By on February 3, 2022

us-capitol, public domain

It may be getting difficult to remember, but the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) used to have someone who was formally in charge. They were called an administrator and Americans used to be able to rely on the government nominating and then confirming these within a year of their predecessor leaving office. The position has always been political, often filled by lobbyists deemed acceptable by whatever the dominant political party of the day happens to be. But things have been different in the 21st century, with the NHTSA frequently being ran by “acting administrators” who are just supposed to be placeholders until Congress can confirm a valid replacement.

The agency hasn’t had an official leader since 2017 when Mark Rosekind left the organization to become the head of safety innovation for autonomous vehicle startup Zoox. NHTSA has had a few interim bosses since then, with Steven Cliff filling the void since February of 2021. However he just moved a little closer to removing the word “acting” from his job title. 

On Wednesday, Bloomberg had reported that Cliff won the favor of the Senate’s commerce committee. Having already been nominated to head the NHTSA by President Joe Biden in October of 2021, this sets him up for an all-hands vote. Though he was hardly the only name promoted by the committee and he will undoubtedly receive pushback from an opposition that feels the Democrat-controlled Congress has differing priorities.

From Bloomberg:

The committee also advanced several other Transportation Department officials, including Ann Phillips to lead the Maritime Administration, John Putnam to be the department’s general counsel, and Victoria Wassmer to be its chief financial officer.

Biden needed to renominate many of his transportation picks, including Cliff, this year after their nominations lapsed over the Senate’s holiday recess. The transportation nominees still face hurdles to confirmation.

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) has been stalling the nominations of Transportation and Commerce Department nominees since November, saying he will continue until the commerce panel convenes a hearing with the departments’ secretaries on supply chain bottlenecks. A Scott spokesperson said Tuesday the senator planned to maintain that hold.

Cliff’s background with the  California Air Resources Board (CARB) has made him less-than popular with Republican lawmakers. Legislators are also annoyed that the NHTSA has a backlog of safety rules Congress has been asking it to update as new vehicle technologies have become commonplace. Some of those were delayed by predictable bureaucratic hiccups. But others were stalled by politicians seeing the role of established government regulators very differently. Cliff is arguably emblematic of the struggle, representing the side that sees the NHTSA as being concerned with more than executing safety recalls and tamping down crash rates.

Though the debate isn’t happening exclusively along party lines. Rosekind was also a Californian Democrat when he headed the NHTSA and his view of the administration was to focus primarily on the fundamentals, conducting exhaustive (slow) investigations, and striking hard once the foundation for a recall had been established. But there were allegations from his own party that he was ignoring how future technologies might change the regulatory landscape and that his focus on major infractions let automakers get away with smaller ones.

Dubbed “Industry Leader of The Year” in 2015 by Automotive News, Rosekind had developed a reputation for being tough on manufacturers in terms of protecting motorists from defects — something that has frequently been attributed to his time on the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Early in his tenure at the NHTSA, he led major investigations into Fiat Chrysler, General Motors, and the Takata Corporation. Those efforts resulted in sizable recalls, with Takata becoming the biggest example in automotive history.

By contrast, Cliff has focused more on addressing urban congestion, impaired driving, fuel economy, the emergence of intelligent transportation systems, the health implications of vehicle pollution, increased in pedestrian fatalities, the introduction of alternative-energy vehicles (e.g. electric cars), and harmonizing global standards in an effort to better facilitate international trade. He’s casting a much wider net than his predecessor, stepping out of bounds of the NHTSA’s more-traditional roles. However Cliff believes that the organization could theoretically eliminate all roadway fatalities with additional federal funding and proper utilization of the latest technologies.

“Traffic fatalities are on the rise. Each year, an epidemic of more than 38,000 deaths occurs on our nation’s roads,” the nominee told the committee. “This is unacceptable. Not only must we reverse the trend, we must put ourselves on track to eliminate roadway fatalities altogether.”

“NHTSA is woefully behind in delivering mandated regulations due to limited resources and competing needs. We need to align resources to current challenges and workloads to deliver new, much needed safety and fuel economy improvements for the future.”

Critics have suggested this signals government overreach while supporters believe Cliff is simply adapting the agency to the times.

