Transportation Nation

Feds: One Year of Car Crashes Cost the U.S. $871 Billion

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The U.S. Secretary of Transportation says the economic and societal costs of traffic crashes are "staggering."

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Transportation Nation

NYC Gets Federal Pedestrian Safety Grant to Target "Young Men"

Friday, April 25, 2014

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration just announced the winners of its $1.6 million pedestrian safety grant program, and New York City is getting the largest award.

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Transportation Nation

Feds Confirm Traffic Fatalities on the Rise

Thursday, November 14, 2013

For the first time since 2005, traffic fatalities are on the rise in the U.S.

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Transportation Nation

Two-Second Rule: Feds Issue Distracted Driving Guidelines to Automakers

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Two seconds is enough time for you to do something with your built-in navigation or communication system while you are driving, according to new guidelines issued by federal safety officials to automakers.

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Transportation Nation

Pedestrian Deaths Rose 4% in 2010: Federal Report

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Pedestrian deaths rose 4% in 2010 -- marking the first time in five years that the number has risen.

According to a new report released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 4,280 pedestrians were killed and 70,000 were injured in traffic crashes in the United States in 2010.

Three-quarters of those fatalities happened in urban areas. Alcohol usage -- either on the part of the pedestrian or the driver -- was involved in almost half of the fatalities. Nearly one-half (48%) of all pedestrian deaths occurred on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.

This follows on the heels of news last month that overall traffic fatalities for the first quarter of 2012 increased by 13.5 percent.

Read the report here.

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: House To Take Up 5-Year Transpo Bill, Port Authority Audit Expected to Slam Former Head, Obama's Old Car Available eBay

Thursday, January 26, 2012

 Top stories on TN: U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood doesn’t think there’s much chance Congress will pass a surface transportation spending bill this year -- but he's standing firm on the Obama administration's goal to connect 80 percent of Americans to high-speed rail by 2036. New York's MTA loses its only board member who's married to a Beatle. A Supreme Court ruling on GPS could affect a NYC taxi suit. And: Central Park gets its first crosstown shared bike/pedestrian path.


New York's subway (photo by Kate Hinds)

The new federal highway bill that will be taken up by the House of Representatives next week will be a five-year, $260 billion proposal. (The Hill)

Egyptian authorities are barring several U.S. citizens — including Ray LaHood’s son — from leaving the country after Egyptian government forces raided the offices of Washington-backed groups monitoring recent parliamentary elections there. (Politico)

A preliminary audit of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey's spending, initiated by Govs. Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie, is expected to criticize the agency's prior leader Chris Ward -- but offer few suggestions on how it could save money. (Crain's New York Business)

House Republicans accused the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Wednesday of trying to keep secret a battery fire in a Chevy Volt out of fear of damaging the value of the government’s investment in the car’s manufacturer, General Motors, and jeopardizing President Obama’s re-election prospects. (New York Times)

Calgary has taken steps toward launching a public bike share program as soon as mid-2014, but even the city official who oversees cycling improvements won't promise there will be enough on-street bike lanes in time. (Calgary Herald)

Look out, Midwest: Austin, Texas, wants its share of the auto industry. (Changing Gears)

Editorial: at long last, Michigan lawmakers are finally confronting that state's crumbling roads. (Detroit Free Press)

Why California Governor Jerry Brown is standing firm on high-speed rail. (Christian Science Monitor)

After spending $160 million on a failed radio system for police to communicate in New York's  subways, the city is buying transit cops two-way radios that will finally allow them to communicate with police above ground. (New York Post, New York Daily News)

What transit agencies can learn from Twitter."The most interesting thing we found is that transit riders do not give any positive sentiment at a particular time. They only give negative sentiment," said a researcher. "If there’s no negative sentiment at any given time, that means that things are running smoothly." (Atlantic Cities)


A 2005 Chrysler 300C that Obama reportedly traded in while he was a senator is on eBay for $1 million. (Politico) (And: six days left to bid! Come for the car, stay for the photoshopping.)

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: House Blasts Feds Over Chevy Volt Battery Fire Investigation, PATH Ridership Booming

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Top stories on TN: The president gave two nods to transportation in his State of the Union address -- to the auto industry and cutting red tape. San Francisco and Medellin won the ITDP's Sustainable Transport Award. New York State released a report saying there were no environmental barriers to replacing the Tappan Zee Bridge. A Maryland county is exploring bike share. Brooklyn's Red Hook neighborhood -- which has only one bus line -- will get two more buses added to that route later this year. And the Bronx will join Staten Island in having real-time locating information for all its buses.

