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Am J Public Health. 2006 Nov;96(11):1906-9. Epub 2006 Oct 3.

Blood and oil: vehicle characteristics in relation to fatality risk and fuel economy.

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I examined the potential for a lower risk of death compatible with increased fuel economy among 67 models of 1999-2002 model year cars, vans, and sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) during the calendar years 2000 to 2004. The odds of death for drivers and all persons killed in vehicle collisions were related to vehicle weight, size, stability, and crashworthiness. I calculated that fatality rates would have been 28% lower and fuel use would have been reduced by 16% if vehicle weights had been reduced to the weight of vehicles with the lowest weight per size, where size is measured by the lateral distance needed to perform a 180-degree turn. If, in addition, all vehicles had crashworthiness and stability equal to those of the top-rated vehicles, more than half the deaths involving passenger cars, vans, and SUVs could have been prevented by vehicle modifications.

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