Increasing the Fuel Economy and Safety of New Light-Duty Vehicles

Publication Type


Date Published




One impediment to increasing the fuel economy standards for light-duty vehicles is the longstanding argument that reducing vehicle mass to improve fuel economy will inherently make vehicles less safe. This technical paper summarizes and examines the research that is cited in support of this argument, and presents more recent research that challenges it. We conclude that the research claiming that lighter vehicles are inherently less safe than heavier vehicles is flawed, and that other aspects of vehicle design are more important to the on-road safety record of vehicles. This paper was prepared for a workshop on experts in vehicle safety and fuel economy, organized by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, to discuss technologies and designs that can be taken to simultaneously improve vehicle safety and fuel economy; the workshop was held in Washington DC on October 3, 2006.

Year of Publication



Research Areas

Related Files