Effect of using Different Vehicle Weight Groups on the Estimated Relationship between Mass Reduction and U.S. Societal Fatality Risk per Vehicle Miles of Travel

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This report recalculates the estimated relationship between vehicle mass and societal fatality risk, using alternative groupings by vehicle weight, to test whether the trend of decreasing fatality risk from mass reduction as case vehicle mass increases, holds over smaller increments of the range in case vehicle masses. The NHTSA baseline regression model estimates the relationship using for two weight groups for cars and light trucks; we re-estimated the mass reduction coefficients using four, six, and eight bins of vehicle mass. The estimated effect of mass reduction on societal fatality risk was not consistent over the range in vehicle masses in these weight bins. These results suggest that the relationship indicated by the NHTSA baseline model is a result of other, unmeasured attributes of the mix of vehicles in the lighter vs. heavier weight bins, and not necessarily the result of a correlation between mass reduction and societal fatality risk. An analysis of the average vehicle, driver, and crash characteristics across the various weight groupings did not reveal any strong trends that might explain the lack of a consistent trend of decreasing fatality risk from mass reduction in heavier vehicles.

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