The U.S. Senate has unanimously approved Charlotte, N.C. Mayor Anthony Foxx to take over the role of U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary, replacing Ray LaHood.
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With Ray LaHood stepping down as the U.S. Secretary of Transportation earlier this year, President Barack Obama has nominated Charlotte, North Carolina Mayor Anthony Foxx to take up the role.
According to a study conducted by the Department of Transportation, results revealed that Americans have been driving less now than they have over a year ago.
Travel on U.S. roads have declined by 1.3 percent through the first eight months of the year when measured against the same period a year ago. This 1.3 percent drop translates to about 26 billion vehicles miles traveled, a number that has not been recorded since 2003.
The result of many exterior forces at work, there are no clear indications to explain the decline. A likely assumption is the increase in fuel prices over last year as well as the recent economic times have encouraged more people to take daycations and staycations than to plan extended road trips.
[Source: usa today]
The 2010 national Distracted Driving Summit was designed to shine a light on the dangers of distracted driving, and it’s not just us regular drivers that are getting a stern warning in the form of a law. It’s also commercial truck and bus drivers who are banned from texting while driving.
This new ban covers drivers who transport hazardous materials, commercial truck and bus drivers, and rail operators. Many companies have already jumped on the band wagon – already, 1,600 corporations have banned distracted driving (this affects 10.5 million drivers), while another 500 companies will follow suit in the next year.
The pilot enforcement campaigns have been running in Hartford, Connecticut and Syracuse, New York. In Hartford, Connecticut 4,956 tickets have been passed out to texting or talking drivers, while in Syracuse, New York, another 4,446 citations have been issued. These results show that efforts have already dramatically reduced distracted driving behavior in both cities.
In addition to these new policies, the U.S. Department of Transportation has been working closely with the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS) to engage the private sector to promote anti-distracted driving policies in the workplace.
Distracted driving in a huge issue and the numbers don’t lie. In 2009, nearly 5,500 people died and half a million were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) research, distraction-related fatalities represented 16 percent of overall traffic fatalities in 2009.
Ever since it’s inception, the Federal Government’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards program has never been far from controversy. With the proposed 35 miles per gallon standard less than a decade away; auto manufacturers are struggling to find ways of meeting these fleet average targets. Because light trucks as well as cars are now included in the targets, domestic automakers like Ford, GM and Chrysler are likely to find the new regulations particularly tough to deal with, since a great deal of their profit still rests on truck production. Now, thanks to a meeting in May, when President Obama called on the EPA and Department of Transportation to included medium and heavy-duty vehicles within the CAFE umbrella (under different and yet undisclosed fuel economy standards), things have become even more messy and complicated.
Recently a 414 page report, issued by The National Academies (a group made up of academics, business leaders, scientists and consultants from the financial, oil and transportation industries) stated that in order for pickups, especially medium-duty ones to meet CAFE targets greater than current fuel economy standards; new technologies will have to be utilized or the automakers risk heavy fines.
Either way, sticker prices could increase by as much as $15,000 per truck once the regulations are enforced. According to Charlie Territo, a spokesperson for the Washington D.C. based Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, “costs will depend on the specific fuel economy targets and the cost of the technology that needs to be added. What remains to be seen is whether consumers are willing to pay those costs.”
The report cites a number of potential avenues for saving fuel on pickups, including turbocharging and using smaller displacement engines; hybrid drivetrains and more efficient diesel engines, still another, more simpler proposal is raising taxes on the fuel itself. However when it comes to technology the key issue is being able to balance more fuel efficient drivetrains with weight savings, especially difficult considering the amount of safety equipment is now mandated by the Feds on modern vehicles.
Whatever the proposed medium and heavy-duty CAFE requirements end up being, you can bet that they will likely hurt small business and contractors, those that currently rely on medium and heavy-duty pickups and represent the largest segment of buyers in this market. And to make matters worse, much of America’s wealth is built on small businesses, the kind that use pickups. So while the CAFE regulations might have had good intentions – reducing greenhouse gases and oil dependence, at this juncture, given the targets already outlined, the economic effects are likely to be disastrous in an already depressed business environment, unless significant changes to the CAFE standards that include more realistic short term targets are added.