 

[Image: Architect of the Capitol/AOC.gov]

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70 Comments on “NHTSA Moves Closer to Having First Administrator Since 2017...”


  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    “If I knew for a certainty that a man was coming to my house with the conscious design of doing me good, I should run for my life.” – Henry David Thoreau

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “By contrast, Cliff has focused more on addressing urban congestion, impaired driving, fuel economy, the emergence of intelligent transportation systems, the health implications of vehicle pollution, increased in pedestrian fatalities, the introduction of alternative-energy vehicles (e.g. electric cars), and harmonizing global standards in an effort to better facilitate international trade.”

    Well, some of those items are related to road safety.

    “Not only must we reverse the trend, we must put ourselves on track to eliminate roadway fatalities altogether.”

    What track would that be?
    – Safer cars?
    – DUI enforcement?
    – Eliminating drivers?
    – Smart roads?
    – 25 mph speed limits?

    Fatalities per driven mile are about 95% lower than 100 years ago, and about 20% lower than 30 years ago. As with pollution controls, we’ve reached the asymptote of the cost-reward curve. A mountain of Federal money won’t move the needle much lower.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Eliminating roadway fatalities in cities is possible. Oslo did it and many other European cities have come very close. The solutions:

      – More trips by walking or transit (which allows for…)
      – No multi-lane streets
      – Low speed limits (European cities are now usually 19 mph)
      – Automated enforcement of red lights
      – Revised street designs to emphasize pedestrian priority and reduce natural car speeds
      – More pedestrian-only streets

      Eliminating fatalities on suburban and rural highways is probably not possible, but we could greatly reduce them with speed limiters and some mechanism of keeping people from driving drunk or distracted.

      • 0 avatar
        285exp

        There might be a list of things more like unlikely to occur, but it would be in rare company.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        @dal20402:

        Under socialism, such reforms are possible.

        As you know, here in the US we value driving freedom over life itself. Accidents happen to other people.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          I’d say having a unitary government is a bigger reason than socialism. The US is probably the second strongest federalist system behind India (it’s even in the name of the country), which makes sweeping national decisions relatively rare.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        “Low speed limits (European cities are now usually 19 mph)”

        20 mph is the threshold where survivability drops. That’s why school zones are 20 mph. A 19 mph speed limit would be very appropriate.

        That would be a speed limit set at 30 kph which is just under 19 mph (18.64 mph)
        A trauma Doctor, paramedic or ER staff member would know about the 20 mph threshold.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        I’m no expert on Oslo but the city was founded in 1048 and I’m guessing it was never designed around automobile use the way many American cities were.

        What you’re suggesting might be workable in the absolute urban core or in the gentrified blocks where the farmer’s market takes place, but you’d need a time machine for anything beyond that in places like Orlando or Oklahoma City.

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          Oslo was built around a deepwater harbor that doesn’t freeze in winter, about 70 miles inland from open ocean. Most of the city is no more than three miles from the harbor, so “transit” for centuries was ferry service.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          Nope, you could accomplish it in standard American subdivision suburbia (not counting the freeways) without all that much difficulty. The transit will never work very well, but walking and biking absolutely could. Here are the steps:

          (1) Build wide sidewalks on all the residential streets that don’t have them, building into the right-of-way (which narrows the vehicles’ portion of the street).
          (2) Eminent-domain tiny strips of land between lots at the corners of subdivisions to provide non-motorized cut-throughs. Build new fencing and landscaping for the affected property owners as part of the eminent-domain package
          (3) Road-diet the heck out of big suburban stroads. In general you can get all the throughput you need on anything short of a major highway with one general-purpose traffic lane in each direction, adding turn lanes as needed. The rest can be truly safe, separated space for foot and bike. Design speed for cars on those roads should be 25 mph at most. (The dirty little secret is that, unless you’re on a freeway, going faster really doesn’t save much time.)

          Even in the suburbs most non-commute trips are under two miles. If people didn’t feel that walking or biking was taking their life into their hands, they would in large numbers. The most bike-heavy places in the Netherlands aren’t urban cores, they’re inner-ring periphery, because there was space to build first-class bike facilities there.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            I respectfully disagree completely with your entire comment.

