Freeze, reduce or eliminate CAFÉ fuel standards

Too many small, lightweight cars cause too many deaths and injuries to justify tighter mpg rule

Guest opinion by Paul Driessen

A 2002 National Academy of Sciences study estimated that automotive mileage standards had helped cause as many as 2,600 extra fatalities in 1993 – at a relatively lenient standard of 27.5 miles per gallon. Other studies reached similar conclusions. And yet, in 2012, the Obama Administration began ratcheting the standards upward, with the goal of hitting 54.5 mpg by 2025.

Data sources: NHTSA, Summary of Fuel Economy Performance (Public Version) Dec. 15, 2014; Fed. Reg. 75 No.88, May 7 2010; Fed. Reg. 77 No.199, October 15 2012. Miles per gallon values throughout this post are the laboratory test values used for fuel economy certification purposes. Label, or “real-world,” values are approximately 20% lower on average.

Thankfully, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has proposed to re-examine the 54.5-mpg standard, possibly freeze it at the 2020 level of 39 mpg, and rein in other aspects of this harmful government program. His proposal drew howls of outrage from predictable factions. My article explains why Pruitt is right – and why his latest proposal for a thorough reform of agency cost-benefit analysis rules should be applied to vehicle mileage standards, especially on the vital issue of human injuries and deaths versus minimal and purely speculative climate change and extreme weather benefits.

Saying the air traffic controller work force was “too white,” the Obama Federal Aviation Administration allegedly replaced hiring standards based on science, math and ability to handle intense pressure with rules designed to increase racial diversity. It’s hard to find a more flagrant example of bureaucrats putting people’s safety and lives so low on their list of priorities. Difficult but not impossible.

Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) standards also play with people’s lives. Enacted in the 1970s amid fears of imminent oil depletion, the rules require that cars and light trucks on average across each manufacturer’s entire smorgasbord of vehicles must get better and better mileage over a period of years.

For the first few years, improving gasoline mileage was relatively easy. But as the standards tightened, car makers had to make vehicles smaller and use less steel and more aluminum and plastic to achieve the arbitrary mileage demands. That poses a serious problem that the Trump Administration wants to fix.

Bigger, heavier vehicles are safer, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has said for decades. Smaller, lighter vehicles are less crashworthy, less safe. Drivers and passengers in cars and light trucks are many times more likely to die in a crash – and far more likely to maimed, disfigured, disabled or paralyzed – beyond what would have occurred if the CAFÉ standards did not exist or had been relaxed.

Even with side air bags and other expensive vehicle modifications, smaller, lighter vehicles have less “armor” to protect occupants, and less space between them and any car, truck, bus, tree or other obstacle they might collide with. So they are less safe and more expensive – less affordable for poor families.

As Competitive Enterprise Institute general counsel Sam Kazman noted in a recent Wall Street Journal article, a 2002 National Academy of Sciences study estimated that CAFÉ rules had contributed to as many as 2,600 extra fatalities in 1993 – at a relatively lenient standard of 27.5 miles per gallon. Studies by the Brookings Institution, Harvard School of Public Health, National Academy of Sciences and USA Today all reached similar conclusions.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) covered all this up. Grizzly facts would not be allowed to get in the way of a well-intentioned government program.

Thankfully, the mileage standards stayed around 27.5 mpg throughout the 1990s and beyond. But then, in 2012, the Obama Administration began ratcheting the standards upward, with the goal of hitting 54.5 mpg by 2025. The Environmental Protection Agency had begun helping to manage the NHTSA mileage program in 2009, and it became the driving force for doubling the mpg requirements. It became equally complicit in hiding the death and injury tolls associated with CAFÉ.

Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking), other new technologies, and the discovery of new oil and gas deposits mean we will not run out of oil or natural gas for another century or more. So the Obama Administration asserted that mandating far tighter mileage rules would have the co-benefit of reducing tailpipe emissions of “greenhouse gases” associated with dangerous manmade climate change.

Scary headlines, data manipulation, computer models and well-orchestrated campaigns to link nearly every extreme weather event to rising atmospheric levels of (plant-fertilizing) carbon dioxide enabled the climate scare to get as far as it has. But the climate cataclysm movement is running out of gas.

People no longer accept claims that Earth’s climate was stable until the 1970s. They remember that it was a global cooling and global warming scare, before it became a climate change and extreme weather scare. They realize global temperatures have been stable for nearly 20 years, complying with Paris treaty and other climate edicts would cost trillions of dollars, and emerging economic powerhouses like China and India are not obligated or likely to reduce their use of fossil fuels or emission of greenhouse gases.

Despite $557 million in quiet funding by rich liberal foundations to wealthy alarmist groups, people are also figuring out that the Paris treaty actually has little or nothing to do with the climate or environment. “Climate change” is now used to justify replacing the capitalist economic model with a global governance system – and redistributing the world’s resources and wealth. The treaty itself says climate action must include an emphasis on “gender equality,” “empowerment of women,” “intergenerational equity” and “climate justice.” These are the “climate dangers” that supposedly justify lethal CAFÉ rules.

Thankfully, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt recently proposed to re-examine the 54.5-mpg-by-2025 Obama EPA-NHTSA standards – and possibly freeze them at the pending 2020 level of 39 mpg. Mr. Pruitt noted that the standards had been implemented after years of lobbying by environmental pressure groups, and that assertions of climate and weather benefits do not reflect scientific or historical reality.

There has also been talk of revoking California’s unique right to set tougher standards than are applicable to the rest of the USA, and preventing the state from applying its more stringent mileage rules beyond its borders. EPA and Transportation Department officials say they have held “productive” discussions with California air quality regulators and others – but it’s hard to say where the talks might be headed.

The proposals drew predictable howls of outrage from environmentalists and California legislators and regulators, who are sticking to their claims that tougher mpg rules will somehow avoid climate chaos. An automobile manufacturers lobbying group insists that mileage standards should increase every year.

Auto makers would understandably prefer to have a single national mileage standard, rather than two: ultra tough rules for California and a less stringent mpg requirement for the rest of America. But the injury and death tolls dictate that any standard must be held well below 54.5 mpg or even 39 or 30 mpg.

Pruitt did not mention the injury and death tolls that result from these mileage standards. He should have, and his new plan to implement comprehensive cost-benefit reforms would compel his regulators to fairly, honestly and accurately assess the social and environmental costs and benefits of proposed mileage rules.

That would stand in stark contrast to the way EPA handled its arbitrary social cost of carbon analyses. The Obama agency looked only at alleged and exaggerated worldwide costs of United States carbon dioxide emissions – while totally ignoring the immense and obvious benefits of using fossil fuels. To compound the insanity, EPA claimed it could make reliable predictions three centuries into the future!

To support its various pollution control measures, the Obama EPA raised its “value of a statistical life” presumably saved by a proposed regulation from $7.9 million in 2011 to $9.7 million in 2013. The VSL estimates how much money people are willing to spend to reduce a risk enough to save one life. There is no evidence that EPA employed VSL to estimate the human cost of doubling the 1993 27.5 mpg standard.

The agency should certainly do so now. Using a $10-million VSL, $2 million per serious injury or paralysis – and 4,000 deaths and 50,000 serious injuries per year from a 54.5 mpg standard – would mean the average fuel efficiency demanded by California and radical greens would cost the United States $50 billion a year. In return, we would get small, purely speculative climate and weather benefits from burning less gasoline in the USA, assuming that tailpipe emissions play a major role in climate change.

(Applying similar cost-benefit analyses to electric cars would raise serious questions about the generous state and federal tax rebates, free access to toll and HOV lanes, free charging stations and other subsidies for pricey vehicles that only wealthy families can afford.)

Volkswagen’s deceit about diesel emissions defrauded consumers but didn’t kill anyone. And yet VW has generated far more regulatory, judicial, legislative and media outrage than lethal mileage standards.

As Ralph Nader might say, CAFÉ standards make cars unsafe at any speed – not by faulty car design, but by government decree. It’s time to reduce, eliminate or at least freeze these killer standards (and do the same thing with the ethanol mandates and gravy train).

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT,org) and author of articles and books on energy, climate change, carbon dioxide and economic development.

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Tom Halla
June 10, 2018 7:45 am

There is a faction that really, really wants the peons in mass transit, or walking, or bicycling, or carrying their massa’s sedan chairs. Opposition to mass ownership of motor transport is a common theme, with greens and “urban planners” wanting to keep the lower classes in their place.
So Obama et al imposing standards for CAFE that are expensive and/or impossible to meet is a feature, not a bug.

Ian Macdonald
Reply to  Tom Halla
June 10, 2018 10:25 am

Yeah, and the main consequence here is the rise of the lawless cyclist, causing hazards on the sidewalk and on the road. The kind of cyclists who protest so loudly at their own vulnerability to ‘evl car drivers’ but at the same time seem to be determined to play Russian roulette with every red light, and to invade pedestrian space wherever and whenever they see fit.

Reply to  Ian Macdonald
June 10, 2018 3:21 pm

Do you complain so of the scofflaw motorists and their death toll. Bicyclists have killed no one, they hazard only themselves and morons reacting inappropriately.

Ian W
Reply to  Doug Huffman
June 10, 2018 3:39 pm

2 Pedestrians a week are killed by cyclists in UK and the statistics show a doubling since last year. Perhaps you should check your claim against reality.

Reply to  Ian W
June 10, 2018 4:14 pm

The figures I have seen for the UK:-

2 cyclists a week (2016) killed in road accidents

3 pedestrian deaths a year involving cyclists (2007-2016)

edited for clarity

Reply to  Ian W
June 10, 2018 5:41 pm

A medical man was killed in Melbourne a few years ago, knocked over by a cyclist.
I was nearly knocked over by a cyclist flying the wrong way down a one-way street in Cirencester in England as I went to cross the road, having checked the road was clear in the expected direction of traffic. The traffic rules apply to cyclists but a fair proportion of them like to think they don’t.
I and my grandchildren and dog have been nearly taken out by maniacally speeding cyclists on multi-use minor roads, those cyclists were travelling far faster than any cars I’ve seen on them. All we had for our shouts of warning was a lot of very rude abuse.

Reply to  Doug Huffman
June 10, 2018 5:44 pm

In addition, motorists avoiding collisions with bicyclists cause collisions with other vehicles. It’s the bicyclist that caused any related deaths.

Reply to  Doug Huffman
June 10, 2018 6:47 pm

Scofflaw motorists are pursued by the police and usually arrested.
Do you have anything relevant to add?

Paul Penrose
Reply to  MarkW
June 11, 2018 3:16 pm

And motorists are required to carry liability insurance. AFAIK, bicyclists in the US are not (although this may vary by state and city). So who is being more responsible?

John M. Ware
Reply to  Ian Macdonald
June 10, 2018 4:32 pm

I concede that few cyclists have actually killed anyone by hitting people with bicycles. That is not the issue. The issue is that cyclists and their brethren (mostly on environmental grounds) have legislated and implemented countless bike lanes in what were built as car roads, thus decreasing car lanes in both number and width and causing worse traffic. In Richmond (VA) alone, dozens or more of bike lanes have reduced 4-lane roads (2 each way) to 3 lanes or even two, just for the once-a-week cyclist who might want to ride in lonely splendor in a lane built for cars. I don’t know how many car crashes are caused, or how many traffic snarls are made worse, by this legislation; but my guess is (assuming the facts are not suppressed) that the toll will mount. Again, the bikists are not completely to blame; they merely “benefit” from someone else’s environmental agenda.

Reply to  John M. Ware
June 10, 2018 9:57 pm

“I concede that few cyclists have actually killed anyone by hitting people with bicycles.”

Before I left the UK in the early 2000s, an acquaintance looked at the statistics and showed the pedestrian death rate per passenger-mile was roughly the same for cars and bikes. I suspect it’s got worse since.

Reply to  Tom Halla
June 10, 2018 11:19 am

There is a faction to whom the end of institutionalized slavery is seen as the greatest travesty ever to befall humankind. A correction must be forced upon the rest of us, like it or not.

Reply to  ThomasJK
June 10, 2018 4:19 pm

how curious that it seems so perfectly unobjectionable to have a government coercing behaviors. laws that are purely to punish behavior and taxes purely to punish behavior are in no way consistent with protection and defense of rights. wuwt? did everybody lose track?

i have a 3 point plan to restore common sense to society:
1 – remove all speed limits
2 – abolish drinking age
3 – issue a fully loaded 9mm with 15 shot clip to every person over the age of 6

2 weeks, i tell you, and we will have nothing but reasonable folks walking the streets minding their business and respecting your rights.

if stupid is protected, it will survive and multiply.

Reply to  gnomish
June 10, 2018 5:50 pm

While God’s sorting out the plethora of Stupid, how will you prevent them from 1) running over; 2) falling into; 3) shooting; me and mine in the meantime?


Reply to  sycomputing
June 10, 2018 9:39 pm

Why don’t you have your owner do it? I’m not your slave.

Reply to  gnomish
June 10, 2018 6:03 pm

Magazine, please. Not clip. You can fill your magazine from a clip of ammo, but a mag isn’t a clip.

While your modest proposal might have some merit, US law defines the minimum militia age as 17. While citizens younger than that are entitled to own firearms, IMO it’s better if they don’t have militia, ie military, weapons. Semiauto pistols are IMO militia weapons.

The 1939 Miller case was decided based on what counts as a militia weapon (although the Justices’ ignorance of war led them wrongly to rule that sawed off shotguns aren’t militia weapons, which they manifestly are, but the principle is valid).

Perhaps offtopic, but topical since we’ve just observed the centennial of the Battle of Belleau Wood. Not the plethora of Marines armed with shotguns. Also M1911 semiauto .45 cal handguns.

Reply to  Felix
June 10, 2018 9:50 pm

felix, precious-
you have no way of knowing it, but i have a permanent lifetime exemption from following your rules.
if you are an enthusiast, look my vid.
alpha male be making them, not punksplaining vocabulary.

Reply to  gnomish
June 10, 2018 10:04 pm

Did you 3D print the upper as well, to include the breech block, bolt, barrel and springs?

My US Army comrades in Vietnam, the Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan mock pretentious noobs like you who don’t know the difference between a clip and a magazine.

It is possible to 3D print a complete firearm, such as an M1911 pistol, but it requires an industrial machine, worth on the order of $100K.

The plastic parts can be made on a $2000 home 3D printer.

