Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) favoured by the rich are twice as likely to kill pedestrians as a normal car in an accident.
The finding comes in the latest edition of the authoritative journal Accident Analysis and Prevention it is based on systematic research in the US headed by engineer Clay Gabler.
SUVs have become a fashion fad among the rich for their 'country estate' connotations. Many have a kind of 'bull bar' grill on the front which serves no other purpose than to make it more likely someone hit by the vehicle will be killed.
Clay Gabler explains SUVs 'are heavier, stiffer and geometrically more blunt than passenger cars and pose a dramatically different type of threat to pedestrians. The probability of serious head and thoracic [chest] injury is substantially greater than with a car.'
As cars are lower in profile they tend to cause leg injuries when they hit people at lower speeds. These are less likely to kill than head injuries.
'One way to reduce head injuries from SUVs', says Gabler, 'would be to replace the blunt front end with a sloping, more aerodynamic one, making them more car-like. But this won't be popular with SUV buyers, who like their rugged off-road look.'
We wonder what New Labour will put first-public safety or the dangerous lifestyle choice of its rich friends?
And not much goodwill either
'PEACE ON Earth.' That is the unbelievable slogan on the Christmas card sent out by Merseyside Labour MP Louise Ellman and four Labour councillors. She forgets to inform her constituents that she voted for war on Iraq.
The card also gives a list of emergency numbers for the local council, including the Children's Service. But these 'caring' New Labour people did not notice this vital number was wrong.
Forget rugby, pack your trunk
ENGLAND HAS found a sport played by even fewer people so it can make another claim of being world champions.
The World Elephant Polo Association championships have just finished in Nepal. Teams ride around on elephants using big sticks to try and knock a ball through some posts. A team of four Brits won last week, scoring the winning goal in a sudden death play-off after the final had been tied 4-4.
Howard keeps it in the family
MANY READERS will recall Tory leader Michael Howard denouncing Tony Blair's top-up fees plan in parliament recently. Howard posed as the friend of the underprivileged, and played on his own relatively humble origins compared to Blair.
'This grammar school boy is not going to take any lessons from that public school boy in the importance of children from less privileged backgrounds gaining access to university,' said Howard.
Howard is ensuring that his son doesn't suffer any disadvantages. He's packed him off to Eton.
Snow more songs please
SPARE A thought for the poor shop workers who in the run-up to the holidays will be short of Christmas cheer.
They have been forced to endure non-stop compilation albums of Christmas songs. But they have begun to revolt.
It started in Austria when trade unions voiced workers' anger at being made to listen to Jingle Bells and other seasonal favourites. The rebellion has spread. Now colleagues in Dutch and German trade unions have backed their demand.
Gottfried Rieser of the Austrian shop workers' union says, 'Shop workers can't escape the Christmas muzak. They feel as if they are terrorised all day. Especially Jingle Bells. It arouses aggressive feelings.'
The unions want limits on the muzak, or time off for workers.
'By the time Christmas comes around,' says Gottfried Rieser, 'there are large numbers of abused shop workers who hate the very idea of it. They cannot bear to listen to Christmas songs and completely lose their temper at the slightest mention of anything to do with Christmas.'
Trouble in Toytown
NODDY, Basil Brush and Postman Pat are having a bit of a spat.
The murky world of corporate takeover bids has seen a bitter fight between the owners of the rival children's characters. First Entertainment Rights, the corporation behind Postman Pat and Basil Brush, launched an 'unsolicited and unwelcome' bid for Chorion, the firm behind Noddy.
Noddy, however, was having none of it and gave them the brush-off. Instead he has united with Bob the Builder-after Chorion signed a Europe-wide deal with Bob's owners, Hasbro.
Figure it out
8 : The percentage rise in homelessness over the last year.
Official figures released last week showed that 36,620 people were classed as homeless in the three months from July to September.
IN THIS WEEK - Snapshots from history - 1983
GUARDIAN editor Peter Preston (now a columnist) meekly handed over a leaked document to the Tory government, which exposed plans to crack down on anti-nuclear protesters.
Defence minister Michael Heseltine went to the courts after his plans to deal with people protesting against the arrival of US cruise missiles in Britain were leaked. Instead of protecting its sources the Guardian complied with a court order, and as a result civil servant Sarah Tisdall was jailed for six months.
'I certainly don't agree with those who say that television is just another commodity to be marketed and sold like Coca-Cola.'
GREG DYKE, BBC boss, 24 November
'Top of the Pops and the BBC Radio 1 chart will be sponsored by Coca-Cola next year.'
BBC News, 2 December
'Substitute 'asylum seeker' for Jews and the parallels with the 1930s become ever more unsettling.'
DAVID BLUNKETT, home secretary, the man pushing attacks on asylum seekers
'Can a 16 year old's opinion be worth as much as that of an experienced copper, a woman who has successfully brought up children, anyone who has run a business, a skilled surgeon or a veteran schoolteacher? Of course not. So why should they all have only one vote?'
PETER HITCHENS, right wing Mail on Sunday columnist on plans to let 16 year olds vote
'It is probably exaggerated the extent to which I was loathed.'
MICHAEL HOWARD, new leader of Tory Party on his time as home secretary
'The thing about sheep is that they are either alive or dead.'
Boris Johnson, Tory MP