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Saving Gas Via Underpowered Death Traps

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the wait-until-you-see-my-steel-plated-prius dept.

Transportation 585

Harperdog writes with this excerpt from a story at Miller-McCune: "Yes, it's true that the fuel-economy standards the U.S. has been using cost lives. Economist Mark Jacobson has estimated that for every mile-per-gallon we raise the standards, 149 traffic fatalities occur per year. That would mean 1,490 deaths if the standards were raised from, say, 30 miles-per-gallon to 40. But this doesn't have to be the case. It's possible, Jacobson has concluded, to increase fuel efficiency without also decreasing safety. And if government officials are smart, they'll tailor the regulations behind the new standards to do this."

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Your kidding, right? (4, Insightful)

Bodhammer (559311) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001002)

"And if government officials are smart, "
That is the biggest if in the world!

Re:Your kidding, right? (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001024)

'72 BUICK SKYLARK!

That's the only way to automotive safety. Hit a brick wall?

You'll have to pay for new bricks!

Re:Your kidding, right? (0)

sconeu (64226) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001158)

This.

My sister found out the hard way what happens when in irresistable force meets an immovable object.

She was in a '77 Regal, and got broadsided by a '65 Chevy.

They both walked away.

Re:Your kidding, right? (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001272)

This isn't true in general. A car hitting an immoveable object is generally equally safe by weight, the bigger car has more energy.

In two car accidents it makes a huge difference though.

And honestly, what's the savings, we do all sorts of risky things to save money (like drive over fly).

My kidding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37001120)

Your kidding, right?

No, my kidding.

Re:Your kidding, right? (3, Insightful)

scumdamn (82357) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001126)

There are a lot of smart people in government and usually the fewer people involved in a decision the better the decision will be. None of us is as dumb as all of us and Congress is a committee of 528 people. I have a hard enough time getting five people to decide on anything at work much less a Byzantine committee of 538 preening attention whores who are legally allowed to take bribes to stay in power.

Re:Your kidding, right? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37001248)

Keep trying with your numbers. Eventually, one of them will be the right number of congresscritters.

Re:Your kidding, right? (1)

geniice (1336589) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001266)

Actually in this case they probably are being smart. Trying to mess with fuel use standards in the interests of safety will just result in a lot of loopholes and red tape. In this case KISS applies.

Re:Your kidding, right? (5, Informative)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001376)

The biggest joke here is the assumptions that 1) small, light cars can't be safe and 2) that deaths in small light cars won't reduce as we pull big, heavy cars off the roads.

1) Is easily disproved by looking at an extreme case or two – have a crash in a 600kg Formula 1 car, and you'll very very very likely survive – hell, have a crash at 200mph in one and you'll very very very likely walk out of it.
2) Is easily disproved by looking at countries where small and light cars are already the norm. In the UK for example, the death rate from car accidents was 5.4 per 100,000 population, while in the US it was 14.3 per 100,000 population

Re:Your kidding, right? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001410)

The issue with comparing the US and UK road fatalities rates are many, the average miles per year driven in the US is much higher and US drivers license tests are a joke.

Wow (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37001018)

That's some of the worst crap I've ever read about saving fuel. Small diesel engines (ala VW) have the ability to get 50+mpg and still have neck-snapping torque. Underpower death-traps my hiney.

Underpowered, maybe not, but deathtrap nonetheless (5, Insightful)

Jabrwock (985861) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001084)

As TFA states, the "deathtrap" is due to the smaller cars being smashed to a pulp when they run into a gas-guzzling behemoth. People are buying big cars not because they need them or that they like guzzling fuel. And maybe not even necessarily because the bigger cars have more "oomph". But also because "driving a tank = I'm safer, especially from other tanks on the road".

Re:Underpowered, maybe not, but deathtrap nonethel (2)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001244)

If that were true, everyone would be buying Oldsmobiles. Those things are big, heavy tanks. No, people buy SUVs because they better allow you to see over and around other vehicles. When half the vehicles on the road are SUVs, drivers in cars are at a significant disadvantage.