If you don’t like the US code definition of militia, in place since 1792, please go ahead and organize to change the law so that six year-olds are constitutionally required to own semiautomatic weapons.

Current US law says 17. With which I’m OK. I registered for the draft at age 18 and fought in Vietnam at age 19. The first semiauto rifle I ever fired was in the Army. Before that, I was all lever and bolt action.

As a now superannuated member of the unorganized militia. I’m armed with semi- and full-auto weapons, plus explosive devices. But when I was 16, as noted, all I had were single shot, lever and bolt action fire arms. And revolvers.

Reply to  Felix
June 10, 2018 11:38 pm

oh, i know the difference- it’s simply my delight to trigger pretentious fossils.
and now you imagine you’ll tell me something about 3d printing.

can you just mock yourself and save me the time and effort? there’s a good man.

Reply to  gnomish
June 10, 2018 6:50 pm

It really is fascinating how some people defend every new regulation with the whine that those who oppose them want anarchy.
In their petite minds, there are only two options, full government control of everything, or no government at all.

Reply to  gnomish
June 12, 2018 7:29 am

Gn: I presume you were trying to make a point. What is it?

Reply to  Tom Halla
June 10, 2018 4:25 pm

I was in Shanghai in the mid-1980s. The primary modes of transportation were walking, bikes, small buses and party official limousines. Leaving the city was by coal fired locomotives. Only the center two lanes of major roads could be used for motorized vehicles. Now if you see video’s of Shanghai the obvious mode of transportation in the city are cars and it is high speed trains leaving. Gee, I wonder how they went from 1930s technology to 21st Century in such a short period of time.

Steve Reddish
Reply to  Edwin
June 10, 2018 4:56 pm

The Chinese did not have to re-invent cars and modern trains, they had to find a way to afford them. They did this by moving away from a centralized economy toward a free market economy.


Reply to  Steve Reddish
June 12, 2018 7:05 am

Talking with a Chinese friend, who has been in the USA for a while now, I said something similar about China moving towards a free market economy. My friend almost fell out of her chair laughing. She said it is nothing of the sort. At best it can be described as restricted crony capitalism. Even today no one does anything without strict government oversight.

Reply to  Tom Halla
June 10, 2018 9:54 pm

“There is a faction that really, really wants the peons in mass transit, or walking, or bicycling, or carrying their massa’s sedan chairs.”

Yes, they’re called Communists.

Hint: centralization of transport in the hands of the state is part of the Communist Manifesto.

Reply to  MarkG
June 10, 2018 11:51 pm

Hint: centralization of transport in the hands of the state is part of the Communist Manifesto.

Along with graduated income taxes and a centralized bank–we have both.


Reply to  Tom Halla
June 16, 2018 9:59 pm

Our massas could’ve used all the concern about the environment to achieve huge conservation of vehicle fuel, increased safety, and greatly reduced vehicle cost by reducing highway speed limits – but instead squandered all their political capital on crony enrichment schemes. The crony enrichment schemes are easier politically because the costs are hidden, whereas speed limit reduction would annoy everyone directly – and make the greenies and cronies bear at least some of the inconvenience, while ending their profiteering.

Power needed to overcome wind resistance increases with the cube of velocity. 45 mph cubed = 91k, 70 cubed = 343k. At 45 mph the horsepower required is pretty small – a good cyclist with a recumbent bike could do that, add a hub motor and most of us could keep up. Limiting speed would make high speed, heavy highway cars even more ridiculous, so many people would end up driving things with the power/weight ratio more like an old VW, citroen 2cv or model T – but with modern engine controls. This would save a lot of fuel around town.

Demanding big cars for safety is a zero sum game, reduced speed limit capabilities (programmed into each car) would directly decrease the risk of collision and the consequences.

Cars are absurd and wasteful. If they were limited in power, perhaps they’d be less of a fetish object, and more like a tool.

Dr. Bob
June 10, 2018 7:48 am

Having been in the alternative fuels and vehicle emissions area for over 20 years, I can say with surety that all vehicles meet the same tailpipe emissions standards regardless of fuel economy standards so there will be no impact on atmospheric pollutants regardless of the FE standard set. We are now producing nearly or slightly over 15 million bbl/day of crude oil and natural gas condensates (raw gasoline, essentially) daily while we consume just around 17 MM bbl/day so we are essentially energy secure as we get over 3.5 MM bbl/day from Canada alone.
New cars now are cleaner than ambient air in places like LA, so there is no need to reduce tailpipe emissions any further and changing FE standards does not change regulated emissions anyway.
I fully agree that FE standards have saved energy, but at the cost of vehicle safety and durability. All components in the vehicle have been lightened to reduce weight including brake components which leads to faster wear and warped rotors. Suspension systems wear out sooner and need expensive work and sheet metal is not thinner making minor hits more expensive to repair.
I say let the consumer chose what vehicle attributes that person wants. And the overwhelming choice right not is a full size truck over a tiny car.

Reply to  Dr. Bob
June 10, 2018 9:19 am

metal is not thinner?

From the context, I think you meant “is a lot thinner. ”

But this is not about consumer choice it is about doing what we are told by our moralistic, moral superiors. After all they ARE trying to save the planet. How egotistical can you be to want personal safety?

Paul Johnson
Reply to  Greg
June 10, 2018 11:20 am

Occam’s Razor would favor a single keystroke or auto-correct error – “now thinner”, just as “the overwhelming choice right not is a full size truck” that follows would also be “right now”.

Bryan A
Reply to  Paul Johnson
June 10, 2018 12:03 pm

I used to work as a truck driver delivering auto body parts. Back in the 80’s, it was difficult to get body panels and support parts that weren’t bent or dented in some fashion straight out of the factory. I used to jibe that they were being made from aluminum foil instead of steel

Reply to  Dr. Bob
June 10, 2018 12:43 pm

That more fuel efficient vehicles reduce energy usage is not a proven.
When driving gets cheaper, people tend to drive more. This offsets most if not all of the savings.

Reply to  MarkW
June 10, 2018 3:29 pm

We can fix that dilemma by simultaneously raising gasoline taxes. Problem solved!

Reply to  MarkW
June 10, 2018 4:05 pm

of course it does. and mobility is one of the 4 laws of freedom.
but on this ‘escalation of mass’ survival strategy with automobiles- it didn’t actually work out in the long run for the dinosaurs.
the only reason for massive autos is protection from what? massive autos.
personally, i’d suggest agility and bigger airbags to lower the weight of vehicles back to the hundreds instead of thousands of pounds.
my mobility scooter- i can pick it up with one hand- but it will smoke all the old fux in walmart in their 3000$ jazzies that weigh (literally) 1/4 ton.

Reply to  gnomish
June 10, 2018 4:13 pm

The large dinosaurs didn’t die out because they got too big.

Being huge was an advantage for sauropods, although they needed to hatch a lot of little babies to make sure a few would survive to become enormous, hence essentially immune to predation until old, sick or wounded.

Some think that theropod allosaurs “flesh grazed” on sauropods, making lightening attacks to rip off chunks of meat, which the giant plant-eaters then regrew.

Reply to  Felix
June 10, 2018 5:23 pm

“Some think that theropod allosaurs “flesh grazed” on sauropods, making lightening attacks to rip off chunks of meat, which the giant plant-eaters then regrew.”


So this was somehow prior to the possibility of bleeding to death, or the possibility of biological infections from unhealed wounds, or likely feeding frenzies (evidence crocodiles and alligators today) by other reptiles and/or other attacking theropod allosaurs and what-not or…????

Reply to  sycomputing
June 11, 2018 8:20 pm

flesh grazing is a hypothesis supported by examination of the structure of the skull and jaws and the dentition.
e.g., the komodo has weak jaws – the structural design is optimized for pulling away, i.e., ripping out a hunk.
consider the piranha. a mouthful of scalpels is not for chewing.
consider also autotomy of the tail common to many lizards.
and if the prey bleeds out- fine- then it’s carrion for carryout.

Reply to  gnomish
June 12, 2018 5:25 am

“– the structural design is optimized for pulling away, i.e., ripping out a hunk.”

But it doesn’t logically follow from this that the animal being attacked is left alive to heal. It could just mean that it gets eaten in chunks after it’s dead.

Moreover, if Wiki is to be believed, Komodos may possess venom glands or other oral secretions designed to prevent the prey from healing from their bite(s) at all.

“consider the piranha. a mouthful of scalpels is not for chewing.”

Right, it’s for the complete destruction of the flesh it’s attacking, hence, neither is it for leaving prey alive for later “grazing”. As far as I know, they don’t leave much to be healed?

“consider also autotomy of the tail common to many lizards.
and if the prey bleeds out- fine- then it’s carrion for carryout.”

Thanks, that’s my point. It seems much more rational to conclude the animal will bleed out than remain alive when another, 1/4 of it’s size begins to feed upon it to survive. I’d have to believe that the attacking animal isn’t very hungry, i.e., it’s only going to take a few chunks out of the prey then move on, when in the first place, the kill is difficult. I’d have to believe that the predators would take turns rather than attack all at once, or not at all. Why would they make “lightening” attacks, back and forth, when they could eat easier by just swarming the prey, killing it where it stood and eating in “peace”? Do we see the reverse anywhere in nature?

Reply to  sycomputing
June 12, 2018 8:03 am

it’s called ‘progressive taxation’

Reply to  sycomputing
June 11, 2018 8:54 pm

The hypothesis doesn’t rule out death for the attacked giant herbivores. That must have happened, which is all the better for predators which can then become scavengers, and, as top predators, able to keep the carcass to themselves.

But many enormous sauropods could recover from such attacks just as humans can from wounds which destroy our flesh.

Reply to  Felix
June 12, 2018 5:44 am

“But many enormous sauropods could recover from such attacks just as humans can from wounds which destroy our flesh.”

I don’t doubt it, but why wouldn’t this be the exception rather than the rule, i.e., why would the predators leave the animal alone once they began their attack, other than being interrupted for some reason or other? Are there similar examples of reptilian predator habits like this in nature today?

This hypothesis seems to suggest their actions are purposeful, unless I misunderstood you:

“Some think that theropod allosaurs “flesh grazed” on sauropods, making lightening attacks to rip off chunks of meat, which the giant plant-eaters then regrew.”

Reply to  gnomish
June 10, 2018 6:53 pm

Large cars are also safer in collisions with fixed objects, which are the majority of accidents.

Reply to  MarkW
June 11, 2018 4:39 am

one time i was driving down i35 in the middle of winter in my vw rabbit.
suddenly, ahead of me, i saw cars sliding on some iced pavement.
one after another then went off into the ditch on left side and right- at least a dozen; maybe 20 cars. big cars.
they had so much mass they were uncontrollable.
the mass made these accidents unstoppable.
i flew on by at something over the speed limit and smiled a secret smile.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  gnomish
June 11, 2018 3:30 pm

Tires, equipment (anti-lock brakes), and driver skill likely had much more to do with your result than the weight of the vehicle. Sometimes when plowing though snow drifts, a heavier vehicle with more ground clearance is an advantage, but not always.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  gnomish
June 11, 2018 3:28 pm

There are other vehicles on the road other than cars. Work trucks that must tow heavy loads will always be large, regardless of fads or regulations. The same is true with delivery vans, semis, etc. All things considered, you are safer with a larger, heavier vehicle. That said, safety is not the only factor in a vehicle choice, but people should be free to decide for themselves.

Just Jenn
June 10, 2018 7:53 am

Interesting article and an aspect I have given much thought to. I was taught (bear with me) that increased fuel efficiency regulations would “rethink” the efficiency of the internal combustion engine. What it did do was not what it was intended to do–which was reduce the weight of cars to the increased safety risk of the populace and replace that protective weight with passive restraint systems….thereby making the cars “safer” and more fuel efficient because they weigh less.

When I was shopping for a new car with two young children, I looked for something heavy. Not energy efficient as my primary goal. I kept being steered toward a mini-van–but after seeing those things literally sheered off in roadside accidents, I kept my ground. And I’m glad I did. My car isn’t the most fuel efficient, but dang it, it’s heavy for it’s size….a plus here in snow and ice, but it does cost some money to run. And I’m not giving that up anytime soon either. I feel safe on the road, that’s worth a few more bucks at the pump each week. It is very fuel efficient for it’s size and class–so there is that, but honestly? It’s heavy…which is why I bought it.

I’m unsure so am just putting this out there. Does anyone know if the advances in internal combustion engines have actually increased? I once learned that they ran at about 20% efficiency.

Reply to  Just Jenn
June 10, 2018 8:14 am

“Does anyone know if the advances in internal combustion engines have actually increased? I once learned that they ran at about 20% efficiency.”

The big Detroit Iron from the early 1970s were actually pretty pathetic and 20% sounds about right. Even the big V-8s of the “muscle car” era were laughable by today’s standards. One key measure *nobody* talked about was the hp per cubic inch displacement ratio. It was really low for the Detroit Iron engines.
For today’s engines, the big pluses are fuel injection and electronic ignition, both computer controlled.
The big minus is that in general, compression ratios are about as low as you can go and still have an engine that runs reliably. This means you take a hit on thermodynamic efficiency.
So all in all, it is a bit of a mixed bag. I think the all-around figure most often given for the auto fleet as a whole is ~25%. Up from 20% is fair enough, I suppose.

Reply to  TonyL
June 10, 2018 9:01 am

Yep. Turbodiesels are pushing the low 40’s percentage wise and that is maintained over a wider range of loads and power outputs

Downside is increased NOx emissions.

Robert W. Turner
Reply to  Leo Smith
June 10, 2018 3:35 pm

NOx standards need reverted back as well as they are another half-witted policy pushed through by Obama’s EPA. The limiting factor on ground ozone is now VOCs and has been since NOx standards set in the 90s.

Therefore there is no need to make the standards more stringent, as they decrease fuel efficiency and require urea injection — but I bet they didn’t even study if further regulations could possibly do more harm than good. Europe’s ground ozone level has been decreasing since the late 90s, and in that time diesel passenger vehicles have gone from 50% of the market.

Reply to  TonyL
June 10, 2018 9:48 am

Compression ratios are low because the octane rating of the fuel is low. The only way to change that would be for the government to mandate a higher rating! I was in a meeting between fuel suppliers, automakers and the DoE, the automakers said that in order to make the higher efficiency engines they would need a guarantee of higher octane fuel and the fuel suppliers said they would do that if the government mandated it.