A natural gas hydraulic fracturing site near Platteville, Colorado (photo courtesy of Senator Mark Udall's Flickr stream)

The U.S. Department of Transportation wants to give more weight to factors including affordable-housing policy in deciding which local mass-transit initiatives will get federal money. (Bloomberg)

Hydraulic fracturing -- fracking -- has produced so much gas that the price is at a ten-year low. (NPR)

Maryland's Montgomery County wants to use bus rapid transit, not rail, for its Corridor Cities Transitway project. (Washington Examiner)

California's high-speed rail project relies on risky financial assumptions and has just a fraction of the money needed to pay for it, the state auditor said in a new report. (AP via San Francisco Chronicle)

Adolfo Carrion Jr. -- former Bronx Borough President and HUD executive -- will launch a consulting firm that will advise "private sector businesses that are building roads and bridges and pipes and wires and buildings." And: "I'm going to work with players in the affordable housing production universe and I'm going to advise governments about smart growth here and around the country." (New York Daily News)

Airlines are turning increasingly to renting planes -- and the trend is likely to keep growing. (The Economist)

The head of the MTA’s largest union — currently locked in bitter contract negotiations with the transit agency — refused yesterday to rule out the possibility of a crippling subway strike. (New York Post)

Elected officials in Toronto are pushing a new transit plan that could have a new busway operational in less than three years -- and shovels in the ground for new light rail lines by 2014. (Toronto Star)

Disabled parking placard abuse is rampant in downtown Los Angeles. (Los Angeles Times)

House Transportation Chair John Mica intends to release text of the “American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs” proposal perhaps as soon as Friday. (Transportation Issues Daily)

A House committee is holding a hearing this morning on whether NHTSA delayed warning consumers about possible fire risks with the Volt because of the federal government's financial investment in General Motors. (New York Times)

Residents and officials in Tenafly (NJ) blasted a plan to extend the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail through the community, saying it would bring pollution, accidents and noisy train horns. (The Record)

Customs officials intend to shut down their inspection station at Brooklyn's Red Hook terminal. (New York Times)

More commuters rode PATH trains across the Hudson River in 2011 than in any other year since the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey took over the rail system in 1962. (Wall Street Journal)

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Transportation Nation

A Third of Highway Deaths Involve Drugs--Yes, 33 Percent!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

(Washington, D.C. -- Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation) As many as a third of all U.S. traffic fatalities involve drug users.

That’s the conclusion of a new analysis out today from the White House Office of Drug Control Policy and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The alarming statistic comes from an analysis of 2009 NHTSA crash data. It shows a full 33% of all post-mortem tests on people who perished in traffic accidents had drugs in their systems. That includes illegal drugs like marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine, but also includes legal prescription and non-prescription drugs like antidepressants and pain killers. The report does not state what percentage of Americans are on drugs, including legal ones, at any given time.

Alcohol and nicotine were excluded from the analysis, suggesting that “drugged driving” is a much larger safety problem on American roadways than previously thought.

“Unfortunately, it may be getting worse,” said ONDCP director Gil Kerlikowske, also known as the ‘drug czar’.

The report concludes that the incidence of positive drug tests in fatal crashes is up five percent over the last five years, even while overall traffic deaths are down.

Federal drug and auto safety officials want drugged driving to become a bigger part of efforts to cut impaired driving. They’re using the numbers to tout a White House pledge to cut drugged driving by 10% by 2015.

But now, some caveats: The NHTSA data only apply to traffic fatalities in which drug tests are performed and then later available. That is not all crashes, so the actual presence of drugs in fatal crashes could be much higher than 33%. On the other hand, the analysis doesn’t separate high levels of drugs—levels that lead to significant impairment—with lower levels that may not.

For example, marijuana stays in the body for 4-6 weeks after its smoked. So the simple presence of marijuana in a driver’s system doesn’t mean he or she used the drug immediately before driving. Also, drugs like antidepressants, while they can be impairing in large doses or if they cause drowsiness, are not necessarily intoxicating when taken day after day. Again, a positive test is a long way from proving the drug caused, or even played a role in, a crash.

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Transportation Nation

New Fuel Efficiency Standards Announced for Trucks

Monday, October 25, 2010

(Washington, D.C.—Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation) Proposed new government fuel efficiency standards for three categories of trucks are out today. Federal agencies say the rules should boost fuel efficiency by 15 - 20 percent  over the next eight years.