By being closer to the average height of traffic, you're not just making yourself safer. You're also making everyone around you safer because you can react more quickly to problems up ahead. In larger vehicles, you are also more easily seen by other vehicles because of your larger overall footprint, which, again, makes everyone safer.

What we need are strict standards for vehicle height consistency, and the standard needs to move towards the size of small SUVs, not cars. And those laws should apply to SUVs and light trucks, not just cars and minivans. And so should bumper height laws, but that's another issue.... Uniformity is a virtue when it comes to traffic safety. Outliers on either side of the norm put people at risk.

Re:Underpowered, maybe not, but deathtrap nonethel (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001316)

Or we could just ban SUVs. That would achieve the same goal and not make me drive something that cannot corner for shit.

Re:Underpowered, maybe not, but deathtrap nonethel (5, Insightful)

mindwhip (894744) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001262)

Tanks kill people. Fact.

You could just as easy turn the whole thing around and argue that the Overweight Gas Guzzlers are doing the damage therefore they are causing the problem.

Re:Underpowered, maybe not, but deathtrap nonethel (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001424)

Yep. The flip side is that while people think that their boats will be safer it isn't always the case. Older vehicles like those built in the 70s and earlier may survive some crashes better; however, they were not designed to allow the occupants to survive as well as newer cars.

Re:Wow (1)

Krojack (575051) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001094)

Having high torque means the frame is strong right? Just asking...

Not-so-surprising... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37001022)

... since one way that vehicle manufacturers are tackling the fuel economy wars is by reducing vehicle weight, which is resultant from removing certain bulk & inherently shock-absorbing materials that make a vehicle arguably safer for the occupant(s).

Re:Not-so-surprising... (1)

geniice (1336589) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001282)

F1 would probably beg to differ.

ooo ooo! (1)

kj_kabaje (1241696) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001044)

I know this one!  The debate will center around whether or not it's OK for the government to intervene in private industry.  And... yawn.

Re:ooo ooo! (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001198)

This is wrong. So wrong.

Government should raise taxes on gasoline so that people drive less, not force them to drive inappropriate vehicles because of mandates. The result will be much better.

However, there is an economic cost to raising taxes, which is why they would rather raise the standards to unattainable levels, and then charge the automakers a fine for their failure to reach goals that are completely beyond reality. It is obfuscation of the goal, and results, the Politicians can say "I tried" while doing nothing.

Nobody has the guts to face things head on anymore. Which is why passing the buck down is a great pastime of Washington (and other capitals).

Re:ooo ooo! (1)

mindwhip (894744) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001280)

Higher taxes don't reduce fuel use significantly.

Higher taxes just put more of your money in the government's pocket.

Re:ooo ooo! (2)

SwedishPenguin (1035756) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001392)

Higher taxes - combined with cheap and effective mass transit - does indeed reduce fuel use. Raising taxes is easy, providing the alternative to driving is the hard part.

Re:ooo ooo! (1)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001336)

Government should raise taxes on gasoline so that people drive less

This was done where I live. It is a fine idea, but like so many fine ideas, IT DOES NOT WORK, in the real world. I own my home, so I have no intention of moving, and my work is 53Km from my home. Transit can help only slightly, and I was using it to avoid having to cross a bridge before the useless "carbon Tax" was brought in. I have spoken to many people about this tax and they all drive exactly the same amount now as they did before the tax was brought in.

The only people it really effects are delivery drivers and truckers. Also all of us in the prices we pay for everything.

How come this (5, Interesting)

bugs2squash (1132591) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001046)

is not already costing drivers of big cars more in terms of liability premiums.

Re:How come this (0)

Jabrwock (985861) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001102)

is not already costing drivers of big cars more in terms of liability premiums.

Because sadly,the bigger vehicle is actually suffering LESS damage, because they're hitting smaller and more fragile cars...