Reply to  Phil.
June 10, 2018 10:01 am

Compression ratios are low to reduce NOx

Reply to  Cube
June 10, 2018 11:06 am

No, compression ratio’s are low because the higher octane you want in your fuel, the higher the price to make the fuel…

Reply to  Cube
June 10, 2018 2:54 pm

No it’s due to low octane gas (more revenue per barrel of crude). NOx dealt with by catalyst.

J Mac
Reply to  TonyL
June 10, 2018 11:05 am

Compression ratios for modern naturally aspirated gasoline powered internal combustion engines are actually quite high! Consider the ubiquitous Gen V 4.3l V6 made by General Motors since 2014. It has a compression ratio of 11.0/1 ( ). The 2014 and up GM Gen V V8s are similar ( ).

Ford is no different, for modern internal combustion engines run on ‘pump gas’, with compression ratios right around 11.0/1. Here’s a graph that illustrate efficiency improvements over the last 8 years:

Reply to  J Mac
June 10, 2018 2:34 pm

Yes, both truck engines.
My impression is that passenger car engines are still stuck in the mud due to more stringent regulations. I saw some engine data from ~mid 2000s car models and they were down at ~8.8/1. Regulations have not changed, so I took it that CRs did not either. (The toyotas and Hondas from then are still on the road)
In the bizarre world of EPA regulations, the smallest fuel sipping engines in the smallest economy cars are the most heavily regulated.

J Mac
Reply to  TonyL
June 10, 2018 9:47 pm

The higher compression ratios are typical for naturally aspirated gas powered IC car engines as well, with some above 11/1 . The only modern gas IC engines that I know of with lower compression ratios are turbo charged and these typically have compression rations of 9.5/1 – 10/1 that become considerably higher under ‘boost’ pressures.
The technology has moved forward a great deal in the last 5 – 10 years…

Look for your self.
Here’s a GM resource:

Ian W
Reply to  J Mac
June 10, 2018 5:05 pm

Vauxhall insignia 2.0L ( equivalent to Chevrolet
Malibu) compression ratio is 16:1. Running on 97 octane unleaded ethanol free EU grade fuel.

Dr. Strangelove
Reply to  TonyL
June 11, 2018 5:18 am

2017 Ford Fiesta: 2.26 hp/
1969 Dodge Charger: 1.00 hp/
To me, Fiesta is more laughable

comment image

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Dr. Strangelove
Reply to  TonyL
June 11, 2018 11:00 pm

Best in power per displacement
Ford Escort RS
Cosworth YBT engine
1993 cc (122
1,000 hp
8.22 hp/

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Roger Knights
Reply to  Just Jenn
June 10, 2018 8:44 am

“Does anyone know if the advances in internal combustion engines have actually increased?”

Diesels of the last ten years or so are considerably more efficient and last longer than earlier gas engines for autos. Once Bosch’s modifications are adopted diesel’s won’t emit polluting NOx and particulates. In a year, gas engines that are 30% more efficient will be in production from GM & Mazda (google SkyActiv-X).

Reply to  Roger Knights
June 10, 2018 9:28 am

In Europe most manufacturers now have to add a special additive “Adblue” to reduce NOX emissions. Fiat / Iveco “multijet” injection seems to have an edge in that they manage to comply without the additive. AFAICR the feul is injected in upto 5 squirts during compression, instead of all in one hit. This requires fancy timing patterns and much greater complexity and injection pressures but seems well developed and reliable.

Reply to  Greg
June 10, 2018 12:37 pm

“Adblue” is fancy word for urea, and is used not in the engine, but in the catalytic converter used to get rid of NOx. This add to cost, complexity etc.

Reply to  Roger Knights
June 10, 2018 9:29 am

Roger, what’s the Bosch thing about ?

Roger Knights
Reply to  Greg
June 10, 2018 12:23 pm

@Greg Here’s something I’ve posted on this site before, but probably not all have seen it:

At 26 April 2018 (short version):

From the Bosch paper presented at the Vienna Motor Symposium this year (in April).

Bosch says it has solved diesel NOx problem; as low as 13 mg NOx/km even under RDE; refining existing technologies

Bosch says that its engineers have refined existing diesel technologies to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) so significantly that they already comply with future limits. Even in RDE (real driving emissions) testing, emissions from vehicles equipped with the newly premiered Bosch diesel technology are not only significantly below current limits but also those scheduled to come into force from 2020 (Euro 6d).

Because the solution leverages existing technology, there is no need for additional components, which would drive up costs.
A dynamic driving style demands an equally dynamic recirculation of exhaust gases. This can be achieved with the use of a RDE-optimized turbocharger that reacts more quickly than conventional turbochargers. … This means drivers can drive off at speed without a spike in emissions.

To ensure optimum NOx conversion, the exhaust gases must be hotter than 200 degrees Celsius. In urban driving, vehicles frequently fail to reach this temperature. Bosch has therefore opted for a sophisticated thermal management system for the diesel engine.

At a press event in Stuttgart Bosch had dozens of journalists, from both Germany and abroad, drive test vehicles equipped with mobile measuring equipment in heavy city traffic, under especially challenging conditions.

AI can further boost performance.

This will mark another step toward a major landmark: the development of a combustion engine that—with the exception of CO2—has virtually no impact on the ambient air.

Denner also called for a renewed focus on CO2 emissions. Denner said that consumption tests should no longer be conducted in the lab but rather under real driving conditions.

Moreover, he added, any assessment of CO2 emissions should extend significantly further than the fuel tank or the battery—a full well-to-wheels lifecycle approach.

Reply to  Just Jenn
June 10, 2018 9:49 am

Just Jennifer – “increased fuel efficiency regulations would “rethink” the efficiency of the internal combustion engine” – the thermal efficiency of engines may not have increased but the electronic engine management systems in use today are a great boon to fuel economy and engine longevity. I can from personal experience directly compare two cars designed to the same parameters: the 1965 Lotus Elan and the 2006 Lotus Elise. Both two seat small displacement high performance sports cars- essentially designed to solve the same problem. The Elan weighs 1600 pounds, develops 105 horsepower, and gets 28 MPG on the highway. If you crash it you’re not likely to survive. The Elise weighs 2000 pounds, gets 190 horsepower, and gets 43 mpg on the highway. The crash structures incorporated into the structure of the car make high speed crashes and roll overs eminently survivable.

The Elan runs two Webber carbeurators and washes the cylinder walls with gasoline. Rebuild intervals are 60 K miles. The electronic file injection on the Elise not only makes the car more fuel efficient, I also don’t expect to rebuild this engine until well over 100 K miles even though it revs 2000 rpm higher than the Elan. I hated CAFE when it was introduced- it killed the British sports car as we knew it- but the effects have been positive.

As far as 2600 more deaths per year we might want to look beyond simplistic explanations.

June 10, 2018 8:03 am

The CAFE regulations also fail to work, primarily since bureaucrats think they know better than consumers, who actually pay for the cars. And this is not only logic, there is research supporting the failure of CAFE regulations to achieve the intended results, ie. lowering emissions from autos. In a nutshell:

“When governments set efficiency regulations such as the US Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards for vehicles, they are often what is called “attribute-based”, meaning that the rules take other characteristics into consideration when determining compliance. The Cafe standards, for example, vary according to the “footprint” of the vehicle: the area enclosed by its wheels. In Japan, fuel economy standards are weight-based. Like all regulations, fuel economy standards create incentives to game the system, and where attributes are important, that can mean finding ways to exploit the variations in requirements. There have long been suspicions that the footprint-based Cafe standards would encourage manufacturers to make larger cars for the US market, but a paper this week from Koichiro Ito of the University of Chicago and James Sallee of the University of California Berkeley provided the strongest evidence yet that those fears are likely to be justified.”

More detailed discussion and links at
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Reply to  Ron Clutz
June 10, 2018 8:26 am

Good points. In the Obama administration, “attribute-based” was getting explicitly defined to include “diversity”. This was scheduled to expand into Affirmative Action quotas, “inclusion” and the whole constellation of “Social Justice” causes.
So CAFE was to be mutated into another tool to advance the radical ideology of that administration. The whole automotive industry was going to get beaten with that club.
Raising the CAFE standards to levels which could not possibly be met otherwise was key to getting the power to wield that club.

June 10, 2018 8:30 am

If decreasing fuel usage is the goal, there are simpler answers. Reducing and enforcing speed limits, taxing gasoline a little higher, more emphasis on public transportation and walking friendly neighborhoods, driver training in high mileage techniques And the list goes on.
Conservation of resources can make sense but it must be demonstrated that there is a need.
Climate change is an exceedingly poor demonstration of need. There is little evidence that fossil fuel burning actually has a significant effect on our climate. There is virtually no evidence that the climate is actually warming to a significant degree. There is no evidence that warming has had or will have detrimental effects.
On the other hand, more fuel-efficient vehicles are less costly to own which puts ownership within the reach of more people. A possible win-win situation.

Reply to  rockyredneck
June 10, 2018 8:50 am

“If decreasing fuel usage is the goal, there are simpler answers”
All true enough. Maybe there are well and truly good reasons to have that as a goal.
But is that any justification for government involvement?
If there really is a compelling reason to reduce fuel usage, perhaps the free market and the choices people make will sort it out.
If the choices people make do not lead in some ideal direction, maybe there are practical reasons for that.
On the other hand, if you advocate for govt. regulations, what you are really advocating for is the govt. using the full force and coercive power of the police state to compel people to so something they do not want to do.
And for that, in a free society, you better have a damn good reason.
I do not think CAFE or the ethanol mandate meets that standard.

Reply to  TonyL
June 10, 2018 9:22 am

TonyL, I am thinking along the same lines. Used to be “liberal” when that meant liberty, but now seem to be more libertarian. You will likely be interested in the writing of law professor Bruce Pardy, who asserts you can either have a coercive society or a market society, in which the only rule is to prevent coercion in free transactions.

Reply to  Ron Clutz
June 10, 2018 3:40 pm

An interesting take on things.
I do not think it is quite the Classical Liberalism of the US Founding Fathers. (Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, etc.) But I am sure I hear echos from the past.

Reply to  TonyL
June 10, 2018 11:42 am

“Government” has little interest in any real improvement to the lot of those who are trying to live real lives in the real world outside the bounds of the parasitoidic little foreign country that is called The District of Columbia. There may be only one remaining solution to improving conditions in “The Swamp” — R. I. P., Uncle Sam.

Reply to  rockyredneck
June 10, 2018 11:20 am

Reducing speed limits was tried for years. It didn’t work because the people refused to obey, as well they should refuse.

It’s none of government’s business if an individual “wastes” a resource he has paid for. Especially when he made a well-thought-out tradeoff to get something he wants more, like the way many people chose to drive heavier cars for better crash protection. It’s unacceptable for government to try to take that choice away from anybody.

If it were shown objectively that fuel production imposes costs on other people, then it would be appropriate for government to impose a Pigouvian tax, raising the price of fuel, and let each driver decide for himself whether to find ways to use less or just pay the tax. But such costs have not been shown, and environmentalist attempts to “prove” one always result in ridiculous assignments of blame — such as blaming drivers for the cost of Middle East wars, which (even if assumed to be for oil) were only necessary because environmentalists themselves preventing us finding and exploiting the oil in our own country and its coastal waters.

The people who lobbied for, wrote, enacted, and enforced these CAFE standards need to be held responsible — in every way including legal and financial — for the deaths they have caused and are continuing to cause.

Reply to  rockyredneck
June 10, 2018 11:50 am

“If decreasing fuel usage is the goal, there are simpler answers.”
One of the goals. The cynical view would be that they had another goal too, decreasing the number of cars. What if we set a scientific-looking goal nobody could meet? And when the manufacturers cheat, we blast them into bankruptcy?

Reply to  rockyredneck
June 10, 2018 12:48 pm

Making a car cost twice as much and less reliable to boot, in order to save 10% in fuel usage.
Not a bargain in anyone’s book.

Roger Knights
June 10, 2018 8:35 am

A slogan to counteract advocates for more stringent CAFE standards is, “Brought to you by the folks who gave you the 55 MPH speed limit.”

June 10, 2018 8:41 am

Paul Driessen wrote, “A 2002 National Academy of Sciences study estimated that automotive mileage standards had helped cause as many as 2,600 extra fatalities in 1993 … ”

That’s out of 40,150 deaths. (see Wikipedia link below).

Is there a link to the NAS study? WUWT readers are skeptical of “data” that comes from models (likely in this case) and double skeptical of claims not accompanied by a link to the source.

From 1993 to 2016, automobile fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled has fallen from 1.75 to 1.18.

Reply to  rovingbroker
June 10, 2018 9:15 am

I fully agree.

When the alarmists calculate the number of deaths due to pollution, we mock them.

On the other hand … when my wife got into her one serious accident I was extremely glad that she was driving a truck, not the family econobox.

Reply to  commieBob
June 10, 2018 12:52 pm

It’s trivial to show that the deaths due to pollution metric is almost entirely made up, and the part that isn’t made up is based on bad science, such as the linear no threshold garbage.
On the other hand it’s easy to show that lighter cars provide less protection in a crash, and from there calculate the number of extra deaths lighter cars have caused.

Reply to  MarkW
June 10, 2018 2:39 pm


Protection for who? Yes the heavy car driver, but how much more deaths do heavier cars have caused by killing other car drivers, motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians, plus accidents of cars driving into homes, etc.?

Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
June 10, 2018 4:41 pm

You seem to imply that driving would be safer if everyone drove lighter cars. Semis, trees, and concrete pillars are not going to get lighter. It would be good if all cars were close to equal weight, but at the heavier end, not lighter.

I strongly suspect that the weight of the auto does not significantly impact the number of motorcyclists, cyclists, and pedestrian deaths; they are no match for any weight car. Finally, the most frequent casualties in driving into homes are the drivers and occupants in the auto. A heavier car would offer better protection.

