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Taking on the Rising Death Toll from Traffic & Pollution

April 11, 2014 Comments off

Taking on the Rising Death Toll from Traffic & Pollution
Source: World Bank

+ The annual death toll linked to road transportation is higher than many policy makers realize, reaching at least 1.5 million people worldwide and rising, according to a new analysis.

+ The report, Transport for Health, counts the number of lives lost to road crashes and, for the first time, also quantifies deaths related to vehicle pollution.

+ It offers practical actions countries can take now to improve transportation, air quality, and road safety data.

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China’s Hunger for U.S. Planes and Cars: Assessing the Risks

April 8, 2014 Comments off

China’s Hunger for U.S. Planes and Cars: Assessing the Risks (PDF)
Source: U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission

The U.S. trade deficit with China continues to grow but at a slower rate. A key reason for this is the boom in U.S. automotive and aerospace shipments to China. As China becomes more affluent and urbanized, ordinary Chinese are driving more cars and traveling more by frequently by air. China’s future demand, however, could be affected by pollution, traffic bottlenecks, and other factors. U.S. companies must also contend with China’s industrial policy, which tilts the playing field toward domestic industry. In the long run, technology transfer and off-shoring could erode U.S. competitiveness and take business away from U.S. plants.

CRS — Unlawfully Present Aliens, Driver’s Licenses, and Other State-Issued ID: Select Legal Issues

April 7, 2014 Comments off

Unlawfully Present Aliens, Driver’s Licenses, and Other State-Issued ID: Select Legal Issues (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

One aspect of the broader debate over aliens who are present in the United States in violation of federal immigration law has been their eligibility for driver’s licenses and other forms of state-issued identification documents (IDs). The issuance of driver’s licenses has historically been considered a state matter, and states have taken a variety of approaches. Some have barred the issuance of driver’s licenses and other state-issued ID to unlawfully present aliens; others permit their issuance; and yet others instead grant unlawfully present aliens Certificates for Driving (CFDs) or Driving Privilege Cards (DPCs). CFDs or DPCs expressly state, on their face, that they are valid for driving, but not for other purposes. The federal government has generally not intruded on state control over the issuance of driver’s licenses, although the REAL ID Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-13, Div. B) will, when implemented, bar federal agencies from accepting, “for any official purpose,” licenses or ID cards issued by states that do not meet specific requirements.

Traffic Safety Trends: State Legislative Action 2013

April 7, 2014 Comments off

Traffic Safety Trends: State Legislative Action 2013
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

Issues examined in this report include occupant protection, distracted driving, driver licensing, impaired driving, aggressive driving, speed limits, motorcycle helmets, automated enforcement, school bus safety, and pedestrian and bicycle safety. Tables and charts detailing state traffic safety laws are included; as are contacts and links for further information (Appendix A contains National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [NHTSA] regional office contact information). All bills discussed in this report can be found in the NCSL – NHTSA Traffic Safety Legislative Tracking Database.

Is the curb 80% full or 20% empty? Assessing the impacts of San Francisco’s parking pricing experiment

April 4, 2014 Comments off

Is the curb 80% full or 20% empty? Assessing the impacts of San Francisco’s parking pricing experiment
Source: Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice

The city of San Francisco is undertaking a large-scale controlled parking pricing experiment. San Francisco has adopted a performance goal of 60–80% occupancy for its metered parking. The goal represents an heuristic performance measure intended to reduce double parking and cruising for parking, and improve the driver experience; it follows a wave of academic and policy literature that calls for adjusting on-street parking prices to achieve similar occupancy targets. In this paper, we evaluate the relationship between occupancy rules and metrics of direct policy interest, such as the probability of finding a parking space and the amount of cruising. We show how cruising and arrival rates can be simulated or estimated from hourly occupancy data. Further, we evaluate the impacts of the first two years of the San Francisco program, and conclude that rate changes have helped achieve the City’s occupancy goal and reduced cruising by 50%.