A sure sign of summer, the “Click It or Ticket” seatbelt campaign is in full force. And it seems to be working – 84 percent of Americans buckle up. This is the highest rate of seatbelt use recorded.
The annual event, which runs from May 24 to June 5, is coordinated by the U.S. Department of Transportation and is delivered through a law enforcement blitz and crackdown. The police officers stationed at check points across the country enforce a zero tolerance, round-the-clock sweep for motorists who fail to wear a safety belt.
Although this event only lasts two weeks, wearing a seatbelt should be a habit you get into 365 days a year. And it’s surprising how many drivers fail to institute this important safety feature into their daily commute. Many states, such as Massachusetts, Wyoming, and New Hampshire (the only state without any seatbelt law), fall below the national average with a usage rate around 70 percent. There are 19 states that do not enforce a primary law, which allows drivers to be pulled over for failing to wear a seat belt, and four of these states have a primary law only for teenagers and younger passengers. The most likely to drive without a seatbelt are men aged 18 to 34.
[Source: Consumer Reports]
With the Cash-for-Clunkers program officially ending last night, the U.S. Department of Transportation has now released its top 10 list of the most purchased vehicles under the program, with the most popular car purchased being the Toyota Corolla.
Toyotas actually took three of the top 10 spots, with the Camry placing third and the new Prius ranking seventh. Honda did equally well, taking three of the top 10 spots, with the Civic coming in second, the Accord 8th and the Fit 9th.
Nissan and Hyundai each had one spot on the list with the Versa in 6th and the Elantra in 5th. Ford was the only U.S. automaker to break into the top 10, with the front-wheel drive Focus in 4th and the FWD Escape in 10th.
The “Top 10″ list doesn’t tell the whole story, however. While no General Motors products are listed in the top 10, collectively, GM products accounted for 17.6% of the total of new cars purchased under the program, second only to Toyota with 19.4%.
In total, the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) generated 690,114 transactions worth a total of $2.8 billion.
“American consumers and workers were the clear winners thanks to the cash for clunkers program,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Manufacturing plants have added shifts and recalled workers. Moribund showrooms were brought back to life and consumers bought fuel efficient cars that will save them money and improve the environment. This is one of the best economic news stories we’ve seen and I’m proud we were able to give consumers a helping hand.”
In total, 84 percent of consumers traded in trucks, while 59 percent purchased cars. The average fuel economy of a car traded in was 15.8 mpg, whereas the average fuel economy of a car purchased was 24.9 mpg – an improvement of 9.2 mpg or 58 percent.
GM, Ford and Honda all scheduled to increase production to bolster depleted inventories
The Cash for Clunkers program has come to an end and its impact can now be evaluated.
According to U.S. Department of Transportation, dealers submitted 690,114 transactions under the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS), more commonly known as Cash-for-Clunkers. Those rebate applications account for $2.877 billion out of the $3 billion approved by Congress.
That number may rise considerably, however, as rejected filings are resubmitted. The DOT has said that filings approved after last nights deadline will be reimbursed. The DOT reported several issues with its servers approaching the deadline, which may account the fact that only $229 million in claims were filed during the last 36 hours of the program, while over the previous weekend $611 million in claims were filed.
A preliminary analysis by the White House Council of Economic Advisers says the CARS program boosted economic growth in the third quarter of 2009 by 0.3-0.4 percent, will help sustain an increased fourth quarter GDP and create or save 42,000 jobs in the second half of 2009.
“American consumers and workers were the clear winners thanks to the cash for clunkers program,” says U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Manufacturing plants have added shifts and recalled workers. Moribund showrooms were brought back to life and consumers bought fuel efficient cars that will save them money and improve the environment.”
Ford and General Motors recently announced production increases for the second half of the year due to the demand generated by the CARS program. Honda also said it will increase production at its plants in East Liberty and Marysville, Ohio, and in Lincoln, Ala.
“This is one of the best economic news stories we’ve seen and I’m proud we were able to give consumers a helping hand,” said LaHood.