          • 0 avatar
            aquaticko

            Seriously. It’s a testament to American myopia that so many people think the kind of transformation that’s taken place all over Europe over the past few decades can’t be done here, when in fact it’s *already* happened here once before, to an extent unlike any other country. Remaking American cities for cars from the 20’s through the 70’s was a massive project, but we sure as hell did it, and we can–and should–do it again. That we’ve come to see 40,000 annual traffic-related deaths as just “the way it is”, and not an emergency, is appalling.

          • 0 avatar
            Matt Posky

            If you break down Europe and U.S. traffic deaths down by population, it’s actually pretty close. Both regions also have fatality rates that are much lower than the global average. It’s difficult to imagine numbers getting much lower in either place without there suddenly being fewer people driving.

          • 0 avatar
            Jeff S

            Not to totally discount your plan but have you ever been to Houston? Not only is the city spread out it has no zoning and much of the year the temperature is in the 90s with humidity to match the outdoor temperature. Europe is much different than the US. There are some urban areas and larger cities where non commuting might work but that is very few. I agree about lowering speed limits but then you need more traffic enforcement. Many neighborhoods including mine have 25 mph speed limits which few follow. I have already had a number of vehicles hit in front of my house which has a posted speed of 25 mph. One was my handyman’s F-250 with his trailer parked in front of my house which was hit by a crossover flipping the crossover on its roof and moving the truck and trailer 25 feet totaling the trailer (ironically that happened on April Fools Day). Another instance was a brand new Accord parked in front of my house hit by a 4 x 4 GMC Sierra nearly totally the Accord. I have had some close calls just going to the mailbox and this is not a major road. Vehicles are going anywhere from 50 to 60 mph on a suburban street with kids and dogs. I go 25 mph the posted speed and I have had people pass me and this is on a 2 lane street that is not that wide.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            It wouldn’t happen everywhere for a very long time. If you feel that dragging a two-ton chunk of metal 3 miles in and out of your subdivision (and probably waiting for 5 traffic lights along the way) to get to a Kroger that’s 2500 feet away as the crow flies, while exponentially increasing the risk of death, is the preferred way to live, you’ll have that choice for the rest of any of our lives.

            I think there are better ways to live, ones that save the driving for when it’s actually fun. My local Kroger is around 500 feet from my door—less distance than you might walk from the far edge of an exurban parking lot. I never drive there ever and it’s f#cking fantastic.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Jeff S, my wife is from Houston and I’m very familiar with the city. TBQH I have a secret dream job of reimagining Houston’s transportation system, because the city is so awesome otherwise. In parts of it (including most of the city within 610), some serious street redesigns would change more than you think. In others you probably would need to rebuild.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “Remaking American cities for cars from the 20’s through the 70’s was a massive project”

            In 1920 Orlando had a population of 9,200 while Miami had a population of 29,000. These cities (and others that saw population booms after 1940) were not “remade” with automobile in mind they were *designed* with the automobile in mind.

            I think you guys are vastly underestimating the lift involved with your ideas. Advocating for more speed bumps, crosswalk lights and rumble strips around pedestrian-heavy and residential areas would get you a lot more gain without trying to unwind 70 years of suburban development.

          • 0 avatar
            Jeff S

            @dal20402–I lived in Houston for 29 years first in West University when my family moved there in the Summer of 1958 from Dayton Ohio then in Meyerland from 1959 to 1967, and then the Memorial area from 1968 thru Summer of 1987 off of Dairy Ashford Rd. For years in Houston I took the bus to work to downtown but when I worked outside of downtown I had to drive. I have lived in N KY across the Ohio River from Cincinnati and took the bus to downtown for over 25 years. We as a country are far from having a viable mass transit system with the exception of New York City, Atlanta, Chicago, Washington DC, and possibly Boston. I retired the end of December and for the past 2 years I worked mostly from home. My wife and I drive much less than the average person and probably much less than the average reader of this site. The past few years I average about 3k miles a year on our cars with our 2013 CRV bought new with 27k miles. The closest I am to Krogers would be 5 miles and with the traffic from Amazon and the other warehouses I would not chance riding a bike to the store but when I do drive I combine my trips. Some of what you said would work but suburban America is not like Western Europe. I think if vehicles continue to go up in price and shortages of new vehicles remain it could change what people drive and how they use their vehicles but then it would be over a number of years. People are no so quick to change unless they are forced to. My wife and I have always lived below our means and we seldom borrow any money and we keep our vehicles over 10 years. We could afford a 50k or more vehicle but we spend half that and take care of what we have.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Just considering fatality rates in Europe as a whole isn’t that helpful. There’s a big contrast between West and East, and fatality rates in the west range from half of the U.S’s to a small fraction. (Rates in the East range from comparable to the U.S. to quite a bit higher.) Part of the reason for the lower rates in the West is that people drive less, but part of the reason is roadway design, especially in the cities.