Re:How come this (2)

RussR42 (779993) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001130)

I don't think you understand liability insurance. That would be to pay for the damage they do to others.

Re:How come this (1)

Jabrwock (985861) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001252)

Instead of two cars being written off, the bigger car just gets a touch up. Sounds like less liability to me.

Re:How come this (1)

Zuato (1024033) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001312)

Except hospital visits tend to cost more than repairs to a vehicle. Hence the liability.

The thing that baffles me is this dead horse has been beaten before. The problem lies mainly with the size of vehicle we Americans think we need. Europe and large parts of Asia all drive much smaller vehicles due to fuel prices and smaller roads (especially in populated areas that were around before the auto) and don't have fatalities go up with the push for more fuel efficient vehicles.

Another casualty of all the SUVs and tucks is the belt-line of cars has had to be raised giving us smaller windows on the sides of most new cars to compensate for the higher bumper/frontal area of said SUVs and trucks. I do rather like the 300's retro chop-top look though.

Re:How come this (1)

dkf (304284) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001380)

Instead of two cars being written off, the bigger car just gets a touch up. Sounds like less liability to me.

But the liability insurance is covering the damage done by the car, not to it. More mass means more kinetic energy (at a given speed, e.g., the speed limit on a particular road) and more KE equals a bigger impact. Moreover, if a bigger car isn't absorbing so much of that KE (OK, a dubious assumption) then the other things involved in the collision must do so. That's basic physics of the sort that should be covered in K-12, never mind high school.

Re:How come this (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001226)

Insurance isn't just about repairs to a car.

Re:How come this (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001234)

Notice how much more expensive big vehicles are?

Notice how laws tend to favor richer people because they can buy congressweasels?

1490 is low (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37001050)

Not to be brutal, but that number's pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of all of this. It's a tiny fraction of total traffic fatalities, which means we can more than make up the difference looking for other forms of safety improvement.

Unless you are one of the 1490 (1)

Quila (201335) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001302)

Do you volunteer?

No?

Okay then.

Re:Unless you are one of the 1490 (2)

DanTheStone (1212500) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001396)

Opportunity cost. The economic waste removed from transportation costs will probably save more lives if spent elsewhere.

That's their argument? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37001052)

They want to use traffic fatalities due to fuel-economy as a reason to dodge the standards?

How about just educating people to not drive like idiots?

Huh? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37001056)

All vehicles must pass the same safety standards. The issue seems to be that the nice new Honda Fit, approaching 40 MPG is on the road with Ford Excursions that push 12MPG on a good day. Not that the Fit is inherently unsafe.

If fuel prices keep going up, the problem will take care of itself, as no one can afford to drive an Excursion.

I look forward to serving our low pwr masters ;) (1)

mrflash818 (226638) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001064)

I think a little 1 liter city car would be just fine.

I also think if the majority in cities all had the same small car mass, then fatalities would decrease.

Would I want to be in one for high velocity travel? Nope. But for city commutes, where slow is the norm, and small meant easier parking, might be great.

Re:I look forward to serving our low pwr masters ; (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37001156)

They're called motorcycles.

Re:I look forward to serving our low pwr masters ; (2)

hierofalcon (1233282) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001176)

Watch out for those buses and delivery trucks. The ones that tend to run through red lights because they know they're going to fast to stop. Even if every other vehicle is a tiny car that it would take 2 of to hold my family that fits fine in my SUV and van, you'd still lose against mass transit vehicles in an accident. Not to mention the 18-wheel or higher semis going 65 mph down the 10-lane beside you.

Re:I look forward to serving our low pwr masters ; (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37001352)

Stop being a retard. You don't need to drive a tank to be safe.

Re:I look forward to serving our low pwr masters ; (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001388)

How fat are your kids?

When I grew up my parents had two kids, themselves and at times a pet in a toyota corolla. If you cannot fit the average family in such a car they are way too fat.

