Bush Signs Automobile Fatality Act

Ayn Rand Institute Press Release
Bush Signs Automobile Fatality Act
December 21, 2007
Irvine, CA–The energy bill that President Bush just signed into law is a significant victory for environmentalists, who have long pushed for such measures as expanded ethanol production. But the centerpiece of the bill–for which environmentalists have been agitating for years–is a major increase in automobile fuel economy standards, the first such increase since 1975.
The law forces auto manufacturers to increase the average mileage of cars, SUVs, and light trucks to 35 mpg by 2020. Currently, the standard is 27.5 mpg for cars and 22.2 mpg for SUVs and light trucks.
It might seem obviously beneficial to decree that cars must use less fuel. But according to Dr. Keith Lockitch, resident fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute, “The new mileage standards will make cars more expensive and more dangerous and will cause many more traffic fatalities.
“Compelling automakers to achieve higher mileage forces them to compromise automobile safety. To achieve fuel economy, they are forced to make vehicles lighter and smaller. But lighter, smaller vehicles are much more dangerous in an accident. Because the car absorbs less of the crash impact, the passengers absorb it instead.
“The original Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, imposed in 1975, have already led to a substantial increase in traffic fatalities–an additional two thousand traffic deaths per year, according to a 2002 study by the National Academy of Sciences. With the new standard, manufacturers will be forced to downsize even further all cars, as well as SUVs and light trucks. But these vehicles will still be sharing the road with buses, delivery trucks, and massive commercial trailer trucks. One shudders at the thought of how much greater a risk Americans will face. Nevertheless, environmentalists have continued to fight for higher fuel economy requirements, consistently and cavalierly dismissing the risks and the tragic consequences.
“Despite the drumbeat of constant assertions to the contrary, it is far from a settled scientific fact that we face catastrophic dangers from climate change. Yet, under the guise of protecting us from the alleged dangers of global warming, environmentalists force upon us the very real, provable dangers of increased auto injuries and deaths. Clearly, what they value is something other than human well-being.”