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Title: Assessment of NHTSA’s Report “Relationships Between Fatality Risk, Mass, and Footprint in Model Year 2004-2011 Passenger Cars and LTVs” (LBNL Phase 1)

Abstract

In its 2012 report NHTSA simulated the effect four fleetwide mass reduction scenarios would have on the change in annual fatalities. NHTSA estimated that the most aggressive of these scenarios (reducing mass 5.2% in heavier light trucks and 2.6% in all other vehicles types except lighter cars) would result in a small reduction in societal fatalities. LBNL replicated the methodology NHTSA used to simulate six mass reduction scenarios, including the mass reductions recommended in the 2015 NRC committee report, and estimated in 2021 and 2025 by EPA in the TAR, using the updated data through 2012. The analysis indicates that the estimated x change in fatalities under each scenario based on the updated analysis is comparable to that in the 2012 analysis, but less beneficial or more detrimental than that in the 2016 analysis. For example, an across the board 100-lb reduction in mass would result in an estimated 157 additional annual fatalities based on the 2012 analysis, but would result in only an estimated 91 additional annual fatalities based on the 2016 analysis, and an additional 87 fatalities based on the current analysis. The mass reductions recommended by the 2015 NRC committee report would result in a 224 increasemore » in annual fatalities in the 2012 analysis, a 344 decrease in annual fatalities in the 2016 analysis, and a 141 increase in fatalities in the current analysis. The mass reductions EPA estimated for 2025 in the TAR would result in a 203 decrease in fatalities based on the 2016 analysis, but an increase of 39 fatalities based on the current analysis. These results support NHTSA’s conclusion from its 2012 study that, when footprint is held fixed, “no judicious combination of mass reductions in the various classes of vehicles results in a statistically significant fatality increase and many potential combinations are safety-neutral as point estimates.”Like the previous NHTSA studies, this updated report concludes that the estimated effect of mass reduction while maintaining footprint on societal U.S. fatality risk is small, and not statistically significant at the 95% or 90% confidence level for all vehicle types based on the jack-knife method NHTSA used. This report also finds that the estimated effects of other control variables, such as vehicle type, specific safety technologies, and crash conditions such as whether the crash occurred at night, in a rural county, or on a high-speed road, on risk are much larger, in some cases two orders of magnitude larger, than the estimated effect of mass or footprint reduction on risk. Finally, this report shows that after accounting for the many vehicle, driver, and crash variables NHTSA used in its regression analyses, there remains a wide variation in risk by vehicle make and model, and this variation is unrelated to vehicle mass. Although the purpose of the NHTSA and LBNL reports is to estimate the effect of vehicle mass reduction on societal risk, this is not exactly what the regression models are estimating. Rather, they are estimating the recent historical relationship between mass and risk, after accounting for most measurable differences between vehicles, drivers, and crash times and locations. In essence, the regression models are comparing the risk of a 2600-lb Dodge Neon with that of a 2500-lb Honda Civic, after attempting to account for all other differences between the two vehicles. The models are not estimating the effect of literally removing 100 pounds from the Neon, leaving everything else unchanged. In addition, the analyses are based on the relationship of vehicle mass and footprint on risk for recent vehicle designs (model year 2004 to 2011). These relationships may or may not continue into the future as manufacturers utilize new vehicle designs and incorporate new technologies, such as more extensive use of strong lightweight materials and specific safety technologies. Therefore, throughout this report we use the phrase “the estimated effect of mass (or footprint) reduction on risk” as shorthand for “the estimated change in risk as a function of its relationship to mass (or footprint) for vehicle models of recent design.”« less

Authors:
 [1]
  1. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States). Energy Technologies Area
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Vehicle Technologies Office (EE-3V)
OSTI Identifier:
1430692
DOE Contract Number:  
AC02-05CH11231
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
32 ENERGY CONSERVATION, CONSUMPTION, AND UTILIZATION

