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Hot Spots Vehicle Theft Report

July 17, 2014 Comments off

Hot Spots Vehicle Theft Report
Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau
From press release:

For 2013, the 10 MSAs with the highest vehicle theft rates were:

 

2013 Ranking 2012 Ranking
1. Bakersfield, Calif. 3.
2. Fresno, Calif. 2.
3. Modesto, Calif. 1.
4. San Francisco/Oakland/Hayward, Calif. 6.
5. Stockton-Lodi, Calif. 4.
6. Redding, Calif. 10.
7. Spokane-Spokane Valley, Wash. 9.
8. Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif. 8.
9. San Jose/Sunnyvale/Santa Clara, Calif. 7.
10. Yuba City, Calif. 31.
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The Future of Driving in Developing Countries

July 17, 2014 Comments off

The Future of Driving in Developing Countries
Source: RAND Corporation

The level of automobility, defined as travel in personal vehicles, is often seen as a function of income: The higher a country’s per capita income, the greater the amount of driving. However, levels of automobility vary quite substantially between countries even at similar levels of economic development. This suggests that countries follow different mobility paths. The research detailed in this report sought to answer three questions: What are the factors besides economic development that affect automobility? What is their influence on automobility? What will happen to automobility in developing countries if they progress along similar paths as developed countries? To answer these questions, the authors developed a methodology to identify these factors, model their impact on developed countries, and forecast automobility (as defined by per capita vehicle-kilometers traveled [VKT]) in four developing countries. This methodology draws on quantitative analysis of historical automobility development in four country case studies (the United States, Australia, Germany, and Japan) that represent very different levels of per capita automobility, in combination with data derived from an expert-based qualitative approach. The authors used the latter to assess how these experiences may affect the future of automobility in the BRIC countries: Brazil, Russia, India, and China. According to this analysis, automobility levels in the four BRIC countries will fall between those of the United States (which has the highest per capita VKT level of the four case studies) and Japan (which has the lowest). Brazil is forecasted to have the highest per capita VKT and India the lowest.

IIHS issues recommendations on used vehicles for teens after research finds many aren’t driving the safest ones

July 17, 2014 Comments off

IIHS issues recommendations on used vehicles for teens after research finds many aren’t driving the safest ones
Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Many teenagers are driving vehicles that don’t offer good crash protection and lack important safety technology, new research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows. To help guide parents toward safer choices, IIHS has compiled its first-ever list of recommended used vehicles for teens.

IIHS is known for its ratings of new vehicles, but for many families, a 2014 TOP SAFETY PICK or TOP SAFETY PICK+ isn’t in the budget. In a national phone survey conducted for IIHS of parents of teen drivers, 83 percent of those who bought a vehicle for their teenagers said they bought it used.

With that reality in mind, the Institute has compiled a list of affordable used vehicles that meet important safety criteria for teen drivers (see below). There are two tiers of recommended vehicles with options at various price points, ranging from less than $5,000 to nearly $20,000, so parents can buy the most safety for their money, whatever their budget.

Overcoming Speed Bumps on the Road to Telematics: Challenges and opportunities facing auto insurers

July 11, 2014 Comments off

Overcoming Speed Bumps on the Road to Telematics: Challenges and opportunities facing auto insurers
Source: Deloitte

Early adopters of telematics are collecting data that can reveal a driver’s behavior, which in turn can provide a basis for greater precision in insurance underwriting, pricing and claims. Having such first-hand driving data at their disposal could give existing usage-based insurance (UBI) carriers a considerable leg up over those not using telematics. Of course, early adopters still face many challenges in executing a viable telematics program.

In order to get a better idea of consumers’ reactions to UBI, Deloitte surveyed more than 2,000 respondents about their experiences with consumer mobile technology. We have placed the respondents in three categories — Eager Beavers, Fence Sitters and Naysayers — based on their willingness to have their driving monitored by insurers.

This report provides data and analysis that may help guide carriers that have already started on the road to telematics, along with those poised to join in, as well as others that will have to compete with telematics-driven players.