Innovative Mobility Carsharing Outlook: Carsharing Market Overview, Analysis, and Trends

April 2, 2014 Comments off

Innovative Mobility Carsharing Outlook: Carsharing Market Overview, Analysis, and Trends
Source: University of California-Berkeley (Transportation Sustainability Research Center)

North American Carsharing:
· As of January 1, 2013, there were 46 active programs in North America with 1,033,564 members sharing 15,603 vehicles.
· As of January 1,2013, 20 Canadian operators claimed 141,351 members and shared 3,432 vehicles. In the United States, 891,953 members shared 12,131 vehicles among 25 operators. In Mexico, 620 members shared 40 vehicles among one operator.
· Between January 2012 and January 2013, carsharing membership grew 24.1% in the United States and 53.4% in Canada. Between January 2012 and January 2013, carsharing fleets grew 23.6% in the United States and 35.9% in Canada.
· As of January 1, 2013, U.S. member-vehicle ratios were 73:1, representing a 0.4% increase between January 2012 and January 2013. In Canada, the ratio was 41:1, representing a 12.9% increase over the same period.

Worldwide Carsharing:
· As of October 2012, carsharing was operating in 27 countries and 5 continents, accounting for an estimated 1,788,000 members sharing over 43,550 vehicles.
· North America remains the largest carsharing region, with Europe and North America accounting for 38.7% and 50.8% of worldwide carsharing membership, respectively.
· Europe accounts for the majority of fleets deployed in 2012: 47.0% in contrast to 36.2% in North America.
· As of October 2012, one-way carsharing was operating in seven countries worldwide including (Austria, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States).

Personal Vehicle Sharing
· As of October 2012, there were 33 personal vehicle sharing operators worldwide, with 10 active or in pilot phase, three planned, and four defunct in North America.

NHTSA Announces Final Rule Requiring Rear Visibility Technology

March 31, 2014 Comments off

NHTSA Announces Final Rule Requiring Rear Visibility Technology
Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) today issued a final rule requiring rear visibility technology in all new vehicles under 10,000 pounds by May 2018. This new rule enhances the safety of these vehicles by significantly reducing the risk of fatalities and serious injuries caused by backover accidents.

Today’s final rule requires all vehicles under 10,000 pounds, including buses and trucks, manufactured on or after May 1, 2018, to come equipped with rear visibility technology that expands the field of view to enable the driver of a motor vehicle to detect areas behind the vehicle to reduce death and injury resulting from backover incidents. The field of view must include a 10-foot by 20-foot zone directly behind the vehicle. The system must also meet other requirements including image size, linger time, response time, durability, and deactivation.

On average, there are 210 fatalities and 15,000 injuries per year caused by backover crashes. NHTSA has found that children under 5 years old account for 31 percent of backover fatalities each year, and adults 70 years of age and older account for 26 percent.

CRS — Cars, Trucks, and Climate: EPA Regulation of Greenhouse Gases from Mobile Sources

March 26, 2014 Comments off

Cars, Trucks, and Climate: EPA Regulation of Greenhouse Gases from Mobile Sources (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

On February 18, 2014, President Obama directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to develop a second round of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission and fuel economy standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks. The standards, which will affect trucks beginning with the 2019 model year, are to be proposed by March 2015 and finalized a year later.

U.S. Fire Administration — Emergency Vehicle Safety Initiative

March 10, 2014 Comments off

Emergency Vehicle Safety Initiative (PDF)
Source: U.S. Fire Administration

Since the release of our publication “Emergency Vehicle Safety Initiative (2004),” we have worked with many fire service organizations and the law enforcement community to increase emergency responder safety in this area. Our latest study report, “Emergency Vehicle Safety Initiative (2014),” consolidates the results of this work and provides best practices and recommendations for safer emergency vehicle and roadway incident response.

