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Trump Administration Reviews Safety Gains from Heavier Cars, Fuel Economy Cuts

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Feb. 13, 2018—The Trump administration is said to be reviewing the safety advantages of heavier cars—a point of controversy among researchers—as it considers lowering future automotive fuel economy targets by as much as 23 percent, according to Bloomberg News.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is evaluating the implications of weaker targets as the Trump administration and California regulators discuss the fate of ambitious standards charted under President Barack Obama, according to documents obtained by Bloomberg News.

One advantage of the change the agency cites in the documents would be a potential drop in highway deaths, which have been rising in recent years.

For example, one scenario in the draft NHTSA analysis would permit an average fleetwide fuel economy standard of 35.7 miles per gallon by 2026, down from a 46.6 miles per gallon under the Obama-era target. Traffic fatalities would be reduced by an average of nearly 1,200 per year from 2036 through 2045, according to the analysis.

NHTSA Acting Administrator Heidi King said in January that the agency would issue a notice of proposed rulemaking on March 30. The Environmental Protection Agency plans to decide by April 1 whether its separate tailpipe emissions standards for cars and light trucks for model years 2022 through 2025 should be revised.

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