Citation Formats

Wenzel, Tom P. Assessment of NHTSA’s Report “Relationships Between Fatality Risk, Mass, and Footprint in Model Year 2004-2011 Passenger Cars and LTVs” (LBNL Phase 1). United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.2172/1430692.
Wenzel, Tom P. Assessment of NHTSA’s Report “Relationships Between Fatality Risk, Mass, and Footprint in Model Year 2004-2011 Passenger Cars and LTVs” (LBNL Phase 1). United States. doi:10.2172/1430692.
Wenzel, Tom P. Wed . "Assessment of NHTSA’s Report “Relationships Between Fatality Risk, Mass, and Footprint in Model Year 2004-2011 Passenger Cars and LTVs” (LBNL Phase 1)". United States. doi:10.2172/1430692. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1430692.
@article{osti_1430692,
title = {Assessment of NHTSA’s Report “Relationships Between Fatality Risk, Mass, and Footprint in Model Year 2004-2011 Passenger Cars and LTVs” (LBNL Phase 1)},
author = {Wenzel, Tom P.},
abstractNote = {In its 2012 report NHTSA simulated the effect four fleetwide mass reduction scenarios would have on the change in annual fatalities. NHTSA estimated that the most aggressive of these scenarios (reducing mass 5.2% in heavier light trucks and 2.6% in all other vehicles types except lighter cars) would result in a small reduction in societal fatalities. LBNL replicated the methodology NHTSA used to simulate six mass reduction scenarios, including the mass reductions recommended in the 2015 NRC committee report, and estimated in 2021 and 2025 by EPA in the TAR, using the updated data through 2012. The analysis indicates that the estimated x change in fatalities under each scenario based on the updated analysis is comparable to that in the 2012 analysis, but less beneficial or more detrimental than that in the 2016 analysis. For example, an across the board 100-lb reduction in mass would result in an estimated 157 additional annual fatalities based on the 2012 analysis, but would result in only an estimated 91 additional annual fatalities based on the 2016 analysis, and an additional 87 fatalities based on the current analysis. The mass reductions recommended by the 2015 NRC committee report would result in a 224 increase in annual fatalities in the 2012 analysis, a 344 decrease in annual fatalities in the 2016 analysis, and a 141 increase in fatalities in the current analysis. The mass reductions EPA estimated for 2025 in the TAR would result in a 203 decrease in fatalities based on the 2016 analysis, but an increase of 39 fatalities based on the current analysis. These results support NHTSA’s conclusion from its 2012 study that, when footprint is held fixed, “no judicious combination of mass reductions in the various classes of vehicles results in a statistically significant fatality increase and many potential combinations are safety-neutral as point estimates.”Like the previous NHTSA studies, this updated report concludes that the estimated effect of mass reduction while maintaining footprint on societal U.S. fatality risk is small, and not statistically significant at the 95% or 90% confidence level for all vehicle types based on the jack-knife method NHTSA used. This report also finds that the estimated effects of other control variables, such as vehicle type, specific safety technologies, and crash conditions such as whether the crash occurred at night, in a rural county, or on a high-speed road, on risk are much larger, in some cases two orders of magnitude larger, than the estimated effect of mass or footprint reduction on risk. Finally, this report shows that after accounting for the many vehicle, driver, and crash variables NHTSA used in its regression analyses, there remains a wide variation in risk by vehicle make and model, and this variation is unrelated to vehicle mass. Although the purpose of the NHTSA and LBNL reports is to estimate the effect of vehicle mass reduction on societal risk, this is not exactly what the regression models are estimating. Rather, they are estimating the recent historical relationship between mass and risk, after accounting for most measurable differences between vehicles, drivers, and crash times and locations. In essence, the regression models are comparing the risk of a 2600-lb Dodge Neon with that of a 2500-lb Honda Civic, after attempting to account for all other differences between the two vehicles. The models are not estimating the effect of literally removing 100 pounds from the Neon, leaving everything else unchanged. In addition, the analyses are based on the relationship of vehicle mass and footprint on risk for recent vehicle designs (model year 2004 to 2011). These relationships may or may not continue into the future as manufacturers utilize new vehicle designs and incorporate new technologies, such as more extensive use of strong lightweight materials and specific safety technologies. Therefore, throughout this report we use the phrase “the estimated effect of mass (or footprint) reduction on risk” as shorthand for “the estimated change in risk as a function of its relationship to mass (or footprint) for vehicle models of recent design.”},
doi = {10.2172/1430692},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {3}
}

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