Relationship Between Vehicle Size and Fatality Risk in Model Year 1985-93 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks
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Relationship Between Vehicle Size and Fatality Risk in Model Year 1985-93 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks

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      Fatality rates per million exposure years are computed by make, model and model year, based on the crash experience of model year 1985-93 passenger cars and light trucks (pickups) vans and sport utility vehicles) in the United States during calendar years 1989-93. Regression analyses calibrate the relationship between curb weight and the fatality rate, adjusting for the effects of driver age, sex and other confounding factors. The analyses estimate the change in fatalities (including occupants of the "case" vehicle, occupants of other vehicles in the crash, and pedestrians/bicyclists) per 100 pound weight reduction in cars or in light trucks. A 100-pound reduction in the average weight of passenger cars, with accompanying reductions (based on historical patterns) in other size parameters such as track width, and in the absence of any compensatory improvements in safety technology, is associated with an estimated increase of 302 fatalities per year (±3-sigma confidence bounds range from an increase of 170 to an increase of 434). However, a 100-pound reduction in the average weight of light trucks is associated with an estimated decrease of 40 fatalities (± 3-sigma confidence bounds range from adecrease of 130 to an increase of 50). In car-light truck collisions, 80 percent of the fatalities are occupants of the cars. When light trucks are reduced in weight and size, they become less hazardous to occupants of passenger cars as well as pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists. Conversely, growth in the weight and size of light trucks could increase hazards to those groups.
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