Scrapping Old Cars

Jennifer Dill

Starting in 1968, rising federal standards have been reducing emissions from new automobiles. But all vehicles deteriorate over time; their pollution-control equipment breaks down and emissions rise as they age. So fleet turnover is crucial to reducing total vehicle emissions. However, over the past thirty years turnover has slowed, and the personal vehicle fleet has been aging, in part because cars just last longer. Also, households today own more cars than they did thirty years ago. Instead of trading in an old car for a new one, they are now more likely to just add another, letting a teenager drive the older one or perhaps keeping it as a back-up. In 1970 only three percent of the automobiles on the road were fifteen years old or older; in 2001 sixteen percent were fifteen or older.

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Older Drivers: Should We Test Them Off The Road?

Sandi Rosenbloom

On July 16, 2003, a disoriented older person drove at high speed down a Santa Monica street closed for a farmer’s market. His car traveled almost three blocks, killing ten people and seriously injuring scores of others before coming to a stop. Editorials throughout the nation immediately demanded that all older drivers be subject to regular and rigorous retesting.

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2017-05-30T22:45:21+00:00Categories: ACCESS 23, Fall 2003|Tags: , |

Making Communities Safe for Bicycles

Gian-Claudia Sciara

To those who use a bicycle for transportation, it’s a simple but important machine—cheap, flexible, reliable, and environmentally friendly. Moreover, bicycles are convenient. Someone traveling by bike can usually make a trip door to door, choose among various routes, and easily add stops along the way.

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Are SUVs Really Safer Than Cars?

Tom Wenzel and Marc Ross

Last spring's Senate hearings on Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards made much about the increased risk Americans would face if forced to give up their SUVs for vehicles that weigh less. To find out whether that risk is real, and whether SUVs really are safer than cars, as some have alleged, we analyzed highway fatality data. Our findings came as a surprise. Suv 2We focused on “driver death rates,” a concept of risk developed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. However, our analysis differs from the Institute’s in two important ways. First, we examine risk not only to drivers of vehicles of a particular type, but also to drivers of vehicles that crash with that vehicle type. Second, we limit our study to recent models having sold enough vehicles to permit statistical analysis.

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On The Back Of The Bus

Theodore E. Cohn

You'll no doubt be surprised to read that transit buses get rear-ended more often than passenger cars do. You’re surprised, I suspect, because buses are so large and obvious. Who could fail to see that bulky bus? Who could fail to know it moves slowly and stops often? These collisions are a tremendous waste of resources. Crashes injure both bus patrons and passengers in other vehicles, damage expensive equipment, cause delays and service disruptions, worsen traffic congestion, lessen acceptance of transit as a travel choice, and they’re expensive. A 1997 estimate found that each crash cost $54,000. Plus, we find, these crashes are largely preventable.

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In the Dark: Seeing Bikes at Night

Karen De Valois , Tatsuto Takeuchi, and Michael Disch

It's midnight. You’re driving home after an evening out, when you notice a small bright object—or perhaps two—moving across your field of view in an odd scalloped pattern. Because you have seen one before, you may recognize it as the reflector on the wheel of a bicycle approaching on an intersecting street. You must quickly decide whether to stop, slow down, speed up, or continue at the same speed. To make that decision correctly, you must know not only how fast you are moving, but also when the bicycle will enter and leave the intersection. This is considerably more difficult than you may think.

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On Bus-Stop Crime

Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris and Robin Liggett

It's early morning at the bus stop on Central and 7th in downtown Los Angeles. A middle-aged Latino woman is waiting for the bus, nervously clutching a big plastic bag close to her body. There are no pedestrians on the street, just a few parked cars behind a barbed-wire fence. The nearby corner is occupied by a cheap, run-down motel called the Square Deal with a liquor store on the ground floor. A man in ragged clothes appears to be sleeping (or is he dead?), curled up on the sidewalk outside the store, not far from the woman. Broken glass, empty cans, and other trash litter the bus stop where the woman is standing. She nervously surveys the street for the bus. From time to time she throws a fleeting look at the sleeping man. At last the bus arrives, and the woman disappears behind its protective doors.

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THE ACCESS ALMANAC: Déjà Vu All Over Again, Speed Limits Raised Fatalities Fall

Charles Lave

Despite opposition from many nation safety groups, in November 1995 Congress gave the states permission to raise speed limits. Opponents had testified that raising speed limits would cause and additional 4,400 to 6,000 deaths per year. Fortunately, it didn’t work out that way.

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The Freeway’s Guardian Angels

Robert L. Bertini

Everyone knows that major sources of freeway congestion are the “incidents,” including accidents, that block free traffic flow. Other troubling incidents include stalled engines, cars that have just run out of gas, debris fallen from trucks, flat tires, strayed animals, and other random events. According to one estimate, half of all congestion is relate to incidents. With vehicles stopped on the roadway, one incident can cause others, something leading to chain reactions involving many cars. So motorists and traffic officials alike consider incident-mitigation a critical objective.

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Higher Speed Limits May Save Lives

Charles Lave

Congress may soon pass a law that allows states to set their own speed limit. What might happen if state choose to raise these? We don’t need to guess. We can examine what happened when states were allowed to raise certain speed limits in 1987. The result: Higher speed limits caused and overall gain in safety.

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