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Signaling Status: The Impact of Relative Income on Household Consumption and Financial Decisions

October 25, 2014 Comments off

Signaling Status: The Impact of Relative Income on Household Consumption and Financial Decisions (PDF)
Source: Federal Reserve Board

This paper investigates the importance of status in household consumption and financial decisions using household data from the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) linked to neighborhood data in the American Community Survey (ACS). We find evidence that a household’s income rank–its position in the income distribution relative to its close neighbors–is positively associated with its expenditures on high status cars, its level of indebtedness, as well as the riskiness of the household’s portfolio. More aggregate county-level evidence based on a dataset of every new car sold in each county in the United States since 2002 also suggests that the signaling motive might be important. These results indicate that greater income heterogeneity might have large consequences for household consumption and portfolio decisions.

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Economic & Environmental Impact of Traffic Congestion in Europe & the US

October 22, 2014 Comments off

Economic & Environmental Impact of Traffic Congestion in Europe & the US
Source: Inrix

With people in Europe and the US currently wasting on average 111 hours annually in gridlock, the impact of traffic congestion on individual driver’s time is well understood. However, new research shows traffic congestion actually does much more than test our patience. It’s a significant drain on our wallets as well our economies.

A new report by INRIX in collaboration with one of the world’s leading economic think tanks, the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), quantifies the cost of traffic congestion on individual households and national economies in the U.S., U.K., France and Germany. This is the first study of its kind to forecast the projected increases in these costs in these countries and their most congested cities between 2013 and 2030. Driven by urbanization and increased GDP per capita over the next 17 years, a few of the key findings include:

  • The combined annual cost of gridlock to these countries is expected to soar to $293.1 billion by 2030, almost a 50% increase from 2013.
  • Over this period, the cumulative cost of congestion for these economies combined is estimated to be a staggering $4.4 trillion.
  • The overall economic impact is greatest in the U.S. where the estimated cumulative cost of traffic congestion by 2030 is $2.8 trillion – the same amount Americans collectively paid in U.S. taxes last year.
  • However the UK (at 66%) and London (at 71%) will see the greatest annual rise in the cost of congestion by 2030, mainly as a result of seeing the highest increase in urbanization
  • At the individual level, traffic congestion cost drivers $1,740 last year on average across the four countries. If unchecked, this number is expected to grow more than 60% to $2,902 annually by 2030.

Free registration required to download report.

Factors Contributing to Median Encroachments and Cross-Median Crashes

October 16, 2014 Comments off

Factors Contributing to Median Encroachments and Cross-Median Crashes
Source: Transportation Research Board

TRB’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Report 790: Factors Contributing to Median Encroachments and Cross-Median Crashes investigates the factors that contribute to median-related crashes and identifies design treatments and countermeasures that can be applied to improve median safety on divided highways.

Vital Signs: Health Burden and Medical Costs of Nonfatal Injuries to Motor Vehicle Occupants — United States, 2012

October 15, 2014 Comments off

Vital Signs: Health Burden and Medical Costs of Nonfatal Injuries to Motor Vehicle Occupants — United States, 2012
Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC)

Background:
Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death and injury in the United States. The purpose of this study was to describe the current health burden and medical and work loss costs of nonfatal crash injuries among vehicle occupants in the United States.

Methods:
CDC analyzed data on emergency department (ED) visits resulting from nonfatal crash injuries among vehicle occupants in 2012 using the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System – All Injury Program (NEISS-AIP) and the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project National Inpatient Sample (HCUP-NIS). The number and rate of all ED visits for the treatment of crash injuries that resulted in the patient being released and the number and rate of hospitalizations for the treatment of crash injuries were estimated, as were the associated number of hospital days and lifetime medical and work loss costs.

Results:
In 2012, an estimated 2,519,471 ED visits resulted from nonfatal crash injuries, with an estimated lifetime medical cost of $18.4 billion (2012 U.S. dollars). Approximately 7.5% of these visits resulted in hospitalizations that required an estimated 1,057,465 hospital days in 2012.

Conclusions:
Nonfatal crash injuries occur frequently and result in substantial costs to individuals, employers, and society. For each motor vehicle crash death in 2012, eight persons were hospitalized, and 100 were treated and released from the ED.

Implications for Public Health:
Public health practices and laws, such as primary seat belt laws, child passenger restraint laws, ignition interlocks to prevent alcohol impaired driving, sobriety checkpoints, and graduated driver licensing systems have demonstrated effectiveness for reducing motor vehicle crashes and injuries. They might also substantially reduce associated ED visits, hospitalizations, and medical costs.

New Report Shows Mounting Evidence of Millennials’ Shift Away From Driving

October 15, 2014 Comments off

New Report Shows Mounting Evidence of Millennials’ Shift Away From Driving
Source: USPIRG

A new report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) Education Fund and the Frontier Group shows mounting evidence that the Millennial generation’s dramatic shift away from driving is more than temporary. While the 2000s saw a marked decrease in the average number of miles traveled by young Americans, the study explains that those trends appear likely to continue even as the economy improves – in light of the consistency of Millennials’ surveyed preferences, a continued reduction of Millennials driving to work, and the continued decreases in per-capita driving among all Americans.

U.S. Fuel Economy Reaches All-Time High/Fuel economy gains for new vehicles continue under President Obama’s Clean Car Program

October 9, 2014 Comments off

U.S. Fuel Economy Reaches All-Time High/Fuel economy gains for new vehicles continue under President Obama’s Clean Car Program
Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

New vehicles achieved an all-time-high fuel economy in 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency announced today. Model year 2013 vehicles achieved an average of 24.1 miles per gallon (mpg) — a 0.5 mpg increase over the previous year and an increase of nearly 5 mpg since 2004. Fuel economy has now increased in eight of the last nine years. The average carbon dioxide emissions are also at a record low of 369 grams per mile in model year 2013.

EPA’s annual “Light-Duty Automotive Technology, Carbon Dioxide Emissions, and Fuel Economy Trends: 1975 through 2014” report tracks average fuel economy of new cars and SUVs sold in the United States. The report also ranks automakers’ achievements in model year 2013.

Some additional top-line findings from the report:

·The recent fuel economy improvement is a result of automakers’ rapid adoption of more efficient technologies such as gasoline direct injection engines, turbochargers, and advanced transmissions.
·Mazda vehicles averaged the highest fuel economy and lowest greenhouse gas emissions
·Nissan achieved the greatest improvement in average fuel economy and greenhouse gas reductions
·SUVs achieved the greatest improvement in all classes of new personal vehicles.

Imperfect Hands-Free Systems Causing Potentially-Unsafe Driver Distractions

October 8, 2014 Comments off

Imperfect Hands-Free Systems Causing Potentially-Unsafe Driver Distractions
Source: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

With three out of four drivers believing that hands-free technology is safe to use, Americans may be surprised to learn that these popular new vehicle features may actually increase mental distraction, according to new research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. This research can serve as guidance to manufacturers who increasingly market hands-free systems as safety features. The good news for consumers is that it is possible to design hands-free technologies that are less cognitively distracting, according to the research.

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