See also: Telematics: How Big Data Is Transforming the Auto Insurance Industry (SAS; PDF)

Drowsy Driving and Risk Behaviors — 10 States and Puerto Rico, 2011–2012

July 8, 2014 Comments off

Drowsy Driving and Risk Behaviors — 10 States and Puerto Rico, 2011–2012
Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC)

Findings in published reports have suggested that drowsy driving is a factor each year in as many as 7,500 fatal motor vehicle crashes (approximately 25%) in the United States (1,2). CDC previously reported that, in 2009–2010, 4.2% of adult respondents in 19 states and the District of Columbia reported having fallen asleep while driving at least once during the previous 30 days (3). Adults who reported usually sleeping ≤6 hours per day, snoring, or unintentionally falling asleep during the day were more likely to report falling asleep while driving compared with adults who did not report these sleep patterns (3). However, limited information has been published on the association between drowsy driving and other risk behaviors that might contribute to crash injuries or fatalities. Therefore, CDC analyzed responses to survey questions regarding drowsy driving among 92,102 respondents in 10 states and Puerto Rico to the 2011–2012 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) surveys. The results showed that 4.0% reported falling asleep while driving during the previous 30 days. In addition to known risk factors, drowsy driving was more prevalent among binge drinkers than non-binge drinkers or abstainers and also more prevalent among drivers who sometimes, seldom, or never wear seatbelts while driving or riding in a car, compared with those who always or almost always wear seatbelts. Drowsy driving did not vary significantly by self-reported smoking status. Interventions designed to reduce binge drinking and alcohol-impaired driving, to increase enforcement of seatbelt use, and to encourage adequate sleep and seeking treatment for sleep disorders might contribute to reductions in drowsy driving crashes and related injuries.

Motorcycle Thefts in the United States for 2013

July 7, 2014 Comments off

Motorcycle Thefts in the United States for 2013
Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) today released a report on motorcycle thefts in the United States for 2013. A total of 45,367 motorcycles were reported stolen in 2013 compared with 46,601 reported stolen in 2012—a decrease of 1.5 percent.

License Plate Readers for Law Enforcement: Opportunities and Obstacles

July 3, 2014 Comments off

License Plate Readers for Law Enforcement: Opportunities and Obstacles
Source: RAND Corporation

Law enforcement agencies across the country have quickly been adopting a new technology to combat auto theft and other crimes: automated license plate reader (LPR) systems. These systems can capture the image of the license plate of a passing vehicle and compare the plate number against official “hotlists” that show an array of infractions or reasons why it may be of interest to authorities. But because LPR technology is relatively new in the United States, opportunities and obstacles in its use in law enforcement are still under exploration. To examine issues about this technology, RAND conducted interviews with law enforcement officers and others responsible for procuring, maintaining, and operating the systems. Champions of LPR technology exist at many levels, from tech-savvy officers who use it every day, to chiefs who promote it, to other officials and policymakers who believe LPR technology is a significant force multiplier for police departments. Challenges exist, however, to realizing more widespread acceptance and use of the technology. Chief among these are privacy concerns related to the retention and potential misuse of LPR data, technical and bureaucratic impediments to sharing data among law enforcement agencies, and constraints on the availability of staffing and training needed to support LPR systems.

Use of Motorcycle Helmets: Universal Helmet Laws

June 30, 2014 Comments off

Use of Motorcycle Helmets: Universal Helmet Laws
Source: Community Preventive Safety Task Force

The Community Preventive Services Task Force recommends universal motorcycle helmet laws (laws that apply to all motorcycle operators and passengers) based on strong evidence of effectiveness. Evidence indicates that universal helmet laws increase helmet use; decrease motorcycle-related fatal and non-fatal injuries; and are substantially more effective than no law or than partial motorcycle helmet laws, which apply only to riders who are young, novices, or have medical insurance coverage below certain thresholds.

States in the U.S. that repealed universal helmet laws and replaced them with partial laws or no law consistently experienced substantial:

  • Decreases in helmet use, and
  • Increases in fatal and non-fatal injuries.

