State of Union Address 2015 – Will America Finally Get Its Vision Zero Goal?


State of Union Address 2015 – Will America Finally Get Its Vision Zero Goal?

January, 2015

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

Safety Opportunity & Need On January 20, 2015 President Obama is scheduled to deliver his State of the Union address.

President Obama has been in charge of NHTSA for 6 years. And in each of those 6 years he has failed to set a Vision Zero Goal — for crash deaths and serious injuries in or by a new car by 2024 — for Americans.  

*  Volvo has such a goal. 
*  Mayor de Blasio also set such a goal for NY City.  See https://www.careforcrashvictims.com/blog-volvotrackzero.php
*  The Swedish Parliament, in 1997, adopted a “Vision Zero” policy that requires that fatalities and serious injurious be reduced to zero by 2020.
All are making progress.

President Obama, however, has not yet set a Vision Zero Goal for the U.S.A.  And crashes in the U.S.A. under President  Obama’s expected 8 years in Office are on track to record 250,000 crash deaths, 1 million serious crash injuries, and $7 Trillion in societal losses.  Current daily rate in the U.S.A. is nearly 100 crash deaths, 400 serious injuries, and $2 Billion per day.  

President Obama has appointed people who have failed to adequately protect Americans from crash injuries.  NHTSA’s failures are symbolized by the classic NY Times art showing three NHTSA crash test dummies that neither see, hear, nor speak of evil.

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Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/29/opinion/weak-oversight-deadly-cars.html?module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Aw%2C{%221%22%3A%22RI%3A10%22}Empathy or Indifference?President Obama, VP Biden, and NHTSA Administrator Rosekind each have personal knowledge of the tragedies of crash deaths and serious injuries.  So will they act to set a worthy 10 year goal to end such tragedies?  See http://www.fairwarning.org/2012/09/a-strange-indifference-to-highway-carnage/ There are safety scientists and engineers all over the world that believe this worthy goal is achievable.  Unfortunately, mostly these safety experts work in organizations that value immediate profits over auto safety improvements.  Safety technologies sit on shelves awaiting government mandates and corporate decisions to purchase safety technologies. These scientists and engineers, as well as citizens everywhere, need and hunger for leadership and commitment.  As Ralph Nader has said:“This country has far more problems than it deserves and far more solutions than it applies.” See https://www.careforcrashvictims.com/blog-vpbidenzero.php

Empathic Presidential Leadership 
In 1938, FDR created the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis.  In 1955, less than 20 years later, using technologies of the 1950s the Salk vaccine for polio was created.
Imagine what empathic presidential leadership today could accomplish using 21st century technologies to achieve a Vision Zero Goal for crash deaths and serious injuries in a decade.

As the proverbs (29:18) have advised humankind for 2,000 years:  “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

President Obama:  You can do it!  Yes you can.
Lou

 

Crash Deaths Now To Be Much Greater in Red States Than in Blue States


Crash Deaths Now To Be Much Greater in Red States Than in Blue States

January, 2015

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

The Washington Post’s Reid Wilson reported and documented that the control of State Legislatures will be heavily Republican in 2015.   Seven State Legislatures will be controlled by Democrats: HI, CA, OR, VT, CT, RI, and DE.  All except VT and DE had crash fatality rates per 100,000 people that were lower (better) than the national average of 10.69 in 2012.  

Twenty-four State Legislatures in 2015 will be controlled by Republicans: All except UT, NV, MI, and OH had crash fatality rates higher (worse) than the national average of 10.69 crash deaths per 100,000 population.  The States with Republican controlled legislatures  that had worse than average crash fatality rates in 2012 are WI, NE, ID, IN, TX, GA, FL, NC, AZ, KS, SD, LA, TN, SC, OK, AL, AR, MS, ND, WY.   

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It is clear that many more people are likely to die of crash injuries in Red States in the next two years than in Blue States.  See State crash fatalities and rates in 2012 (latest data available) attached.
Readers can see the number of Crash Deaths in each State and each Congressional District for the years 2002 – 2011 using Crash Death Mapping Tools at https://www.careforcrashvictims.com/CrashDeathMappingTools.php
And today we hear that the drop in gasoline prices may result in an increase in crash deaths – perhaps thousands more – as people drive more.  See  http://www.npr.org/2015/01/06/375308884/the-downside-of-cheaper-gas-more-accident-fatalities
Thus, elected officials have a more urgent bi-partisan need to act to prevent the next two years from resulting in more tragic crashes than the last two years.
Lou

 

