Tax SUVs more for the 'safety of others' - Labour Senator

Larger cars kill other road user far more often than smaller models.
James Wilson
James Wilson

17.47 6 Feb 2024

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Tax SUVs more for the 'safety...

Tax SUVs more for the 'safety of others' - Labour Senator

James Wilson
James Wilson

17.47 6 Feb 2024

Share this article

SUVs should be taxed more to stop people buying them, a Labour Senator has said. 

Earlier this week, a majority of Parisians voted to treble the parking rates for cars that weigh 1.6 tonnes or more to €18 an hour.

Speaking to The Hard Shoulder, Senator Rebecca Moynihan said there are good reasons why Irish towns and cities should do likewise.


“One is safety for others,” she said.

“The other one is climate and the impact of the carbon emissions of those very big cars.

“There’s also the quality of the urban environment.”

A number of studies have found that the average size of a new car has increased steadily since the turn of the century.

In Britain, the average new car grows by 0.5cm every year and it is thought Ireland is experiencing similar growth.

Senator Moynihan said there are a number of serious complications to having so many large cars.

“From a Belgian study that was done on crashes and accidents that happened there, we know that a 10cm increase in the height [of a vehicle increases the chance of] death by 10%,” she said.

“So, they’re key reasons why we have to do it.

“If you’re hit by a bigger car or an SUV, you’re more likely to die.

“We have a responsibility to our vulnerable adults, vulnerable road users - such as young children, such as cyclists, people who are using buggies and people who are mobility impaired.”


Senator Moynihan said the issue needs to be tackled “on a national level” or the size of cars will continue to grow.

“You have cars that are too big to fit in one car parking space,” she said.

“Cities like Dublin were not built when people had private cars, they were built when a lot of people got around by horse and cart.”

She also said she “absolutely” wants to see larger electric cars taxed more as well.

“Your heavy electric vehicle impinges on the safety and road rights of other people - particularly vulnerable road users,” she said.

'I can’t afford to take a hit'

One woman who knows better than most about driving a larger car is Ali Dee - a mother of four.

Until the birth of her triplets, she drove a small little hatchback but had to trade it in when her family grew.

“I had absolutely no choice but to buy a seven seater when they were born,” she said.

“Legally in Ireland as well, you have to have a full seat in order to be able to put the carseats in properly.

“So, I have four children and I have to have four full seats in a car.”

Ms Dee would prefer to drive a small car and understands the environmental reasons for wanting less large cars on the road, but is worried about the impact any tax hike would have on her finances.

“We’re in a cost of living crisis,” she said.

“I can’t afford to take a hit; my car is already far more expensive than I ever wanted it to be in the first place.”

Ms Dee said she prefers to take public transport but that is “not always an option” as after her triplets were born she was “physically… not able to fit the buggy on the bus”.

You can listen back here:

Main image: Traffic. Image: Sam Boal/

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