Topics covered include:

  • Common crash causes and crash prevention.
  • The impact of vehicle design and maintenance on safety.
  • Internal and external factors for improving response-related safety.
  • Regulating emergency vehicle response and roadway scene safety.
  • Roadway incident scene safety.

Who Rides and Who Pays: Comprehensive Assessment of Motorcycling Costs and Benefits in the United States

March 6, 2014 Comments off

Who Rides and Who Pays: Comprehensive Assessment of Motorcycling Costs and Benefits in the United States
Source: Transportation Research Board

This paper offers a comprehensive assessment of the benefits and costs of motorcycle use while exploring the characteristics, behaviors and attitudes of motorcycle riders. U.S. motorcyclists are at relatively high risk of crashing, per mile travelled, with rates 24 times higher than those of passenger car and light-duty truck drivers. However, motorcycles require just one quarter the parking space of a car, and can double network capacities (in terms of vehicles per hour), thereby reducing congestion.

While most motorcycles enjoy high fuel economy, their low seating capacities render them little or no better than most cars and some light-duty trucks (assuming average vehicle occupancies). They emit relatively fewer grams of CO2, NOx, SO2 and PM10 per person-mile traveled than most cars, but more VOC and CO, if a catalytic converter is not installed. Noise impacts are also a serious issue for many motorcycles, with an inconsistent patchwork of regulations applied across states and localities.

Results of a survey of current and former U.S. motorcyclists indicates almost use their motorcycles for recreational purposes and ride in groups, though about half also ride for more mandatory/less discretionary purposes and about 40% also ride solo. Less than a third has had formal motorcycle training, and helmet use appears lower among current riders who do not own a motorcycle. Engine size appears to be rising, and respondents showed strong support for policies that combat operating a vehicle under the influence (such as ignition interlock devices for offenders). Regression models illuminate key factors and marginal effects on motorcycle riding and ownership rates.

See also: Lessons Learned from Motorcyclist Surveys: Rider’s Attitudes and Behaviors in Florida (PDF)

CRS — Algae’s Potential as a Transportation Biofuel

March 6, 2014 Comments off

Algae’s Potential as a Transportation Biofuel (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

Congress continues to debate the federal role in biofuel research, biofuel tax incentives, and renewable fuel mandates. The debate touches on topics such as fuel imports and security, job creation, and environmental benefits, and is particularly significant for advanced biofuels, such as those produced by algae.

Congress established the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2), a mandate requiring that the national fuel supply contain a minimum amount of fuel produced from renewable biomass. The RFS2 is essentially composed of two biofuel mandates—one for unspecified biofuel, which is being met largely with corn-starch ethanol, and one for advanced biofuels (or non-corn starch ethanol), which may not be met in coming years due to a lack of production. Within the advanced biofuels category, the RFS2 requirements for the cellulosic biofuels subcategory (e.g., ethanol from switchgrass) have not been met for the last few years, which could cause alarm among those required to purchase fuel or credits to satisfy the mandate, as this subcategory is slated to ramp up from roughly 3% of the requirement in the standard in 2012 to roughly 44% of the standard in 2022. Limited cellulosic biofuel production has occurred to date. As a result, as allowed under the RFS2, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has lowered the required cellulosic biofuels volume for 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 and has proposed to do the same for 2014.

Currently, algae-based biofuel qualifies as an advanced biofuel under the RFS2, but not as a cellulosic biofuel. If algae were added as an eligible feedstock type under the RFS2 cellulosic biofuels mandate, and if an increase in production resulted, then a larger portion of the requirement might be achieved, although current production is minimal. Algae does qualify as a feedstock for the biomass-based diesel subcategory of the RFS2 advanced biofuel mandate. The RFS2 does not mandate rapid growth of biomass-based diesel, as it does for cellulosic biofuels.