States that implemented universal helmet laws in place of partial laws or no law consistently experienced substantial:

  • Increases in helmet use, and
  • Decreases in fatal and non-fatal injuries.

These beneficial effects of universal helmet laws extended to riders of all ages, including younger operators and passengers who would have been covered by partial helmet laws.

Economic evidence shows that universal motorcycle helmet laws produce substantial economic benefits that greatly exceed costs. Most benefits come from averted healthcare and productivity losses.

New Older Driver Data Trends in Upward Direction

June 27, 2014 Comments off

New Older Driver Data Trends in Upward Direction
Source: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

According to a new report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, older Americans are extending their time behind the wheel compared to previous generations. For example, 84 percent of Americans 65 and older held a driver’s license in 2010 compared to barely half in the early 1970s. Today, one in six drivers on U.S. roads are ages 65 and older and this new research shows an increased automobility of older drivers with travel patterns indicating about a 20 percent increase in trips and a 33 percent increase in miles travelled between 1990 and 2009.

While upward trends indicate greater mobility for the silver tsunami, the Understanding Older Drivers: An Examination of Medical Conditions, Medication Use and Travel Behaviors report reveals that 90 percent of older drivers also use prescription medications with two-thirds taking multiple medications. Previous Foundation research has shown that combinations of medications, both prescription and over- the-counter, can result in an impairment in safe driving ability.

The report also reveals gender differences when it comes to medication-use behind the wheel. Older women that use medications are more likely to regulate their driving compared to men and, even without a medical condition, female drivers drive less than their male counterparts with a medical condition.

Child Restraint and Seat Belt Regulations

June 26, 2014 Comments off

Child Restraint and Seat Belt Regulations
Source: Law Library of Congress

This report contains citations to the laws on seat belt use in Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, China, Cyprus, Egypt, England and Wales, Fiji, Ghana, Indonesia, Kiribati, Malta, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Oman, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, and Vietnam, with information on provisions concerning children where available.

New From the GAO

June 25, 2014 Comments off

New From the GAO
Source: Government Accountability Office

Reports

1. Information Security: Additional Oversight Needed to Improve Programs at Small Agencies. GAO-14-344, June 25.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-344
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664420.pdf

2. Aviation Safety: Additional Oversight Planning by FAA Could Enhance Safety Risk Management. GAO-14-516, June 25.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-516
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664401.pdf

3. Traffic Safety: Alcohol Ignition Interlocks Are Effective While Installed; Less Is Known about How to Increase Installation Rates. GAO-14-559, June 20.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-559
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664282.pdf

4. Diplomatic Security: Overseas Facilities May Face Greater Risks Due to Gaps in Security-Related Activities, Standards, and Policies. GAO-14-655, June 25.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-655
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664423.pdf
Podcast - http://www.gao.gov/multimedia/podcasts/664325

Testimonies

1. Export-Import Bank: Status of GAO Recommendations on Risk Management, Exposure Forecasting, and Workload Issues, by Mathew J. Scirè, director, financial markets and community investment, before the House Committee on Financial Services. GAO-14-708T, June 25.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-708T
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664379.pdf

2. Medicare Fraud: Further Actions Needed to Address Fraud, Waste, and Abuse, by Kathleen M. King, director, health care, before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, House Committee on Energy and Commerce. GAO-14-712T, June 25.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-712T
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664382.pdf

USPS OIG — Delivery Vehicle Fleet Replacement

June 25, 2014 Comments off

Delivery Vehicle Fleet Replacement (PDF)
Source: U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General

BACKGROUND
The U.S. Postal Service uses more than 190,000 vehicles to collect and deliver mail, including about 142,000 long-life vehicles that are nearing or exceeding their expected service life. As the fleet ages, maintenance costs will increase and older models will be retired as they become too costly to maintain or repair.

Our objectives were to assess the Postal Service’s acquisition strategy for the next generation of collection and delivery vehicles and identify features recommended for these vehicles.

