Distracted driving: a silent killer?

Representatives from the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America and NHTSA called distracted driving a “serious public safety concern” and a “crisis.” Yet there still doesn’t seem to be any compelling evidence linking the surging death rate to distracted driving. AAA reported earlier this month that in-vehicle touchscreens and voice activated systems could pose new problems. But the newest numbers from U.S. DOT—released the same week as the AAA report—show deaths related to distracted driving dropped 2.2 percent in 2016, while traffic deaths increased 5.6 percent overall.

CAFE standards may be easier to meet than previously thought

Consumers might favor vehicles that accelerate a little slower, if the vehicles are also much more fuel conscious and greenhouse gas friendly. That is the conclusion of a study published in Environmental Science & Technology by researchers at Carnegie Mellon, UC-Berkeley, and University of Michigan. The research might also help transportation agencies manage local safety if cars were to accelerate more slowly.

Using real-time travel information to encourage transit

Real-time travel information at a glance empowers travelers and can support transit-oriented development by providing information in an easy-to-access format. Smartphone apps are beginning to provide this service, but few can reliably show all options easily on a small screen, and many miss important local information, such as the distance to transit stops or bikeshare kiosks. New screens installed in public locations are allowing travelers, including those unfamiliar with the area, to see all their options on one screen.

SmarterRoads: Virginia’s public-private transportation data sharing strategy

The Virginia Department of Transportation has launched a public cloud-based data portal that contains a vast array of state transportation data. The portal is named “SmarterRoads” and will be available to anyone who creates a free account. Information contained in the portal includes average daily traffic, crashes, signal data, vehicle miles traveled, and speed limits. 

Colorado city teams with Uber app to summon on-demand transit

In a first-of-its-kind partnership in the U.S., a city has partnered with Uber to use existing transit vehicles to provide on-demand service. Resident of Lone Tree, Colorado, can now use the Uber app to request a 12-passenger vehicle and driver provided by the city’s Link service. Other riders may be picked up along the way. The ride is free through the end of December anywhere in the city. The genesis of the partnership with Uber came about through the Smart Cities Collaborative, a collaboration of Transportation for America and Sidewalk Labs.

Real-time travel information: Better for businesses, better for travelers

Real-time travel information on digital screens placed in popular gathering areas allows for more efficient time management by transportation users of all modes. Tysons Corner Center, a shopping center in northern Virginia, uses Traveler Information Displays that provide traffic conditions and transit schedules to help customers plan their departures from the mall. Virginia DOT recently surveyed customers to evaluate the success of the TIDs with the goal of improving the system.

Google’s Street View cars are measuring and mapping air pollution

Last week, Google and the Environmental Defense Fund published the first in a series of maps with data on pollution levels collected using Google Street View vehicles. The initiative, a partnership between EDF, Google Earth Outreach, and San Francisco-based company Aclima, will make it possible to assess air pollution at a level of detail that was nearly impossible previously. The project team hopes the body of data created will help regulators and local and state officials develop a greater understanding of pollution levels on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis, making it possible to target investments and other interventions to the populations facing the greatest health risks.

Google’s Street View cars are measuring and mapping air pollution

Last week, Google and the Environmental Defense Fund published the first in a series of maps with data on pollution levels collected using Google Street View vehicles. The initiative, a partnership between EDF, Google Earth Outreach, and San Francisco-based company Aclima, will make it possible to assess air pollution at a level of detail that was nearly impossible previously. The project team hopes the body of data created will help regulators and local and state officials develop a greater understanding of pollution levels on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis, making it possible to target investments and other interventions to the populations facing the greatest health risks.

Seattle may have a bikesharing system after all

Despite the fact that the city pulled funding for the Pronto bikeshare system this spring, leading the system to shut down, Seattle might not have to wait long to once again have bikesharing. Several companies have expressed interest in moving into the city, but this time, the systems will be “dockless,” i.e. there won’t be fixed stations where bikes will be picked up and returned. The new systems also will be privately funded and run.