State Department of Transportation Fleet Replacement Management Practices

March 4, 2014 Comments off

State Department of Transportation Fleet Replacement Management Practices
Source: Transportation Research Board

TRB’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Synthesis 452: State Department of Transportation Fleet Replacement Management Practices explores the current state of the practice regarding fleet replacement management and financing methods by state departments of transportation. The report also includes a discussion of the perceived strengths and weaknesses of different management and financing methods.

Inrix 2012-2013 Traffic Scorecard

March 4, 2014 Comments off

Inrix 2012-2013 Traffic Scorecard
Source: Inrix
From press release:

INRIX, a leading international provider of traffic information and driver services, today released its seventh Annual Traffic Scorecard Report, which revealed that traffic congestion increased in 2013 in the U.S. after two consecutive years of declines. While U.S. GDP grew at a rate of 1.9 percent, traffic congestion increased approximately 6 percent compared to 2012. If economic growth continues in 2014 as economists suggest, drivers can expect more delays and longer commute times on America’s roads this year.

In Europe, traffic congestion rose in 2013 for the first time in two years up approximately 6 percent in the last three quarters of the year. After suffering from a lack of economic growth and employment through the “Great Recession,” economic sentiment and hiring steadily improved in 2013 with the data indicating traffic congestion is once again on the rise as a result.

Mortality from road crashes in 193 countries: a comparison with other leading causes of death

February 26, 2014 Comments off

Mortality from road crashes in 193 countries: a comparison with other leading causes of death
Source: Transportation Research Institute (University of Michigan)

This study compared, for each country of the world, the fatalities per population from road crashes with fatalities per population from three leading causes of death (malignant neoplasm, ischaemic heart disease, and cerebrovascular disease), and from all causes. The data, applicable to 2008, came from the World Health Organization. The main findings are as follows:
(1) For the world, there are 18 fatalities from road crashes per 100,000 population, as compared with 113 for malignant neoplasm, 108 for ischaemic heart disease, and 91 for cerebrovascular disease. The highest fatality rate from road crashes is in Namibia (45) and the lowest in the Maldives (2).
(2) For the world, fatalities from road crashes represent 2.1% of fatalities from all causes. The highest percentage is in the United Arab Emirates (15.9%) and the lowest in the Marshall Islands (0.3%).
(3) For the world, fatalities from road crashes represent 15.9% of fatalities from malignant neoplasm. The highest percentage is in Namibia (153.9%) and the lowest in the Maldives (1.7%).
(4) For the world, fatalities from road crashes represent 16.7% of fatalities from ischaemic heart disease. The highest percentage is in Qatar (123.9%) and the lowest in Malta (1.9%).
(5) For the world, fatalities from road crashes represent 19.6% of fatalities from cerebrovascular disease. The highest percentage is in Qatar (529.7%) and the lowest in the Marshall Islands (2.3%). The appendixes list the rates and percentages for each individual country.

Implementing Technology to Improve Public Highway Performance: A Leapfrog Technology from the Private Sector Is Going To Be Necessary

February 24, 2014 Comments off

Implementing Technology to Improve Public Highway Performance: A Leapfrog Technology from the Private Sector Is Going To Be Necessary
Source: Brookings Institution

While the government is looking to mandate private sector auto technology – vehicle-to-vehicle (v2v) communication – it is doing little to allow technology that would improve the nation’s public highways, according to a new paper by Clifford Winston, Searle Freedom Trust Fellow at Brookings and Fred Mannering at Purdue University published in The Economics of Transportation.

Winston and Mannering compare the nation’s highways to a blocked artery of the U.S. economy, noting that the indispensable road system is valued at $3 trillion, with 75 percent of goods transported on roads by truck and 93 percent of all commutes by cars and busses. The private-sector auto industry has implemented substantial technological improvement in terms of performance, safety and comfort, whereas technological improvements on highways have been meager, they write.

