Washington, DC, August 26, 1999 – Federal regulations that mandate fuel efficiency for new cars are also making them less safe, contributing to thousands of highway deaths a year, according to new radio ads being run by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). These ads, aimed at raising public awareness about the deadly effect of Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards (CAFE), will begin running this week in North and South Dakota and Wisconsin on ten different radio stations.
The CAFE standards were intended to help conserve fuel in the crunch days of the 1970s, but have since had a perverse impact on car manufacturers. "CAFE works by requiring automakers to ensure that the average fuel economy of each year’s fleet of passenger cars meets the standard," explains Julie DeFalco, CEI adjunct analyst. "The most dramatic effect of this law has been the downsizing of cars over the past twenty years."
These downsized cars have become substantially less crashworthy, accounting for between 2,600 and 4,500 of the 21,000 car occupant deaths on US highways last year. The relationship between the car downsizing resulting from CAFE and increased highway deaths was first determined by a Harvard University – Brookings Institution study in 1989 and further examined by the recent CEI study: CAFE: The Deadly Effects of Auto Fuel Economy Standards (1999).
The ads will run through the beginning of September, and stress how a technical issue like federal efficiency standards for cars can affect all kinds of individuals, wherever they drive. Those who purchase less expensive compact cars must worry about how little protection they have in a collision, while those that are looking for a heavier car, better able to protect its occupants against impact, must think about the higher prices that are a result of the higher standards.
CEI hopes that these ads will spur the people of the Midwest, and their elected officials, to think about the issue of car safety and what Congress is doing to make our roads safer or – in the case of CAFE – actually more dangerous.
CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan research and advocacy institute dedicated to the principles of free markets and limited government. For more information, contact CEI’s General Counsel Sam Kazman, of Emily McGee, Director of Media Relations, at 202-331-1010.