Competitive Enterprise Institute | 1899 L ST NW Floor 12, Washington, DC 20036 | Phone: 202-331-1010 | Fax: 202-331-0640
Washington, DC, July 27, 2001— The Competitive Enterprise Institute today charged that a series of polls that allegedly show public support for higher fuel economy standards are misleading based on public ignorance of their lethal safety effects. The polls, conducted by New York Times, the Mellman group, and ABC News/Washington Post, are being touted as a reason for Congress to raise fuel economy standards.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
“These polls were apparently conducted with no mention whatsoever of the well-established but little-known fact that CAFE kills people by reducing vehicle crashworthiness,” said CEI General Counsel Sam Kazman. “When people learn about this safety question, however, support for CAFE plummets. That is absolutely clear from our own polling on this issue.”
In 1999, CEI’s National Environmental Survey found that 57 percent of registered voters would oppose federal the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards if they “were shown to cause 2,000 to 4,000 traffic deaths per year.” According to a Harvard University-Brookings Institution study, CAFE has precisely this effect. By forcing carmakers to produce smaller, less crashworthy vehicles, it results in a 14 to 27 percent increase in occupant fatalities — an increase of 2,000 to 4,000 additional traffic deaths yearly.
Without information about CAFE’s safety effects, the law was favored by a slim majority of respondents — 51 percent favored CAFE, and only 23 percent opposed it. However, support for CAFE slipped to a 44 percent plurality when respondents were informed about CAFE’s downsizing effect and the general relationship between vehicle size and safety. More importantly, once respondents learned of the actual size of CAFE’s estimated lethal effects, their support disappeared — public sentiment shifted to 57 percent opposed and 19 percent in favor. “Americans are simply not willing to trade blood for oil,” Mr. Kazman stated.
The survey, conducted by the polling company for CEI, included 1,000 randomly selected registered voters nationwide. Copies of the poll are available from CEI by calling 202-331-1010.
CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government. For more information, please contact the media relations department at firstname.lastname@example.org .