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Motor Vehicle Census, Australia, 31 Jan 2014

August 14, 2014 Comments off

Motor Vehicle Census, Australia, 31 Jan 2014
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

This publication presents statistics relating to vehicles which were registered at 31 January 2014 with a motor vehicle registration authority. Motor vehicle registration statistics reflect the information as recorded in registration documents.

Statistics are provided on vehicle types comprising passenger vehicles, campervans, light commercial vehicles, trucks, buses and motor cycles. Vehicle characteristic information includes make of vehicle, year of manufacture, type of fuel that the vehicle was registered as using, and Gross Vehicle Mass or Gross Combination Mass for trucks. The size of the motor vehicle fleet is also compared with the estimated resident population.

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Commuter Mode Choice and Free Car Parking, Public Transportation Benefits, Showers/Lockers, and Bike Parking at Work: Evidence from the Washington, DC Region

August 13, 2014 Comments off

Commuter Mode Choice and Free Car Parking, Public Transportation Benefits, Showers/Lockers, and Bike Parking at Work: Evidence from the Washington, DC Region (PDF)
Source: Journal of Public Transportation

Municipalities and employers in the U.S. attempt to reduce commuting by automobile through commuter benefits for riding public transportation, walking, or cycling. Many employers provide a combination of benefits, often including free car parking alongside benefits for public transportation, walking, and cycling. This study evaluates the relationship between commuter benefits and mode choice for the commute to work using revealed preference data on 4,630 regular commuters, including information about free car parking, public transportation benefits, showers/lockers, and bike parking at work in the Washington, DC region. Multinomial logistic regression results show that free car parking at work is related to more driving. Commuters offered either public transportation benefits, showers/lockers, or bike parking, but no free car parking, are more likely to either ride public transportation, walk, or cycle to work. The joint provision of benefits for public transportation, walking, and cycling is related to an increased likelihood to commute by all three of these modes and a decreased likelihood of driving. However, the inclusion of free car parking in benefit packages alongside benefits for public transportation, walking, and cycling, seems to offset the effect of these incentives. Benefits for public transportation, walking, and cycling, seem to work best when car parking is not free.

Cash for Corollas: When Stimulus Reduces Spending

August 12, 2014 Comments off

Cash for Corollas: When Stimulus Reduces Spending
Source: National Bureau of Economic Research (via Texas A&M)

Cash for Clunkers was a 2009 economic stimulus program aimed at increasing new vehicle spending by subsidizing the replacement of older vehicles. Using a regression discontinuity design, we show the increase in sales during the two month program was completely offset during the following seven to nine months, consistent with previous research. However, we also find the program’s fuel efficiency restrictions induced households to purchase more fuel efficient but less expensive vehicles, thereby reducing industry revenues by three billion dollars over the entire nine to eleven month period. This highlights the conflict between the stimulus and environmental objectives of the policy.

Most older pedestrians are unable to cross the road in time: a cross-sectional study

August 11, 2014 Comments off

Most older pedestrians are unable to cross the road in time: a cross-sectional study
Source: Age and Ageing

Objectives: to compare walking speed in the UK older population with the speed required to utilise pedestrian crossings (≥1.2 m/s), and determine health and socio-demographic associations with walking impairment.

Design: cross-sectional study using Health Survey for England 2005 data.

Setting: private households in England.

Participants: random population sample of 3,145 adults (1,444 men) aged ≥65 years.

Main outcome measures: walking speed was assessed by timing a walk of 8 feet at normal pace. Walking impairment was defined as walking speed <1.2 m/s or non-participation in the test due to being unsafe or unable.

Results: the mean walking speed was 0.9 m/s in men and 0.8 m/s in women; 84% of men and 93% of women ≥65 years had walking impairment. Female gender, increasing age, lower socio-economic status, poorer health and lower grip strength were predictors of walking impairment.

Conclusion: most older adults either cannot walk 8 feet safely or cannot walk fast enough to use a pedestrian crossing in the UK. The health impacts on older adults include limited independence and reduced opportunities for physical activity and social interaction. An assumed normal walking speed for pedestrian crossings of 1.2 m/s is inappropriate for older adults and revision of these timings should be considered.

A Survey of Public Opinion About Autonomous and Self-Driving Vehicles In The U.S., The U.K., And Australia

August 7, 2014 Comments off

A Survey of Public Opinion About Autonomous and Self-Driving Vehicles In The U.S., The U.K., And Australia (PDF)
Source: University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (via The Atlantic)

This survey examined public opinion regarding self-driving-vehicle technology in three major English-speaking countries—the U.S., the U.K., and Australia. The survey yielded useable responses from 1,533 persons 18 years and older.

