The Deadly Toll of Federal Fuel Regulations

Washington, D.C., February 1, 2006—A new study this week from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reinforces what researchers have long known: larger vehicles are safer than smaller ones in the same vehicle category.  For passenger cars, SUVs and pickups, the occupant death rate generally was worse in the smaller vehicles within each category.  This study, like others before it, indicates that the government’s fuel economy mandates reduce vehicle safety by restricting the production of larger vehicles.  Environmentalist demands for more stringent standards would increase traffic deaths even more.

“The federal mandate to increase mileage in new cars over the past thirty years has had deadly results,” said Competitive Enterprise Institute General Counsel Sam Kazman. “In order to comply with the government’s fuel economy rules, carmakers have been forced to produce smaller, lighter vehicles. Those lighter cars have translated into tens of thousands of additional traffic deaths.” 

In 2002 the National Academy of Sciences found that the federal government’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations contribute to between 1,300 and 2,600 additional traffic deaths per year. In 1992 CEI won a federal appeals court ruling that the U.S. Transportation Department had illegally ignored CAFE’s adverse safety effects.

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Sam Kazman

General Counsel


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