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Washington, D.C., December 19, 2006—A new crash study shows, once again, that small cars are less safe than large cars in collisions. That conclusion, however, undercuts last week’s claims by an energy security advocacy group that higher fuel economy standards would not compromise safety.
The small car safety study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows that death rates in the smallest vehicles sold in the U.S. market—mini-cars that weigh about 2,500 pounds or less—are more than double the death rates in midsize or large cars.
But the study authored by the Energy Security Leadership Council, released on December 13, urges Congress to increase Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) mandates and contends that this would have no safety impact.
“In claiming that the CAFE can be raised at no cost to safety, the Energy Security Leadership Council ignores CAFE’s lethal past,” said Sam Kazman , general counsel of the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
According to a 2002 National Academy of Sciences study, for example, the program contributes to about 2,000 deaths per year through its downsizing effect on cars.
“New technologies may well improve fuel economy,” Kazman noted, “but stringent CAFE standards will restrain the production of larger, heavier and safer vehicles regardless of what technologies they utilize.”
“Consumers respond to higher gas prices far more readily and flexibly than any government program of fuel economy mandates,” Kazman concluded.