After several delays, on Dec. 25th, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration submitted a proposed revised regulation to the White House that could mandate automakers to equip cars and light trucks with backup cameras. According to Automotive News, the regulation will be part of new rear visibility standards for passenger vehicles sold in the U.S and the rationale for the backup cameras is to prevent children from being injured or killed by drivers that don’t see them behind their cars when traveling in reverse. NHTSA estimates that backup cameras would save about 100 lives a year.
No details on the planned standards have been released yet.
Credit our sorely missed EIC/Editor Emeritus Ed Niedermeyer for being well ahead of the curve. B ack in 2011, Ed told me about how the rise of fuel efficient vehicles would create a revenue shortfall for the federal Highway Trust Fund, and that would lead the government to look at implementing all sorts of unpleasant things like a Vehicle Miles Traveled tax. Guess what Ray LaHood is proposing? You guessed it.
NHTSA Administrator David Strickland warned automakers last week that he had no interest in making it easier to use systems like Twitter and Facebook, indicating that integration of these systems could face future regulation. But while Strickland was playing Bad Cop, his boss (and the traditional bad cop in these routines) Ray LaHood was busy playing Good Cop, telling the AP [via The WaPo] that
We are data-based. Our credibility comes from having good data. If we have good data, then we can make a case. Is messing with your GPS a cognitive distraction? Is changing the channel on the radio a cognitive distraction? We’re looking at that now.
You can see the entire war plan for the DOT’s assault on distraction in PDF here, but don’t rush. You have plenty of time. Voluntary guidelines (yes, voluntary) for visual-manual interfaces won’t come out until Q3 of this year, portable devices in Q3 2013 and voice-activated systems in Q1 2014. Meanwhile, the government won’t even have the data on which to regulate hands-free systems until Q1 2012. So, even though most research shows little change in distraction between a hands-free and handheld device, the industry should be able to sell a grip of hands-free and voice-activated systems before the government is even sure of how distracting they are.
Thus far, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s war on distracted driving has been largely a rhetorical hobbyhorse, giving the good Secretary a crowd-pleasing speech topic no matter where he finds himself. After calling the situation “an epidemic,” LaHood held a summit at which it was agreed that distracted driving is bad, especially when it causes deaths. Federal employees were subsequently barred from texting while driving government-owned vehicles during work hours. And that was just about it. Apparently chastened by his big build-up and lack of pay-off on this issue, LaHood has kept himself busy with the Toyota debacle of late, leaving distracted driving largely alone since last summer’s summit. Until he remembered that there was one crucial tool in his bureaucratic bag of tricks that he hadn’t yet used: the photo op.
The DOT policy is to incorporate safe and convenient walking and bicycling facilities into transportation projects. Every transportation agency, including DOT, has the responsibility to improve conditions and opportunities for walking and bicycling and to integrate walking and bicycling into their transportation systems. Because of the numerous individual and community benefits that walking and bicycling provide — including health, safety, environmental, transportation, and quality of life — transportation agencies are encouraged to go beyond minimum standards to provide safe and convenient facilities for these modes.
Having spent most of his tenure chiding distracted drivers and hunting down demon-possessed Toyotas, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood appears to be over the whole car thing. The policy statement above was just one element of his push to put bicycling and other car alternatives on an equal footing to cars in transportation planning, which he recently announced at the National Bike Summit.
NHTSA officials told investigators that the agency doesn’t employ any electrical engineers or software engineers.
Down on the Potomac, zingers like that go over like an ounce of catnip in a phone booth full of rowdy toms. And sure enough, the question came up at LaHood’s testimony. In fact, it came up twice. And it was the closest thing to a real “gotcha” moment in a long day of testimony.
After a big buildup by expert witnesses, and Toyota’s Jim Lentz’s evasion of any evidence that his firm’s cars are afflicted with an untraceable electronic gremlin, the House Energy Committe turned its attention to Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. Because LaHood’s department falls under the congress’s oversight (and carries the government’s ultimate responsibility for the safety of American motorists), LaHood might well have been the main focus of the committee’s investigation. And indeed his last-in-line billing appears to make him the event’s headliner. Or at least it would have if his testimony didn’t make the previous several hours of Ahab-ing largely unnecessary, and possibly even highly embarrassing.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s get-tough quotes during the Toyota recall have generated significant backlash against an administration that is already knee-deep in the automotive industry. The governors of Mississippi, Kentucky, Indiana and Alabama (all of which host Toyota plants) laid into the NHTSA and Obama administration in a letter covered by the Detroit News. The governors argue:
Despite the federal government’s obvious conflict of interest because of its huge financial stake in some of Toyota’s competitors … it has spoken out against Toyota, including statements U.S. government officials have later been forced to retract… Toyota must put the safety of drivers first and foremost. However, they deserve a level and reasonable response from the federal government – one that is not tainted by the federal government’s financial interest in some of Toyota’s competitors
Strangely, the governors of Texas and West Virginia, where Toyotas are also assembled declined to sign onto the letter. Still, the attack isn’t being simply written off has home-state selfishness. One bellwether for the issue is the fact that the Detroit News looked past its own hometown interests and ran an editorial by the Cato Institute’s Daniel Ikensen, amplifying the governors’ critique. And sure enough, Obama decided to take the issue on head-on in an interview yesterday.
US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced on Wednesday that he would re-write funding guidelines to dispense with rigid cost-benefit analysis when deciding which transit programs should receive funds. Under the previous system, because motorists provided the majority of the funding through the gas tax, money was allocated to cost-effective transit programs that promised the greatest overall reduction in traffic congestion. In remarks at the Transportation Research Board annual meeting, LaHood explained that the objective criteria will be replaced by a set of goals.
Having been told by the Secretary of Transportation that the Chrysler Group’s motley assortment of new trim level names, rebadged Lancias, decal-sporting special editions represents “the cutting edge of developing the kind of products that I think people in this country, and also in other countries, are really going to feel very favorable toward,” CEO Sergio Marchionne apparently thought enough had been said about his struggling bailout baby. As CBS reports, Marchionne suddenly canceled a 45-minute scheduled press availability before he had the chance to confirm LaHood’s astonishing opinion.
Latest Car ReviewsRead more
Latest Product ReviewsRead more
- Dusterdude @SCE to AUX , agree CEO pay would equate to a nominal amount if split amongst all UAW members . My point was optics are bad , both total compensation and % increases . IE for example if Mary Barra was paid $10 million including merit bonuses , is that really underpaid ?
- ToolGuy "At risk of oversimplification, a heat pump takes ambient air, compresses it, and then uses the condenser’s heat to warm up the air it just grabbed from outside."• This description seems fairly dramatically wrong to me.
- SCE to AUX The UAW may win the battle, but it will lose the war.The mfrs will never agree to job protections, and production outsourcing will match any pay increases won by the union.With most US market cars not produced by Detroit, how many people really care about this strike?
- El scotto My iPhone gets too hot while using the wireless charging in my BMW. One more line on why someone is a dumbazz list?
- Buickman yeah, get Ron Fellows each time I get a Vette. screw Caddy.