Reply to  Jtom
June 11, 2018 11:09 am


The point I try to make is that heavier cars are not safer if they hit a similar car or a truck or an adult tree or a bridge or… But a heavier car has a higher impact on smaller cars and other road users. My 560 kg 2CV was so light in “steel” plate that if I should hit a pedestrian or cyclist, it would do more damage to my car than to them. The point is that for a heavier car to have the same crumple zone, that zone must be stronger too to withstand the heavier weight…

Further, the insurance companies do use tarrifs which are higher with more power under the hood (which is the case for most heavier cars), I suppose that is because that is directly related to the damage done to other road users…

Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
June 10, 2018 6:57 pm

The facts are freely available should you ever bother yourself to look.
How often to cars drive into homes? Are the drivers in your country really that bad?
As to motorcyclists, cyclists, pedestrians, etc, even a 100 pound car would kill any of them. So your whines regarding big cars are meaningless.

Reply to  MarkW
June 11, 2018 11:14 am


Se my previous remark about damage to others and heavier cars… And as said somewhere else, I have sampled all fatal accidents in my country published over a year. The number of people killed by car crashes were about in ratio with one of the three main items: horsepower, speed and weight…

Reply to  MarkW
June 10, 2018 5:39 pm

Weight isn’t absolutely necessary for safety. Consider egg drop contests. The challenge is to build a container in which an egg can be dropped from a dizzying height without breaking. Normally, grade four students are capable of producing a viable design.

Reply to  commieBob
June 10, 2018 7:00 pm

The bigger the car, the bigger the crumple zone and the less damage to the occupants.
Egg drop tests are an invalid comparison for a number of reasons. First off it’s a drop, so the mass makes a big difference in how fast the egg carrier is going on impact. For your analogy to work, all egg carriers would have to be put on a sled so that they could all be accelerated to the same velocity for impact.

Secondly, would a carrier with two inches of foam work better than a carrier with one inch? If so, bigger is better.

Reply to  MarkW
June 11, 2018 11:20 am


Two errors: first the speed of falling of the carrier not only is a matter of mass, but also of streamline. If the lighter has a better streamline, it may fall faster.

Second, a bigger care is not the same as a heavier car. A heavier car needs a stronger construct to have the same crumple zone at impact with a solid subject and therefore is more dangerous to other road users.

Reply to  rovingbroker
June 10, 2018 9:39 am

I think this is the study.
I have not read it. Even if valid, the technologies have changed sufficiently since 2002 that i don’t automatically accept the notion it applies today. Paul Driessen’s opinion does provoke thought, but it doesn’t give me (a newspaper volunteer columnist) sufficient evidence to be certain the relationship between CAFE and highway deaths.

Reply to  Steve Piet
June 10, 2018 10:56 am

Thank you, that appears to be the source.

In appendix A, “A Dissent on Safety Issues: Fuel Economy and Highway Safety” the dissenters conclude in part …

The relationships between vehicle weight and safety are complex and not measurable with any reasonable degree of certainty at present. The relationship of fuel economy to safety is even more tenuous. But this does not mean there is no reason for concern. Significant fuel economy improvements will require major changes in vehicle design. Safety is always an issue whenever vehicles must be redesigned.

In addition, the distribution of vehicle weights is an important safety issue. Safety benefits should be possible if the weight distribution of light-duty vehicles could be made more uniform, and economic gains might result from even partly correcting the negative externality that encourages individuals to transfer safety risks to others by buying ever larger and heavier vehicles.

Finally, it appears that in certain kinds of accidents, reducing weight will increase safety risk, while in others it may reduce it. Reducing the weights of light-duty vehicles will neither benefit nor harm all highway users; there will be winners and losers. All of these factors argue for caution in formulating policies, vigilance in testing vehicles and monitoring safety trends, and continued efforts to increase understanding of highway safety issues.

It’s complicated.

Reply to  rovingbroker
June 10, 2018 10:06 am

The leading causes of automotive fatalities are risky behavior: speeding, drunken driving and failure to wear a seatbelt each account for about 10,000 fatalities a year. Over 10,000 fatalities per year are motorcyclists and pedestrians which clearly don’t have anything to do with CAFE standards, a third of fatalities occur outside the vehicle. Not sure what relevance 25 year old data has to today’s situation.

Reply to  Phil.
June 10, 2018 11:35 am

US government (NHTSA) studies on the causes of collision deaths are unreliable, because they mandate that the local police agencies that report the data do so in a biased way. For instance, an accident gets reported as “alcohol related” if anyone involved — even a pedestrian — had a measurable blood alcohol content. Similarly for drug-related, speed-related, and seat-belt-related injuries. All of these risks are behaviors NHTSA wants discouraged, so it defines them in ways that exaggerate their numbers.

But NHTSA doesn’t want to discourage driving small cars, so if their statistics even report those events as a category (which I doubt) they will undercount them.

Kristi Silber
Reply to  Phil.
June 10, 2018 3:59 pm

Heavier vehicles have a longer breaking time/distance, so the CAFE standards could affect pedestrian, motorcycle and bicycle fatalities.

Reply to  Kristi Silber
June 10, 2018 7:01 pm

Heavier vehicles have greater traction and bigger tires, so they have shorter breaking distances.

A C Osborn
Reply to  MarkW
June 11, 2018 9:28 am

Would you care to provide some actual real life results for that?
Even cars of the same size & weight can have stopping distances up to 10 yards different at 70Mph and 2 yards at 30Mph.
Sports cars tend to have the shortest braking distances.

Reply to  MarkW
June 11, 2018 11:38 am


Please provide us with some references for that. In real life, the test of small cars showed that the lightest of them had the shortest breaking distance. And what do you think is the breaking distance of a 40 tons truck at the same speed: the biggest tires possible and the largest breaking distance…

Whatever the tyres: the maximum theoretical speed reduction is 1 G or 9,81 m/s^2. If you try to go over that, your car is going over. Only with brake rockets or an anchor (as for landing on an aircraft carrier), you can reduce your speed faster than 1 G. Then the real reduction depends of a lot of things: on dry road 0.8-0.9 G for most cars, 30% less if the weels block during breaking, in between with a good non-skid system, 35% less on wet road, 90% less on ice,…

Reply to  MarkW
June 11, 2018 12:01 pm

Trucks do have better brakes, but also often carry heavy loads, with a lot of inertia, so it generally takes them longer to slow down. Tractor trailer rigs are prone to jackknife.

Greg F
Reply to  Kristi Silber
June 10, 2018 9:22 pm

Heavier vehicles don’t slide off a snow covered road as easily as a lighter one. I can’t tell you how many times I have been behind a sub compact car fishtailing on slippery roads while my car was having no issues at all with traction.

Reply to  Greg F
June 11, 2018 11:49 am


Depends of the car: I have done things in snow and on ice with my 560 kg 2CV that were only possible with a 4 wheel drive at that time. Reason: front wheel traction. I still remember driving down from a bridge under snow and having to brake for two ford mustangs (once popular here) which ended backwards down the slope: too much weight in the back and back wheel traction…

When the roads are icy here, public transport buses don’t go out anymore as too many ended in the roadsides, because they have their motor in the back and back wheel driving…

Reply to  Greg F
June 11, 2018 3:14 pm

Greg F wrote, “I can’t tell you how many times I have been behind a sub compact car fishtailing on slippery roads … ”

I’ll counter your “I can’t tell you” with my own. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen tractor trailers sitting jackknifed next to the highway while my car was having no issues at all with traction.

Reply to  Phil.
June 11, 2018 4:53 am

Be careful when citing speeding as a proximate cause of an accident. If you drive through a green light at 35 mph in a 30 mph zone, and are T-boned by someone running a red light, and you admit to driving at 35, speeding will be cited as contributing to the accident.

June 10, 2018 8:49 am

It’s “grisly”.

David Onkels
June 10, 2018 8:49 am


June 10, 2018 8:57 am

There was joke at one time: yes sir, this vehicle has a crumple zone ( the bad news is you’re sitting in it ).

This is no longer a joke.

I recently helped a friend in Europe to chose a new panel van. Even the most expensive marques like Iveco and Mercedes-Benz now have bodywork as thin as a coke can. You move it a couple of mm with the end of your finger. Same reason : lighter vehicle , more mpg. All vans now need lining with plywood as soon as you buy them to prevent them having outward dents everywhere as soon as you start to work with them.

Of course that more than negates the weight gain they got by using lighter sheet metal but they comply with ridiculous emission requirements as they come off the line.

Reply to  Greg
June 10, 2018 4:32 pm

The body work is thin because they moved the steel to the structure, crumple zones, bumpers, and door beams. Modern cars are quite heavy compared to earlier cars.

Manufacturers have made great strides in engine and driveline efficiency, but they use that up by adding weight to meet safety requirements. It’s a never ending cycle.

Reply to  Tantor
June 10, 2018 6:11 pm

Curb weight of my “grocery getter” 2002 Tahoe: 4900 pounds.
Weight of 2002 Malibu : 3100 pounds
Weight of 2002 Toyota Camry: 3400 pounds
Weight of 2002 Camaro: 3600 pounds
Weight of 2002 Corvette: 3200 pounds
2017 Tahoe: 5500 pounds
2017 Malibu: 3300 pounds
2017 Camry: 3300 pounds
2017 Camaro: 33-4100 pounds
2017 Vette: 3600 pounds
2017 Prius: 3000 pounds
In the end, if it comes down to it, I’ll take the mass.
Best to avoid it though.

June 10, 2018 8:59 am

With respect I’d rather be in a lightweight carbon fiber car powered buy a 2 litre turbodiesel with a rollcage weighing 500kg and capable of 80 mpg than a 2 tonne yank tank made out of steel..

The targets are not incompatible. Just US car manufacturers are unwilling to innovate.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Leo Smith
June 10, 2018 9:16 am

I prefer my 3 ton yank tank. Well. 6600 lbs to be exact.

Reply to  Leo Smith
June 10, 2018 9:45 am

Mr Smith: You should be able to buy the vehicle of your choice, just as I should be able to buy the vehicle of my choice. The problem arrises when Big Government (in my own interest, of course) tries to restrict my choices. Do you consider your own intellect so superior that you reserve for yourself the right to make my choices?

John P Schneider
Reply to  DonK3113
June 10, 2018 12:56 pm

He doesn’t necessarily consider his intellect superior. He has determined that his needs and your should be identical. He doesn’t need children – neither do you. He commutes 1.5 miles – you should buy you home within 1.5 miles of your work.
See? Just assume that your situation is properly determined, and everyone else should adjust to your situation.
As for me, I love my 6.1L, top speed >170mph, 5-seater SRT tank! WooHOO!

Reply to  John P Schneider
June 10, 2018 3:26 pm

Mine is diesel powered xDrive 6000# and cruises happily all day at 100+ mpg; it does kill the mileage

Kristi Silber
Reply to  DonK3113
June 10, 2018 4:52 pm

The market cannot act on choices that are not there. With greater innovation, car manufacturers could build safer, more economical cars. There is little incentive for fundamental innovation in the way cars are designed to weather impacts – it’s not a glamorous selling point. Surely there must be new, lightweight materials that are better than steel? But people have the “safe” choice in the form of heavier vehicles, so if that is their main concern, the supply is there. What’s not taken into account by buyers (or some researchers) is the greater likelihood of a heavy, large vehicle injuring or killing someone else more vulnerable. Traffic deaths are a function not just of what one is driving, but what might hit you. If I can only afford a compact, I am more vulnerable the more SUVs are on the road. People’s choices affect not only their own safety, but that of others.

The market doesn’t care about safety, mpg, or GHGs. The market is a structure, not a sentient being, and certainly not a democracy. The market is a good and necessary thing, but it can’t be counted on to solve problems or innovate – that requires foresight and investment in ideas for which there is not yet a market. The market is best at selling what’s available already.

Think of the international market for fundamental innovations in efficiency!

At any rate, the CAFE standards have not restricted your ability to buy big, heavy vehicles so far.

Reply to  Kristi Silber
June 10, 2018 5:03 pm

US traffic deaths peaked at 54,589 in 1972 and hit (!) a low of 32,479 in 2011. This despite population growth from ~210 to 312 million. The highest fatality rate per 100,000 was in 1937, almost three times higher than the lowest, in 2014.

An aging population. seat belts, air bags, better vehicles, the speed limit and, for a while, less driving due to the shock of higher prices lowered the death rate from the early ’70s.

Reply to  Felix
June 10, 2018 5:03 pm

Can’t delete this comment, no longer needed after editing the previous.

Reply to  Felix
June 10, 2018 7:05 pm

Yet according to our leftist friends, the market would gladly kill a few more customers if it meant no profit, and no company ever did anything good unless they were forced to by government which is all knowing and all caring.

Reply to  MarkW
June 10, 2018 7:17 pm

What the Left can’t tolerate is letting people make their own decisions. The market will tell carmakers what products to supply.

Some people will care about mileage, perhaps for their commuting car, when the only passenger is him or herself and maybe a car pooling buddy. But when transporting the precious cargo of children, then bigger is better and mileage hardly matters.

Government mucking around just distorts the market. The collective decisions of 320 million citizen consumers will arrive at the right decision and mix of vehicles. Vox populi vox dei. Political freedom is the flip side of the coin of economic freedom.

Reply to  Kristi Silber
June 10, 2018 7:03 pm

Kristi what is the color of the sky in your world, because in this world car makers are constantly marketing how safe their cars are.
When gas prices go up, car makers market gas mileage. When gas prices go down, they market power.

Like most leftists, Kristi can’t fathom that everyone else isn’t as ignorant and naive as she is.

Reply to  Leo Smith
June 10, 2018 10:43 am

“With respect I’d rather be in a lightweight carbon fiber car powered buy a 2 litre turbodiesel with a rollcage weighing 500kg and capable of 80 mpg than a 2 tonne yank tank made out of steel..”

Your preferred vehicle probably costs at least three times as much as two-ton American car. But more power to you if you can afford it. Most of us can’t.

Reply to  CapitalistRoader
June 10, 2018 12:55 pm

Have you seen the statistics on how hard it is to repair carbon fiber after even a minor fender bender?

Reply to  MarkW
June 10, 2018 3:33 pm

I know from painful experience. A bill for eight grand after hitting a deer in my car rather than my Detroit Iron pickup, whose bumper wouldn’t even have been bent.

Reply to  Leo Smith
June 10, 2018 11:56 am

my full frame 2010 marquis is built to withstand 70mph rear end.
with full frame vehicle there is little that CAN’t be repaired. much of unibody types cannot be repaired with certain damages.

Reply to  Leo Smith
June 10, 2018 12:54 pm

It doesn’t matter to you that your car will cost over $100K and be impossible to repair after even a minor fender bender.
It’s all because those evil car companies just don’t care about your opinion.