Re:I look forward to serving our low pwr masters ; (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001338)

We are the safest driving levels in a long long time. The number of fatalities per mile driven is way down from historical highs. This trend, however is slowly increasing with more "distracted drivers" out there driving while texting and shaving (yes, I saw this) while driving at 65-70 MPH (105-113 KPH). Size of cars is not saving people, better handling cars are.

Safer and more fuel efficient. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37001068)

Lower speed limits: two birds, one stone.

unfortunately (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001116)

I can't drive fifty-five, oh no.

Re:Safer and more fuel efficient. (1)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001246)

That depends on the area. Out West there's a lot of places where the lower speed limit will cost lives. That's because there's long stretches of cross-country freeway where the primary causes of accidents isn't speed, it's driver fatigue. The most common accident type is the single-car rollover on level, clear highway. Speed isn't usually a cause of the loss of control, it's usually either a driver falling asleep at the wheel or being drunk. Reduced speed limits won't help either of those, and will hurt in the first case. The slower you have to drive, the longer it takes to get where you're going (because the distance doesn't magically shrink along with the speed limit) and the more likely you are to get too tired before you get there. And stopping often isn't an option. This is country where that sign saying "Next services 300 miles" isn't joking, and it means "Next hint of human habitation of any sort 300 miles".

A dense urban area is a radically different environment from a rural area where highways can run straight and level for 30, 40 or 50 miles before you come to a curve, and where the best measure of traffic is hours per car. Rules that apply to one don't necessarily work well in the other.

Re:Safer and more fuel efficient. (2)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001300)

Lower speed limits: two birds, one stone.

Yes, lowering the speed limit or at least enforcing existing limits, would reduce fatalities, attract smaller engines, make larger vehicles more fuel-efficient [wikipedia.org] , and optimize traffic flow [pdf] [uctc.net] . So I'm counting four birds with one stone.

Another "two birds, one stone" solution is to make it illegal to pass on the right. Then slower traffic would always need to be in the right lane in order to avoid impeding traffic, and that would (1) make it easier for smaller engined cars to come up to speed on freeway onramps, and (2) separate slow traffic from fast traffic.

Re:Safer and more fuel efficient. (3)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001358)

It mostly is illegal to pass on the right, the problem is slower traffic often fails to move to the right lane.

Cost-benefit (2)

istartedi (132515) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001074)

The highways deliver us all kinds of goods which prolong life. They also deliver traffic fatalities.

One is easy to measure. The other isn't.

This tendancy to focus on the metric that's easily measured is a problem in a lot of places...

Yeah its possible (1)

Zakabog (603757) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001080)

Yeah they can increase fuel economy while keeping safety but its way easier and cheaper to build a lightweight car with less safety features and better fuel economy. Especially when the MPG rating is one of the first thing you notice looking at the sticker on a car. It just makes sense for them to skimp elsewhere when it means car manufacturers can get a more fuel efficient car that'll be more attractive to consumers in todays economy.

Re:Yeah its possible (1)

Local ID10T (790134) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001144)

Yeah they can increase fuel economy while keeping safety but its way easier and cheaper to build a lightweight car with less safety features and better fuel economy. Especially when the MPG rating is one of the first thing you notice looking at the sticker on a car. It just makes sense for them to skimp elsewhere when it means car manufacturers can get a more fuel efficient car that'll be more attractive to consumers in todays economy.

You cannot cut the safety features of a car you plan to sell in the USA. The safety requirements for selling here are already significantly more rigorous than in Europe -which is partly why you see smaller, lighter, more fuel efficient cars there.

Re:Yeah its possible (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001178)

Except the safety features are regulated. Basically it's a fixed variable.

Or... (5, Interesting)

eepok (545733) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001088)

Economist Mark Jacobson has estimated that for every mile-per-gallon we raise the standards, 149 traffic fatalities occur per year.

OR

Everyone with a brain has estimated that massive, unnecessarily heavy and powerful gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs driven by distracted buffoons kill people on the road.

