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<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Washington, D.C., April 2, 2003—New federal fuel economy rules announced yesterday will make Americans less safe on the roads in coming years. Stricter regulations for vans, pickups, and SUVs promulgated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will have the effect, as they have for decades, of making vehicles less crashworthy and increasing the death toll on the nation’s streets and highways.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
The federal fuel economy program, known as CAFE (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. Since larger cars are more crashworthy than smaller cars in practically every collision mode, the result is more highway deaths.
“There's simply no avoiding the fact that higher CAFE standards for light trucks will push consumers into smaller, less safe vehicles,” said CEI General Counsel Sam Kazman. “While NHTSA claims that its new standards won't cause downsizing, the history of this program indicates exactly the opposite. Worse yet, NHTSA is continuing its own sorry tradition of whitewashing CAFE; after all, it was the National Academy of Sciences, rather than NHTSA itself, that established CAFE's lethal effect on traffic safety.”
In 1992 CEI won a federal appeals court ruling that NHTSA had illegally ignored CAFE’s deadly effects. A National Academy of Sciences report issued in 2001 found that the federal program may be responsible for approximately 2,000 additional highway deaths a year due to this downsizing effect.
For more information on federal fuel economy standards, visit the CAFE Café online at http://cei.org/pages/cafe .
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