New Poll Shows Americans want the Government to Enforce Stricter Fuel-Efficiency Standards

November 22nd, 2006 by William


The Opinion Research Corporation (ORC) recently completed a national opinion survey for the nonprofit and nonpartisan Civil Society Institute (CSI). The survey focused on questions pertaining to fuel-efficiency, US auto manufacturers, gas prices, and Government intervention on all of these subjects. The survey results proved to be interesting and enlightening showing almost no partisan tendencies.

Here is a sample question and finding from the ORC survey.

Respondents were given the question: “Do you think President Bush and the Congress should dedicate a portion of existing or increased gasoline taxes for investment in research and development of renewable energy and related clean technologies?”

74 percent replied yes compared to only 24 percent who said no. Of the people asked 70 percent of Republicans said yes, 73 percent of Independents said yes and 78 percent of Democrats said yes.

Other substantial findings from the ORC poll include:

  • 3 out 4 Americans want the Government to impose a 40 mpg fuel-efficiency standard
  • 90 percent of Americans expect fuel prices to increase “in the near future”
  • Nearly half of Americans are now more likely to by a “hybrid or other fuel-efficient vehicle” than they were 6 months ago.
  • Most Americans think Detroit is to blame for its current woes.
  • Nearly all Americans want President Bush to pressure U.S. automakers to focus more on the latest in fuel-efficiency technology.
  • A majority of Americans see Japanese automakers ahead of U.S. car manufacturers.
  • 80 percent of Americans agree that greater fuel efficiency for cars, SUVs and trucks is in our national security interests
    “Results are based on telephone interviews conducted among a sample of 1,016 adults (509 men and 507 women) age 18 and over, living in private households, in the continental United States. Interviewing by ORC was completed during the period of November 9-12, 2006. Completed interviews of the 1,016 adults were weighted by four variables: age, sex, geographic region, and race, to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total adult population. The margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the sample of 1,016 adults. Smaller sub-groups will have larger error margins.”

    For the full survey results go to:

    These findings certainly seem to indicate that the American public is trying to buck the trend of gas-sucking SUVs in favor of smaller more efficient vehicles. It also shows that across the line the public wants there to be more done in the area of alternative fuels.

    I was really happy when I read this survey. It gave me a renewed confidence that people as a whole are not as dumb as I often think they are. I know surveys don’t prove anything, but a well conducted survey such as this one is usually pretty close to the mark when it comes to accuracy. The one thing that concerns me is how naive we the general public can be. We often don’t know all the facts–I know I certainly don’t– and don’t have time to go digging for answers so we become vulnerable to ads, rumors and propaganda from ill informed friends posing as know-it-alls, corporations and especially the media (hey that’s me!). This often leaves people disoriented. So while you might be all for lower emissions, higher fuel-efficiency and alternative fuels–because that’s the latest buzz and you feel pressure to express that view point especially on a survey–you still might go out and buy a piggy SUV.

    I personally find myself in this position quite often. Neither of my vehicles come close to the 40 mpg barrier, but yet I’m totally supportive of higher efficiency standards. If I could afford one, and they made a cool sporty version, I would buy a hybrid or super-efficient car. In fact if the Bay Area had a good public transit system I wouldn’t drive my car to work at all.

    As much as I love cars and internal combustion, I love having breathable air, trees and parks just as much. I like the idea of having a safe and peaceful Country and I feel like using renewable resources instead of foreign oil to power our vehicles would go along way to promote these goals. Perhaps the poll results and the poll itself are a bit idealistic, but I’m glad Americans are thinking about the future. Now the question is will the people who took this poll simply talk (in the form of this survey) or will they take action by buying efficient vehicles in the future? We shall see.

    -Bill Mertz

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    5 Responses to “New Poll Shows Americans want the Government to Enforce Stricter Fuel-Efficiency Standards”

    1. Kamrul Says:

      First of all didn’t know what i was missing, bu not dropping by here in your blog. Strict Fuel-Efficiency Standards is very important for our own existence. I don’t understand already EU, Japan, Australia and NZ already made strict policy towards this, why still USA not adopting it. Especially AUS & NZ fuel efficiency standard is proven to the best so far. Govt. policy dictate when you by a Hybrid car in Aus & NZ you pay lesser tax (even the makers and marketers have to pay less tax too), a good way to encourage. What’s the use of having a Nice looking car, which will make me sick after few years.

    2. William Says:

      There are certain states like California that have given slight tax breaks or other advantages like being able to use the carpool lane to people who buy Hybrids. But it does certainly seem like we should be leading the way not following the leader when it comes to automobile efficiency and alternative fuels seeing as we consume so much of the world’s oil, and have so many vehicles in this country.

    3. pauln Says:

      Having some professional experience with surveys and their limitations, the interpretations of this survey are typically flawed. Listen to what people are really saying: they would like the government to magically require their Tahoes, pickups, etc. to get 40 mpg. Thats the same as every survey showing that the great majority of people say we should eat less/healthier, etc. etc.

      It’s totally painless (and essentially meaningless) to say the govt. should mandate 40 mpg. cars. One can buy them today, but the majority aren’t buying them. And if you think that the govt. can wave its magic wand and make SUV’s get 40 mpg….

      The real problem with the CAFE is that it doesn’t really control how much fuel people will use after they buy the vehicle. Only higher gas prices (tax) can do that. When gas goes up, people drive less, if it is starting to hurt financially. If we force people to buy a more economical car, whats to stop them from driving substantially more?

      Don’t misunderstand, I’m not against more economical cars, but the real driver for reduced consumption in the long haul is more expensive fuel.

    4. William Says:

      Like I said, I think the results and poll are a bit idealistic, and I agree that it’s easy to say one thing in survey, but taking action is an entirely different matter. Still it’s good to know the sentiment is there.
      I’m also pretty sure that a mandated 40mpg standard would be an average of all the automakers cars (I’m pretty sure that’s how they do it now) and probably would only apply to cars, not trucks. But that is just speculation.

      Interesting point on fuel costs. I feel like their is no one solution, but costs certainly do effect driving to some degree

      For me the thing that would keep me from driving more is better public transportation. While high gas prices may deter some of us, I really don’t have a choice. The vast majority of my driving is to and from work, and I will have to drive it whether gas cost $2.50/gallon or $5.00/gallon.

      Thanks for giving an informed opinion from someone with some real poll experience.

    5. Automotive Blogger » Blog Archive » Study Shows That American Driver’s Covered Fewer Miles in 2005. Says:

      […] Study Shows That American Driver’s Covered Fewer Miles in 2005. December 2nd, 2006 by William I have to give some credit to one of my commenters, Paul N, who replied to an earlier post fuel efficiency standards: New Poll Shows Americans want the Government to Enforce Stricter Fuel-Efficiency Standards. In his reply to this post he stated, “The real problem with the CAFE is that it doesn’t really control how much fuel people will use after they buy the vehicle. Only higher gas prices (tax) can do that. When gas goes up, people drive less, if it is starting to hurt financially.” […]

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    About William

    I am a twenty something car enthusiast. I spend most of my days working in a small restoration shop in Northern California that specializes in vintage Alfa Romeos. I also manage to do some freelance writing for a handful of automotive publications. When I'm not at the shop I can usually be found working on one of my own project cars, out driving on a good windy road or good jeep trail. Despite what my girlfriend says cars aren't what defines me, they are only what I do. When I have a chance I also love to go camping, play sports or generally do any type of outdoor activity. I don't take myself to seriously, so I hope you don't either.

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