Also, the report and the curiously straight-line graph comes from:

The National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy research organization, established in 1983. Our goal is to develop and promote private, free-market alternatives to government regulation and control, solving problems by relying on the strength of the competitive, entrepreneurial
private sector.

Re:Or... (2)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001148)

Underpowered economy cars were death traps even before the rise of the SUV.

Even when they run into each other in the absence of any SUVs, they're more deadly.

Re:Or... (2)

Nimey (114278) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001220)

Why yes! Old cars /are/ less safe than modern ones. I'd much rather have a wreck in my '05 Civic than the '89 Mustang I once had.

Funnily enough, that crashworthiness was one reason I bought this car.

Re:Or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37001342)

A 1988 Honda CRX is a remarkably strong car, even at a mere 1980 pound curb weight. I know this because when a "buffon" smacked me of the freeway at 70mph and I rolled it four times, I walked away without a scratch. And I'm talking rolling and end over end flipping (it was quite awesome).

Had this CRX had modern anti-lock brakes and better tires, the accident would have never even happened in the first place. Were I in, say, a Ford Explorer? I would not be here right now.

Re:Or... (1)

turkeydance (1266624) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001194)

Darwin Awards.

Re:Or... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37001322)

> Everyone with a brain has estimated that massive, unnecessarily heavy and powerful gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs driven by distracted buffoons kill people on the road.

Not all fatalities are caused by car-car collisions. Trees, animals, buildings, walls, etc can all cause fatalities.

If you read the paper, you'll note that "the fact that lighter vehicles tend to perform more poorly in single-car accidents and crash tests lends support to this finding".

And if you look at actual census data (http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2011/tables/11s1102.pdf) you'd see that vehicle-vehicle collisions caused less than 40% of vehicle related fatalities.

But, I guess, why deal with facts when you can just make a snide comment based on your gut feeling?

NCPA: Every H1B creates 5 jobs for US workers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37001408)

NCPA "proves" whatever their corporate sponsors tell them to prove. That is what think tanks usually (always?) do.

If you want to learn the truth, follow the money. Find out who sponsors NCPA, and find out who sponsored the report. If that's a bid secret, then you should ask yourself why it's a big secret.

There is an alternative - better drivers! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37001092)

Here's a win-win solution: better driver training, stricter licensing tests, and much stricter traffic enforcement (not bigger fines).

You need better drivers who obey the rules of the road.

So, start cracking down, and seize the licenses of bad drivers. This will accomplish two goals:

- less licensed drivers, and therefore less cars on the road
- less car crashes

The only fine that should increase is driving without a valid license.

not quite the whole story (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37001096)

The key bit from the linked story:
“Having separate fuel economy standards for cars and trucks encourages people to continue to use trucks as if they were cars,” he said. “They buy a truck, but they drive it as if it were a car. They don’t necessarily need the bed or the four-wheel drive.”

It seems that the problem is not fuel efficiency standards leading to under-powered death traps. Rather, the problem is size disparity driven by misuse of large vehicles. To me, that's a different story.

Correlation vs. Causation (3, Insightful)

Idbar (1034346) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001100)

The eternal problem of correlation and causation. Where is the research that supports the hypothesis? Is it possible that the population growth is the one that is causing more cars to be sold (and economy pushes for better efficiency standards) and therefore more accidents?

Is it also that more kids start driving at younger ages? I don't see the clear causation of fuel efficiency vs. death toll, but certainly I see a correlation.

Is this a trick to make insurance companies charge me more for fuel efficient vehicles?

Re:Correlation vs. Causation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37001166)

You may also want to look here http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/Main/index.aspx

Yes, the data is available.

Re:Correlation vs. Causation (1)

Idbar (1034346) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001350)

That data says that the fatal crashes have being reduced by 10000 in the past years, and has no information whatsoever about "fuel efficiency", that I can see.

So where did they get that "research" from?

Try this argument on for size... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37001104)

How many deaths are attributable to CAFE being too low.
If CAFE had been doubled in the last 20 years how many overlarge trucks/SUVs would have been removed from the roads not causing other people to die when they get hit by them.