June 10, 2018 9:08 am

Guest opinion by Paul Driessen : “My article explains why Pruitt is right”
“The Paris Treaty HAS NOTHING do with the climate or environment. “Climate change” is now used to justify replacing the capitalist economic model with a global governance system – and redistributing the world’s resources and wealth. The treaty itself says climate action must include an emphasis on “gender equality,” “empowerment of women,” “intergenerational equity” and “climate justice.” These are the “climate dangers” that supposedly justify lethal CAFÉ rules.”
VICTIM-HOOD IS THE NEW STATUS SYMBOL ! Not long ago people strove for the FINER THINGS in life
including ACHIEVEMENT. Now they get Nobel Prizes JUST for being elected !
based in CANBERRA ! UTOPIA on STEROIDS ! Spouting propaganda !
Marxist , Feminist , Racist , Sexist , Genderist , Catastrophist BLEND of nonsense that results
in People like Obama and Clinton and LAWS like the CAFE Standards !
Thanks Mr Driessen ! With people like you becoming more vocal it is to
be hoped that MANY MORE PEOPLE will express their desire to RETURN TO REASON
“Thankfully, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt recently proposed to re-examine the 54.5-mpg-by-2025 Obama EPA-NHTSA standards – and possibly freeze them at the pending 2020 level of 39 mpg. Mr. Pruitt noted that the standards had been implemented after years of lobbying by environmental pressure groups, and that assertions of climate and weather benefits do not reflect scientific or historical reality.”

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Trevor
June 10, 2018 9:37 am

Shout, shout, let it all out
These are the things I can do without

June 10, 2018 9:13 am

A major problem with crash tests is that they only involve the car in question hitting a stationary obstacle. The energy in such a collision is obviously smaller for lighter vehicle, hence they tend to do well in such tests, but they don’t reflect at all what would happen if struck by a moving truck.

Reply to  climanrecon
June 10, 2018 11:38 am

They’re forcing big rigs to be built lighter too. Be afraid.

Kalifornia Kook
Reply to  jdgalt
June 10, 2018 1:01 pm

“They’re forcing big rigs to be built lighter too.” True, but that just raises their payload. Same limitation on the scales. 72,000 lbs standard (US), 80-100,000 with more expensive licensing.

Reply to  climanrecon
June 10, 2018 12:38 pm

Doesn’t make any difference for a small or heavy passenger car if you have a frontal collission with a 40 tons truck: in both cases you loose… Neither any difference if you reduce the weight of all cars on the road: all what counts is speed at the moment of impact and crumple zone.

Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
June 10, 2018 2:37 pm

A smaller car equals a smaller target.

Reply to  rockyredneck
June 10, 2018 7:06 pm

Doesn’t matter, since you can’t fit a car of any size into the same lane as a semi, both the big car and the little car are going to get hit.

Reply to  climanrecon
June 10, 2018 12:57 pm

A lighter car stops more quickly, which increases the G forces on the passenger.
It doesn’t matter if a lighter car reduces the stress on the cars frame, what matters is the stress being put on the bodies of the passengers, and they still weigh the same.

Reply to  MarkW
June 10, 2018 2:31 pm


If you have a collission with a 40 tons truck, it doesn’t matter if you drive a 0.5 tons car or a 5 tons SUV, neither if the crumple zone of your car is 1 meter or 2 meter. In both cases the 40 tons truck makes one crumple zone over the full length of your car…

Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
June 10, 2018 7:08 pm

Ferd, what is it with you and ridiculous analogies.
Is it really your position that since a big car and a little car would both be creamed by a semi, it doesn’t matter that the government mandates small cars?
What about the other 99.9% or vehicle accidents?
The largest single category of vehicle accidents is a single car hitting a fixed object, and in that case, bigger will save your life.

Reply to  MarkW
June 11, 2018 12:11 pm


There are some differences between Europe and the US in that population density in general is higher and as result also traffic density and driving distances are smaller. The main road I do frequent use is one of the main north-south connections in Europe. Result: on weekdays over 50% in length/volume/weight is 40-tons trucks. On the ring road around Antwerp 3 of four lanes are often occupied by trucks. Truck-truck accidents and truck-car accidents are about daily and more. In the latter case, the car is the weakest part, no matter how big it was before the crash…

About hitting a solid subject: speed is the main point. Even if your car’s crumple zone is 3 times my car, if I need a full stop from 110 km/h (maximum speed of the car) and you start from 130 km/h (speed limit in France and Holland), when my car is fully stopped, your car still has a speed of 70 km/h. Hitting a solid object with 70 km/h is not very healthy to say the least…

And again; bigger is not the same as heavier: you can make big carbon fibre cars which weight a lot less and have an enormous crumple zone and very low gas consumption if they are extremely streamlined. The discussion is about heavier vs. lighter, not smaller vs. bigger…

Reply to  MarkW
June 12, 2018 8:03 am


From the US statistics:

55% of all occupant fatalities in big trucks is from rollover.
47% of occupant fatalities in SUV’s is from rollover.
42% of occupant fatalities in pick-up’s is from rollover.
22% of occupant fatalities in passenger cars is from rollover.

In the case of rollover, the front crash zone is of no help, wearing a seat belt is what saves your life.

Total fatal crashes of SUV + pick-up’s: 9,471 (2016)
Total fatal crashes of passenger cars: 13,930

Tom in Florida
June 10, 2018 9:13 am

“the rules require that cars and light trucks on average across each manufacturer’s entire smorgasbord of vehicles must get better and better mileage over a period of years.”

So now you know the real reason for having at least one EV line in your smorgasbord of vehicles.

Reply to  Tom in Florida
June 10, 2018 12:58 pm

And why auto companies are willing to sell them at a loss.

Reply to  Tom in Florida
June 12, 2018 8:21 am

I guess EVs get infinite mileage on a gallon of gas, since they don’t use any. That certainly helps the fleet-average.

June 10, 2018 9:13 am

Paul, your one paragraph about the Obama Administration changing/lowering the FAA Air Traffic Controller standards to promote “diversity” is something that chilled me profoundly when I first heard it on the Tucker program As a FAA certified Air Traffic Controller-Control Tower Operator I saw some of the targeted new hires in action in both FAA class and actually controlling. I once handled peak hour traffic at the worlds busiest airport, at one point talking to 44 aircraft, and shudder to think what consequences the air travel public may face due to this Obama program. The issue needs to be addressed immediately.

Reply to  Ron Long
June 10, 2018 10:05 am

The libs/progressives aren’t smart enough to realize what they are really saying…….
something very racist bigoted and discriminating

Reply to  Latitude
June 10, 2018 11:41 am

They know perfectly well. They just don’t want us to catch them at it.

Reply to  Latitude
June 10, 2018 1:07 pm

I’ve debated with liberals who actually believe that there is no such thing as “best qualified”.
For each position every candidate is either qualified or not qualified. So once you determine
the population of qualified candidates, it doesn’t matter how you pick the ones to hire. So requiring this picking to be done based on race cannot reduce the over all quality of those being hired.

Of course, when I was a teenager, hiring based on race was something the NAACP widely condemned.

Reply to  MarkW
June 10, 2018 5:01 pm

In the private sector, we strove to only hire over-qualified employees, who could eventually be promoted up the line to run the company (or least be promoted to their level of incompetence – the Peter principle). The entry level position was just to introduce them to how we ran the company. Many hirees today will never see a promotion, and more than a few will claim it’s because of racial discrimination.

Reply to  Jtom
June 10, 2018 7:08 pm

It’s the all purpose excuse these days.

Reply to  Ron Long
June 10, 2018 11:39 am

As long as the Keystone Gestapo (TSA) are in place I won’t be flying anywhere anyway.

John P Schneider
Reply to  jdgalt
June 10, 2018 1:20 pm

Wish I could say that. We like to see different places (Boeing’s flight museums in Seattle area, Oshkosh, Wright Patterson Museum, friends and relatives on the East Coast) and driving that far is not an option. So we fly – pre-approved. Costly, no guarantee against full-body search, by clowns that I have accidentally slipped large knives past.
I don’t know that TSA has really stopped any hijackings. I do know it took me a while to figure out why the shoe bomber, the underwear bomber, and a few others looked so misshapen when they got off the planes. Unlike pre 9-11, passengers no longer follow instructions from hijackers. They stop them – and sometimes beat the crap out of them. I would think that would be quite a deterrent. Passengers don’t have training on minimum force, or how to tell when an attacker has been neutralized, so they tend to be conservative, i.e., make sure.

Leon Brozyna
June 10, 2018 9:42 am

Forget those CAFÉ standards … no, that ain’t ever gonna happen … then, let them put the actual mileage results on the car stickers like they do now and let the consumer decide. That ought to get them bureaucrat’s panties in a real bind.

As it is right now with the CAFÉ standards, just watch the new car ads these days … all the cars look the same. And with light truck standards gearing up, soon they too will all start to look the same. Makes you start to wonder … is this concern about the environment, access to oil, or just plain raw bureaucratic power? (That’s a rhetorical question, son)

Kalifornia Kook
Reply to  Leon Brozyna
June 10, 2018 1:21 pm

very rhetorical.

June 10, 2018 9:46 am

CAFE is just another example of the EPA and any bureaucratic tendencies — they never stop when something is addressed, they continue pressing harder and harder, splitting hairs, then splitting the split hairs, and on and on ad infinitum. EPA, stop it — enough is enough.

Reply to  beng135
June 10, 2018 1:08 pm

Which is why all federal agencies need a sunset provision.
Disband them completely and if there is still a need, start a new agency with different people.

Ian W
Reply to  MarkW
June 10, 2018 7:15 pm

No, all agency regulations should have a sunset provision, 12 months would do. Failure of the regulation to be passed by House and Senate should result in the regulation being withdrawn with a bar on re-regulation of the same area of five years.

Hoyt Clagwell
June 10, 2018 9:58 am

The biggest problem with the gas mileage issue is that you can’t legislate the laws of physics. There is only so much potential energy in a gallon of gas, and most of it will be lost to waste heat because nobody can yet figure out cold combustion of gasoline, and probably never will. Again, that physics thing. The same government that wants better mileage also requires a 10% ethanol mix which actually reduces mileage. Many of the other government requirements for safety and pollution control add more parts to the car which adds weight and also works against mileage. Today, some cars are designed to shut the engine off every time it comes to a stop just to save a little gas. That tells us that manufacturers are really scraping the bottom of the barrel for ideas to meet government demands that are entirely based on pixie dust and ignorance. I guarantee you the people that come up with magic legislation that will move four average Americans across the country with only four gallons of gas don’t know the first thing about how a car works.

Steve from Rockwood
June 10, 2018 10:06 am

If you consider fuel mileage and vehicle weight together, how much progress have we really made?

A Toyota Prius at 3,000 lbs gets about 50 MPG. A Ford F150 at 5,000 lbs gets about 30 MPG.

5000/3000 (weight ratio) = 50/30 (mileage ratio).

Aren’t we just making vehicles lighter and marketing them as technology improvements?

|Ian Macdonald
June 10, 2018 10:08 am

We manage to get much higher mpg than typical American cars though, and without having to go to featherweight construction. Think it has to do with using smaller more efficient engines coupled with manual transmission.

That said, the cost of fuel in the UK is ridiculous. We are an oil producing nation, yet it’s more costly here than in France or Germany.

Ed Bo
Reply to  |Ian Macdonald
June 10, 2018 11:06 am


A couple of points you need to consider in making the comparison (which a lot of people don’t):

The UK imperial gallon is 20% larger than the US gallon, so a car that gets 30 miles per US gallon gets 36 miles per imperial gallon.

Pollution restrictions are substantially tighter in the US, and meeting them has efficiency costs, probably about 10 – 12%. A lot of this is from lower compression ratios.

With the lower compression ratios, lower octane fuel can be used in the US. This means that a given amount of US fuel is less expensive (and requires less energy content in the raw feedstock than European fuel.

A C Osborn
Reply to  Ed Bo
June 11, 2018 9:53 am

Nothing to do with it, the UK motorists pay 60%-65% fuel duties & Vat.
So a UK gallon costs us $7.92, so even at a 20% reduction that would be $6.34/US gallon, remind us again how much you pay?
Since when did lower compression ratios = less polution?

Reply to  |Ian Macdonald
June 10, 2018 1:10 pm

Smaller less powerful engines can be a safety hazard on American highways.

June 10, 2018 10:09 am

That Gov regulations on automobiles caused the great step change improvement of fuel efficiency and much cleaner emissions during the 80s is another myth the left believe. I was being taught this in a university class, when I pointed out that it was completely coincidental. The revolutionary improvement was caused by availability of new technology, specifically the engine management computer and electronic fuel injection. It would of happened anyway, with or with out the regulations. The incentive for the development of the new technology came from auto racing’s stiff competition and the desire to win. Ford was the leader of auto racing engine technology in Formula 1 and Indy Car racing with their Ford -Cosworth series of racing engines. To maintain their edge, Ford in conjunction with a Japanese firm developed this technology for racing. When applied to their production cars it forced the entire industry world wide to adopt similar new technologies. By today’s standards the computer was primitive, but it was revolutionary at the time.

Reply to  KT66
June 10, 2018 1:11 pm

The left is convinced that nothing good happens absent government mandate.

June 10, 2018 10:12 am

“Saying the air traffic controller work force was “too white,” the Obama Federal Aviation Administration allegedly replaced hiring standards based on science, math and ability to handle intense pressure with rules designed to increase racial diversity. It’s hard to find a more flagrant example of bureaucrats putting people’s safety and lives so low on their list of priorities. Difficult but not impossible.”

Non sequitur. Only tangentially related to the subject of CAFE and auto safety.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
June 10, 2018 1:12 pm

However it is relevant to the subject of stupid government rules, which is also what this article is about.

Kalifornia Kook
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
June 10, 2018 1:28 pm

Joel, I think you missed the connection.
1) Higher CAFE means lighter vehicles.
2) Lighter vehicles may mean higher injuries/fatalities
3) Government has shown a similar disregard for safety in its FAA hiring mandates.


Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
June 10, 2018 6:19 pm

Personally, I find the description ‘too white’ is, in itself, quite offensive.

Reply to  Annie
June 10, 2018 7:11 pm

At one point in time, the left was telling us that racism was evil.
Modern leftists now complain when government isn’t racist enough.