OnStar & Progressive Insurance Partnership and Your Safety and Privacy


OnStar & Progressive Insurance Partnership and Your Safety and Privacy

January, 2015

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:
New Partners for Driving Information
Information available in vehicles is briefly described in Wikipedia as:“The modern automobile may have as many as 70 electronic control units (ECU) for various subsystems. (JLR use 83 in the latest Range Rover) .[6] Typically the biggest processor is the engine control unit. Others are used fortransmissionairbagsantilock braking/ABScruise control, electric power steering, audio systems, power windows, doors, mirror adjustment, battery and recharging systems for hybrid/electric cars, etc. Some of these form independent subsystems, but communications among others are essential. A subsystem may need to control actuators or receive feedback from sensors. The CAN standard was devised to fill this need.”  See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CAN_bus
Progressive Snapshot Device Vulnerabilities
A hacking expert has evaluated the Progressive Snapshot device and found hacker vulnerabilities:“Thuen called the outdated tech being used in Snapshot “highly troubling” as it is vulnerable to attack. “A skilled attacker could almost certainly compromise such dongles to gain remote control of a vehicle, or even an entire fleet of vehicles. Once compromised, the consequences range from privacy data loss to life and limb.””  

An article in Network World addresses security loopholes in Progressive Snapshot device.  See article and comments at:  http://www.networkworld.com/article/2871485/microsoft-subnet/hackers-could-exploit-security-holes-in-progressive-insurance-snapshot-devices.html

Forbes reports that Progressive responded as follows:“Progressive said it hadn’t heard from Thuen, but handed this comment via email to Forbes: “The safety of our customers is paramount to us. We are confident in the performance of our Snapshot device – used in more than two million vehicles since 2008 – and routinely monitor the security of our device to help ensure customer safety.”  See http://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrewster/2015/01/15/researcher-says-progressive-insurance-dongle-totally-insecure/

Inventor Entrepreneur Effort to Protect Privacy and Safety

Tom Kowalick offers his vision of a safety and privacy protection system at http://vimeo.com/115537605

Lou

 

NY City Officer Dies of Crash Injuries – Uncounted by NHTSA


NY City Officer Dies of Crash Injuries – Uncounted by NHTSA

January, 2015

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:
Victim Dies A Year After Crash
The recent tragic death of a crash victim highlights how NHTSA ignores thousands of crash deaths each year.

“An MTA officer succumbed Monday to injuries he suffered when he was struck last year by a car on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, the agency said.

Thomas Choi, 62, is the first officer to die in the line of duty in the 81-year history of MTA Bridges and Tunnels, also known as the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority.

Choi was struck when he was removing barrels while reopening the Brooklyn-bound lower level of the bridge on Oct. 20, 2013. The lower level of the bridge is closed on weekends from midnight until about 8 a.m.

He was treated at Staten Island University Hospital and Seaview Rehabilitation Center but never regained consciousness, the MTA said.

“Officer Choi dedicated himself to serving and protecting everyone who travels the bridges and tunnels that unite New York, and all of us at the MTA join in mourning him,” MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast said in a news release. “We send our deepest condolences to his family.”  See

http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2014/12/29/mta-officer-struck-by-car-on-verrazano-bridge-dies-from-injuries/

NHTSA Does Not Count Such Crash Deaths

Would this Officer’s death be counted by NHTSA in FARS 2013 files when the crash occurred, or in the 2014 files when this Officer died a year later? The answer from NHTSA is that in neither year would his death of crash injuries be counted.  NHTSA only counts deaths of crash injured people if they die within 30 days of the crash.   So how many crash victims die after 30 days and are not counted by NHTSA?  The National Safety Council estimates that about 800 – 1,000 crash victims die of their “in traffic” injuries more than 30 days after the crash.

The National Safety Council also counts “not in traffic” crash deaths that occur in driveways, parking lots, and on private roads that NHTSA does not currently include in FARS.  Add these two NHTSA practices of  minimization of crash deaths and one finds a NHTSA policy undercount of nearly 3,000 crash deaths per year – nearly 10 American crash deaths per day.  Source: http://www.nsc.org/learn/safety-knowledge/Pages/injury-facts.aspx
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NHTSA Misses Many Crash Deaths
NHTSA’s failures are symbolized by the classic NY Times art showing three NHTSA crash test dummies that don’t see, hear, or speak evil:Inline image 1

For decades, the Center for Auto Safety in its “Missing In FARS” campaign has documented defective data collection of crash deaths by NHTSA.  See http://www.autosafety.org/campaigns/24
NHTSA, under criticism for more than a decade of failures to protect Americans, politically prefers to downplay the problem.   The most recent example of NHTSA “not seeing” or “not speaking” is its failure to mention the effects of the Great Recession in declining crash deaths obvious in the above graph.  Here is NHTSA’s latest press release: “WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) today released the 2013 Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data that shows a 3.1 percent decrease from the previous year and a nearly 25 percent decline in overall highway deaths since 2004. In 2013, 32,719 people died in traffic crashes.”  Seehttp://www.nhtsa.gov/About+NHTSA/Press+Releases/2014/traffic-deaths-decline-in-2013
Pedestrian Safety in NYC
NY Times reports some promising news for NYC, but perhaps a little premature in view of the time lag between injury and death: “In 2014, 132 pedestrians died in traffic accidents, the lowest total for a year since the city began keeping records a century ago, officials said. There were 180 pedestrian deaths in 2013, the highest number in a decade.

