Back in 2002, the National Academy of Sciences did a study on the effects of CAFE. They found that over the three decades CAFE has been in effect, downsizing of cars and trucks for fuel economy has cost us about 2,000 lives per year.
Less steel framing and smaller size equals more miles per gallon. It also means you’re rolling down the road in a vehicle with much less crashworthiness, making you more vulnerable to every stationary object, to that semi behind you … and to the guy in the normal-sized car.
This death toll figure was arrived at long before President Obama recently upped the CAFE standards by 30% and more. The death toll going forward will be even higher.
I have twice been at the scene of fatal one-car accidents. Once where I knew the crash victim personally, and once where I happened to come upon an accident before the police arrived. Both of these were situations where the person would have lived had they been driving something larger — a Prius in the first case and a Ford Fiesta in the other.
In both cases, they were convinced to value a gallon of gas over their own lives, and paid the price.