And (2)

rossdee (243626) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001108)

They should ban motorbike, pushbikes and especially pedestrians.

Did you know that the death rate for pedestrians is 100%

Please remind me ... (2)

geantvert (996616) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001114)

... what is the estimated number of deaths caused by pollution in the USA alone? and worldwide?

   

this is a false dicotomy. (2)

Truekaiser (724672) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001122)

No car is safe. Even a large suv can be a death trap in crashes. Small cars can be designed to be just as safe with the use of crumple zones and air bags.

Re:this is a false dicotomy. (2)

Bob_Sheep (988029) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001172)

Most large SUVs are worse than most smaller cars, have a look at the Euro NCAP data for the 2008 Ford Ranger http://www.euroncap.com/tests/ford_ranger_2008/342.aspx [euroncap.com] compared to smaller cars of similar age its score is somewhat appalling.

Re:this is a false dicotomy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37001264)

That's funny the "SUV" you are using to compare is what most people consider a small economy truck.....

Re:this is a false dicotomy. (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001174)

Cars that aren't designed to be "cheap" usually fare better than economy cars. It's no so much that smaller cars are smaller. They're also crap designed to make you want a larger car rather than being well designed for their purpose.

Bullshit (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37001128)

This article relies on data published by the National Center for Policy Analysis [wikipedia.org] , a right-wing thinktank with no motive to be objective. Why do we keep seeing these bogus rightwing "science" stories on /. ? If it's clearly not science, it shouldn't be on this site.

Mod parent up (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001184)

This story is from a politically-motivated group with an axe to grind.

This can be fixed. (5, Informative)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001132)

Because road wear is proportional to the fourth power of the weight of the vehicle [pavementinteractive.org] , make the 4,000 lbs SUV owner pay 16 times as much in taxes as the 2,000 lbs small car owner. Pretty soon we'll see fewer SUVs on the roads, and all because of a fair, well-justified tax as opposed to new, arbitrary [wikipedia.org] regulations.

Re:This can be fixed. (0)

HuckleCom (690630) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001360)

Uhm, that tax already exists: It's called lower miles per gallon with raising gas prices. Does it hurt them enough to pay double in gas than they would have 8 years ago, to switch from an SUV to a car? Nope!

Re:This can be fixed. (5, Informative)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001430)

Uhm, that tax already exists: It's called lower miles per gallon with raising gas prices.

But a 2-ton SUV doesn't use 16 times as much fuel as a 1-ton small car! Therefore, the small car owner is heavily subsidizing road repairs for the SUV owner.

Re:This can be fixed. (1)

dkf (304284) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001434)

Uhm, that tax already exists: It's called lower miles per gallon with raising gas prices.

So? If that doesn't go up effectively with (at least) the 4th power of vehicle mass, it's not actually helping with road costs. (No idea if it actually goes up that was or not; I've never seen a study on the matter that was even vaguely factual.)

Nothing is free (2)

nwf (25607) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001142)

Wow, a lesson in design tradeoffs. You can't have a large comfortable, safe car with several air bags, an enormous crumple zone with decent acceleration that gets 40 MPG. One of the best way to increase fuel economy is to move less car around, and, all things being equal, a heavier car is better. (That is assuming we are comparing well-designed cars.)

Around here, we could save tons of lives by having better ROADs. Most roads here have no space berm off to the side (just trees), tons of random curves, hills, blind spots, etc. They'd save tons of lives (at huge cost, no doubt) if they straightened and flattened the roads and made them a little wider. Not to mention some type of rumble strip to warn people when they cross the center line. (They have those in California, but the dots don't work when you have to plow the roads. They can make indents, but that appears to cost too much.) My theory is that Pennsylvania just paves over whatever deer path was there without regard to any sort of engineering principles (including drainage, where the lower roads carved in a hill serve as a river during storms.)