  • The main findings (applicable to each of the three countries) were as follows:
  • The majority of respondents had previously heard of autonomous or self-driving vehicles, had a positive initial opinion of the technology, and had high expectations about the benefits of the technology.
  • However, the majority of respondents expressed high levels of concern about riding in self-driving vehicles, security issues related to self-driving vehicles, and self-driving vehicle not performing as well as actual drivers.
  • Respondents also expressed high levels of concern about vehicles without driver controls; self-driving vehicles moving while unoccupied; and self-driving commercial vehicles, busses, and taxis.
  • The majority of respondents expressed a desire to have this technology in their vehicle. However, a majority was also unwilling to pay extra for the technology; those who were willing to pay offered similar amounts in each country.
  • Females expressed higher levels of concern with self-driving vehicles than did males. Similarly, females were more cautious about their expectations concerning benefits from using self-driving vehicles.

In comparison to the respondents in the U.K. and Australia, respondents in the U.S. expressed greater concern about riding in self-driving vehicles, data privacy, interacting with non-self-driving vehicles, self-driving vehicles not driving as well as human drivers in general, and riding in a self-driving vehicle with no driver controls available.

The main implications of these results are that motorists and the general public in the three countries surveyed, while expressing high levels of concern about riding in vehicles equipped with this technology, feel positive about self-driving vehicles, have optimistic expectations of the benefits, and generally desire self-driving-vehicle technology when it becomes available (though a majority is not willing to pay extra for such technology at this time).

See: Why Are Americans so Suspicious of Self-Driving Cars? (The Atlantic)

2013 Border Crossing/Entry Data

July 30, 2014 Comments off

2013 Border Crossing/Entry Data
Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

The number of commercial truck crossings into the United States from Canada and Mexico was 10.8 million in 2013, 1.1 percent more than in 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS). That 2013 increase follows increases from 2010 to 2012 after four years of decline from 2005 to 2009, a period that includes the last recession. The truck-crossing numbers are included in the 2013 Border Crossing/Entry Data posted today on the BTS website. The database also includes numbers of incoming trains, buses, containers, personal vehicles, and pedestrians entering the United States through land ports and ferry crossings on the U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Mexico border. The database shows that there were 163.3 million person crossings into the U.S. from Mexico in personal vehicles or as pedestrians in 2013, a 4.6 percent increase from 2012. There were an additional 62.8 million person crossings into the U.S. from Canada in personal vehicles or as pedestrians in 2013, a 0.5 percent increase in person crossings from 2012.

CRS — “Black Boxes” in Passenger Vehicles: Policy Issues

July 25, 2014 Comments off

“Black Boxes” in Passenger Vehicles: Policy Issues (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

An event data recorder (EDR) is an electronic sensor installed in a motor vehicle that records certain technical information about a vehicle’s operational performance for a few seconds immediately prior to and during a crash. Although over 90% of all new cars and light trucks sold in the United States are equipped with them, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is proposing that all new light vehicles have EDRs installed in the future. Under previously adopted NHTSA rules, these devices have to capture at least 15 types of information related to the vehicle’s performance in the few seconds just before and immediately after a crash serious enough to result in deployment of airbags.

EDRs have the potential to make a significant contribution to highway safety. For example, EDR data showed that in several cases a Chevrolet Cobalt’s ignition switch turned the engine off while the car was still moving, causing the car to lose power steering and crash; the data directly contributed to the manufacturer’s decision to recall 2.6 million vehicles. EDR data could also be used, sometimes in conjunction with other vehicle technologies, to record in the few seconds before an accident such data as driver steering input, seat occupant size and position, and sound within a car.

The privacy of information collected by EDRs is a matter of state law, except that federal law bars NHTSA from disclosing personally identifiable information. The privacy aspects of EDRs and the ownership of the data they generate has been the subject of legislation in Congress since at least 2004. The House passed a floor amendment to the transportation appropriations bill in 2012 that would have prohibited use of federal funds to develop an EDR mandate. This provision was not enacted. The Senate passed two EDR-related provisions in its surface transportation reauthorization bill (S. 1813) in 2012, mandating EDRs on new cars sold after 2015 and directing a Department of Transportation study of privacy issues. The provisions were not included in the final bill.

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.

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.

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