Highway Death Tolls Rise for First Time in Six Years

Crash fatalities on U.S. highways in 2012 rose 5.3% as compared to 2011. This number ended a six year run of consistent declines in crash fatalities. Approximately 34,000 people died on highways in 2012 – meaning that 1.1 people die per 100 million vehicle miles driven in the U.S.

The increase in fatalities, Bloomberg reports, “outpaced” the 2012 increase in the number of miles driven by Americans. Americans drove only .3% more than in the previous year.

CTLS researcher Dr. Norman Garrick has conducted research which aimed to compare fatality rates in the United States to those in other countries. Compared to many other developed countries, the U.S has extremely high rates of highway fatalities. The world’s safest country is the Netherlands, where there are only 4 highway deaths per 100,000 citizens. These new numbers put the U.S. around 10 deaths per 100,000 people.

DOT Commits $600,000 to Connecticut Transportation Safety Research Center

The state of Connecticut Department of Transportation has committed $600,000 dollars to the 6 month old Connecticut Transportation Safety Research Center (CTSRC). CTSRC shares the Longley Building on UConn’s Depot Campus with CTLS.

The CTSRC is a relatively new program which is working to transcribe handwritten and typed police vehicle accident reports into digital files which are mapped on a Geographic Information System (GIS).

An example of a popular GIS is Google Earth. In its case, business reviews, and roadways are data points in one gigantic system. The CTRSC model will map the time, and location of vehicle crashes in the state of Connecticut, as they relate to roadways.  This will help Government officials analyze crash data more efficiently and thoroughly than ever before.

In an announcement with UConn Provost Mun Choi, and DOT Commisioner Jim Redeker, Governor Dannel Malloy said that CTRSC will “[help] make our highways safer, and will save taxpayer dollars in the process. The system modernizes crash reporting – law enforcement can file reports faster, first responders can clear crash scenes more quickly, and traffic flow will be restored sooner.”

New York Takes Steps to Divide Bike Lanes from Streets

Dr. Nicholas Lownes is the head of CTLS, but he is also a researcher himself. One of his recent projects, CTLS 11-05, is currently aiming to provide a model by which city planners can understand the interactions between freight vehicles and bicyclists in major urban areas.

During his research, he has found that one of the most effective ways in keeping violent collision rates low, was to have a parking area divider between cyclists and the actual street. This kept trucks from parking in illegal areas, and kept bikes in designated lanes.

In line with his tentative findings are New York City’s new bike corrals, which will provide parking for bike-share bikes, and divide the street from bike lanes.

See more about that project here http://www.theatlanticcities.com/commute/2013/04/new-york-tries-out-bike-parking-corrals-protect-separated-bike-lanes/5331/

Fisker’s $103,000 Electric Vehicle cost $660,000 to Make

Fisker Automotive, an electric car company, paid $660,000 to produce each Karma-brand car which sold for $103,000, according to Bloomberg.com. That is to say the company lost $557,000 on each automobile the U.S.-backed Finnish company produced.

When the company halted production of the vehicle last year, they had to cancel plans to use a $500 million U.S. government loan to reopen an old GM factory in Deleware.

Privco, a business investigation company, reported that the loan was a huge mistake for the government. In documents attained through the Freedom of Information Act, it was shown that Fisker had violated its ‘terms-of-loan’ multiple times over its history.

According to the company, Fisker defaulted in December 2010 but continued to receive taxpayer money following that event.

However, the Department of Energy was quick to respond, calling the Privco findings ‘completely false.’

Bill Gibbons, a spokesperson for the department, said “PrivCo’s assertion that Fisker defaulted in December 2010 is simply false. The milestones that PrivCo includes in its report are also wrong. The fact is, the department stopped disbursements on the loan after the company stopped meeting its milestones.”

One way or another, the Fisker debacle is a simple example of the dangers in pursuing new technologies. Producing a sustainable transportation system (in which more sustainable cars are included) is not an easy project, and will lead to many more failures than successes.

The circumstance which surrounds the amount of U.S. taxpayer funding entering the Fisker company is terrible news. Not for the money wasted, but because their plan of creating a new class of electric vehicles did not pan out. We cannot look at the U.S. loans as a waste, but rather as a piece of important research.

To quote Thomas Edison:

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

Dr. Peng Zhang, a CTLS researcher, is currently working on a project regarding electric vehicle integration in the United States. His research, titled CTLS 11-01 – Critical Technologies for Grid Integration of Electric Vehicles – Moving Towards Sustainable Transportation and Smart Gridlooks at energy consumption and off-peak energy pricing as factors in EV integration.


CDC: 47,000 Pedestrians Killed By Vehicles from 2001-2010

Between the years of 2001, and 2010, 47,000 pedestrians were killed by moving automobiles, according to a safety study released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention today.
The opening line of the document reads, “Motor vehicle traffic crashes are the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death in the United States, resulting in 33,687 deaths in 2010.”

An aging population, the report says, plays a large role in the high amount of pedestrian fatalities reported this year. Those over the age of 75 are especially susceptible to pedestrian on car fatality. With government stats projecting a doubling in the number of 75+ year old citizens in the upcoming years, the number of these deaths may continue to rise.
Surprisingly, young children aged 0-14 were the least likely to be struck and killed. The report hypothesizes that 2 factors are to thank for the relatively low number of youth deaths. First, young people are significantly less likely to die after being struck by an automobile, and second, young people generally cross the road at a faster rate than older men and women.
The data used in the report was accessed through CDC WONDER – a data center which provides “customized reports of mortality data,” for the disease center and general public.
Dr. Nicholas Lownes, and Dr. John Ivan, both of the Center for Transportation and Livable Systems, have produced research related to mitigating pedestrian fatalities.
Dr. Ivan’s research, CTLS 11-04 Evaluation of Surrogate Measures for Pedestrian Safety in Various Road and Roadside Environments, investigated the relationship between roadway, and roadside design elements and traffic incidents (non-fatal incidents) involving pedestrians.
Dr. Lownes’ research, CTLS 11-05 – Investigation of Curb Management Strategies to Minimize Freight/Cyclist Conflicts in the Urban Core, investigated violent interactions between bicyclists and vehicles in New York City in order to design a freight/bicycle interaction dataset.