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Monday, March 23, 2020

A reminder of how unsafe CAFE standards make our cars

A look at the effects of CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) standards (wiki) from outside my house yesterday afternoon. 

My red 1996 Ford Explorer was parked along the road when a dark blue late model compact (obviously going much faster the the 25 MPH posted) came around a curve and rear-ended it. Look at the difference in damage between the two cars. The rear bumper (steel) of the Explorer is bent down, a taillight was broken, and there's a dent in the back panel. The compact is totaled, and the unconscious driver left in an ambulance.

History of CAFE standards:
The 1973 Arab oil embargo and the ensuing quadrupling of oil prices by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) prompted Congress to enact the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) program in 1975 as part of America's Energy Policy and Conservation Act. The aim of this program was to reduce the consumption of gasoline and thus the need for oil imports. Beginning with the 1978 auto model year, the program required all auto manufacturers to maintain certain minimum fuel economy averages for their fleets of vehicles sold in the U.S. 
Decades later, when it turned out that there actually was no oil shortage, the federal government switched to a new rationale for federal regulation of vehicle mileage. Now it's climate change.
To meet higher CAFE standards, which increase periodically, American manufacturers have been forced to produce more smaller, lighter and therefore less safe cars.
Links to more information below the photos.

I don't want to re-write what others have already written better than I could hope to, so here are some references for you:

Auto Cafe Standards: Unsafe and Unwise at Any Level. (from 1991)