Re:Nothing is free (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001260)

Actually, you can get 40 mpg in such a car - gotta change the powerplant, and allow for a fuel that has more energy in a gallon. You can push 45 or even 50 if you get rid of the torque converter, and ideally shift it yourself, too. And, due to the low-end torque, the acceleration is surprisingly good.

(Large diesel family cars can easily get 40+ mpg. And that's US gallons, not UK gallons.)

Re:Nothing is free (1)

HuckleCom (690630) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001384)

People drive like shit with two hands none the less put more manuals out on the road ... Lower the damn speed limits! Everyone's in such a damn hurry ...

Re:Nothing is free (1)

zubiaur (1207636) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001406)

Even gas powered, non hybrids can get very decent millage without disregarding safety. The chevrolet cruze eco gets 43 mpg highway while scoring 5 stars on the euro ncap, it also very roomy and the interior is very nice. This is without start and stop, direct injection, and individual, computer operated valve timing (ala fiat's multiair).

We have the technology, we need a commercial reason

Bullshit (3, Interesting)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001150)

Example:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtxd27jlZ_g&feature=player_embedded [youtube.com]

Newer cars are safer, and aren't 'death traps'.

While disparity of weight has an impact, the the energy is diverted is inportant as well.
And remember, if two car travelling at 50 MPH have a head on collision, the force on each driver is 50MPH then adjusted fro mass differences.

Re:Bullshit (1)

shugah (881805) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001232)

How many traffic deaths are caused by poor braking performance of oversized SUVs?

Re:Bullshit (1)

danlip (737336) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001426)

Or their tendency to roll-over. Safety has to be looked at as a combination of "chances of getting in an accident" and "chances of surviving and accident". People tend to focus on the latter when choosing SUVs.

I read TFA and... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37001152)

I read TFA and what it says is that if we unify the fuel economy standards between trucks and cars, people who can afford to pay more than they do now to drive a truck to ensure *they're* the survivor in an auto accident will be able to do so. And, people who can't afford it will stop so cheaply killing people who drive cars, as they will now themselves be in cars, reducing the overall number of truck-hitting-car deaths of people in cars.

Still, the winning plan will be to buy a truck if you can afford it. And, since the price of trucks will go up, fewer people will be able to afford this winning plan (which came at the expense of car-drivers). On average, all drivers will be safer. Individually, truck drivers with more money will be safer, car drivers will be safer, and former truck drivers who can't afford a truck anymore will be something like 48 times more likely to die in truck-car crashes - which "hopefully" will become rarer.

Re:I read TFA and... (1)

shugah (881805) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001354)

The author doesn't seem to understand how the CAFE standards work. As I understand it, CAFE is a fleet standard. If there is one standard that includes passenger cars, light trucks and SUVs, for every gas guzzling SUV or light truck that is sold, the manufacture has to sell several more efficient little economy cars. This cannot result in more SUV and light trucks on the road unless the fuel economy of these vehicles increases dramatically. Unless my understanding is wrong, manufacturers would not be able to sell (manufacture) more SUVs unless they have sold enough economy cars to keep the overall fleet economy under the standard.

Trolling for page hits (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001164)

Deliberately biased summary much?

more taxes (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001186)

more taxes - because that's how you grow an economy, you take money out of private sector and give it to government for more stimulus spending. I mean His Majesty God Krugman says it, so it must be so. Be damn the market, whatever it wants. It needs to be planned centrally, because government is full of market geniuses, if only they didn't want to sacrifice for the public good so much, they would have been in private sector, these Titans of Business, making Big Bucks with their vision of economic growth, because it's obvious they are great at it - they are deciding what business deserves the money and what does not.

It's easy to get 40+mpg (1)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001196)

Most people just don't have the patience. Driving at the old 55 mph will will do it in most naturally aspirated 4-cylinder cars. Pulse and glide will do it in most cars with a manual transmission. For example, I got 46.8 mpg from San Diego to Sacramento while doing P&G and averaging 60 MPG with my 2.5 L gasoline VW Jetta, which is EPA rated at 29 mpg (2008) on the highway.

