Study Reveals Fuel Efficiency Does not Sacrifice Safety

by : Anthony Fontanelle

Four leading researchers conducted a study recently and concluded that new technologies used by car manufacturers increase the fuel efficiency of their cars but these do not jeopardize the overall safety of the vehicle. The study was released by the International Council on Clean Transportation. The study was released in connection with the ongoing deliberation in the United States Congress as to the changes that should be made on CAFÉ or Corporate Average Fuel Economy.

According to the study, car manufacturers can use advanced materials in the construction of their cars while at the same time maintain the safety of the occupants in cases of crashes. The study also reported that large vehicles like SUVs and pickup trucks can be made to weigh less to improve safety. And since weight is reduced, better fuel efficiency can be achieved.

"The public, automakers, and policymakers have long worried about trade-offs between increased fuel economy in motor vehicles and reduced safety. The conclusion of a broad group of experts on safety and fuel economy in the auto sector is that no trade-off is required," reported the study. "There are a wide variety of technologies and approaches available to advance vehicle fuel economy that have no effect on vehicle safety."

The study is entitled "Sipping Fuel and Saving Lives: Increasing Fuel Economy without Sacrificing Safety." The said study is authored by Deborah Gordon, a transportation policy consultant; David Greene, a fuel-economy expert; Marc H. Ross, an emeritus professor of physics at the University of Michigan; and Tom P. Wenzel, working for the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The study also concludes that: "Most technologies to increase fuel economy do not affect safety; most technologies to increase safety do not affect fuel economy." Another conclusion arrived at by the researchers is: "Reducing car mass while improving vehicle structure, using advanced materials and designs, can simultaneously increase fuel economy and safety." The study also found out that: "Reducing the weight and improving the structure of truck-based SUVs and pickups can increase their fuel economy and improve the safety of all vehicles on the road."

The researchers found out that fuel economy can be improved by as much as 50 percent in the next ten years without reducing the dimensions of vehicles. The production cost according to the study can be set off by the savings on fuel consumption.

"As nations around the world consider new standards to improve fuel economy or lower greenhouse gas emissions from passenger vehicles, it's important to address a common misperception that passenger safety is inevitably compromised as fuel standards are strengthened," says Drew Kodjak, the executive director of the International Council on Clean Transportation. "This debate only exists in the United States, and this report settles that debate once and for all," he concluded.

With this study, it proves that new technologies can complement safety features of vehicles like highly efficient brakes such as those found at . Hal Harvey, the director of the environmental program at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, has this to say concerning the result of the study: "As the research makes clear, with smart engineering there's no reason to choose between safety and fuel efficiency in automotive design. Now it's up to policy makers to provide the regulatory environment to encourage it to happen."