The Truth About Cars » Virginia The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 23 Jul 2014 18:25:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Virginia Obama Talks Connected Vehicles, Highway Funding Wed, 16 Jul 2014 10:00:06 +0000 Barack Obama + Connected Vehicles

Amid touring the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, Va. and having a go at a driving simulator based upon a Saturn SL, President Barack Obama talked about connected vehicles and increasing highway funding before reporters in attendance Tuesday.

Autoblog and Bloomberg report the President spoke for 14 minutes on both subjects, though the majority of his speech focused upon the U.S. Highway Trust Fund. Obama warned that if Congress fails to come to a decision as to how the trust will be funded, 700,000 jobs and 100,000 active projects could be shuttered when the well runs dry next month. He offered some praise regarding bipartisan bills in both houses offering a solution, though Obama urged Congress to focus on the long term instead of “kicking the can down the road for a few months.”

On the connected vehicle front, he proclaimed his support for any new technology that could improve driver safety, referencing his 16-year-old daughter Malia alongside results of a study where 5.5 billion hours and $120 billion in time and fuel are lost annually due to traffic congestion. Obama also joked about his brief ride in the aforementioned simulator, finding the experience disorienting in relation to his diminishing driving experience.

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Virginia Allows Tesla To Establish Traditional Dealership Fri, 04 Oct 2013 15:16:49 +0000 "tesla

One week after we mused that electric carmaker Tesla would never be able to defeat current state laws prohibiting factory direct automobile sales and thus must join the franchised dealer model, the company proved us wrong thanks to the Commonwealth of Virginia.

According to Automotive News, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles and, amazingly, the Virginia Automobile Dealer Association have come to an agreement to allow Tesla to open one dealership in the state. Tesla currently operates a order-taking outlet in a mall in Tysons Corner, a suburb of Washington, D.C., while their nearest service center is in Rockville, Maryland. Although details of the agreement are sealed, it is likely that Tesla will be allowed to build a full service store in the Tysons Corner area.

Tesla has been wrangling with the state for some time. Their request to open a dealership had previously been denied by the state’s DMV and the company was appealing the ruling in a county court. The next step is for the Virginia Motor Dealer Vehicle board to grant Tesla a business license.

Tesla had previously won approval to sell its vehicles in the state of New Hampshire but having a point near the nation’s capital is huge for the company’s exposure. Besides having near-perfect client demographics for the product, it affords CEO Elon Musk the opportunity to showcase his dealership to members of Congress, whom he is considering lobbying to pass a federal law allowing factory direct car sales to customers.

As this agreement has been in the works for some time, we cannot say if our editorial had any influence on the Virginia entities, but we cannot help but wonder if TTAC commenter and dealer apologist Ruggles, who posted a remarkable one hundred and seventy-four comments on our story last week, might have been in Richmond this week, wearing the lawmakers down until they caved.

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“Distracted Driving” Joins The Ranks Of Primary Offenses In Virginia Fri, 05 Apr 2013 16:17:05 +0000

In a move that will undoubtedly create a flood of profitable tickets save uncounted lives, Virginia has made “distracted driving” a primary offense and raised the fines to the proverbial ceiling.

If you’re confused as to what a “primary offense” might be, toss me some click love and check it out. Virginia’s governor is expected to sign legislation that will add so-called distracted driving to the list.

Sen. George Barker (D-Alexandria) says he has been trying to get a bill passed on this topic for a number of years, after students from Centreville High School brought the issue to his attention.

“I’m very pleased, because this is an extraordinarily dangerous activity,” Barker says. “The accident rate is 23 times the rate for people that are texting compared to people that aren’t, which is a phenomenal differential. It clearly will save lives.”

Look for the “23 times” factoid to be repeated again and again everywhere until people unquestioningly accept it. That number comes from a six-month survey of truck drivers and has been ruthlessly expanded to include everyone and everything humanly possible. Never mind the fact that operating a long-haul truck in urban environments is significantly more difficult and physically involved than driving a car. Never mind the fact that in modern traffic, commercial trucks are already unable to brake and maneuver well enough to avoid accidents. Never mind the fact that young people are far more adept at texting than your average career trucker. It’s a fact now and you might as well accept it.

Your humble author is of the opinion that legislation like this leads to surreptitious texting with one’s phone tucked beneath the line of sight in the car. That behavior significantly increases the danger of texting while driving and to encourage people to engage in it just so a few tickets can be written trades public safety for public revenue. Texting while driving is not going to go away. Not now and not for a very long time. It is the preferred communication method of everybody under the age of thirty and everybody’s going to keep doing it. Period. Point blank.