WHAT THE OIG FOUND:
The Postal Service has an acquisition strategy, but has not fully developed or implemented it. The short-term plan developed in 2011 included acquiring 25,000 vehicles costing about $500 million to meet operational needs and replace some of the aging fleet. The long-term plan included purchasing the next generation of delivery vehicles beginning in fiscal year (FY) 2017. However, this plan lacked details, such as vehicle requirements, specifications, and green technology features. Despite 3 years of effort, neither plan has been approved or fully funded. In January 2014, the Postal Service received approval to purchase 3,509 vehicles to meet a contractual rural carrier vehicle commitment as a stop gap measure.

These conditions occurred due to financial constraints. Our analysis of the delivery vehicle inventory and motorized routes showed the Postal Service could sustain delivery operations nationwide until FY 2017. On the other hand, it could experience vehicle shortfalls if there are unexpected decreases in vehicle inventory or increases in motorized routes. In addition, aging vehicles are typically repaired when they break down, even though it would sometimes be more cost effective to replace them.

In designing new delivery vehicles, management must consider federal fleet regulations, emerging vehicle technologies, and fleet best practices. For example, growth in the package market could help dictate the design and technologies selected for a new vehicle. Moreover, replacing vehicles could take more than 10 years. Thus, the Postal Service should act quickly to implement a plan to meet operational needs, achieve sustainability goals, and reduce maintenance costs.

WHAT THE OIG RECOMMENDED:
We recommended the vice president, Delivery and Post Office Operations, continue to pursue short-term annual vehicle acquisitions and formalize a long-term plan to replace the fleet that includes requirements and specifications for the next generation of delivery vehicles.

Report to the Board of Directors of General Motors Company Regarding Ignition Switch Recalls (“Valukas Report”)

June 6, 2014 Comments off

Report to the Board of Directors of General Motors Company Regarding Ignition Switch Recalls (“Valukas Report”)
Source: Jenner & Block (via Detroit News)

As a whole, from beginning to end, the story of the Cobalt is one of numerous failures leading to tragic results for many. As discussed below, many individuals have substantial responsibility for the delay in recalling the Cobalt. These individuals, as well as the GM committees and groups that had responsibility for the Cobalt, failed to remand action in the face of mounting injuries and fatalities, to make themselves or others accountable, and to marshal the information and expertise at their disposal to solve a problem that brought harm to GM’s customers. This report traces the history of the ignition switch, from GM’s design and production of the ignition switch to its belated recall in 2014, ultimately proposing recommendations to help avoid such a tragedy from ever occurring again.

Monitoring Wildlife-Vehicle Collisions in the Information Age: How Smartphones Can Improve Data Collection

June 6, 2014 Comments off

Monitoring Wildlife-Vehicle Collisions in the Information Age: How Smartphones Can Improve Data Collection
Source: PLoS ONE

Background
Currently there is a critical need for accurate and standardized wildlife-vehicle collision data, because it is the underpinning of mitigation projects that protect both drivers and wildlife. Gathering data can be challenging because wildlife-vehicle collisions occur over broad areas, during all seasons of the year, and in large numbers. Collecting data of this magnitude requires an efficient data collection system. Presently there is no widely adopted system that is both efficient and accurate.

Methodology/Principal Findings
Our objective was to develop and test an integrated smartphone-based system for reporting wildlife-vehicle collision data. The WVC Reporter system we developed consisted of a mobile web application for data collection, a database for centralized storage of data, and a desktop web application for viewing data. The smartphones that we tested for use with the application produced accurate locations (median error = 4.6–5.2 m), and reduced location error 99% versus reporting only the highway/marker. Additionally, mean times for data entry using the mobile web application (22.0–26.5 s) were substantially shorter than using the pen/paper method (52 s). We also found the pen/paper method had a data entry error rate of 10% and those errors were virtually eliminated using the mobile web application. During the first year of use, 6,822 animal carcasses were reported using WVC Reporter. The desktop web application improved access to WVC data and allowed users to easily visualize wildlife-vehicle collision patterns at multiple scales.