            There are many fewer multi-lane surface roads, which are the most dangerous type of road you can have in an urban area. Design speeds are slower and enforcement is much more rigorous. Fewer cars are permitted in commercial areas where high volumes of pedestrians are around. Each of those things makes a difference and together they make a big difference.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            I have to agree with @dal20402. It would be better to engineer safety into roads. That would drop speeds and reduce property damage and death from crashes. A drop from 30 mph to 19 mph would add under 6 minutes to a 5 mile commute.

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            People will just move out of the traffic-Hades you envision, as soon as they can.

            Urban planners keep dreaming of high rise, high density housing with shops on the first floor and transit nearby. They don’t realize they’re dreaming of NYC’s 19th century lower east side slums. People got out of there as soon as they could, and went to the suburbs, like Levittown.

            Planners not only don’t take into account the preferences of the people who would live in their dream worlds, they actively oppose the suburban refuges people escaped to, and offer “enhancements” like the ones Dal20402 mentions, in the name of “safety”.

          • 0 avatar
            ToolGuy

            “Stroad” explanation:

            https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2018/3/1/whats-a-stroad-and-why-does-it-matter

          • 0 avatar
            6250Claimer

            November can’t come soon enough.

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      @SCE to AUX,

      I don’t know what this means, but here it is:
      https://www.gm.com/stories/periscope-safe-future

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        “I don’t know what this means, but here it is:”

        Toolguy, it wasn’t easy, but I think I’ve got it translated.

        It says “Meet the people behind Periscope, GM’s new approach to vehicle safety through a human lens.”

        I think means GM is going to install periscopes in cars using lenses from human eyes harvested from cadavers instead of normal lenses in order to reduce crashes.

        It also says “providing support for drivers who have experienced a crash.” Probably how they are getting the lenses.

      • 0 avatar
        Matt Posky

        I like that GM’s solution to stopping in-car cell phone use is to blow it up onto an even bigger screen and then harvesting the customers data. I’m also glad to see it taking a “holistic approach” to safety. I know because their PR team said so several times. That’s so much better than multinational manufacturing corporations taking a non-holistic approach to things.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        That Stroad video makes a lot of sense.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Biro

      SCE TO AUX: “As with pollution controls, we’ve reached the asymptote of the cost-reward curve. A mountain of Federal money won’t move the needle much lower.”

      Nope. But it can end the entire notion of auto and driving enthusiasm as we know it. Then they can turn their attention to something else that gives people joy and satisfaction… and drain it of all life.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        Too bad the EPA has ignored the cost-benefit equation since Day One. It’s enough to make you think the goals they pursue are not the ones set for the agency by Congress.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    The phrase “roadway fatalities” implies the existence of two things:

    a]roadways
    b]people to die on them

    Therefore, the only way to bring the number of roadway fatalities to zero, you’re going to have to eliminate one or the other, or both of those things.

  • avatar
    Ol Shel

    The story is now breaking that top Trump officials drafted a plan for NHTSA to confiscate voting machines, a plot hatched after every other government agency chose to honor the Constitution.

  • avatar
    Skippity

    Limit size,power, displacement. Restrict speeds through vehicle programming. Cameras and speed detectors everywhere. Make the penalties severe. Tenfold for anything that weighs over 3500 pounds. That and jail time for anything over 4500 pounds. Mandatory front and rear cameras on every registered vehicle to aid investigations. Ban iPads on dashboards. Loss of license for one year if caught texting. Second offense it’s forever. There’s much that could be done. Driving isn’t a right. If you abuse the privilege and endanger others you can pay someone else to get you about.

