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
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.
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
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, 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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/660609.pdf
Motor Vehicle Crashes and Injuries Involving Teenage Drivers: Future Directions for Research
Source: Transportation Research Board
This circular includes a summary of the discussions by experts on teenage driving that took place at a 2008 meeting and workshop organized by the TRB Subcommittee on Young Drivers. The meeting and workshop were convened to identify research that is needed to answer the most critical and timely scientific questions about teenage drivers. During the meeting, full-group discussions were intermixed with smaller subgroup deliberations. Each of these sessions involved a particular goal for the participating groups. The intent of this structure was to elicit and discuss as many research-specific issues as the participants considered important for identifying needed research in the young driver field. Participants reviewed ways in which the teenage driver problem has been addressed, how approaches have developed and changed over time, and commented on the past and present status of research in this area. The context and state of existing knowledge led to the identification of the following areas of research as most critical: 1) advancing the science of teenage driving; 2) learning to drive safely: how competence develops; 3) teenage driving exposure issues; 4) parenting issues: how parents influence teenage driving; and 5) passenger issues: how passengers influence teenage driving and crash risk. Following the meeting, members of the planning committee developed potential research topics and specific items for suggested research in the five priority areas. The document is intended to provide both new and veteran researchers with a guide to research questions whose answers are of particular importance for efforts to reduce motor vehicle crashes, injuries, and deaths involving teenage drivers.
Integrating vegetation and green infrastructure into sustainable transportation planning (PDF)
Source: U.S. Forest Service
Although development patterns that limit urban sprawl and vehicle miles traveled can have a major impact on reducing GHG emissions, these plans, as well as similar proposals in other localities, concen- trate development along major trans it corridors. The result is to increase the local population’s exposure to emissions generated from the high-volume freeways.
Transit-oriented development and similar policies increase the population’s access to services and transportation options and lead to regional reduc- tions in vehicle miles traveled and air pollution. Nonetheless, these practices often bring people closer to the sources of air pollutant emissions, such as traffic activity. As a result, ways to reduce the exposure of people residing and working near high-volume roadways are needed.
A workshop in Sacramento, California, on June 5–6, 2012, gathered a multidisciplinary group of researchers and policy makers to discuss roadside vegetation as an option for mitigating the health impacts of air quality near roads. The following is a summary of the workshop discussions, including an overview of the role that roadside vegetation may play in reducing population exposures to air pollutants emitted by traffic. Roadside vegetation also is examined as a sustainable mitigation option in the context of other potential benefits and disbenefits.
Subways, Strikes, and Slowdowns: The Impacts of Public Transit on Traffic Congestion (PDF)
Source: National Bureau of Economic Research
Public transit accounts for only 1% of U.S. passenger miles traveled but nevertheless attracts strong public support. Using a simple choice model, we predict that transit riders are likely to be individuals who commute along routes with the most severe roadway delays. These individuals’ choices thus have very high marginal impacts on congestion. We test this prediction with data from a sudden strike in 2003 by Los Angeles transit workers. Estimating a regression discontinuity design, we find that average highway delay increases 47% when transit service ceases. This effect is consistent with our model’s predictions and many times larger than earlier estimates, which have generally concluded that public transit provides minimal congestion relief. We find that the net benefits of transit systems appear to be much larger than previously believed.
Transit Utilization and Traffic Congestion: Is There a Connection?
Source: Reason Foundation
+ Statistical analysis of the 74 largest urbanized areas in the U.S. over a 26-year period suggests that increasing transit utilization does not lead to a reduction in traffic congestion; nor does decreasing transit utilization lead to an increase in traffic congestion.
+ Policies designed to promote transit utilization can in certain instances increase traffic congestion—as appears to have been the case in Portland, Oregon.
+ Vehicle-miles traveled per freeway lane-mile is strongly correlated with traffic congestion: the more people drive relative to available freeway capacity, the worse congestion gets.
+ Data from New York and Los Angeles indicate that the most effective way to increase transit utilization is by reducing fares, as well as by improving basic, pre-existing service.
I am a Smartphone and I Know My User is Driving
Source: Microsoft Research
We intend to develop a smartphone app that can distinguish whether its user is a driver or a passenger in an automobile. While the core problem can be solved relatively easily with special installations in new high-end vehicles (e.g., NFC), constraints of backward compatibility makes the problem far more challenging. We design a Driver Detection System (DDS) that relies entirely on smartphone sensors, and is thereby compatible with all automobiles. Our approach harnesses smartphone sensors to recognize micro-activities in humans, that in turn discriminate between the driver and the passenger. We demonstrate an early prototype of this system on Android NexusS and Apple iPhones. Reported results show greater than 85% accuracy across 6 users in 2 different cars.
Distracted Driving and Risk of Road Crashes among Novice and Experienced Drivers
Source: New England Journal of Medicine
Among novice drivers, dialing or reaching for a cell phone, texting, reaching for an object other than a cell phone, looking at a roadside object such as a vehicle in a previous crash, and eating were all associated with a significantly increased risk of a crash or near-crash. Among experienced drivers, only cell-phone dialing was associated with an increased risk.
Older Driver Traffic Safety Plan (PDF)
Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
This report contains a description of NHTSA’s plans to address the following topics:
• Screening and Assessment – Relating to medical providers, families, licensing agencies, law enforcement, and older drivers in all efforts to improve the value of screening and assessment of driving abilities.
• Licensing – Including efforts to improve the validity and value of licensing actions relating to medically at-risk drivers and communications between licensing and others regarding at-risk drivers.
• Medical Providers – Focusing on medical providers and older driver issues outside the scope of screening and assessment, such as medication reviews and revisions of medically-oriented materials.
• Public Education and Program Promotion – Identifying activities to promote and evaluate education programs for older drivers and their families, including driver retraining courses. This area also includes law enforcement.
• Other Activities – Researching topics that are important to explore, but do not otherwise fit into the above categories.