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Fuel Economy, Car Class Mix, and Safety


  • Mark R. Jacobsen


Fuel economy standards change the composition of the vehicle fleet, potentially influencing accident fatality risks. I estimate the direction and magnitude of this impact, introducing a correction for selection on driver behavior. A policy application using my new estimates shows that the present distinction between light trucks and cars in fuel economy rules has very negative consequences for overall safety: Each MPG increment to the standard results in an additional 150 fatalities per year in expectation. My correction for selection is pivotal in this finding. I then demonstrate a simple alternative regulation that can produce near-zero changes in accident fatalities.

Suggested Citation

  • Mark R. Jacobsen, 2011. "Fuel Economy, Car Class Mix, and Safety," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 105-109, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:101:y:2011:i:3:p:105-09

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Adam B. Ashcraft & Paul Goldsmith-Pinkham & James Vickery, 2010. "MBS ratings and the mortgage credit boom," Staff Reports 449, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lutsey, Nicholas, 2012. "Regulatory and technology lead-time: The case of US automobile greenhouse gas emission standards," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 21(C), pages 179-190.
    2. Ullman, Darin F., 2016. "A difficult road ahead: Fleet fuel economy, footprint-based CAFE compliance, and manufacturer incentives," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 94-105.

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