  • avatar
    watersketch

    The Equinox EV looks pretty much like the Bolt which also looks just like the Buick Velite.

    Whatever they call it, I am definitely interested in a small EV that is less than $35k.

    What they call the battery doesn’t matter to me.

  • avatar

    Yeesh, this is turning into Streetslog….why don’t we all just bike everywhere ? Oh, this IS TTAC, not TTAB…

    I lived in NYC for 10 years. The VZ nonsense has restriped the roads, making them less safe. Six lanes are now 1.5 with traffic and trucks unloading. There’s a bike lane, in the middle (!) Parking is intentionally tougher. The speed limit was dropped from 30 to 25 then cameras were installed…everywhere. It’s not a safety agenda, it’s an anti car agenda. The cameras were installed with the encouragement and political cover of the local Bike Nuts. Only the crazy would bicycle on NYC streets….I participate in quite a few risky activities but that’s a hard pass.

    In my area, which is suburban, a few two lanes were re striped to one. You can no longer get around the clueless driver. There are no peds or bikes on these roads.

    In Europe, you can actually get around on mass transit, but Europe isn’t the US. I’ve been on the Bullet Train too, and there’s no street parking….anywhere…in Japan. It’s just not a thing. Here in NYC, no one is building any significant mass transit, they are just making life tougher for the auto. Japan and Europe, you can live without a car. In most of the US, save a very few cities, you cannot. Period. We need streets and parking, and restriction just makes the lot owners richer, as the well off will still have that Escalade.

    I fully agree that in cities, there are places where design should be addressed, speeds restricted, and/or cars removed, but the problem is that the anti car culture isn’t stopping at the Brooklyn City Line….and most of VZ, etc is basically anti-car culture masked in “its for the children”.

    Call me when the streetcar lines are re installed, and all the local town train stations in the NYC metro area are revitalized…you can’t even get a one seat ride from most of the West side of the Hudson River. Till then, 95% of the roads should be set up for maximium throughput, the other 5% being inner cities.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Cars are on pace to kill over 15 out of every 100,000 Americans just in 2022 alone, meaning that over the course of a decade they are essentially guaranteed to kill an acquaintance of every single person living in America. Perhaps we need a bit of skepticism about the way they are currently used.

      • 0 avatar
        285exp

        The solutions you suggest have no chance of being accepted or if actually working outside of a very small part of the US. The vast majority of US residents won’t or can’t walk or bike to work. Taking away traffic lanes to enhance the ability of people to do things that they’re not going to do is stupid and counterproductive. A 20mph speed limit in other than extremely small sections of large metropolitan areas is laughable. Let’s face it, everything you suggest is based on making it harder and harder to drive, and maybe that’s the point. Let’s have even more public transport, where we can all cram together and share our viruses even more efficiently. Let’s drive up the cost so only “sophisticated “ types can afford to own and drive our own vehicles. Let’s make them even more connected to the internet so Google can market more efficiently to us, they’ll know where we’re going and what we’re buying. I feel entirely safe knowing that future cars will be able to monitor my driving, and afford a back door that can shut the car down if it decides it thinks I’m not driving properly, or if your fantasy of a 20 mph speed limit comes true, maybe we won’t have to have all those police officers driving around hoping to catch you doing something wrong. If you speed, it can take a picture of you, record the time and place of the incident, and send the ticket right to your door. Same for any other moving violations. And if you don’t pay quickly enough, they can brick your car until you do. And all in the name of safety, of course, and who could be against that? Entirely too many people drive because they enjoy it, and they’re wasting energy, heating up the planet, and making it hazardous for the dozens of people who want to hike or bike everywhere instead.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          Nothing I suggest makes it harder to drive. Slower? Sure. I think that’s a worthwhile tradeoff to keep 40,000+ people alive.

          • 0 avatar
            285exp

            dal:

            More trips by walking or transit (which allows for…)
            – No multi-lane streets
            – Low speed limits (European cities are now usually 19 mph)
            – Automated enforcement of red lights
            – Revised street designs to emphasize pedestrian priority and reduce natural car speeds
            – More pedestrian-only streets

            Other than automated red light enforcement, which is primarily a more efficient revenue collection scheme, which of those does not make driving more difficult?

