NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Higher Fuel Efficiency Standards Mean More Deadly Crashes

August 1, 2011

The president has secured agreements from Ford, Chrysler, General Motors, Honda and Hyundai to raise the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) fleet average standard to 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2025.  The new standard will be reviewed in 2018, but that won't change the fact that automakers will immediately have to embark on efforts to lighten and downsize all of their models, says the Washington Examiner.

It is inescapable that more weight means lower fuel economy, so heavier vehicles will have to go.  By far the worst result will be the fact that thousands will die because of these standards.

  • In 2003, for example, a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study estimated that for every 100 pounds of weight taken out of a car weighing less than 3,000 pounds, the death rate goes up more than 5 percent; the increase is slightly less than 5 percent for those weighing more than 3,000 pounds.
  • Two years before that, a National Academy of Sciences study estimated that the lighter vehicles required to satisfy CAFE were responsible for as many as 2,600 highway deaths in one year alone.
  • And in 1999, a comprehensive multiple regression analysis by USA Today of the government's Fatality Analysis Reporting System data concluded that 7,700 people died for every one additional mpg attributable to CAFE regulation.

Many CAFE advocates claim the government can simply mandate additional safety equipment to counter the greater danger posed to occupants of lighter cars and trucks, but in doing so they concede the point that their favorite federal regulation exacts a terrible toll in return for comparatively meaningless benefits, says the Examiner.

Source: "Higher Fuel Standards Mean Higher Death Toll," Washington Examiner, July 28, 2011.


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