It’s anticipating the unthinkable: Congress might actually force carmakers to improve fuel economy standards for the first time since I got my driver’s license:
Washington, D.C., May 3, 2007 — Members of the Senate will hear testimony today on the effects of the federal government’s fuel economy regulations, but will likely fail to address one of the program’s most glaring flaws: its deadly effect on safety.
While the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation hears testimony on the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) rules for new cars, it should consider, first and foremost, the tens of thousands of passenger deaths to which the program has already contributed. Unfortunately, many members seem to believe the myth that mileage regulations can be mandated without affecting safety.
“With today’s high gas prices, CAFE could not be more irrelevant, because consumers are demanding greater fuel economy on their own,” said Competitive Enterprise Institute General Counsel Sam Kazman. “The fact that CAFE has become such a high-profile issue indicates that the problem is not consumers’ alleged addiction to oil, but rather the addiction of politicians to regulating oil. As for the notion that new technologies will allow CAFE to be raised without a lethal effect on traffic safety, that is nonsense, pure and simple.”
CAFE’s adverse impact on vehicle safety has long been established, and was extensively documented in a National Academy of Sciences 2002 study. Nonetheless, advocates of higher CAFE continue to gloss over the lethal effects of the current program, while at the same time pushing to make CAFE even deadlier than it already is.
In 1992, CEI won a federal appeals court ruling that the U.S. Transportation Department had illegally ignored CAFE’s deadly effects, which have been estimated to cause between 1,300 to 2,600 deaths a year. More information about CAFE is available online.
A short video summary of the CAFE debate, The Simpleton’s Guide to Fuel Standards, is also available online.
I’m somewhat tempted to say something about the subject of fuel economy and deaths, but I’ll wait to see what pops up in the comments.