Conclusions/Significance
The WVC Reporter integrated several modern technologies into a seamless method for collecting, managing, and using WVC data. As a result, the system increased efficiency in reporting, improved accuracy, and enhanced visualization of data. The development costs for the system were minor relative to the potential benefits of having spatially accurate and temporally current wildlife-vehicle collision data.

CRS — Tier 3 Motor Vehicle Emission and Fuel Standards

June 5, 2014 Comments off

Tier 3 Motor Vehicle Emission and Fuel Standards (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

On March 3, 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency finalized new (“Tier 3”) emission standards for light duty (and some larger) motor vehicles. Light duty vehicles include cars, SUVs, vans, and most pickup trucks. Phase-in of the standards will begin with Model Year 2017. By the time Tier 3 is fully implemented in Model Year 2025, the standards for light duty vehicles will require reductions of about 80% in tailpipe emissions of non-methane organic gases and nitrogen oxides (both of which contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone) and of about 70% in tailpipe emissions of particulates. Ozone and particulates are the most widespread air pollutants in the United States. Both contribute to respiratory illness and premature mortality. EPA estimates that implementation of the standards will reduce premature mortality by 770 to 2,000 persons annually, as well as providing reductions in hospital admissions, lost work days, school absences, and restricted activity days for persons with respiratory illness. Assigning monetary values to these benefits, EPA estimates the annual benefits at between $6.7 billion and $19 billion in 2030.

The Economic and Societal Impact Of Motor Vehicle Crashes, 2010

June 3, 2014 Comments off

The Economic and Societal Impact Of Motor Vehicle Crashes, 2010 (PDF)
Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

In 2010, there were 32,999 people killed, 3.9 million were injured, and 24 million vehicles were damaged in motor vehicle crashes in the United States. The economic costs of these crashes totaled $277 billion. Included in these losses are lost productivity, medical costs, legal and court costs, emergency service costs (EMS), insurance administration costs, congestion costs, property damage, and workplace losses. The $277 billion cost of motor vehicle crashes represents the equivalent of nearly $897 for each of the 308.7 million people living in the United States, and 1.9 percent of the $14.96 trillion real U.S. Gross Domestic Product for 2010. These figures include both police-reported and unreported crashes. When quality of life valuations are considered, the total value of societal harm from motor vehicle crashes in 2010 was $871 billion. Lost market and household productivity accounted for $93 billion of the total $277 billion economic costs, while property damage accounted for $76 billion. Medical expenses totaled $35 billion. Congestion caused by crashes, including travel delay, excess fuel consumption, greenhouse gases and criteria pollutants accounted for $28 billion. Each fatality resulted in an average discounted lifetime cost of $1.4 million. Public revenues paid for roughly 9 percent of all motor vehicle crash costs, costing tax payers $24 billion in 2010, the equivalent of over $200 in added taxes for every household in the United States. Alcohol involved crashes accounted for $59 billion or 21 percent of all economic costs, and 84 percent of these costs occurred in crashes where a driver or non-occupant had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 grams per deciliter or greater. Alcohol was the cause of the crash in roughly 82 percent of these cases, causing $49 billion in costs. Crashes in which alcohol levels are BAC of .08 or higher are responsible for over 90 percent of the economic costs and societal harm that occurs in crashes attributable to alcohol use. Crashes in which police indicate that at least one driver was exceeding the legal speed limit or driving too fast for conditions cost $59 billion in 2010. Seat belt use prevented 12,500 fatalities, 308,000 serious injuries, and $69 billion in injury related costs in 2010, but the failure of a substantial portion of the driving population to buckle up caused 3,350 unnecessary fatalities, 54,300 serious injuries, and cost society $14 billion in easily preventable injury related costs. Crashes in which at least one driver was identified as being distracted cost $46 billion in 2010. The report also includes data on the costs associated with motorcycle crashes, failure to wear motorcycle helmets, pedestrian crash, bicyclist crashes, and numerous different roadway designation crashes.

