CAFE standards kill

As Washington keeps yanking money from Americans’ wallets, car prices are set to rise beyond the reach of low-income drivers. From there, things grow deadly.

Blame a regulatory regime called Corporate Average Fuel Economy, aka CAFE standards. Congress enacted these mandates in 1975. Washington generally has increased CAFE standards in an ongoing effort to boost automobile efficiency. Lacking magic wands, car manufacturers spend money to obey these laws. Then – surprise! – up go sticker prices.

The National Automobile Dealers Association calculated on April 12 that a Chevrolet Aveo, the most affordable vehicle it studied, would climb from $12,700 to $15,700 by 2025. This $3,000 increase(in 2010 dollars) would prevent 6.8 million humble drivers from qualifying for car loans.

“Fuel economy improvements must be affordable,” New Mexico Ford dealer Don Chalmers told journalists at the estimate’s unveiling. “If my customers can’t buy what I’ve got to sell, there are no savings at the gas pump and there is no environmental benefit.”

Is this what Environmental Protection Agency chief Lisa P. Jackson calls “environmental justice”?

Team Obama is fueling these anticipated price increases by boosting CAFE standards from 35.5 miles per gallon in 2016 to 54.5 MPG by 2025.

As they have for 37 years, car companies will follow these new rules by making cars thinner and lighter. Smaller, slighter vehicles get better mileage. But that hardly matters when a car smacks into a sycamore or slams head-on into another vehicle. That’s when most drivers would trade lower mpg for protective layers of thick steel.

The laws of physics are stubbornly impervious to Mr. Obama’s green slogans, no matter how abrasively he shouts them. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety concluded in 2007, “None of the 15 vehicles with the lowest driver death rates is a small model. In contrast, 11 of the 16 vehicles with the highest death rates are mini or small models.”

“Fuel-standard lethality is as obvious as a smashed windshield,” J.R. Dunn observed in the American Thinker. He carefully tracked CAFE’s mayhem.

“According to the Brookings Institution,” Mr. Dunn wrote, “a 500-lb. weight reduction of the average car increased annual highway fatalities by 2,200-3,900 and serious injuries by 11,000 and 19,500 per year. USAToday found that 7,700 deaths occurred for every mile per gallon gained in fuel economy standards.”

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