I would suggest that the texting-and-driving hysteria we’re seeing now as a society is as outsized as it is for one simple reason: people just love to be Puritans about something and we live in a world now where it’s no longer acceptable to have any public views about sexual behavior or common decency besides those once held by Ol’ Little Roman Boots. Since the Puritanical impulse is likely genetic in nature and it is one of the reasons your Cro-Magnon ancestor survived while his neighbor died in an ill-fated attempt to reproduce with a tribe of bonobos, it’s hard to completely suppress it. Instead, we swallow those feelings and let them fester until one day we are busy nonjudgmentally watching “Glee” and we see a public-service ad about texting and driving and it erupts from our stomachs in a bile-covered, steel-toothed xenomorphic presence OMG SOMETHING MUST BE DONE BLEEEEARRRRRRGH.

An exceptionally paranoid individual, which I am emphatically not or at least emphatically not really, might also wonder if the Illuminati think this: By removing all sorts of potential distractions from driving and forcing us to stare straight ahead at the stopped bumper of the Escalade in front of us, possibly with the aid of those hold-the-eyelids-open apparatus they used on Malcolm McDowell, the misery of operating a privately-owned vehicle might possibly be ratcheted up to the point where we will cheerfully accept being herded onto filthy cattle cars and shipped to our destinations in the most climate-friendly way possible. Just forget I said anything about it, though, because I’m not paranoid.

What I am, however, is someone who enjoys texting the finest-looking women available at all times. So if you see me rolling my Town Car down the street, chances are I’m texting somebody. But from now on, I’m going to wear sunglasses and hold my phone under the beltline, so you can’t tell for sure. If you have complaints about that, send them to your local legislator.

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Virginia State Police Help With Budget Crunch Tue, 09 Mar 2010 16:34:10 +0000

A federally funded ticketing blitz in the state of Virginia landed a total of 6996 traffic tickets this weekend. The blitz, dubbed “Operation Air, Land & Speed” coincided with frantic efforts by state officials to close a$2.2 billion budget deficit. Supervisors ordered state troopers to saturate Interstates 81 and 95 to issue as many tickets as humanly possible over the space of two days.

“The safety of Virginia’s highways begins the minute a vehicle is put in ‘drive,’” Virginia State Police Superintendent W. Steven Flaherty said in a statement. “Those split second decisions to choose not to drive drunk, to choose to wear a seat belt and to choose not to speed or drive aggressively really do make a difference in preventing and/or surviving a crash.”

Officers had no trouble delivering the requested number of speeding tickets with a total of 3536 ordinary speeding citations written. In addition, another 717 “reckless driving” tickets were filed, although these most often are simple speeding tickets that happen to carry a fine of up to $2500. Driving as little as 10 to 15 MPH over the limit can qualify for this enhanced punishment. On the other end of the scale, some 310 tickets were handed to drivers who either forgot to wear their seatbelts or made a choice not to do so.

Activists with the National Motorists Association pointed out that enforcement efforts may have concentrated on areas where speed limits are expected to rise to 70 MPH following Governor Bob McDonnell’s signature on legislation raising the state’s maximum speed limit (view law). This would mean a significant number of tickets were issued for conduct that will be perfectly legal in a matter of months. The group also indicated that state police tactics may run afoul of state law.

“All officers making arrests incident to the enforcement of this title shall be paid fixed salaries for their services and shall have no interest in, nor be permitted by law to accept the benefit of, any fine or fee resulting from the arrest or conviction of an offender against any provision of this title,” Virginia Code Section 46.2-102 states.

Under the federal grant application process, state officials explained that they would pay officers overtime — at least one-and-a-half times their normal salary — to participate. This special reward for ticketing operation participants appears to violate the spirit of state law.

Since 2006, a total of twenty-three ticketing blitzes have taken place, generating 120,977 traffic tickets.


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Virginia: New Form Of Photo Ticketing Proposed Wed, 03 Feb 2010 13:03:45 +0000

A pair of lawmakers want to bring a unique form of photo enforcement to Virginia. The state Senate yesterday voted 40-0 to expedite consideration of legislation introduced by state Delegate Tom Rust (R-Herndon) and Senator Mark Herring (D-Leesburg) allowing the use of automated ticketing machines to fine people up to $600 for driving on a road without a state-approved purpose. The cameras are similar to those that photograph vehicles accused of using a toll road without paying. In this case, however, the cameras would be deployed on a free, fourteen-mile road adjacent to a toll route designed solely for the use of people driving to Dulles international Airport. The owners of cars infringing the proposed law would be mailed a “bill” in the mail.

“In the event a violation of the authority regulation is identified via the photo-monitoring system or automatic vehicle identification system, the operator of the Dulles Access Highway shall send a bill in the amount of the fine plus the applicable administrative fee to a registered owner of a vehicle as part of the enforcement process prior to seeking further remedies under this section,” House Bill 1295 states.

