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Washington, D.C., February 20, 2003—Instead of being attacked for their vehicles, SUV owners this week heard only calls for help. From Virginia to Maine, volunteers have been helping to ferry doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals to hospitals and clinics.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
“For the last few months, all we’ve heard are attacks on SUVs,” said Sam Kazman, a fuel economy expert and general counsel at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free market public policy group in Washington, D.C. “The ‘What Would Jesus Drive’ campaign told SUV owners they were sinners, and then Arianna Huffington’s Detroit Project called them traitors. But when there’s an emergency like this week’s snowstorm, whom do hospitals call? Not the owners of compact hybrids.”
CEI’s work on SUV safety stems from the federal government’s fuel economy standards program, known as CAFE (corporate average fuel economy). Since its inception in the 1970’s, CAFE has forced the downsizing of cars, making them less crashworthy. A National Academy of Sciences report in 2001 found that CAFE’s downsizing effect contributes to approximately 2,000 traffic deaths each year. SUVs and other light trucks are subject to less stringent fuel economy standards, but there are now proposals to tighten those standards as well.
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