New Ranking Shows All Major Auto Companies Boosted Green Performance

May 30, 2014 Comments off

New Ranking Shows All Major Auto Companies Boosted Green Performance
Source: Union of Concerned Scientists

The country’s eight bestselling automakers are all improving their environmental performance thanks to new technologies and stronger standards for fuel efficiency and tailpipe emissions, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists’ (UCS) latest Automaker Rankings report, which found that Hyundai-Kia has unseated Honda to become the group’s new “Greenest Automaker.”

For the first time since UCS began its Automaker Rankings report, all eight automakers reduced their average carbon and smog-forming emissions compared to their fleet averages from 1998, the model year examined in the first report. The report, the sixth evaluation of its kind by UCS, examined the emissions of both global warming and smog-forming pollution from 2013 model year vehicles of the automakers.

Principals and their Car Dealers; what do Targets tell about their Relation?

May 29, 2014 Comments off

Principals and their Car Dealers; what do Targets tell about their Relation? (PDF)
Source: Harvard Business School Working Papers

In this study we describe target setting and target achievements for a car dealership. Car dealers are eligible for a discount on the purchase price conditional on their achieving the sales targets set by the franchisor. We show that car dealers (franchisees) who exclusively deal in cars of the brand offered by the franchisor receive easier targets and are more likely to exert effort in achieving their targets compared to dealers who also acquire brands outside of the franchise network. As a consequence the exclusive dealers receive a relatively bigger cut of the total amount of discounts that dealers are offered conditional on their achieving sales targets set by the franchisor. We explain these results in terms of how much franchisors and franchisees believe that their relations will last or will be intensified in the future. We leverage on relational-contracts theory to develop our predictions and interpret our findings.

Reconnecting Small-Town America by Bus: New Federal Transit Rules Spur Investment

May 26, 2014 Comments off

Reconnecting Small-Town America by Bus: New Federal Transit Rules Spur Investment
Source: AARP Research

Millions of rural residents have lost access to scheduled intercity bus service in recent years as the nation’s largest private carriers have focused on profitable, longer-haul interstate travel. This video and Spotlight on the Issues illustrates how one state has created a successful public–private initiative to restore service to its rural communities. What Washington State has accomplished serves as a model for other states looking to take advantage of alternative local match requirements.

Reducing black carbon emissions from diesel vehicles : impacts, control strategies, and cost-benefit analysis

May 23, 2014 Comments off

Reducing black carbon emissions from diesel vehicles : impacts, control strategies, and cost-benefit analysis
Source: World Bank

A 2013 scientific assessment of black carbon emissions and impacts found that black carbon is second to carbon dioxide in terms of its climate forcing. High concentrations of black carbon in the atmosphere can change precipitation patterns and reduce the amount of radiation that reaches the Earth’s surface, which affects local agriculture. Acute and chronic exposures to particulate matter are associated with a range of diseases, including chronic bronchitis and asthma, as well as premature deaths from cardiopulmonary disease, lung cancer, and acute lower respiratory infections. The transportation sector accounted for approximately 19 percent of global black carbon emissions in the year 2000. This report aims to inform efforts to control black carbon emissions from diesel-based transportation in developing countries. It presents a summary of emissions control approaches from developed countries, while recognizing that developing countries face a number of on-the-ground implementation challenges. This study applies a new cost-benefit analysis methodology to four simulated diesel black carbon emissions control projects – diesel retrofit in Istanbul, green freight (plus retrofit) in Sao Paulo, fuel and vehicle standards in Jakarta, and compressed natural gas (CNG) buses in Cebu taking into account the additional climate benefits of black carbon reductions. While this report focuses on quantifying just the health and climate benefits of transport interventions, it also serves to highlight the challenges that can be faced when undertaking more comprehensive evaluation of transport projects. A cost-benefit framework for economic analysis of diesel black carbon emissions control transport projects is also presented that factors in both climate and health benefits. Historically, technical interventions to control diesel black carbon emissions in developed countries have successfully relied on fuel quality improvements and vehicle emissions standards.

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