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The Hidden Death Toll of Higher CAFE Standards

Lighter cars built as a result of government fuel standards cost thousands of lives every year.

by
Eric Florack

Bio

June 30, 2009 - 12:00 am
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Back in 2002, the National Academy of Sciences did a study on the effects of CAFE. They found that over the three decades CAFE has been in effect, downsizing of cars and trucks for fuel economy has cost us about 2,000 lives per year.

Less steel framing and smaller size equals more miles per gallon. It also means you’re rolling down the road in a vehicle with much less crashworthiness, making you more vulnerable to every stationary object, to that semi behind you … and to the guy in the normal-sized car.

This death toll figure was arrived at long before President Obama recently upped the CAFE standards by 30% and more. The death toll going forward will be even higher.

Sounds attractive, doesn’t it?

Imagine the reaction of the oh-so-energy conscious Democrats to a private company causing 2,000 plus deaths per year. We’d be having show hearings by the dozen, the company execs lined up in the hearing room for the TV cameras like a corporate murderer’s row. The coverage would be non-stop, as it was for the much smaller death toll involving SUV drivers who never could figure out how to inflate their tires correctly. Special legislation would be enacted to “stop the carnage.” The government would air PSAs urging us not to buy the product.

However, since CAFE is a government product — and now, so too are the cars — none of that is happening. Instead of trying to scare us out of such vehicles as they have (falsely) been doing with SUVs, they’re silent on the dangers involved with cars that are built far too small and light.

The CAFE program is still in force. The government is planning to provide tax breaks to herd us into buying more of the death traps and to give up our more crashworthy vehicles. They will raise the death toll higher still.

I speak from some painful personal experience on the matter of small car deaths.  Anecdotal, to be sure, but I have twice been at the scene of fatal one-car accidents. Once where I knew the crash victim personally, and once where I happened to come upon an accident before the police arrived. Both of these were situations where the person would have lived had they been driving something larger — a Prius in the first case and a Ford Fiesta in the other.

In both cases, they were convinced to value a gallon of gas over their own lives, and paid the price. And I’m left with the horrible memory of those two incidents.

I will never drive such a vehicle, regardless of the supposed tax breaks involved.

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Eric Florack has spent 25 years discussing politics in online forums. He’s also a veteran of some 20 years of Broadcast (radio) experience and blogs at Bits Blog.
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