The editorial reports:
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that of the 10 cars with the highest death rates over model years 2012-2015, eight are either small or minicars. On the other hand, of the 10 cars with the lowest death rates, four were large and five were midsize. The other was a Toyota pickup.
Looked at another way, small 4-door cars had death rates more than twice those of large 4-doors. The death rate for mini station wagons was three times that of midsize wagons.
The problem is that the federal government has since the 1970s forced carmakers to meet increasingly stringent fuel economy standards. In the 1980s and early 1990s, this led to a radical downsizing of the auto fleet, which a 2002 National Research Council report concluded led to as many as 2,600 additional highway deaths in 1993 alone. (A recently published study claims that past fuel economy standards saved lives, but it focused on changes in car weight, not size.)
As I reported in March (here), the CAFE Standards were supposed to be reviewed in 2017, but just before leaving office, former President Obama locked in the 54.5 miles per gallon standard. Unless this standard is reversed, there will be more American deaths on the highway in the future. This is unnecessary and harmful. Hopefully President Trump will reverse the action.