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            No multi-lane streets does not make driving more difficult; in fact, it makes it easier. Fewer lane changes and less aggressive driving.

            Low speed limits have no impact on the difficulty of driving, just the speed.

            Automated enforcement of red lights only makes driving “more difficult” if you are in the habit of running red lights, which is warranted.

            Revised street designs may require you to pay a bit more attention so that you don’t hit curbs or bollards, but, again, that’s a worthwhile tradeoff for many fewer deaths.

            More pedestrian-only streets may require you to drive a block out of your way here or there, but, again, that goes to speed more than difficulty.

            Basically I’m happy to slow drivers in cities down to keep people alive. 31 people died in crashes in my city in 2021, and this is a small enough city that I’m two or fewer connections away from most of them. They aren’t statistics to me; they’re flesh-and-blood people with families and friends. Oslo’s experience teaches us that most or all of their deaths were entirely preventable.

          • 0 avatar
            285exp

            You are conflating ease of driving with convenience. Nobody is saying that it’s harder physically to drive, what you propose is to make it so inconvenient by reducing the traffic lanes and slowing them down so much that people will be forced out of their cars. If you think that’s a good thing, maybe you belong at The Truth About Pedestrians.

            If you just want to do some of those things in the heart of some big city business districts, that’s one thing, but applying them to city driving, regardless of the circumstances, is just dumb and unworkable.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            The Truth About Cars is that they kill a lot of people they don’t need to.

            I get places by a mix of driving, walking, biking, and public transport. I would happily add 50% to the time every driving trip took if it reduced my risk of death when I’m walking or biking by 90%. I think it’s kind of pathological that people disagree about that.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I say this as someone with two Volvos downstairs and whom understands the local issue you face where a 25 mph neighborhood with children is grossly disrespected with excessive speeds as you have described. Most of the nation does not share in your multiple modes of personal transport and thus will not understand your perspective. Where you are located surely needs to have some speed enforcement and probably those jersey barrier protections you’ve described but this should not apply everywhere. Biking, walking, bus/light rail, and the automobile are ultimately transportation and/or lifestyle choices each with a cost (save perhaps walking). Outside of financial costs if perhaps you said to me the 30 min I used to spend just to get onto the exit were to double daily because it made you significantly safer in your lifestyle choice, I would disagree. Ultimately the concerns you cite reinforce my personal view that density is not optimal and it is important to remove as much commuter business from the metaphorical urban death maze as is possible (which is precisely what has been transpiring since 2020 because most roles have not needed an urban commute for years now).

          • 0 avatar
            285exp

            Maybe you should consider that your particular circumstance regarding transportation is not anywhere close to the norm. If you want some select metropolitan areas in the country to be surrounded by barbed wire and have only pedestrians and cyclists into it, that’s ok by me. To say that areas ill suited for that sort of system should spend a bunch of money to implement them is not.

            Where I live, people aren’t getting mown over in the streets by speeding crazies. Part of that this because, except for a relatively small area of business and some entertainment district, there are not a lot of people either walking or cycling, and spending an outrageous amount of money to build out public transportation won’t change that. Look at the earlier post, Cincinnati spent $160+ million to build a streetcar system that people won’t use even if it’s free. You could build all the streetcars and bike and pedestrian lanes you want in most places of the country, and most people won’t use them, unless you force them to.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            If you live in suburbia or rural areas, you don’t have as many people dying outside of cars, but you have way more people dying inside cars. Montana and Wyoming have traffic death rates that are worse than anywhere else in the developed world and quite a few places in the developing world. Many of those deaths are preventable too, although not as categorically—you can’t just eliminate them by slowing speeds the way you can in the city.

            I think that throughout the US we need to step back and willfully ask the question: how many people are we willing to lose to cars? Right now, we don’t. We just assume (because humans are utterly terrible at risk assessment) that it won’t happen to us, or to anyone we know, and that convenience is more important. Get to know a few people who have had relatives killed in preventable car crashes and that perspective will change, quickly.

