New Study Demonstrates Lethal Effects Of Federal Auto Fuel Economy Standards

New Study Demonstrates Lethal Effects Of Federal Auto Fuel Economy Standards

Federal Push for Higher Gas Mileage Standards Would Be Deadly
June 29, 2001

Washington, DC, June 29, 2001—A new study in the American Journal of Public Health adds more evidence to the fact that federal auto fuel-economy standards reduce traffic safety.  The study, released yesterday, comes amid a growing debate over the government program, popularly known as CAFE.  The Competitive Enterprise Institute has long contended that CAFE is deadly because it forces cars to be downsized.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />


In the study, “Causal Influence of Car Mass and Size on Driver Fatality Risk”, one of the world’s leading experts on vehicle safety explores whether adding a passenger to a car has any effect on the survival odds of the driver in the event of a crash.  Dr. Leonard Evans concludes that the driver’s chances of survival are measurably increased, because the greater mass of the car improves its crashworthiness.  In short, higher car weight means higher safety.


CEI general counsel Sam Kazman, who has been involved in a series of CAFE lawsuits, stated:  “Safety researchers have long understood that downsizing is deadly. Dr. Evans’ latest study, however, adds a new level of detail to the size-safety issue.  The notion that we can mandate more stringent CAFE standards without increasing traffic deaths is simply preposterous, and this study confirms that.”


The study does point out that in certain cases this greater weight may increase risk for the occupants of another car that collides with the first, but generally the net social effect will be greater overall safety.  This contradicts the claims of those who argue that safety can best be improved by downsizing vehicles.  According to Dr. Evans, “the implication is clear that policies, such as CAFE, which lead to reductions in car weight inevitably increase traffic deaths.  The study provides more specific direct evidence that ‘CAFE kills’.”



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