June 10, 2018 11:01 am

So, in sum, people who drive smaller, less sturdy motor vehicles get killed more often than people who drive larger, sturdier motor vehicles. Lowering idiot-driver protection standards (i.e. less armor) in order to increase idiot-activist satisfaction (i.e., reinforced self delusion), costs lives. But, hey, that’s okay, because it increases the rate of death, which prevents even more people from using fossil fuel at all.

It’s sort of the designed-to-fail economic strategy taken to another level.

Reply to  Robert Kernodle
June 10, 2018 1:13 pm

I’ve said in the past, the most of the energy being saved by the CAFE standards comes from the reduction in the number of drivers on the road.

Reply to  Robert Kernodle
June 10, 2018 2:16 pm


There is some difference in impact of two lightweight cars or two tanks driving with 70 km/h (50 mph) against each other: what counts is how much braking distance you have: that is the length of the crumple zone during the impact. For a real (military) thank that is near zero: the tank is not so much damaged, the content rather squashed…

The point is that despite much smaller cars in Europe and a lot less fuel use, there are far less fatalities in Europe per driven distance than in the US, see further down.

Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
June 10, 2018 7:15 pm

Ferd, your knowledge of auto construction is wrong, completely.
Where did you get the crazy idea that big cars have no crumple zones?
The fact is that big cars have crumple zones, in fact their crumple zones are bigger than smaller cars, which offers greater protection to the occupants. Which is why people in big cars survive at higher rates than do people in small cars.

I’ve always loved it when the simple minded decide that they are going to take a complex issue and try to reduce it to a single number. Perhaps because they haven’t been trained to handle more than one concept at a time.

If everything about American drivers and American roads were exactly identical, then merely comparing miles driven would be relevant.

Reply to  MarkW
June 11, 2018 12:24 pm


Have a better read of what I wrote: military tanks have near zero crumple zone. All what the driver has is the lengthening of the safety belt and/or airbag (if there is one in a tank…).
Indeed heavier cars mostly are bigger and have a larger nose and thus mostly a larger crumple zone than lighter cars, but that is not always the case. SUV’s in general have shorter noses and trucks and vans in Europe have little or no nose at all.

I haven’t seen any figures of survival rates of cars/types in the US. I know from one year sampling all fatal accidents in my own country that heavier/faster cars are more deadly for their occupants and for other road users…

Donald Horne
June 10, 2018 11:19 am

Definition… Bureaucratus inepticus – “…bureaucrats putting people’s safety and lives so low on their list of priorities.”

June 10, 2018 11:22 am

How strange – my petrol car does real 50mpg (us gal) 60.5mpg uk
deaths in uk fell from peak in 60s to 22% in2016
deaths in us fell from peak in 70s to 70% in 2016

All this despite coke can thickness metal plastic parts. Maybe enforced government regs (seat belts) help – as do safety rating being required for all new cars.
comment image

Reply to  thefordprefect
June 10, 2018 1:17 pm

Most of the improvement in the US came from people buckling up, and improvements in road design.

In other words, the savings in lives would have been even greater, had not the cars themselves gotten more dangerous.

June 10, 2018 11:54 am

Too many small, lightweight cars cause too many deaths and injuries to justify tighter mpg rule

Everyone who have been around in both the US and in Europe knows that European cars are on average much smaller than their US counterparts.

How can it then be that the US have so many more road deaths per citizen than Europe?
Car deaths per citizen for some counties:

Country    Fatalities     Population     Fatalities per million citizens
US:            37 461         325 mill           115
UK:             1 792           66 mill           26
Germany:        3 214          83 mill            39
Sweden:         263            10 mill             26
France:         3 469            67 mill          51

As you see, the US has two to four times more fatalities per citizen than these European countries where people, on average, drive much smaller cars.

Although it is marginally safer to be in a bigger car than a small one for each individual, it seems to have the opposite effect if all others also drive huge cars.

The huge powerful cars can inflict so much more damage on others, so it has negative effect if all people drive big cars.

Sweet Old Bob
Reply to  Jan Kjetil Andersen
June 10, 2018 12:08 pm

Hmmm… wonder what the average speed and distance is for each ?

Reply to  Sweet Old Bob
June 10, 2018 12:48 pm

indeed. The correct metrics would be fatalities per (person x distance).

Reply to  paqyfelyc
June 10, 2018 1:04 pm

I do not think all have reliable data for miles driven, but the speed limits on motorways are:
Us: 60 – 80 mph (97 – 129 kmh)
UK: 70 mph (113 kmh)
Germany: ulimited
Sweden: 110 -120 kmh (68 – 74 mph)
France: 130 kmh (81 mph)

Reply to  Jan Kjetil Andersen
June 10, 2018 7:15 pm

This is one of the problems with climate science. They don’t have the data, but they decide to go ahead and use whatever they do have.

Reply to  MarkW
June 11, 2018 12:31 pm


Not too fast, the km/person.year are known further down

Reply to  Sweet Old Bob
June 10, 2018 1:20 pm

Average distance in the US is about 13,000 km/person.year. Average in Europe 6,500 km/person.year. Even with the double distance in the US, fatalities are higher than in Europe. Speed on main roads about the same to higher in Europe. On speedways higher in Europe (120/130 km/h), in Germany even unlimited on several tracks. Despite that not more fatal accidents in Germany than in France, but driving style in Germany is more disciplined (for speed limits e.g.) than in France…

See also the difference in road fuel consumption per capita…

Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
June 10, 2018 3:07 pm

Highway speed in Europe matters much less than city speeds.

The US has a lot more miles of high speed road than does Europe, per mile driven. Our impact speeds average higher than those in European crashes.

It’s not a meaningful comparison.

Reply to  Felix
June 11, 2018 1:11 pm


In the US, about 50% of all fatalities are in rural areas, thus mostly at Interstates and other high speed roads. That doesn’t explain the other 50% fatalities in urban areas, compared to most European countries which have half the fatalities of the US, even for the same miles driven in total.

There are lots of details about fatal accidents in the US here:
and on several interesting other pages…

Reply to  Jan Kjetil Andersen
June 10, 2018 1:20 pm

Convenient way of lying with statistics.

Number of deaths per capita is a meaningless number.
You have to know things like miles driven, average speed, compare road designs, you also have to compare driver training and other safety laws such as how drunk driving is handled.

You beliefs are refuted by every study ever done on the subject.
Even when big cars crash into each other, they are still safer.

Reply to  MarkW
June 10, 2018 1:34 pm


Even when big cars crash into each other, they are still safer.

Sorry, but the laws of physics refute that. The clash between two lightweight cars or two heavy trucks is always as bad, as all what counts is the speed at the moment of impact and the length of the crumple zone during the impact. The latter may be longer for bigger cars, but that is not a given. Trucks in Europe have zero nose and in many cases the driver lost his/hers life even for a head tail collission with another truck.

Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
June 10, 2018 7:19 pm

Ferd, I’m guessing that it’s been a long time since you’ve studied physics, assuming you ever did. What matters is how fast the occupants come to a stop. The worst type of accident is colliding with an object with more kinetic energy than your car, because in that case, your car will not only be stopped, but pushed backwards. The next type is a collision with a fixed object, or a car with the same mass and momentum.

In both those scenarios, basic physics will tell you that the car with the larger crumple zone will be the safest, and that is always the larger car.

As to trucks with no noses, once again, the stupidity of not building in a crumple zone.

Reply to  MarkW
June 10, 2018 11:22 pm

Those crumple zones are only helpful for occupants of the car, and only if they wear seatbelts.

16% of the US fatalities are pedestrians and another 2% are bicyclist. For pedestrians and bicyclists it is more deadly to be hit by a huge car, especially if they end up under the car.

63% of the fatalities were passenger vehicle occupants, and of those 10,428 were unbelted and 11,282 belted.

The big cars may have a marginal effect, but only on the 11,282 belted occupants, who constitute only 30% of all US fatalities.

Reply to  Jan Kjetil Andersen
June 11, 2018 1:31 pm

Jan Kjetil,

I have found a lot of facts on road fatalities in the US at:

Some interesting point: 55% of the fatalities in large trucks are from rollover during the accident. For SUV’s and Pickups it still is high at 47% and 43%, while for passenger cars it is only 22%:

In such cases the length of the front crumple zone doesn’t matter, wearing a seat belt is the main point I suppose…

Reply to  MarkW
June 10, 2018 2:32 pm

Ok, I have used the numbers Ferdinand linked to above and calculated car deaths per billion km

Country    	Fatalities     	km per year 	Fatalities per billion km
US:         	37 461         	13 000			8.9
UK:          	1 792           6500			4.2
Germany:   	3 214           6300			6.1
Sweden:     	263            	6300			4.1
France:     	3 469            6200			8.3

There are still more fatalities in the US than in these European countries which all have on average much smaller cars.

Reply to  Jan Kjetil Andersen
June 10, 2018 7:19 pm

Now factor in the 1001 other differences between Europe and the US.

Reply to  Jan Kjetil Andersen
June 10, 2018 10:02 pm

Mark says:

Now factor in the 1001 other differences between Europe and the US.

The claim in the article is that big cars are so much safer, but this statistics points in the other direction in four different European countries.

I have shown that also the highway speed limits are higher in Europe. Those with the highest speed limit are closer to the US rate, but still lower. UK and Sweden, which have speed limits closer to, US have about half the fatality rate per driven kilometer.

Those who claim that big cars are safer should point to which specific factors that could have such a huge negative effect in the US.

Reply to  Jan Kjetil Andersen
June 10, 2018 11:30 pm

Jan Kjetil Andersen

I have shown that also the highway speed limits are higher in Europe. Those with the highest speed limit are closer to the US rate, but still lower. UK and Sweden, which have speed limits closer to, US have about half the fatality rate per driven kilometer.

Ah, but you are not comparing like roads. European “superhighway” roads that ALLOW those very high speeds are built comparable to the best and newest of the many times more US interstate highway system: Wide margins, acceleration zones, separated dual lane roads, well-shielded off-ramps and highway abutments, clear large overhead signs, etc. MOST of the US interstate system is not that well-built, and very little of the tier 2 and tier 3 and tier 4 roads – which are as fast as the IH system in most areas 55-65-70 mph are not to the Euro expressway/superway levels. So the Euro communities are regulated down to 90-95 kph on raods that US drivers travel much faster on, at many times higher traffic density.
The very small back-country Euro towns are very dense with many pedestrians (except in the new areas built after WWII around the town centers.) So Euro driving is either at very high speeds on a very number of limited access superhighways, or much slower than US roads on uncrowded roads typically much narrower, but with little interference.

A different experience. How many US city interstate-style highways have you driven in, and for how many years? How many US highway (2-lane and 4 lane) UNDIVIDED high speed highways and country roads have you driven at 120-130 kph on?

Reply to  RACookPE1978
June 11, 2018 1:54 pm


European “superhighway” roads that ALLOW those very high speeds are built comparable to the best and newest of the many times more US interstate highway system

Doesn’t sound like many of the the “superhighways” in my country, which were built in the ’70’s with (too) many (too) short accesses and (too) fast winding exits…

But I agree, you can’t compare accidents in different countries without knowing all different details.

What surprised me was that the US has twice as much fatalities per mile, while in general all driving at the similar speed with very little differences, while here one can drive 70 km/h minimum, heavy trucks 80 km/h, other cars 120/130 km/h at maximum speed (and beyond, here frequent, never seen in the US) or unlimited in Germany (and they do it!), so the possibility of a crash due to speed differences is much higher here.

Ben Vorlich
June 10, 2018 11:58 am

I’m looking for some enlightenment. Coming from Europe where a VW Golf (Rabbit?) is a big selling family car and similar sized offerings from Ford, PSA and Fiat, GM has pulled out of Europe, dominate and large 4×4 and US style Pickups are in a minority. I wondered what the casualty data was for like to like crashes, that is a Golf to Golf collision compared to an F150 to F150 collision, and any vehicle to 40 Tonne truck (Semi?) collisions? Is there any reason why deaths per km driven in the USA are greater than for most EU countries and almost twice UK levels?

Also does the US have similar crash ratings like the European NCAP system?

Thank you.

Reply to  Ben Vorlich
June 10, 2018 12:25 pm

Ben, indeed it doesn’t make any difference if you have a Golf to Golf or F150 to F150 collission (or a collission of one car with a rock solid object): all what counts is the sum of speeds of both at the moment of the impact and how much the crumple zones of both have crumpled (not much crumple zone from a concrete bridge): that is all what you have as braking distance from the speed at the moment of impact to zero speed. That gives how much G force comes on your body via the safety belt or airbag or the interior of the car if you don’t wear a safety belt and no airbag is available…

Reply to  Ben Vorlich
June 10, 2018 1:00 pm

According to physics, crashing in a same car is just the same as crashing into a wall.
Likewise, according to physics, if a crash occurs between a vehicle and another twice the weight, then the first endures 2x the stress of the second. Meaning, passenger of the first may be injured while those of the second are not, even if both car have the same security level.

Reply to  paqyfelyc
June 10, 2018 1:48 pm


Agreed. The problem is that (too) many therefore think that buying a heavier car is safer, which in first instance is somewhat right for yourself (but doesn’t help if you crash into a tree, bridge, truck,… and more fatal for other road users) until everybody drives a heavy car and you are back to square one… At last everybody drives a tank and when these crash in a frontal collission with each other at 70 km/h (50 mph), everybody is killed as good as if everybody drives a lightweight car with the same speed at impact…

Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
June 10, 2018 3:01 pm

That’s ~43.5 mph.

IMO two tanks of equal mass hitting each other head on at that speed probably wouldn’t kill anyone. The drivers might be in danger of serious injury, but the turret crews would probably be OK, if properly restrained.

The impact would pack a lot of KE, but it would be spread out, unlike a hit from a 27mm wide, 5 kg APFSDS long rod penetrator traveling at 1.7 km/s. The much heavier but much more slowly moving tanks would IMO be less deadly to each other than would the high velocity, DU armor-piercing round.

Reply to  Felix
June 10, 2018 7:21 pm

What kills people are G forces. Even if fully restrained, you can be killed if the G forces get too high.

Reply to  MarkW
June 10, 2018 7:30 pm

The G forces in two tanks would be greatly reduced by the mass between you and the point of collision.

Also, the front ends of tanks don’t crumple. The thick steel or advanced, space age composite materials absorb the impact.