Fit for the road: Older drivers’ crash rates continue to drop

February 21, 2014 Comments off

Fit for the road: Older drivers’ crash rates continue to drop
Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Today’s older drivers are not only less likely to be involved in crashes than prior generations, they are less likely to be killed or seriously injured if they do crash, a new Institute study shows. That’s likely because vehicles are safer and seniors are generally healthier. It’s a marked shift that began to take hold in the mid-1990s and indicates that the growing ranks of aging drivers aren’t making U.S. roads deadlier.

Management Practices, Relational Contracts, and the Decline of General Motors

February 20, 2014 Comments off

Management Practices, Relational Contracts, and the Decline of General Motors
Source: Harvard Business School Working Paper

General Motors was once regarded as one of the best managed and most successful firms in the world, but between 1980 and 2009 its share of the U.S. market fell from 62.6% to 19.8%, and in 2009 the firm went bankrupt. In this paper we argue that the conventional explanation for this decline-namely high legacy labor and health care costs-is seriously incomplete, and that GM’s share collapsed for many of the same reasons that many of the other highly successful American firms of the 50s, 60s, and 70s were forced from the market, including a failure to understand the nature of the competition they faced and an inability to respond effectively once they did. We focus particularly on the problems GM encountered in developing the relational contracts essential to modern design and manufacturing. We discuss a number of possible causes for these difficulties: including GM’s historical practice of treating both its suppliers and its blue collar workforce as homogeneous, interchangeable entities, and its view that expertise could be partitioned so that there was minimal overlap of knowledge amongst functions or levels in the organizational hierarchy and decisions could be made using well-defined financial criteria. We suggest that this dynamic may have important implications for our understanding of the role of management in the modern, knowledge-based firm, and for the potential revival of manufacturing in the United States.

CRS — Mexico: Background and U.S. Relations

February 11, 2014 Comments off

Mexico: Background and U.S. Relations (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Congress has maintained significant interest in neighboring Mexico, a close ally and top trade partner whose political and economic situation has significant ramifications for the United States. On December 1, 2012, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) retook the Mexican presidency after 12 years in the opposition. Analysts are divided on how differently PRI President Enrique Peña Nieto will govern than his PRI predecessors who ruled Mexico from 1929 to 2000. Supporters maintain that Peña Nieto heads a “new PRI” government that is free from corruption and is enacting reforms that proved elusive for his two National Action Party (PAN) predecessors. Skeptics question the government’s commitment to transparency and human rights and whether the reforms that have been enacted will be implemented effectively.

President Peña Nieto’s first year in office has brought mixed results for Mexico. The economy faltered (GDP growth fell from 3.7% in 2012 to 1.2% in 2013) and violent crime remained elevated. Nevertheless, Peña Nieto’s “Pact for Mexico” agreement with the conservative PAN and leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) facilitated the passage of significant financial, education, telecommunications, and fiscal reforms. Although the PRD recently withdrew from the Pact, Peña Nieto ended the year on a high note, signing historic constitutional reforms to open Mexico’s energy sector to private investment on December 20, 2013.

See also: Status of Mexican Trucks in the United States: Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)

February 2014 Vital Signs Issue: Child Passenger Safety

February 10, 2014 Comments off

February 2014 Vital Signs Issue: Child Passenger Safety
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
From press release:

Motor vehicle crash deaths among children age 12 and younger decreased by 43 percent from 2002-2011; however, still more than 9,000 children died in crashes during that period, according to a new Vital Signs report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Research has shown that using age- and size-appropriate child restraints (car seats, booster seats, and seat belts) is the best way to save lives and reduce injuries in a crash. Yet the report found that almost half of all black (45 percent) and Hispanic (46 percent) children who died in crashes were not buckled up, compared to 26 percent of white children (2009-2010).

New From the GAO

February 3, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Report
Source: Government Accountability Office

Federal Motor Carrier Safety: Modifying the Compliance, Safety, Accountability Program Would Improve the Ability to Identify High Risk Carriers.
GAO-14-114, February 3.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-114
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/660609.pdf

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