Findings from Toronto: Sticks and carrots for TNCs

We have a lot of evidence that venture capital-subsidized transportation network companies are cannibalizing transit and driving up VMT. Now a new study of this phenomenon examines the patterns of TNC trip making and suggests a system of taxes and subsidies in response. The paper, which employs data from a 2016 personal transportation survey, finds that TNC trips that could reasonably be taken on transit tend to occur during peak hours and for non-work trip purposes. Given policy concerns for maintaining transit ridership and reducing auto congestion and emissions, the authors suggest penalizing these TNC trips with higher fees.

Residential exposure to local traffic emissions associated with higher risk of stroke

A recent study finds that long-term residential exposure to locally emitted black carbon—primarily from traffic exhaust—is associated with higher stroke incidence. BC comprises a significant portion of particulate matter. Although BC is a known health hazard with health effects that are especially pronounced in populations in dense urban areas, the U.S. does not currently include it as a separate criteria pollutant in its National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

A troubled marriage between safety research and practice

Road design often is not as science-based as we like to think, according to a new study in Accident Analysis & Prevention. Years of biased or misreported research findings inform many of the design practices that are common today. And while there is plenty to be learned from safety research, especially in recent decades, it may be worth revisiting some long-held assumptions and rethinking how research informs practice.

A method for quantifying risks imposed on cyclists while sharing road with motor vehicles

Keeping vehicle occupants and pedestrians safe via engineering standards and street warrants is common practice around the world. But in spite of the growing level of support for bicycling for both commuting and recreation, bike facility design standards are rarely backed by empirical data and are often inconsistent between different cities and states. A recent study presents a methodology that can potentially be used by city planners for predicting the probability of unsafe interactions between bicyclists and motor vehicles based on passing events on 4-lane urban arterials with no on-street bike lanes.

As crashes rise, distracted driving has (mostly) stayed the same

Are cell phones to blame for rising traffic deaths? We have looked for evidence before and came up empty-handed. A new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety suggests that drivers are just as distracted now as they were a few years ago, but some are swapping old distractions for new ones, like handheld phones. That could be a problem, according the study, but it doesn’t explain why our roads have become so dangerous.

Is working from home really reducing VMT?

With advancement in technology and telecommunications, teleworking is becoming easier for a variety of professionals. Cities and administrations support these initiatives with the understanding and hope that they’ll reduce congestion and total vehicle miles traveled. But do they really reduce VMT? A recent study disputes the assumptions and finds that for most households, teleworking has a positive relation with VMT.

When will everyone have a Connected Autonomous Vehicle?

Although many car makers and future thinkers imagine the rapid adoption of connected and autonomous vehicles, a recent study, conducted at the FedEx Institute of Technology at the University of Memphis, suggests that buyers may not be so eager to own one. Significant barriers to adoption included the price point of the vehicles, distrust of the technology in general, and a fear of losing control over operation of the car.

Red light cameras save lives. Turning them off puts lives at risk.

A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows that red light camera programs are an effective deterrent to red light running. The IIHS study found that implementing red light cameras lowers the rate of fatal crashes at intersections that are remotely enforced, but the rate increases if they are turned off. More than half of the fatalities caused by red light runners are pedestrians, cyclists, other motorists, or passengers. The IIHS has also issued a checklist to help communities successfully implement red light cameras.

Climate change killing us in more ways than expected?

While the positive relationship between traffic crashes and extreme summer conditions is certainly not unheard of, it is rarely used in practice when designing policies or issuing roadway safety warnings. A recent study in Accident Analysis and Prevention shows that heat waves have a significant effect on the frequency of traffic crash fatalities. With climate change resulting in extreme temperatures all around the world, these studies highlight a pressing need for policy and safety interventions to adapt to changing conditions.