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Archive for the ‘highways’ Category

The motorcycle fatality rate has more than doubled over the past 20 years. The GHSA is once again ignoring street design and driver behavior, and instead promoting helmets:

Motorcycle fatalities for 2014 remained stubbornly high, a new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association said. Though motorcycles account for only 3 percent of vehicles on the road, their riders and passengers account for 14 percent of all U.S. motor vehicle-related deaths.

Estimated total fatalities for 2014 will total 4,584, GHSA said, when the data set is complete. That’s a 1.8 percent drop from 2013, when 4,668 people died in motorcycle incidents.

But that fatality rate is double the number of deaths tabulated during the late 1990s, GHSA said — and are more stark because automobile traffic deaths have dropped, due to improved auto safety features. Motorcycle deaths accounted for only 5 percent of all U.S. motor vehicle deaths in 1997, but represented 14 percent of all motor vehicle deaths in 2013.

Only 19 of the 50 states have universal helmet laws, most of the remainders requiring helmets only for riders under 18 or in some cases 21. In those states, the GHSA report stated, helmet use is typically below 50 percent.

The GHSA report came down squarely against limited or lax helmet laws. “Motorcycle deaths … were substantially lower in states with universal laws than in those with no laws or laws applying only to young motorcyclists.”

In fact, mandatory motorcycle helmet laws actually have the opposite effect — causing an increase in the fatality rate.

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As one of the most scenic places on Earth, the California coast is not the place to be constructing expressways. The fact that CEQA allows this is a huge problem:

San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Marie Weiner tentatively denied the claims in the CEQA lawsuit brought by Pacificans for a Scenic Coast about the proposed widening of Highway 1. The Calera Creek Parkway project seeks to widen Highway 1 from Fairway Park to Rockaway by adding an additional traffic lane, a shoulder and a bike lane on each side.

The CEQA lawsuit contends the Calera Creek Parkway project was not adequately described at the time of the EIR, that the project is out of scale with Pacifica’s scenic nature, the EIR contains contradictory information on impacts of threatened species, and that the EIR did not adequately address adverse impacts of the project, according to Pacificans for a Scenic Coast.

The topics explored during the two-day hearing included concerns about noise, water run-off, species protection, traffic and pedestrian safety, greenhouse gas emissions and what the new road will look like in the neighborhood.

The “bike lane” in this case just means cyclists get to ride on the shoulder of an expressway. The new Devil’s Slide Class I path opened just down the road, but who wants to ride on an expressway to get there?

Before and after photosimulation

Before and after photosimulation

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Behold, the “ultimate” highway widening. Seriously, that is actually the word Florida DOT officials used to describe it, and they may not be exaggerating:

ultimate_I4

This highway engineering nightmare is the new-and-improved I4. It is where the Obama Administration once tried to build a new high-speed rail line. Governor Scott killed the train idea, because he said it would cost Florida taxpayers too much (even though it was fully funded by the Feds).

The I4 widening will cost a whopping $2.1 billion for just 21 miles. And whereas Florida taxpayers would not have had to pay anything for the train, they will pay at least half the cost of the highway project. The rest of the funding is supposed to come from a PPP tolls. And given the dismal record of PPP-funded highways, taxpayers should expect to pay even more.

A giant highway overcrossing is a great place to a street fair!

A giant highway overcrossing is a great place for a street fair!

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If you thought Smart-Phones were bad for driver distraction, the Apple Smart-Watch could be even worse:

The Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) in Wokingham, Berks showed that a driver reading a message on an Apple Watch would take 2.52 seconds to react to an emergency manoeuvre, whereas a driver talking to another passenger would react in 0.9 seconds. Reading on an Apple Watch was even found to be more distracting than using a handheld mobile

The problem with watches is the smaller screen. And it is right there on the wrist always in full view, providing a constant distraction. Automakers, however, see this as yet another marketing opportunity. BMW has reportedly developed apps to link the Apple Watch to the driver console.

texting4

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So the Bay Area Council just posted this on their Twitter feed:

I980

This is a great idea, and a long overdue.

I980_2

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Last year, the NTSB studied several safety issues with tractor trailer trucks. The NTSB proposed measures to reduce blind spots, and a requirements for side guards on new vehicles. The good news is that the NTSB has now officially adopted those safety measures.

The need for these safety measures is clear.  Bicyclists and pedestrians are particularly vulnerable to truck accidents. They are not visible to the driver up in the cab, and they have no external protection:

The NTSB analyzed data from vie states (Delaware, Mayland, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Utah) that linked hospital records with police reports under the auspices of NHTSA’s Crash Outcome Data Evaluation System (CODES). Data from these states showed that death rates of vulnerable road users involved in collisions with tractor-trailers were high: 152.8 per 1,000 involved pedestrians/cyclists and 119.5 per 1,000 motorcyclists. In comparison, death rates were 2.0 per 1,000 involved tractor-trailer occupants and 10.9 per 1,000 involved passenger vehicle occupants.

The NHTSA has 90 days to respond to the NTSB safety recommendation.

sideguard1

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Between the years 2001 and 2012, automobile fatalities were reduced by more than half in the EU:

Figures from the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC), a non-governmental body, found more than 12,000 people were killed in cars in 2012 in the European Union and neighbouring Switzerland, the latest available figures, less than half the 28,000 deaths seen in 2001.

The council, in its report on Tuesday, credited stricter safety measures for the improvement.

Spain and Latvia stand out for the most progress, cutting the number of deaths by two-thirds from 2001 to 2012, but other nations still have bad records. The worst is Poland, where 11 people are killed in cars per billion kilometres travelled, compared with only around 2 in Britain, the Netherlands and Switzerland, according to the ETSC.

According to the report, the large reduction in fatalities was mainly a result of new modern highways that replaced rural roads. Advances in automobile technology and improved enforcement were other factors. The ETSC had little to say about promoting alternatives to driving, though it does mention that non-motorized road users had very little safety improvement.

The 2012 EU population was 508 million, vs. 313 million in the US. In 2012, the US had 33,561 traffic fatalities vs 12,000 in the EU.

 

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