A provocative question in this book by @STS_News: Why doesn't the USA regulate car safety like emissions?

"How would automakers transform their products if we mandated that they reduce the number of automotive fatalities in new cars by, say, 40% within 10 years?"

A thread 🧵:
For a century, automobile safety has largely focused on 1) driver education and 2) voluntary agreements by automakers to build safer cars.

Both those approaches are flawed.
Here's future Sen. Daniel P. Moynihan critiquing safety education in 1959:

It "shifts public attention from factors like auto design, which we can reasonably hope to control, to factors such as the temperament and behavior of 80M drivers, who [will ignore] a bunch of slogans."
Left to their own devices, carmakers shrug off safety. An academic observer in the 1960s:

"Unless there is an element of compulsion or the threat of it, manufacturers do not appear to have introduced [safety] features as standard EQ, which would...increase production costs."
But the federal gov can force automakers' hand.

Mandates for safety tech-- like airbags or ADAS-- can prevent carmakers from offering them only to those buying high-end vehicles.

After all, why should only the affluent be able to "afford" a safe car?
Notably, the feds have been far more successful spurring innovation reducing tailpipe emissions than improving safety.

The tight regs of the 1970 Clean Air Act were "technology forcing," pushing automakers to find new solutions.

Why can't we do that with auto safety?
Something has to change w/regard to American auto safety, because the status quo isn't working.

Last year over 38,600 people were killed on American roads and streets-- the most in 13 years. (And please don't tell me AVs will fix this if we simply wait.)
Vinsel's publisher claims this book is the first systematic history of US auto regulations (seems right).

My takeaway: Carmakers have repeatedly failed to address problems related to safety and pollution on their own.

Either regulators intervene, or the issues persist.

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More from @DavidZipper

10 Apr
Just finished @shigashide's book about how to improve bus service—it’s good!

Loads of useful info about operations as well as advocacy. And a surprisingly easy read.

Short 🧵: Image
2/ Here's an excellent rebuttal to those (like Gov Cuomo) who claim fancy stuff like USB ports and wifi will attract loads of new riders: Image
3/ @humantransit is a clear influence, so I wasn't surprised to find this stinging critique of microtransit:

“When existing bus routes are unreliable and slow, focusing attention on microtransit is like trying to perfect dessert at a restaurant that routinely burns the entrees.”
Read 5 tweets
15 Mar
BREAKING-- Congress just released text of the “EBIKE Act," which would offer a refundable tax credit of up to $1,500 for a new e-bike purchase.

Link: congress.gov/bill/117th-con…

If it passes, the EBIKE Act would be groundbreaking. A 🧵:
2/ Why get excited about e-bikes?

They’re terrific for the environment. Check out this table from @ITF_Forum, comparing greenhouse gas emissions for major passenger transport modes.

Report: itf-oecd.org/good-to-go-env…
3/ E-bikes’ extra pedal power makes them capable of replacing cars on the 50%+ of US trips under 6 miles (esp on hot days, or on routes with hills).

That would give a nice boost to health, the environment, and to street safety.

Read 11 tweets
27 Dec 20
Stuck at home, I've read more books in 2020 than I have since college. 20+ have been about cities and mobility.

Because I like making lists, these were my favorites:

Order w/o Design is the clearest explanation I’ve seen about how transportation networks shape local economies—and why well-intentioned urban planning schemes often backfire.

Not a light read, but a brilliant one. Previous thread below.

.@SAShistorian's Policing the Open Road came out last year, but it already feels like a classic.

The American legal and criminal systems still haven’t figured out how to fit automobiles into the Fourth Amendment. Minorities and low-income residents pay the price.
Read 8 tweets
11 Nov 20
Oversized SUVs and trucks are a growing menace to people outside of them-- including pedestrians, cyclists, and occupants of smaller cars.

A Biden admin can begin fixing this (even w/o the Senate).

Here's how. 🧵⤵️
Some context: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) evaluates the design of new autos through its influential New Car Assessment Program (NCAP)-- aka, "the one with the crash test dummies."

Automakers are eager to score valuable ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ NCAP ratings.

NCAP only looks at risk to a vehicle's occupants. Pedestrians, cyclists, and those in other cars don't count.

That gives automakers little incentive to protect vulnerable street users. Instead, they're in an arms race to design the biggest, tallest SUVs and trucks.

Read 9 tweets
24 Oct 20
Fall seems to be the season for Mobility-as-a-Service panels and debates.

Speaking at several has led me to reflect on my own MaaS journey, summarized in the 🧵 below (w/article links).

TLDR: Despite great promise and hype, very few people use MaaS today. We need new models.
2/ I first learned about MaaS ~5 years ago. It offered a captivating vision: Leverage new technology to knit together trips on transit, bikeshare, carshare, scooters etc to improve cities and reduce private driving.

I was fascinated and wanted to learn more.
3/ 2 years ago I heard a top US transportation guru cite Helsinki as the future of urban mobility “because everyone there uses Whim, a MaaS app, to get around town.”

I then met several Finns who disagreed. That led to this article, my first about MaaS.
Read 10 tweets

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