I’ve never been in a tank hit by another tank at 43 mph, but I’ve been in one hitting large, stationary motor vehicles, and the only effect I’ve noticed is the rising effect from driving over and crushing it.

Reply to  Felix
June 11, 2018 2:02 pm

Fekix, that is the crux of the discussion: the mass of the tank is of no use in a collission with a similar tank, The fact that the tank is armored and has near zero crumple zone means that the full distance the driver’s body has from 70 km/h to 0 km/h is only the lengthening of the safety belt or the length of the airbag. That means 10 G or more and a lot of damage to one’s body, if not fatal…

In the case of hitting smaller cars, of course the tank has no problems at all…

Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
June 10, 2018 7:20 pm

Being in a big car does help if you crash into a fixed object. Basic physics

Reply to  MarkW
June 11, 2018 2:36 am

nope. Not for a crash in a fixed object.
What’s help is being in a car with some energy absorbing device, to reduce the g-force you experience. I rather be in a small modern car than in a real tank (And I did both), since the car has structure designed for crash control, while the tank doesn’t, meaning YOU get the full acceleration of a brutal stop, and this will kill you (Just ask Diana)
Now, of course, for a crash into a non fixed object, the higher the mass, the safer you are.

Reply to  paqyfelyc
June 11, 2018 9:34 am

paqyfelyc says:
According to physics, crashing in a same car is just the same as crashing into a wall.

No. A solid wall won’t absorb any significant energy of the collision (all will be absorbed by the single car). Another car will absorb some of the energy w/its crumple zone.

Reply to  beng135
June 11, 2018 2:10 pm


That is only true if the second car is stopped (or at a lower speed), then the energy is divided by the two cars and that is the same as one car hitting a wall with half the speed.

If both cars have the same speed at impact, that has the same result for driver and passengers as a single car hitting a wall at the same speed.

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
June 10, 2018 2:25 pm

So what you’re saying is that if you’re in a small vehicle hit by a heavier vehicle that you are more likely to be killed or suffer more serious injury. In order to survive a RTA it is best to buy the heaviest vehicle you can afford, even if that vehicle is least likely to protect you in a like for like collision. The proportion of heavy vehicles in USA is higher in the USA leading to more heavy/light collisions and more heavy/heavy collisions in USA leading to a higher death rate per vehicle-km.

This doesn’t totally explain the difference between the USA and Europe. France is reducing the speed limit on some non motorway roads from 90 to 80kph at the end of this month. It is on an effort to reduce road deaths to a similar level to those in the UK. Having driven in both countries retraining French drivers on drink driving, overtaking and tailgating might be more effective. But time will tell.

Reply to  Ben Vorlich
June 10, 2018 10:27 pm

I would suspect that there are other reasons at play with regards to why there are more accidents/fatalities here in the US than in most European countries. Reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with the vehicles themselves, nor even the roads, speed limits, etc. IMO much of the excess here in the US is likely caused by driver behavior (you can’t really ignore the people who are operating the vehicles when factoring in possible reasons). Aggressive driving is rife in many places, especially crowded, urban areas, here in the US, and quite possibly the average European driver is less likely to suffer from road rage or other aggressive driving behaviors. That, and add in distracted driving…I don’t know, perhaps the average European takes the operation of a motor vehicle more seriously than many here in the US do. Maybe driver education is better in many other countries…..

When comparisons such as these are made, it is wise to consider ALL factors (not unlike what climate skeptics tend to do with data and statistics).

June 10, 2018 11:58 am

There is an essential flaw in this article… Survival from a car crash has little to do with the weight of a car and everything to do with the speed at which you drive at the moment of the impact and how much of the crumple zone is used.

I was driving one the smallest cars – by weight – of the world: the Citroën 2CV, 560 kg full “steel” (or more accurate: 0.4 mm “thick” tin plate), when I had the same discussion about safety with a few consumer’s organisations.

Things are somewhat different between Europe and the US, in that US cars are 98% automatic, in Europe 98% manual. Real speed by cars on highways in the US are within narrow range, near everybody drives at the maximum allowed speed, including trucks. In Europe one must drive 70 km/h minimum and 120/130 km/h maximum (In Germany even unlimited on several tracks). Heavy trucks have a speed limit of 80 km/h. Problem: full range is used (+ higher), making collissions due to speed differences more frequent in Europe.

One of the better points of light weight cars is that in general, the lighter cars had the shortest braking distance starting at the same speed. Another one was that my car had a maximum speed of 110 km/h, while all others were (much) faster. A simple calculation showed that when I was at full speed and needed a full stop, the braking distance was some 37 meters (If I remember well… the discussion was from the ’70s), at that distance, the next best car still was driving at 70 km/h, thus if I had no accident at all at that moment, the other car at 70 km/h had a high risk of a fatal crash: from 70 km/h to 0 km/h over 1 meter distance (= crumple zone) gives a force of over 1 ton on your body…

Of course, if I had a frontal collission with a much heavier car, I would loose the contest. But if you have a frontal collission with a heavy truck, it doesn’t matter how much your car weights: you loose. Thus reducing ALL car’s weight doesn’t influence fatalities, or do you think that a frontal collission (or crashing in a tree or bridge, or…) between two 5 ton SUV’s makes any difference for the passengers or driver than between two 0.6 ton 2CV’s?

As an extra, I sampled all stories of fatal accidents in my country by brand and circumstances over a full year. That showed that the faster (and heavier) cars had the highest rate of fatal accidents… General rule of insurance companies at that time: you pay insurance in ratio to the hp under the hood…
Another point: speed. Due to the economical crisis in the ’70s, lower speed limits were imposed on the speedways and later increased again . The effect: for each 10 km/h extra, numbers of heavily injured and fatalities by accidents doubled…

Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
June 10, 2018 1:22 pm

The bigger the car, the bigger the crumple zone. That means that given the same impact speed, the forces on the passenger are going to be less in a big car.

Reply to  MarkW
June 10, 2018 1:58 pm


Bigger: in general yes. More weight: no.

40+ tons trucks in Europe have no nose (the motor is under the driver cabin), the crumble zone is smaller than even for a small European car. Lots of fatalities even in head tail collisions with other trucks…

Reason: there is a maximum length for tractor + trailer in Europe, so the manufacturers made the tractors shorter to have a longer trailer…

Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
June 10, 2018 3:03 pm

The US also has a lot of cab over engine big rig (tractor-trailer) trucks, but at least the engine doesn’t end up in the driver’s lap.

Reply to  Ferdinand Engelbeen
June 10, 2018 7:22 pm

Ferd, all you have done is demonstrate that it’s stupid to build trucks with no crumple zone.

Reply to  MarkW
June 11, 2018 2:13 pm


Hé, something we agree on…

Loren Wilson
June 10, 2018 12:04 pm

Another example of our representatives abdicating the rule-making to un-elected officials. If Congress were to do its job, they would set the level for the CAFE standard, not a committee of people who cannot be recalled. Same applies to the EPA “finding” that CO2 is a pollutant, and therefore under their power to regulate. This is something that Congress should have decided. Then if we the people don’t like the decision, we can elect a representative who will represent us, instead of passing the buck to an arm of the executive branch.

Adam Gallon
June 10, 2018 12:08 pm

How about “Don’t drive like idiots, look where you’re going & wear a seatbelt”? Works for the civilised world.

Reply to  Adam Gallon
June 10, 2018 2:24 pm

Thank you for a favorable peer review of my thesis that drivers in Dallas are the epitome of uncivilized morons…

Reply to  sycomputing
June 10, 2018 7:23 pm

Way to many drivers in the American southwest learned how to drive in Mexico.

June 10, 2018 12:46 pm

I know a couple of people who drove small cars to get better gas mileage but they had car accidents and sustained head injuries. They ended up losing their jobs.

They now drive full sized pick up trucks.

There can be a potentially large price to pay for driving small vehicles.

June 10, 2018 1:03 pm

Surely the problem in America is too many large vehicles. They may well protect the occupants, but when they hit the ever increasing numbers of small cars, they cause carnage. When put this way, America needs LESS large vehicles, not more.

As an aside, my large 5-door turbo-diesel saloon has been doing 45 mpg in mixed driving, since 2005. And its successor, which I should recieve soon, will do 50 mpg in mixed driving (measured tank to tank – or 56 mpg according to the cars computer, which is optomistic.). American cars are no where near as economic as their European equivalents.


Ed Bo
Reply to  ralfellis
June 10, 2018 3:45 pm


The perversity of the CAFE standards in large part created the problem you cite. They fundamentally outlawed the large cars, like stationwagons, that families wanted. So people with families had to turn to driving trucks (SUVs and minivans are considered “light trucks”.

So when these light trucks collide with “econoboxes” that get great mileage, the consequences are not good. A lot of people who otherwise would be happy with a small car joined the arms race toward larger vehicles to feel safe.

Reply to  Ed Bo
June 10, 2018 4:56 pm

The CAFE requirements had a second tier impact as well. With station wagons virtually outlawed by ever-higher CAFE law requirements, the SUV/Caravan/vans were (at the time) classified as “Light Trucks” and so, as light trucks, the Caravan (for example) did NOT count against the company’s ever-lower mandated “average per CAR fuel economy” numbers, but only affected the company’s “average per truck” CAFE numbers. So the company’s average car CAFE report number went up! Sell more lightweight Caravans and the same number of heavier pickup trucks, cargo vans, and large trucks = Better “truck” CAFE numbers as well!

Reply to  ralfellis
June 10, 2018 7:24 pm

So the solution to the government mandating too many small cars is for the government to outlaw all big cars.
Who cares about personal choice, the government knows what is best for everybody.

Steve from Rockwood
June 10, 2018 2:11 pm

A clue to how and why people die in car accidents can be seen by looking at deaths by state in the USA. One of the biggest causes (in the high variation of death rate between states) is not wearing a seat belt. Another is drinking & driving. I doubt there are many states or provinces in Europe that have the same driving attitude as Montana (108 deaths per 100,000), or North Dakota. Probably closer to New York or California (2-3 deaths per 100,000).

The greatest safety device in a car is the driver.

Reply to  Steve from Rockwood
June 10, 2018 3:18 pm

One of the other reasons I suppose is the long distances driven: what stands out in the US, compared to Europe is the small difference in speed on the interstates out of the cities and the low traffic density, compared to many roads in Europe. I have seen several accidents there in the middle of nowhere, probably from falling asleep due to no traffic to deal with, many hours of driving on cruise control and a long, boring road…

Reply to  Steve from Rockwood
June 10, 2018 3:59 pm

“The greatest safety device in a car is the driver.”
The greatest safety device in a car should be the driver.
Well, outside Montana, [or North Dakota] I guess.


Reply to  Steve from Rockwood
June 11, 2018 7:08 am

In western states a contributing factor is driver fatigue because of the great distances. In Wyoming, for example, the increase in speed limits decreased the number of crashes due to drivers falling asleep at that wheel.

Robert W. Turner
June 10, 2018 3:41 pm

I can think of one thing that would increase the fuel efficiency of all petrol vehicles, decrease pollution, increase engine longevity, and conserve water — remove the ethanol mandate. But no, once the government makes a mistake they will put on blinders and stick with it, or find a way to make it even worse.

Kristi Silber
June 10, 2018 3:50 pm

‘”2002 National Academy of Sciences study … Studies by the Brookings Institution, Harvard School of Public Health, National Academy of Sciences and USA Today all reached similar conclusions.”

None of these studies includes a link or citation; apart from the NAS study, not even a year is given. The WSJ article is pay-walled. No easy way to confirm any of the conclusions claimed by Driessen, and given “skeptics”‘ track record of ignoring or twisting the truth of what others say, their claims can’t be taken at face value. Even if not all “skeptics” avoid honest assessment of evidence in favor of biased rhetoric, enough do that their credibility as a whole is damaged. I’m sure you can understand this based on the comparably questionable claims of many alarmists. The challenge is to remember that just because they are uncomfortable or made by those with whom one disagrees doesn’t make them untrue.

“The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) covered all this up. ” And here’s a perfect example of why I don’t trust skeptics’ assertions! This is a cover-up?
It supports Driessen! This suggests that Driessen has not researched the claims he makes.

There is more recent research suggesting that CAFE actually lowered traffic fatalities:
It is based on the idea that the dispersion of weights is a factor in traffic fatality. The probability of injury depends not only on the size of the car occupied, but also on the size of any other car in the crash. If weights only on the top end of the scale were decreased (decreasing the mean mass as well as dispersion), fatalities and injuries would also decrease.

Whatever the truth of the matter, if traffic safety is such a high priority to skeptics, why don’t they advocate lowering speed limits? This is something that would accomplish both decreased risk of traffic deaths and higher mpg. But that might hurt the oil industry, and this is what it’s all about.

Reply to  Kristi Silber
June 10, 2018 4:04 pm

No, it would hurt the economy. Western states lose precious time, which is money, by having to drive 55. Even the most liberal Western states have raised their speed limits due to the frustration and loss of productivity from the idiotic speed limits imposed under the brain dead Democrat congresses.

Reply to  Kristi Silber
June 10, 2018 4:28 pm

“if traffic safety is such a high priority to skeptics, why don’t they advocate lowering speed limits?”

Been there, done that. It did not work.
The people learn from these mistakes, not so the government.
The national 55 mph limit was the most *hated* thing ever to come out of Washington.
Even contentious Hot Button issues like gun control and increasing taxes never generated the push back that “Double Nickels” did.
Things started with a resigned attempt to do the right thing and make it work by the motoring public. That would turn into a slow-burn anger and build into a raging fury as the whole program was seen clearly as utterly useless.
The politicians saw the villagers getting out the torches and pitchforks and preparing to storm the castle. They finally repealed it in an act of desperate self-preservation.

But I guess you would not know any of this.
Anyway, the whole affair now is a Blast From The Past. Memories.

Reply to  Kristi Silber
June 10, 2018 4:51 pm

There is more recent research suggesting that CAFE actually lowered traffic fatalities:

So, a .edu is funded by the same .gov pushing higher ever-higher CAFE standards and smaller, less convenient cars and trucks as mandated by their fearless leader in the White House, and comes up with a “study” proposing the idea that lower weight cars (higher CAFE mandated standards) are safer? Gee, and I thought the evviilll oil companies corrupted funding by their money!

