Edition: November 2012 - Vol 20 Number 11
Article#: 4104
Author: Repertoire

Traffic crashes still an issue

The number of traffic crashes in the United States may have dropped compared with years past. But, they continue to be an issue. In 2010, 4,280 pedestrians were killed and an estimated 70,000 were injured in traffic crashes in the United States. On average, traffic crashes killed a pedestrian every two hours, and injured one every eight minutes. This included people on foot, walking, running, jogging, hiking, sitting or lying down, who were involved in a motor vehicle traffic crash. By traffic crash, the Traffic Safety Administration points to any incident that involves one or more vehicles, where at least one vehicle is in-transport and the crash originates on a public traffic way. Crashes that occurred in 2010 exclusively on private property, including parking lots and driveways, were excluded. While the number of pedestrian fatalities in 2010 was down by 13 percent from 2001, this signified a 4 percent increase from 2009. In 2010, pedestrian deaths accounted for 13 percent of all traffic fatalities, and made up 3 percent of all the people injured in traffic crashes.

Fuel savings still possible

The Obama Administration has finalized standards aimed at increasing fuel economy to the equivalent of 54.5 mpg for cars and light-duty trucks by model year 2025. When combined with previous standards set by this Administration, the move is expected to nearly double the fuel efficiency of those vehicles, compared to new vehicles currently on U.S. roads. In total, the Administration’s national program to improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions will reportedly save consumers more than $1.7 trillion at the gas pump, and reduce U.S. oil consumption by 12 billion barrels. By the middle of the next decade, cars in the United States will get nearly 55 miles per gallon, almost double what they get today, according to the Obama Administration – a move that could strengthen the nation’s energy security and help create a stronger economy. The standards, issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), build on the success of the Administration’s standards for cars and light trucks for model years 2011-2016. These standards, which should raise average fuel efficiency by 2016 to the equivalent of 35.5 mpg, are currently reported to be saving motorists money at the pump. Achieving the new fuel efficiency standards will encourage innovation and investment in advanced technologies, which in turn should increase the country’s economic competitiveness and support high-quality domestic jobs in the auto industry. Last year, 13 major automakers, which together account for more than 90 percent of all vehicles sold in the United States, announced their support for the new standards. American families are expected to save more than $1.7 trillion dollars in fuel costs, resulting in an average fuel savings of more than $8,000 by 2025 over the lifetime of the vehicle. For families purchasing a model year 2025 vehicle, the net savings will be comparable to lowering the price of gasoline by approximately $1 per gallon. Additionally, these programs should reduce the country’s reliance on foreign oil, saving a total of 12 billion barrels of oil and reducing oil consumption by over 2 million barrels a day by 2025 – as much as half of the oil the country currently imports from OPEC each day. The standards also represent progress to reduce carbon pollution and address climate change. Combined, the Administration’s standards should cut greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light trucks in half by 2025, reducing emissions by 6 billion metric tons over the life of the program – more than the total amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the United States in 2010. President Obama announced the proposed standard in July 2011, joined by Ford, GM, Chrysler, BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar/Land Rover, Kia, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota, and Volvo, as well as the United Auto Workers. Major auto manufacturers are already developing advanced technologies that can significantly reduce fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions beyond the existing model year 2012-2016 standards. In addition, a wide range of technologies are currently available for automakers to meet the new standards, including advanced gasoline engines and transmissions, vehicle weight reduction, lower tire rolling resistance, improvements in aerodynamics, diesel engines, more efficient accessories, and improvements in air conditioning systems. The program also includes targeted incentives to encourage early adoption and introduction into the marketplace of advanced technologies, to improve vehicle performance, including:

• Incentives for electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and fuel-cell vehicles.

• Incentives for hybrid technologies for large pickups and other technologies that achieve high fuel economy levels on large pickups.

• Incentives for natural gas vehicles.

• Credits for technologies with the potential to achieve real-world greenhouse gas reductions and fuel economy improvements that are not captured by the standard test procedures.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Minivans making tracks

The minivan appears to be making a small comeback after being overshadowed by SUVs the last several years. Minivan sales in the United States have increased by 17.5 percent, to 316,500 through July, according to recently released industry data. This accounts for twice the growth rate of SUVs and crossover vehicles during that same period, although SUV and crossover sales still lead, with 4 million sold this year through July. Improved mileage and reduced stigma in part account for the surge in minivan sales. Still, U.S. sales of minivans are only about half of what they were in 2005 and are expected to remain well below peak sales of 1.37 million in 2000. In addition, fewer auto-makers sell them today. That said, minivan auto-makers continue to add new features, with more technology, storage capacity and comforts, such as dual video screens that play different movies, more accessible in-floor storage and improved lighting. They have also focused more on driver safety, with such electronic features as blind-spot detection and better navigation features. Chrysler, which created the minivan nearly 30 years ago, has added roof bars, which fold in on themselves to cut wind noise, and a fuel economizer button that changes the shift pattern to allow for more fuel economy.

Source: Wall Street Journal