Overall traffic fatalities fell last year to 248, from 293 the previous year, according to preliminary data from the city. There were 20 bicyclist fatalities in 2014, an increase from 12 deaths in 2013, and 37 motorcyclist fatalities last year, down from 42 deaths in 2013. Motor vehicle fatalities remained the same, with 59 deaths in each year.

The decline in pedestrians’ deaths comes as the city continues to put in place Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero plan, a set of proposals intended to eliminate traffic deaths. Modeled after a Swedish approach that treats all road deaths and serious injuries as inherently preventable, the plan has an ambitious goal of eliminating traffic deaths by 2024. The city lowered its default speed limit to 25 miles per hour, from 30 m.p.h., and increased enforcement of speeding laws, among other initiatives.

“There is no question we are moving this city in the right direction, thanks to stepped up enforcement by the N.Y.P.D., strong traffic safety measures by the Department of Transportation, new laws passed by our legislators and the work of New Yorkers fighting for change,” the mayor said in a statement this week.”  See 

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/02/nyregion/new-york-pedestrian-deaths-are-lowest-on-record.html?emc=eta1

Let us work in the new year so that fewer crash victims occur.   A good start for NHTSA would be for NHTSA to do better at counting crash deaths.

Lou

 

Obama Administration’s DOT Secretary Foxx to Favor Red States?


Obama Administration’s DOT Secretary Foxx to Favor Red States?

January, 2015

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

Clearly, as I wrote recently, in the next two years, many more Americans are likely to die of crash injuries in Red States than Blue States.  Inline image 1

And now we read in the Washington Post that the DOT has a forthcoming plan that may favor more Red States than Blue States.“The report being drafted by the Transportation Department draws in part on data compiled in recent years by such groups as the Miller Center at the University of Virginia and the American Society of Civil Engineers.

An ASCE report two years ago concluded that it would take a $3.6 trillion investment by 2020 to meet infrastructure needs, about $1.6 trillion short of current spending. The Miller Center said maintaining infrastructure at current levels required additional spending of $134 billion to $194 billion each year through 2035.”….

“The report will outline the challenge of rapid population growth, particularly the need for infrastructure expansion in the South and West, while meeting demand for replacing roads, bridges and other critical systems in the aging Northeast and Midwest.

“We’re going to have this huge influx of citizens, and a lot of that growth is going to happen in the South and West,” said Peter Rogoff, undersecretary of transportation for policy, describing a taffy pull for scarce resources. “There’s a natural tension.”  See

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/obama-administration-outlines-30-year-transportation-plan/2015/01/12/b15daf6a-9a60-11e4-a7ee-526210d665b4_story.html

One can understand the DOT focus on Trillion$ and Billion$ because that is the way they see their lobbyist filled world.  But citizens, taxpayers, and consumers need to focus on their safety — and that varies substantially by State.  For example WY had a crash fatality 4 times higher (worse) than MA in 2012.  See attached Ranking of States in 2012 by crash fatality rates.  But note that in MA 349 people died of crash injuries while in WY 123 people died of crash injuries.
So how will DOT allocate resources?  By politics?  By fatalities?  By fatality rates?   How should citizens, taxpayers, and consumers allocate their choices?  Vote blue?  Avoid vacation trips to high fatality rate States?  Avoid moving to high fatality rate States?  Buy safest vehicles?
As this plan is formulated citizens should recall whom they voted for and watch to see in whose interests these choices are made.  Remember Secretary Foxx is from the South.  And he, as have all Secretaries of Transportation, will say: “Safety is my number 1 priority.”  Yet each year the NHTSA Budget is less than 2% of the DOT Budget.
There is more than your money at stake.
Lou

 

NJ Firefighters Patent Way To Get Timely Lifesaving Information


NJ Firefighters Patent Way To Get Timely Lifesaving InformationTitle

January, 2015

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

One of our astute members sent me an excellent article on the work of two brothers working to invent software using their experience as firefighters to help save lives.  Seehttp://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2015/01/nj_firefighter_hopes_to_go_beyond_the_app_di_ionno.html

