Fuel Economy and Safety: The Influences of Vehicle Class and Driver Behavior

49 Pages Posted: 21 Apr 2012 Last revised: 21 Mar 2021

See all articles by Mark R. Jacobsen

Mark R. Jacobsen

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Economics; Stanford University

Date Written: April 2012

Abstract

Fuel economy standards change the composition of the vehicle fleet, potentially influencing accident safety. I introduce a model of the fleet that captures risks across interactions between vehicle types while simultaneously recovering estimates of unobserved driving safety behavior. The model importantly includes the ability to consider the selection of driver types across vehicles. I apply the model to the present structure of U.S. fuel economy standards and find an adverse effect on safety: Each MPG increment to the standard results in an additional 149 fatalities per year in expectation. I next show how two alternative regulatory provisions, including one slated to enter effect next year, can fully offset the negative safety consequences; minor changes in the regulation produce a robust, near-zero change in accident fatalities while conserving the same quantity of gasoline.

Suggested Citation

Jacobsen, Mark R., Fuel Economy and Safety: The Influences of Vehicle Class and Driver Behavior (April 2012). NBER Working Paper No. w18012, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2042995

Mark R. Jacobsen (Contact Author)

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Economics ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093-0508
United States

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

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