Speed and a few other things kill
Down in the Comments on a recent thread we see the appearance of the golden oldie about conservation.
"First, "conservation" need not mean living in cold dark houses and not driving."
That is exactly what it means for the poor. If conservation is enforced by regulations, higher prices are inevitable, and the poor suffer the most from higher prices.What we are going after today is the old standard about increasing auto mileage
Conservation sounds noble, and the intention is well placed, but look at history.
For example, CAFE standards were enacted in order to encourage conservation. The result was the K-Car and other light cars the were demonstrated to be less safe. It doesn't "have" to be this way, but that was the reality. and we get a new one
but in denial land there is always something new under the sun
Another example are towns in Africa that are not permitted to have electricity unless it is green powered. Unless someone can afford the outrageously expensive solar power, they are forced to live without electricity. It doesn't have to be that way, but that is the reality.which got stomped on pretty good by the mice and co. The first step in any such thing is to demand some evidence other than the floss between the ears of the denialist
To which I might add trucking in gas or other fuel presupposes roads, carrying it in on someones back does not always work. Being able to drop in a solar generator or a wind powered one makes sense. Isolated farms in the US had a windmill as a power source before the Rural Electrification Program (thank you New Deal, take it and shove it Libertarians) brought electricity to rural areas in the US. You can see the seed of this attack in the recent mouth foaming about treadle pumps. For someone who does not have a pump a good human powered one is a great thing. The project is good for the farmers who get them and good for the environment. It meets a gold standard.
It is indeed a rich thing to choke down, the crocodile's care for the poor from those who know that greed is good for them and bad for you.
However, to paraphrase Steve Pastis about our crocs, they are proud members of Mora Fora Meea, a fraternity dedicated to the destruction of every one but them, the crocodiles are our blogging neighbors. Stupid, slow and barely articulate, these particular crocodiles are a disgrace to their species.
But, as the author says, Eli digresses.
The picture above shows the results of a 40 mph crash against a barrier by a light Mini Cooper and a heavy F-150. The F-150 comes out worse, among other things, because it is heavier. Of course in a crash of an F-150 against a Mini, those F-150 would be at less risk, principally because the things ride so high, like moose in Montana, the thing rides up on smaller cars.**
If you looked at the deaths/distance driven (US) you would see a continuing decline after the introduction of CAFE mileage standards in 1975. You are a lot safer in a new small car than in one of the big old 1960s models. Some details can be found in the CDC report 1900-1999 Motor-Vehicle Safety: A 20th Century Public Health Achievement. Quibbles and more references can be found in Death and injury from motor vehicle crashes: a public health failure, not an achievement E D Richter, et al. who think that more, not less could have been done. Richter et al. list the things that have contributed to improved safety
Box 1: CountermeasuresEli notes that only one has to do with mass, and that is density which is mass/volume, not mass, and even so that is only one of 17 issues. Safe small cars are being built today. They are a lot safer than what we had twenty and thirty years ago. If we could get the "mine is bigger than yours" gang off the road it would be safer still. Delanda est SUVs. Mass plays a role, but Richter, et al are big fans of congestion
- Increased mass/volume
- Better seat belt designs/child restraints
- Improved fireproofing of fuel tanks
- Seat belt laws
- Burstproof latches
- Collapsible steering wheels
- Shatterproof window panes
- Padded dashboards
- Non-protrusive accessories
- Reinforced passenger cabins
- Rear underride absorbers for trucks
- Energy absorbing fixtures
- Drink driving legislation
- Truck safety standards
- Updated road design standards
- Congestion, lower speeds, and risk
We believe the universality of the strong inverse association
with congestion. Everywhere, in the United States, Europe, and thegreat megacities of Asia, Latin America, and Africa, most of the increase in VMT [Vehicle Miles Travelled] and congestion occurs in and around large cities and their surrounding areas during rush hours. These are periods when mean and maximum traffic speeds approach standstill, and case fatality falls, as does Deaths/VMT—without the help of any public health policy or countermeasures. Much of the credit for the public health "achievement" comes from the failure to provide rapid travel during peak hours of use for most vehicles. Thus VMT is massively inflated. No one gets killed in a traffic jam
For those of you who can't do the math, kinetic energy goes as the square of the speed and the linearly with mass. Delanda est SUVs. Especially the big ones. Enforce speed limits. Nothing survives a full on with an 18 wheeler. If we have smaller, better built cars, and enforce speed we can move towards Sweden's announced goal of no traffic fatalities.
In road injury epidemiology, kinetic energy is the pathogen, and risk for injury and severity are predicted by the combined effect of mass and speed derived from Newtonian laws of motion and energy. Crash, injury, and death tolls rise in proportion to the first, second, and fourth power respectively of the ratio of increase in average speeds of travel. A 10% increase in travel speeds produces a 43% rise in case fatality. Case fatality—the probability of death—among occupants of light vehicles colliding with heavy vehicles is extremely high. These empirically validated relationships mean that small increases in speed translate into large increases in deaths. We affirm that in recent years in the United States the fall in baseline risks with increased congestion has concealed the full contribution of raised speed limits and travel speeds to increasing deaths between risk and exposure is mainly due to increases in traffic
UPDATE: Steve Sadlov raises the useful point that at ~$3/US gallon the cost of gasoline is already so high that CAFE standards are not needed. While it is true this is already having an effect, the price of gasoline in the US is still half of that in the civilised world
** Moose are exceptionally stupid and big animals. They know they are the biggest damn thing in the forest and have known this for millenia. Like the hedgehog, for most situations knowing one thing well is enough, but when change comes it pays to be able to change. Standing in the middle of the road, when they hear a car coming at 100 mph, they turn and face the noise with their heads down. The auto hits their body, the neck and horns are just the right size to crash through the windshield and impale the driver. Montanans, yearning to drive fast eliminated speed limits, but had to put them back for nightime driving when the carnage mounted. Moose are big enough to see in the daylight, but all moose are gray in the dark.