Er.. 149 deaths/mpg/y of 2500000/y? (1)

eddy (18759) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001218)

So basically it's in the noise? Even if it were true, why would anyone care about such a small downside?

Wait, what!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37001224)

And did economist Mark Jacobson pull these "estimates" right out of his ass?

It takes two seconds to look up the numbers and see that as cars have been getting more fuel efficient, they've also been getting safer. The Census has done the work for us. Just look at the fatality trends [census.gov] [census.gov] for passenger cars and light trucks since 1990. Even with total miles driven in the U.S. climbing from just over a trillion miles in 1970 to peaking over three trillion miles in in 2008, you can see the fatality rate for passenger cars plummeting during that time period (even on a per-mile basis) and fatality rate for light trucks staying about the same.

The data just doesn't at all support what this guy is saying. Also, anyone with a functioning brain should understand that injury mitigation in the case of an accident is only one piece of the pie. Accident avoidance prevents traffic fatalities as well (in fact, I'd rather work on avoiding accidents in the first place than mitigating their impact once they happen). Heavy, gas guzzling vehicles have a greatly diminished ability to safely avoid collisions compared to smaller, more manageable cars.

here's a novel idea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37001330)

How about we start enforcing basic traffic code.

Basic traffic code hasn't been enforced in almost 30 years. Start ticketing people for; following too closely, making unsafe lane changes, turning into the wrong lane, using turning lanes to merge, etc. etc. etc., and watch the roads get safer. Quotas are set for speeding tickets and DUIs and nothing else. It doesn't work.

Don't forget about the transmission (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37001334)

Manual transmissions save five to fifteen per cent on gas, depending on how you drive. Less weight, even with six forward gears, and no parasitic systems to run itself, as well as simplified cooling means less weight and more energy goes to the wheels. Or less, if you coast to the light in neutral.

"Underpowered?" (1)

broter (72865) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001344)

I would much rather be driving an overpowered death trap. It's much more fun and doesn't waste time killing you.

Small cars are not immune to safety standards... (1)

UriahZ (952170) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001366)

The fact remains that you are vastly, immensely more likely to survive an accident in a tiny little Smart than you would in a giant 72 buick skylark. Better design and better materials goes a long further than more weight. I'd also wonder if they accounted for the reduced numbers of deaths from the reduced air pollution that comes with increased CAFE standards and the fact that you would in reality not be significantly more likely to die in a modern compact than you would a V8-powered muscle car weighing 600 extra pounds or some top-heavy roll-happy SUV monstrosity weighing 1000 extra lbs in most accidents. Did they also account for the fact that increased CAFE standards have led to more efficient full-sized vehicles more than they've led to a proliferation of lightweight subcompacts? Because it's pretty clear that the increased sales of subcompacts has had more to do with their low price in this economy than any meaningful gas savings over their larger brethren in the compact class. At this point MOST car manufacturers offer a 40mpg 'compact' car that's actually larger than your average mid-90s midsize family sedan, with many more amenities and a much nicer interior, to boot.

Re:Small cars are not immune to safety standards.. (1)

UriahZ (952170) | more than 3 years ago | (#37001436)

I'd also like to point out that these modern 'underpowered' 40mpg compacts that have been flying off the lots have more power on average than the V6s of the 90s that everyone thought were gutsy. YOU DO NOT NEED 300HP TO BE SAFE ON THE ROAD. Yet another example of libertarian ideologues blinding themselves to reality and stretching to find ANY way to defend their ridiculous and harmful religion.

How does the 1490 compaer to (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37001372)

The loss of life resulting from pollution of burning the extra fuel?
The cost of life resulting from efforts to secure the additional foriegn oil?
The cost in life for the many other considerations from the economic impacts of wasting fuel?
It would not surprise me if we saved more than 1490 in the process.

Complete BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37001422)

Even I took the number with any confidence, it's insignificant to the number of fatalities that oil dependency causes.

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