The “study” (as you point out) pushes the idea that if “dispersion of weights” (between the two cars in the accident) is less, then the amount of injuries will be less. Read it again. Do the actual numbers actually show that? See, the number of heavier, older cars did NOT decrcease as intended by Obola’s cash for clunkers stimulus spending (trying to force extra employment into the union-built autoworkers plants by destroying good cars now on the roads that have already been paid for!), so the more modern, super-lighter weight cars WERE outweighed by the older cars, still-large trucks, even more busses, and immobile objects such as trees, bridge abutments, and crash guards. The theory ONLY works if two lighter-weight newer cars manage to hit each other directly in their designed crumple zones! Projected far enough into the future (when virtually no old cars are on the road, the theory is morelikley – but is NOT supported by today’s accident reports.

Yet the Obola administration won’t report that. It’s hidden somewhere amidst Obola’s academic records, test scores, admission records, and law school grades. National secrets ya know.

Reply to  RACookPE1978
June 10, 2018 5:56 pm

From the .gov-funded study justifying the expansion of the .gov-favored policies mandated by the .gov groups favoring expansion of the .gov CAFE requirements to even higher levels of lightweight, smaller cars ,

This paper examines the tension between mean weight and weight dispersion, by tak-
ing advantage of new unconditional quantile regression methods. Understanding the full
distribution of weight changes is critical to disentangling the implications of CAFE on fa-
talities, but until recently the tools for such an analysis have been lacking. We examine
this question using unconditional quantile regression, an approach largely isolated to the
labor literature (Fortin, Lemieux, and Firpo, 2009), most prominently in the examination of
unions on wage dispersion (DiNardo, Fortin, and Lemieux, 1996). We investigate the rela-
tionship between CAFE regulations and vehicle weight, estimating changes to the full weight
distribution. While OLS regression can provide an estimate of the change in mean weight,
standard quantile estimates are conditional on the included covariates and are insuffcient
for understanding the effect on the unconditional distribution of weight. We are particularly
interested in the unconditional distribution, since this distribution determines the dispersion
of vehicle weights sold on the market, and thus in
uences accident fatalities. In addition
to using the unconditional quantile approach, we also carefully consider the measurement
of the CAFE regulation’s stringency and develop multiple measures to improve on prior
studies and lend credibility to our estimates. We apply our estimates of the e ect of CAFE
on the weight distribution to a large set of accidents, separating the e ects for single and
multi-vehicle accidents and simulating fatalities in a counterfactual without CAFE.
To estimate these effects we use two unique datasets. For the first dataset, we bring
together two large databases that detail trim-level statistics on vehicles sold in the United
States between 1954 and 2005. These data allow us to examine manufacturer offerings not
only during the period where CAFE was changing but also before CAFE. We document
that CAFE is associated with a lowering of the mean vehicle weight and an increase in
the dispersion. While heavy vehicles were down-weighted, already light-weight vehicles saw
larger declines in weight, amounting to 40-50 lbs per 1 miles-per-gallon (MPG) increase
in the standard. The implication of this heterogeneous response is that CAFE standards
increased dispersion if a firms pursued different strategies for products sold to different types
of consumers. Consumers of low-weight vehicles may be more likely to be price sensitive
and less sensitive to weight, implying that an optimal strategy for CAFE compliance would
be to down-weight these smaller vehicles. Consumers of larger vehicles are likely willing to
pay more to preserve attributes, and thus the optimal compliance strategy may have been
to add costly technology. Importantly, the heterogeneous response we []nd is consistent with
multiple-product []rms having multiple responses to regulation, and in the case of CAFE,
these multiple responses are not well represented by the mean statistic.

Reply to  Kristi Silber
June 10, 2018 7:26 pm

It really is fascinating how socialists actually believe that the solution to every problem is more government.

And of course the troll has to get in her dig at how the evil oil companies secretly run the country.
After all, nobody would ever disagree with a socialist if they weren’t either evil or being paid off.

[Kristi’s comment history demonstrates clearly that she is not a troll. Simple disagreement with your position does not a troll make. Please remain polite and counter the ideas rather than disparaging the individual. -mod]

June 10, 2018 4:03 pm

I say get rid of CAFE standards. Completely. They served their purpose.

The public is tuned into gas mileage enough to make their own decisions.

Though that decision is often trucks or SUVs. But it’s their choice, not the government’s. They decide that there are other factors that are more important to them. Obama doesn’t get to choose; the people do.

BTW, Obama chose SUVs, too.

Reply to  Gamecock
June 10, 2018 7:28 pm

We didn’t need CAFE to get us tuned into economy, all we ever needed was high gasoline prices.
There’s a reason why car makers only highlight fuel economy in their commercials when gas prices are high.

michael hart
June 10, 2018 4:34 pm

So due to global warming, more than 60 years after Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat for someone more privileged, California is now at the forefront of the drive to create whole exclusionary lanes on the road. Lanes which are going to disproportionately exclude people with a darker skin color because they cannot afford the right kind of car. And all because of global warming.

The irony is strong with this State.

Rud Istvan
June 10, 2018 4:38 pm

The conclusion is correct but in my opinion the logic aupporting it is weak. CAFE is rigged multiple ways. See the long discussion in The Arts of Truth. It is a harmonic platform average. Platform footprints are rigged. The EPA MPG reported on vehicle stickers is on average a third less than CAFE. And so on.

June 10, 2018 4:42 pm

Back in the 1970s I owned a Honda Civic CVCC. It met all the pollution standards of the day without all the added pollution devices other manufacturers were using. It weighed 1,500 pounds and if I didn’t lead foot it got 50 mpg on the highway and over 35 in the city. While a solid little car it probably would had not survived a run in with a full size pickup or SUV. Today the Honda Fit weighs 2,390 pounds and gets 33 mpg on the highway. I will bet the extra 1000+pounds is safety equipment all government mandated. Meanwhile a Formula One car weighs 1,605 and a driver can survive crash at over 200 mph with little more than bruising. The problem with both CAFE standards and safety standards is the intrusive nature of government and government regulations.

June 10, 2018 5:41 pm

As the theoretical limit for mileage is 61 mpg if a human is to ride in the car, the 54.4 mpg goal from the Obama admin was a pie in the sky goal, as it would mean cars would barely be able to haul one human and a bag of groceries and get anywhere in less than hours. To go 50 miles in such a car, could easily take 2–3 hours, as one would have to take advantage of hills and coasting as much as possible. Remember, the 54.5 was an average, which means that, with 61 as the limit, we could never achieve that average without eliminating humans and all extra mass from the equation. Furthermore, such cars would be exorbitantly expensive and high tech, using every trick in the bool to store energy from braking and re-use it for acceleration.

The goal os 38 mpg is still very difficult to attain. We shall see what comes from this. BTW, electric cars can never get this kind of milage if the thermodynamics are calculated honestly. Electric cars are simply nonstarter, unless you limit people’s driving to only local driving. Force people to use electric cars and you immediately abrogate the people’s freedom to travel.

June 10, 2018 5:45 pm

I am certainly not defending the stricter mileage standards but
Traffic fatality rates have been dropping for decades.

comment image

Although there was an increase in 2015 (10.5%) and 2016 (5.6%)
Maybe this could this be partly due to lighter vehicles.

Reply to  Jeff
June 10, 2018 7:31 pm

Mostly due to better safety equipment both in the cars and for first responders, as well as better designed roads.
There’s also the aging population so there are fewer teenagers out there.

Alan Tomalty
June 10, 2018 6:12 pm

Standards, subsidies and taxes. The bane of the free market. Standards should only be used to prevent injuries or bad health effects. Subsidies should only be used to prop up a company that produces a domestic product that is key to national security. Taxes should only be used as a government income source. Too often however the government uses standards to interfere in the life of all its citizens. At the same time governments subsidize almost everything. Taxes are collected for all sorts of reasons. Ex: liquor and tobacco taxes, estate or inheritance taxes, gift taxes, company asset taxes, and carbon taxes.

It is this last one that irks me the most. Carbon taxes are ridiculous. One of 3 things can happen. 1) The company can refuse to pay them and move out of the country or threaten to move out before they are enacted. In this case everybody loses. 2) The company can pay them and then raise their prices so that with business as usual no emission reduction of CO2 occurs. In this case only the company loses if it also exports its product. The consumers don’t lose because the carbon taxes are supposed to be given back to the public at large. However the general price level of all carbon related goods goes up so that inflation goes up. However since no decrease in CO2 emissions occurs, there was no reason to have the tax in the 1st place. 3) The company can change its source of fuel to a lower carbon entity at a higher cost and pass on its necessary price increase to its customers. The customers have no choice because all the competitors have to do the same thing. In that case there is a reduction in CO2 emissions but since the atmosphere needs more CO2 NOT less, everybody loses.

Reply to  Alan Tomalty
June 10, 2018 7:34 pm

The biggest safety group in the world, UL (United Laboratories) has no government connection at all. UL sets up their own standards and companies pay UL to certify that their products meet the UL standards.
I’m not claiming that all standards can be set up this way, but there is a belief out there by many that only government can create standards.

Alan Tomalty
Reply to  MarkW
June 10, 2018 7:57 pm

We have the same thing in Canada called the Canadian Standards Association (CSA). The Canadian government passes laws on the safety of many commodities and the safety has to conform to the CSA standard.

June 10, 2018 9:35 pm

Come on, really? I want to see how the 2600 deaths calculation was done. I find it quite unbelievable, but even if it was true, why pick that year? What has happened since then? Why not tell us? Safety has improved a lot in any vehicle since 1993. It’s been 25 years, for god’s sake…

Daryl M
June 10, 2018 9:41 pm

Reduced accident protection isn’t the only downside of the obsession with fuel economy. I’m a gear-head and I work on my own cars where possible. I can say emphatically that cars have gotten much more difficult to work on, much less reliable and much more expensive to fix over the years, to the point that once they get off warranty, many cars are simply not worth repairing.

Rhoda Klapp
June 11, 2018 4:00 am

The US has no standing as an example of road traffic deaths. It’s about four times as bad as, say, the UK by deaths/population. Most EU countries are right up with the UK. The US ranks above third worlders and Russia but not any other highly-motorized place. This pretty much shows that it isn’t about the size of the cars.

Look here:

You can sort the table by whatever criterion you want, even by miles driven, the US still doesn’t show too well.

Texas alone kills twice as many people as the UK, which has nearly three times the population. If anybody cares about US highway deaths, don’t use them as a specious argument against CAFE or small cars, have a look for the real reasons (I don’t know what they are , but bad roads and bad drivers might be worth looking at).

Dr. Strangelove
June 11, 2018 5:43 am

Which one has more fatal accidents?

comment image

comment image

Reply to  Dr. Strangelove
June 11, 2018 2:28 pm

Per travelled mile before crashing?

Bruce Cobb
June 11, 2018 11:16 am

CAFE is the Nanny State writ large. The government has no business telling car manufacturers what kind of cars they should build, and what their fuel economies should be. Nanny-statism is well on the way to Socialism. Let the market decide. The goal of the CAFE standards was to reduce dependence on foreign oil, as was the mandated inclusion of ethanol. Setting aside the Constitution, due to fracking, dependence on foreign oil is no longer an issue, though the stupid and traitorous Greenies would have it be so.

Bruce Cobb
June 11, 2018 11:41 am

Remember the Cash for Clunkers boondoggle? Same idea. Government interference in the market, at a huge cost for taxpayers. Crushing perfectly good cars is stupid on steroids. But the Nanny State “knows what’s best” for the peons.

The Deplorable Vlad the Impaler
June 11, 2018 7:16 pm

This has been a very interesting discussion: large-vehicle vs. small vehicle; motorcycle (“I, don’ wanna pickle; I just wanna ride on my motor-ciccle … ” [Arlo Guthrie, 1968]) vs. anything …

So here’s my half-pfennig:

My ’95 Geo Metro is showing signs that after 222,000 miles, it’s time for it to ‘retire’ (no, I do not mean getting new synthetic rubber on it … ); it’s been zippy, maneuverable, gets great gas mileage, and I just love my five-speed manual transmission. With that said, my next vehicle, Good Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise, will be an Elio, mostly because it comes with a five-speed manual transmission. The fuel economy is just a bonus. I hate the fact that fat, lazy, Americanos are too stupid to figure out what that third pedal is for. It was pointed out upthread that most Euro cars use manual transmissions, while most gringo-lets only come with (less control) automatic transmissions.

If Detroit (or any body else) wants my business, a five – , six – , or seven – speed manual transmission will be front and center in the options.

Or even the standard, w/ automatic (for the mentally-impaired) as an option …



Reply to  The Deplorable Vlad the Impaler
June 11, 2018 7:34 pm

Advances in automatic transmissions, such as offering additional gears, have practically wiped out any advantage which manual might have had in the last century.

The Deplorable Vlad the Impaler
Reply to  Felix
June 12, 2018 3:40 am

Hi Felix,

My issue is not (or was not) w/ any ‘advantage’ of manual vs automatic. When I drive an automatic, I do not feel the road, and I do not feel I have as much control as the manual.

It’s true that some want (or need) an automatic; just as with these arbitrary fuel-economy goals, the market should be the driving force (no pun intended). Some of us prefer the manual, for whatever reason, but that choice is slowly being removed from us.

I want the choice,


Reply to  The Deplorable Vlad the Impaler
June 12, 2018 8:16 am

Vlad, I’ve heard some people here in the US (they had perfect driving records) have trouble getting INSURANCE on manual transmission cars. I have no idea why that would be…..

The Deplorable Vlad the Impaler
Reply to  beng135
June 12, 2018 9:25 am

That’s interesting; I’ve no idea why an insurer would have an issue w/ manual.

Just curious: did anyone read the comments on that article Felix shared? Quite interesting. A lot of these individuals sound like me. It would seem to be accepted amongst us manual aficionados that manual requires a higher level of skill. Perhaps we’re better drivers, because we’re more attuned to our vehicle, and more “in touch” with the road (which I’ve thought for a long time).

So, your question becomes even more curious, because I do believe (just a personal opinion!) that manual divers are better.

But I’m biased … … …

June 12, 2018 7:22 am

And why have these standards at all? Originally justified because the USA did not produce enough crude oil, when fracking cured that problem they changed to a “global warming ” excuse. Shows just what we all knew: Government likes to regulate first, find a reason for it later.

June 12, 2018 7:23 am

BTW, car buyers want the larger units and t hat is why SUV and light truck sales now dominate.