Sipping Fuel and Saving Lives: Increasing Fuel Economy Without Sacrificing Safety

Sipping Fuel and Saving Lives: Increasing Fuel Economy Without Sacrificing Safety

TitleSipping Fuel and Saving Lives: Increasing Fuel Economy Without Sacrificing Safety
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsDeborah Gordon, David L Greene, Marc Ross, Thomas P Wenzel
Date Published06/2007
Abstract

The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) seeks to dramatically reduceconventional pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions from personal, public, and goodstransportation in order to improve air quality and human health, and mitigate climate change.The Council is made up of the leading regulators and experts from around the world thatparticipate as individuals based on their experience with air quality and transportation issues.The ICCT promotes best practices and comprehensive solutions to improve vehicle emissionsand efficiency, increase fuel quality and sustainability of alternative fuels, reduce pollutionfrom the in-use fleet, and curtail emission from international goods movement.The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which provided support for the report, makesgrants to address the most serious social and environmental problems facing society, whererisk capital, responsibly invested, may make a difference over time. The Foundation places ahigh value on sustaining and improving institutions that make positive contributions to society.The public, automakers, and policymakers have long worried about trade-offs between increased fuel economyin motor vehicles and reduced safety. The conclusion of a broad group of experts on safety and fuel economyin the auto sector is that no trade-off is required. There are a wide variety of technologies and approaches availableto advance vehicle fuel economy that have no effect on vehicle safety. Conversely, there are many technologiesand approaches available to advance vehicle safety that are not detrimental to vehicle fuel economy.Congress is considering new policies to increase the fuel economy of new automobiles in order to reduceoil dependence and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The findings reported here offer reassurance on animportant dimension of that work: It is possible to significantly increase the fuel economy of motor vehicleswithout compromising their safety.Automobiles on the road today demonstrate that higher fuel economy and greater safety can co-exist. Someof the safest vehicles have higher fuel economy, while some of the least safe vehicles driven today — heavy,large trucks and SUVs — have the lowest fuel economy (see graph).At an October 3, 2006 workshop, leading researchers from national laboratories, academia, auto manufacturers,insurance research industry, consumer and environmental groups, material supply industries, and thefederal government agreed that vehicles could be designed to simultaneously improve safety and fueleconomy. The real question is not whether we can realize this goal, but the best path to get there.

Notes

A Report Informed by an October 3, 2006, Experts Workshop on Simultaneously Improving Vehicle Safety and Fuel Economy Through Improvements in Vehicle Design and MaterialsPrepared for The International Council on Clean Transportation