Competitive Enterprise Institute | 1899 L ST NW Floor 12, Washington, DC 20036 | Phone: 202-331-1010 | Fax: 202-331-0640
Washington, D.C., January 22, 2002 — Thousands of needless deaths could result from a new energy proposal described today by Senator John Kerry (D-MA). Sen. Kerry calls for increasing federal new-car fuel economy standards "as far and fast as we can," yet these standards have already been found responsible for thousands of additional highway deaths.
The CAFE program (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) was originally introduced in 1975. While it has had no clear impact on overall gasoline consumption, it has forced carmakers to restrict their sales of larger cars and to downsize other models. However, since larger cars are more crashworthy than smaller cars in practically every collision mode, the result is more highway deaths.
Senator Kerry claimed that the recent National Academy of Sciences report showed that CAFE can be safely increased. But the main finding of that report was that CAFE is already killing people, contributing to between 1,300 and 2,600 deaths annually.
CEI general counsel Sam Kazman stated: "The Academy’s analysis of future CAFE increases was highly tentative, but its finding of deaths from the current program is clear. CAFE kills, and that fact cannot be fudged. No matter what new technologies are developed, there will always be a trade-off between fuel economy and safety."
In a presentation at CEI last week, Dr. Leonard Evans, one of the world’s foremost traffic safety experts, concluded: "CAFE kills, and higher CAFE will generate additional fatalities." Materials from his presentation may be viewed here .
In 1992 CEI won a federal appeals court ruling that the U.S. Transportation Department had illegally ignored CAFE’s adverse safety effects.
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