We must wish these brothers well.They have a lot of real world experience of the need to do better rescuing crash victims.  In 1997, I had the honor and privilege to work on this problem with leading researchers while I was at NHTSA.  In one of our papers published by NHTSA in 2005, we wrote:
“In future implementations, ACN and URGENCY information could save valuable time by alerting dispatchers that the crash severity information, e.g., rollover, near side impact, high Delta V, indicates heavy rescue teams might well be needed. In addition, since the ACN crash message includes the make and model of the crashed car, it is now
technically possible for heavy rescue teams to receive extrication information on the number of air bags, their location, and vehicle cut points specifically for the crashed vehicle – before arriving at the scene.”
But I must also point out that NHTSA and auto companies have been resistant – to say the least – for nearly two decades.  See research athttps://www.careforcrashvictims.com/assets/2005-urgency.pdf https://www.careforcrashvictims.com/urgency.php
Data on the 648,838 Americans who died of their crash injuries without being transported to any facility for emergency medical treatment over the years 1978 – 2011 are at https://www.careforcrashvictims.com/assets/2012-00872-FATALITIES.PDF
NHTSA classifies these American deaths as “Not Taken”.  The NHTSA fatality data is provided by year and by State.
The American people would benefit by a system whereby automakers provided the information sought by these brothers.  The auto companies have the information.  NHTSA has the duty to issue rules requiring such a national system.
The public needs to address the question: What’s holding NHTSA back?
We can all do better than we have so far.  These brothers are trying to help us all.
Lou

 

NHTSA Neither Knows Nor Seems to Care Whether its Fines are Tax Deductible


NHTSA Neither Knows Nor Seems to Care Whether its Fines are Tax Deductible

January, 2015

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:
NHTSA neither knows, nor seems to care, whether its fines are tax deductible.  NHTSA has responded as follows to my previous post: “Your question regarding taxes is properly raised to IRS or Honda.”

Unsigned from public.affairs@dot.gov

NY Times reports Honda hit with record fines of $70 million (2 fines of $35 million each) for not performing required reports of data on deaths and injuries to NHTSA for over a decade.

“It is the largest amount that the safety regulator has ever levied against an automaker. The penalty stems from the automaker’s failure to report 1,729 death and injury claims to the agency for the past 11 years, and its failure to report certain warranty and other claims in the same period.

“Today’s announcement sends a very clear message to the entire industry that manufacturers have responsibility for the complete and timely reporting of this critical safety information,” Mark Rosekind, the new head of the agency, said Thursday.”  See 

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/09/business/honda-fined-70-million-in-underreporting-safety-issues-to-government.html?emc=edit_na_20150108

USA Today reports:

“Last year, NHTSA issued more than $126 million in civil penalties, which was a record. The agency says the total exceeded the total amount collected by the agency during its forty-three year history.

“These fines reflect the tough stance we will take against those who violate the law and fail to do their part in the mission to keep Americans safe on the road,” Foxx said.”  See 

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2015/01/08/honda-fine-nhtsa/21445701/

Bloomberg News reports an interesting contrast between GM and Honda that raises questions about the relative safety of the two automakers:

“GM, eager to demonstrate proactivity in the wake of the biggest recall in its history, disclosed 102 death and injury reports per 100,000 vehicles sold in 2014 through November. By contrast, Honda disclosed 2.4 reports per 100,000 vehicles sold over the same period. “

And Bloomberg further notes what may be further future actions:

“The Center for Auto Safety, a research group that has been tracking recalls and defects since it was founded in 1970, asked transportation regulators in October to refer Honda to the Justice Department for a criminal investigation. It cited a 2009 fatality and an August 2013 incident resulting in serious injury that weren’t included in Honda’s Early Warning Reports.”  See

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2015-01-08/honda-fined-record-70-million-for-underreporting-injury-claims.html

“The Center for Auto Safety responded to our inquiry:

“The Center for Auto Safety calls on the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into Honda violating NHTSA’s Early Warning Reporting Regulation. $70 million is too small a price to pay considering Takata airbags is one of the defects Honda failed to report under EWR.  How many other deadly defects are concealed in the 1,729 death and injury claims not reported by Honda.  The company must waive all statutes of limitations at the state and federal level over potential recalls or lawsuits arising out of defects concealed in the unreported claims.” 

Open questions for NHTSA:  

1.  NHTSA has not yet responded to our inquiry as to whether its fines are tax deductible or not.  

2.  NHTSA has not yet responded to our request for a link to the media briefing it held today and recorded at taxpayer’s expense.  It should be made publicly available.

Lou