          • 0 avatar
            285exp

            Per the NSC:

            “According to NHTSA data, in 2019 most pedestrian traffic deaths occurred in urban settings (82%), on the open road (73%) versus intersections (26%), and during dark lighting conditions (80%). The largest number of pedestrian deaths occur on Saturdays (1,042), and the majority of these deaths happen during dark lighting conditions (853).”

            In addition, 42% involve alcohol, 33% of the time the pedestrian is impaired. The biggest thing that can be done is for drunk pedestrians to quit wandering out into traffic. The great majority of these aren’t happening when people are commuting to work. Don’t wander drunk into the streets and you will decrease your chance of being killed tremendously.

        • 0 avatar
          Skippity

          285exp
          Why shouldn’t driving be recorded?

          • 0 avatar
            285exp

            Why shouldn’t everything we do be recorded, comrade? For our own safety, of course.

            1984 was supposed to be a warning, not a how to manual.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Why stop there, why shouldn’t your entire life be recorded and then sold on subscription?

      • 0 avatar
        Skippity

        dal20402
        Seems few care.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff S

      In Cincinnati it cost roughly $150 million to build the streetcar system initially, and the federal grants used to pay for it require it run every day for 25 years. Cincinnati originally charged for rides but now they are free and few people ride the street cars. The ironic thing is like many cities Cincinnati had a full functioning street car system into the 50s which was completely removed. It cost a considerable amount to relocate the utilities which at first the city tried to get Duke Energy to cover the cost but Duke refused.In December 2014, the Hamilton County Common Pleas Court ruled the city owed Duke $15 million for the relocation work, upping the cost of the streetcar project to $148 million. Part of the initial litigation over the dispute required the city put that $15 million in escrow.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Posky

      As another long-term NYC resident, this is spot on! Driving was never what I would call easy or affordable, but it’s gotten substantially worse over the last decade. Has it helped the city reduced pedestrian fatalities? Nope. Deaths have gone up. We had 31 in 2018, 34 in 2019, 26 in 2020 (nobody was outside), and a whopping 41 in 2021.

      At the end of the day, there are just too many people walking around. You can have dedicated bike lanes and whole sections of the city devoted to foot traffic. But you’ll still have areas where people don’t bother crossing at crosswalks and tons of double parked vehicles for them to emerge from on every single block. Anybody who has an opinion on this needs to spend a week driving around the city and then walking before weighing in on this.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        If the vehicles that hit the people walking erratically are all going less than 20 mph. you won’t have many (if any) deaths. If a place is so full of people that pedestrians are everywhere, then don’t subject the pedestrians to vehicles moving fast enough to kill them.

        There are quite a few European central cities denser than any part of Manhattan. For the most part, being in them is a calm and enjoyable experience, very much unlike the feeling in much of Manhattan. The difference is fast-moving vehicles, which are just not there in the European centers.

        • 0 avatar
          285exp

          My suggestion is that pedestrians and cyclists follow the rules, not to impose more on motorists. Hey! Let’s go back to 55 mph on the highway, if you’re so determined to lower traffic fatalities. Why confine your changes to the city?

          • 0 avatar
            Skippity

            Not following rules is one reason monitoring is necessary. Too many drivers disregard rules and limits and end up harming others. Dash cams have held people accountable for their actions. As have doorbell, security, phone cameras.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Personally I don’t feel like living in 1984 in order for some jag offs to be more polite about petty sh!t which doesn’t matter.

            I’ll add the entire US civil law system is already rife with nuisance suits and this sort of BS will turn it up to 11.

            @285exp

            “cyclists follow the rules”

            Simple solution, age of majority riders are treated like any vehicle on the road with registration, liability insurance, and license plate. People really into cycling I suspect already are acting professionally for the most part, and they will pay to truly belong. Jag offs will not, and for non-compliance in addition to citations anyone involved gets civil immunity from future suits. One or two numbnuts get the shaft for their non-compliance and everyone else will fall in line.

  • avatar
    Skippity

    @28-Cars-Later

    Have you read 1984? It’s not relevant to the discussion.

    Roads are public and there’s no right to privacy when on them. Use is optional.

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