Canada: Fuel Economy Trumps Safety

Donal Fagan
by Donal Fagan

Last January, Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon said that Canada will match the U.S.'s fuel-consumption benchmarks for new cars and light trucks. Meanwhile, Quebec and Manitoba have pledged to adopt more stringent California standards while Ontario warns that its automakers can't possibly meet them. The Canadian Press reports that Transport Canada is studying the trade-off between fuel-economy and safety. Even before the results are known, Canada's greens are up in arms. Clare Demerse, senior policy analyst at the Pembina Institute: "I would hope that the government would not, in any way, use this kind of research… as an excuse not to go the more aggressive vehicle efficiency standards." George Iny, president of the Automobile Protection Agency: "If you could reduce some of the presence of those large-type vehicles, unyielding full frames, you would be improving vehicle safety most likely." Why let the facts get in the way of PC public policy?

Donal Fagan
Donal Fagan

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  • AGR AGR on Mar 13, 2008

    Forty years ago folks were driving behemoths with no seatbelts, air bags, ABS, traction control, stability control. With protruding steel knobs on metal dashboards. Anyone driving or being a passenger in a vehicle 40 years ago must have been suicidal, or espoused a death wish. Back then, they actually paid attention to actually drive. In 2008 with all the safety features, folks continue to be suicidal by multitasking in a vehicle. If the lack of seatbelts could kill you 40 years ago, the multitasking and using a phone will kill you in 2008. It seems that we are constantly trading off "one thing" for "another". In typical Canadian fashion a study / inquiry / committe is the way to resolve the issue. They will conclude that in Quebec they use smaller vehicles, out west they still use pick ups, an Ontario is downsizing.

  • JuniperBug JuniperBug on Mar 13, 2008

    AGR, I couldn't agree with you more. It's not the cars that aren't safe enough, it's the people. The #1 best way to increase car safety is to spend some money on driver training. People will pay thousands for the sense of security provided by hundreds of extra pounds of steel and a brace of airbags and electronic nannies in a car they'll have to replace in 10 years anyway (if they don't make use of those airbags and crash it first), but not on an education that will make them and the people around them safer for life? Driver education doesn't affect fuel economy, performance, or use any of the earth's resources. Bloating out cars does. Maybe it's time to intentionally make cars LESS safe; give Darwin a chance to do some housecleaning.

  • Bancho Bancho on Mar 13, 2008

    JuniperBug : Hmm, that makes a good deal of sense. If people had more fear when driving they might think twice about hatting on the phone and pay better attention to the task at hand. The proliferation of safety equipment has made people too complacent. Hey, My first car was a '73 Pinto wagon and my second one was a '70 VW Beetle convertible. Neither of those was a paragon of safety and I'm still here to tell the tale.

  • Rpn453 Rpn453 on Mar 13, 2008

    I'm hoping we eventually reach a point where all vehicles on the road are of similar size except for those who actually need larger vehicles. The drivers of larger vehicles would only be able to use those vehicles when necessary and they would be held to a higher standard in terms of both licensing and consequences. In the meantime, I'm all for bringing in stricter licensing requirements and severe consequences for poor driving! Using your automobile to kill others through negligence is basically considered acceptable in our society. Why? JuniperBug, will you be thinking, "I'm glad natural selection is removing me from the gene pool for being stupid enough to drive something smaller than a 3/4 ton truck with side air bags" while you're dying after some idiot with a suspended license and an old truck speeds through a red light and T-bones you? Or were you planning to use some driver safety training to change the path of that truck? 97escort, you're one of very few peak oil believers who has faith in replacing our oil with agriculture. Most think the end of cheap oil will devastate agricultural production!