Beginning in 2018, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began an initiative called the SAFE Vehicles Rule. The Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles Rule established new fuel economy and emissions standards for cars and light trucks manufactured in 2021-2026.
The SAFE Vehicles Rule was established in response to automakers struggling to meet fuel economy targets while consumers struggle to find affordable new vehicles. In 2017, all but three major automakers failed to meet the EPA’s greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy standards. The result is diminishing returns for automakers and consumers.
If finalized, the SAFE Vehicles Rule would amend current Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) and emissions standards. This overhaul would allow more Americans to get into newer vehicles that are safer and more environmentally friendly. In fact, estimates suggest that the SAFE Vehicles Rule could:
· Save more than $500 billion in societal costs.
· Reduce highway fatalities by 12,700 over the lifetime of vehicles through 2029.
The SAFE Vehicles Rule would increase overall fuel consumption, but the benefits would far outweigh this potential concern. Furthermore, air quality would improve, especially in highly-trafficked corridors.
Through more clarification and efficient standards, automakers can offer newer and safer vehicles at a more affordable price. Some research suggests that new car prices are currently unaffordable to median-income households in every metropolitan area in the U.S. with the exception of Washington, D.C. As a result, more people are choosing older cars, which inevitably are less fuel-efficient and have fewer relevant safety features.
Setting a national standard could help automakers streamline their process and ensure that all new vehicles meet EPA standards. It would also allow for more clear and consistent oversight and regulation. All of these are benefits that will trickle down to the consumer level as newer and safer vehicles become more affordable and congested highways become less polluted.