Officials say their goal is to reduce CO2 emissions and improve fuel efficiency in combination tractors, heavy duty pickup trucks, and vans and vocational vehicles like buses.

The new regulations, released by the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) would take effect starting in 2014. They include new engine and tire standards intended to make commercial fleets more fuel efficient.

The agencies are going for a 20 percent reduction in CO2 emissions and fuel use in combination trucks by 2018. Heavy duty pickups running on diesel fuel are expected to achieve a 15 percent reduction by 2018, while gas-powered heavy duty trucks and vans should cut their fuel use and emissions by 10 percent, according to DOT.

The rules go after a range of fuel-wasting problems in truck fleets, including poor aerodynamics, leaky air conditioners, and sub-optimal tire performance.

Of course, all of these new standards will likely raise short-term costs for trucking owners. Officials say up-front costs will more than pay for themselves by cutting fuel costs over several years.

There’s a 60-day public comment period before regulators set about making the rules final. Read, if you dare, the entire 673-page of proposed regulations here.

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Transportation Nation

Transportation Fatalities Drop 9%

Thursday, October 07, 2010

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation)  The National Transportation Safety Board reported yesterday that "transportation fatalities in the United States decreased by 9.2 percent in 2009 from 2008, according to preliminary figures. The data indicate that transportation fatalities in all modes totaled 35,928 in 2009, compared to 39,569 in 2008."

Highway fatalities -- which account for nearly 95% of all transportation deaths -- decreased from 37,423 in 2008 to 33,808 in 2009. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration announced last month that road deaths have dropped to their lowest level since 1950.

The only categories to see an increase were pipeline fatalities, which went up from eight to 14, and marine deaths, which went from 783 to 817.

Earlier this week, the NHTSA unveiled changes to the government’s 5-Star Safety Rating System that made it more difficult for cars and trucks to earn top scores.

Read the NHTSB report here, and look at the table of data here (pdf).

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: Female Crash Test Dummies and $776 million for bus upgrades

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

The Federal Transit Administration will give communities $776 million to upgrade bus service and buy fuel efficient buses (Wall Street Journal). Read Ray LaHood's blog entry about the grants  here.

A new report says that the US's failing transportation infrastructure imperils our prosperity. "We're going to have bridges collapse. We're going to have earthquakes. We need somebody to grab the issue and run with it," says former transportation secretary Norman Mineta. (Washington Post)

US military orders less dependence on fossil fuels. (New York Times)

NHTSA to unveil changes to the government's 5-Star Safety Rating System that will make it more difficult for cars and trucks to earn top scores (AP). One change: female crash test dummies.

Republicans running for governor seem likely to block or delay the implementation of high speed rail, should they win office. (New York Times)

A Dallas Morning News editorial wants to know: why is transit flat and carpooling down? Apparently because "Dallas' love affair with the car is as torrid as ever."

The construction of the Second Avenue Subway line is taking its toll on merchants, who say business has declined 25 to 50% since work began. (New York Times)

Jay Walder, head of New York's MTA, will be on today's Brian Lehrer Show to talk about fare hikes. (WNYC)

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Transportation Nation

Hyundai Recalls 140,000 Vehicles For Possible Steering Problems

Monday, September 27, 2010

(Detroit - Jerome Vaughn, WDET) - Hyundai is recalling nearly 140,000 sedans because of steering wheel problems.  The affected vehicles are from the 2011 model year, and the recall includes Hyundai Sonata sedans built between  December 2009 and this month.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the universal joint connections in the steering column may have been insufficiently tightened or installed improperly. The problem could allow the connections to loosen, possibly resulting in a loss of steering and increasing the possibility of a crash.

(photo by IFCAR)

Dealers will inspect the steering column and make repairs at no cost to consumers.  The automaker will also update power steering software during those inspections.

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Transportation Nation

You can Learn a Lot from a Dummy in a Museum

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Vince and Larry, who tirelessly promoted seat belt use in the '80s and '90s will now live forever, as part of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.  "There may be later generations of crash test dummies that are more lifelike and have better technology," said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland, "but it's hard to imagine any dummies having a greater impact on safety."  Above, Vince laments, "I feel like I'm just banging my head against a wall" with his safety messages.  Today, Strickland notes as many as 84% of Americans buckle up when they get in the car.  --Collin Campbell

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