Under existing statutes, drivers who have “airport business” may use the access highway. Such purposes are not clearly defined, but the airport grounds include a hotel and gas station that many frequently use in order to escape the increasing cost of the adjacent toll route. Because a machine is unable to determine purpose, Rust and Herring’s bill would automatically convict any vehicle owner who receives a bill in the mail.

“Proof of a violation of the authority regulation governing the use of the Dulles Access Highway shall be evidenced by information obtained from the photo-monitoring system,” HB1295 states. “It shall be prima facie evidence that the vehicle described in the summons issued pursuant to this section was operated in violation of the authority regulation governing use of the Dulles Access Highway.”

The law admits no defense to the charge made against the vehicle owner other than proving the car had been stolen or supplying the name of someone else who may have been driving.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority would use a private vendor to collect the fines which start at $50 for a first violation, rise to $200 for a second, $350 for a third and $600 for a fourth. It is quite possible to obtain four violations, worth a total of $1200, by unknowingly using the road before receiving any notice from the airport authority.

Rust’s bill was assigned to a House Transportation subcommittee on Sunday. A copy of his legislation is available in a 155k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File House Bill 1295 (Virginia General Assembly, 1/21/2010)

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Virginia DOT Defends Red Light Camera Study Mon, 04 Jan 2010 17:58:49 +0000 (

In 2007, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) performed one of the most comprehensive statewide surveys of the impact of red light cameras on safety (view report). It caused quite a stir upon its release. The study took advantage of seven years’ worth of data both before and after cameras were installed, examining a far more extensive dataset than most competing studies.

Despite the agency’s best effort to present automated enforcement in a positive light, the unavoidable results were that, on a statewide level, accidents and injuries increased where cameras were used. This outcome has proved to be an embarrassment for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) which has been the primary organization generating research claiming that red light cameras improve safety. IIHS noted that VDOT essentially bent over backwards to accommodate the industry, but because the ultimate results were unfavorable, the VDOT report should be discarded.

“That the final conclusions of the [VDOT] study are guarded and more conservative than the results might suggest supports our belief that the negative results of the study cannot, and should not be cited and used as a deterrent to the implementation of red light camera programs,” a draft 2007 IIHS critique stated.

Essentially, IIHS argued that one should question the VDOT/Virginia Transportation Research Council (VTRC) study because the results conflicted with conclusions generated by IIHS itself.

“A large body of peer-reviewed research generally has found that camera enforcement reduces red light violations and injury crashes,” the final IIHS critique stated. “Results of a new study commissioned by the Virginia Transportation Research Council and completed in June 2007 appear to contradict these earlier findings, but there are significant methodological issues with the VTRC study that call into question the validity of its conclusions.”

The insurance industry’s financial interest in the issue of photo enforcement amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars annually. States like Arizona, California and Illinois impose license points on certain types of red light camera and speed camera tickets. That means for each photo ticket issued, the insurance companies have the legal right impose an annual monetary surcharge on the recipient of as little as $25 to as much as $1000 extra per year.

The draft insurance industry critique argued that VDOT’s model “underestimated” the benefits of red light cameras by using an improper statistical model influenced by the enforcement location selection process. IIHS chose two intersections and re-analyzed the data to illustrate the industry’s suspicion that VDOT’s methodology produced unfair results. VDOT countered this by doing a full-blown reanalysis following every IIHS recommendation.

“While findings regarding rear-end crashes and angle crashes did not change substantially, Table R1 below suggests that the approaches suggested by the reviewers would have caused red light running crashes to increase slightly,” VDOT explained in its response to IIHS.

Specifically, instead of a 42 percent increase in rear-end collisions, the cameras would be associated with a 48 percent increase in accidents. Angle collisions would increase 30 percent instead of 20 percent and “red light running” accidents would increase 15 percent.

In the final, published version of its paper, IIHS dropped the concrete analysis of VDOT’s equation but retained the vague criticisms about how the “highly unusual crash prediction model” was “unreliable.” In a November 2008 email, VDOT Associate Principal Research Scientist John Miller said that he intended to ask IIHS to include VDOT’s response on its website.

As of January 2010, IIHS had not done so. VDOT posted all of the raw data for its report online, inviting independent analysis and critique as the agency finalized its work. IIHS does not provide any raw data on its website that would allow independent verification of the industry’s claims.

View the full VDOT/VTRC point-by-point response in a 170k PDF file at the source link below. The draft of the IIHS report is provided with VDOT’s comments (“authors’ response”) given in gray shaded boxes.

Source: PDF File Peer Review of 2007 VTRC Study and Author Response (IIHS / Virginia Transportation Research Council, 11/1/2007)

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