White House administration reviewing safety benefits of heavier cars, despite environmental concerns

Larry Hutchinson, president and chief executive officer, Toyota Canada.
By CRM Staff
Washington, D.C. — February 14, 2018 — In a controversial announcement, the Trump administration proclaimed its intention to review the potential safety benefits of heavier cars. This came along side their announcement to consider decreasing fuel economy targets by as much as 23 percent. 
Larry Hutchinson, president and chief executive officer, Toyota Canada responded in saying, “Canadian governments are on a mission to reduce carbon emissions, and Toyota shares the same mission. In fact, it’s one of our company’s most important goals. But there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to meeting Canadian drivers’ needs, so public policy focusing solely on the sale of zero emission vehicles may miss the real target of overall greenhouse gas reduction.”
In light of the announcement, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released its predictions on the implications of the lower standards. A potential benefit, should heavier cars indeed boast safer transportation, could be a decrease in the number of highway deaths, which has seen a consistent increase over the last few years in the U.S.
This idea was disputed by Dan Becker, director of the Safe Climate Campaign, who does not believe there is a correlation between fuel economy standards and highway collision deaths. There has already been a move by automotive companies to begin making smaller, more environmentally friendly, vehicles out of stronger and more durable materials that will hold up better during a collision. 
If the results of the research do put forward the proposed changes to fuel economy targets, it could mean reflected policy changes to Canadian vehicle regulations as well. It seems clear, however, that Canadian automakers will not stand for this kind of gear-reversal. Nonetheless, the environmental impacts would be felt worldwide. 

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