Wednesday, September 26, 2007

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.

Conservation sounds noble, and the intention is well placed, but look at history.
What we are going after today is the old standard about increasing auto mileage
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
Hank Roberts(AKA Evil Hank) said at 6:43 AM...
Cite please? It's only an example if it has a citation/source in fact.
Anonymouse 6:54 AM<>I think you have a very narrow view of "conservation" in mind that is not very realistic -- and certainly not what I am referring to.

What I am referring to is energy efficiency improvements that conserve energy (eg, gasoline for cars) and that benefit all consumers -- including the poor.

Anonymouse 7:17 said...
Some villages can't have electricity unless it is "green powered" (eg, solar, wind, water). There is no other choice!

I think some of the people making such comments live in a giant bubble -- totally divorced from reality.

They talk about Conservation "hurting the poor" but it never occurs to them that saving energy (through more efficiet cars, refrigerators, houses, lights, etc) means saving money.

This helps the poor the most, since they spend a higher percentage of their income on stuff like gas for their car and electricity for their house.
In case it was not clear above, "There is no other choice" because there are no transmission lines into some villages.
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: Countermeasures
  1. Increased mass/volume
  2. Better seat belt designs/child restraints
  3. Improved fireproofing of fuel tanks
  4. Seat belt laws
  5. Burstproof latches
  6. Collapsible steering wheels
  7. Shatterproof window panes
  8. Padded dashboards
  9. Non-protrusive accessories
  10. Reinforced passenger cabins
  11. Rear underride absorbers for trucks
  12. Energy absorbing fixtures
  13. Airbags
  14. Drink driving legislation
  15. Truck safety standards
  16. Updated road design standards
  17. Congestion, lower speeds, and risk
Eli 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
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
and they continue
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
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.

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.


Anonymous said...

"Moose are exceptionally stupid and big animals"

Who is stupider?

The moose who stands in the middle of the road?

Or the guy traveling in his car along the road at 100mph through a dense Montana forest at night when he knows there are moose who like to stand in the middle of said road and challenge said cars to a duel?

By the way, they also allow drinking in cars in Montana, as long as the moose..I mean driver .. is not drunk.

Anonymous said...

"If we could get the "mine is bigger than yours" gang off the road it would be safer still."

Yours may be bigger than mine, but mine has uncommon girth* and that's what is most important -- at least so I've been told.

*wheel base, of course. We are talking about safety here, right?

Magnus said...

The Santa animals are even dumber, but they are also smaller so they don’t hurt as much...

Anonymous said...

There is no better or worse except for newer is better, probably. How big your vehicle is depends on where you drive and what you might hit. Not many people worry about moose in the city. Or walls. It's cars. In the country or primarily highway, it varies.

cce said...

This presentation has good slides on the importance/necessity of energy efficiency:

This talk by Art Rosenfeld explains a lot of these issues, and the absolute insanity of anyone who thinks these things are "too limiting" or "cost too much money."

stevesadlov said...

With gasoline's new US "price floor" being on the order of US$3 and oil prices constantly frothed by collective anxiety disorders of various types, CAFE standards are rapidly becoming a moot point. Look at how poorly gas guzzlers are selling these days.

Dano said...

There are no totems for this topic. Therefore, you won't get an identity politics-driven comment thread of 40 entries or more.

Jus' sayin'.



EliRabett said...

Damn. EOM Gotta increase the number of hits time to raise the advertising rates.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for reviweing this thread with the very useful annotations. Why do we hear so much about the plight of poor people in the rural Third World from such unlikely quarters as those who cite Bjorn the Bear Lomborg? Jeez, youda thought they would be leading the charge against farm subsidies for wealthy First World farmers that beggar the poor who dare to try to compete with them. And moose can only see in the daytime? Oh, Eli means "be seen"....

Magnus said...

So what does rabbits think about ”fibre cars” 5+ carrots?

stevesadlov said...

Eli thanks for the comment added to this blog regarding US petrol costs. One thing I'd add is that it is highly likely, for a variety of reasons, that US petrol costs will acheive parity with European ones during the current decade.

When I lived in the UK temporarily during the mid 90s, I had a company car, a Vauxhall (Chevy's UK branding), which, by local standards, was considered a rather large luxury car and a gas guzzler. To me, it was a compact. Of course, I did not need to use it much, due to reliance on walking, cycling and mass transit. A portent of things to come in the US.

Anonymous said...

Nice sleight of hand eli. You compare a current Mini to a Ford truck that has not been produced for years.

For images of the current F150, the link is:

Paul S

Anonymous said...

Hey, Paul.

How are those Surface Station post card sales going?

man, you're going to have the public eating right out of your hand here in no time as soon as you get all those millions of post cards addressed.

Anthony Who? Watts you say?

Oh, yeh, I remember him.

Isn't he the Double Helix guy?

Anonymous said...

"Like the rest of the car, most of the monocoque is constructed from carbon fibre. Normally it comprises high-density woven laminate exterior panels, and a strong, light 'honeycomb' structure inside."

There's a reason why they make the "survival cells" of formula 1 race cars out of graphite composite materials rather than steel.

Guess what it is?

Guess what other advantage graphite composites have over steel that might be applicable not only to vehicle acceleration (for Formula 1 cars) but to fuel economy as well?

EliRabett said...

The pictures are from 2002. So? Ford has improved? Good. So has the Mini

Void{} said...

"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."

CIte please.

I recall that those 'windmills' were used to pump water, not to make electricity.

Dano said...

Pumping water requires power (Dano, pers. comm. 9-28-2007).

We use electricity these days to pump water.




EliRabett said...

Power source = source of power to pump water and other things. Originally to pump water but later for electricity.

"These systems were installed at first to provide lighting for farms and to charge batteries used to power crystal radio sets. But their use was extended to an entire array of direct-current motor-driven appliances, including refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, and power tools. But the more appliances were powered by the early wind generators, the more their intermittent operation became a problem.

The demise of these systems was hastened during the late 1930s and the 1940s by two factors: the demand of farmsteads for ever larger amounts of power on demand, and the Great Depression, which spurred the U.S. federal government to stimulate the depressed rural economies by extending the electrical grid throughout those areas. "

Don't mess with the bunny

Anonymous said...

Bunny's have long been using wind power to pump water out of their burrow after it rains.

After all, they have had to deal with their own Great Depression since day one.

guthrie said...

I've got another cite:
"The Mother earth book of homemade power", published by Bantam in 1974. It has an interview with Marcellus Jacobs, a pioneer of wind power back in the 20's and 30's.


Void{} said...

The first two words in the quote given in Void{} above are' ""Isolated farms ... "

The first sentence in link above is,"The first use of a large windmill to generate electricity was a system built in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1888 by Charles F. Brush."

Windmills were used to pump water directly without generating electricity.

Anonymous said...


"Power source" does not necessarily mean "electricity source".

Power=work done or energy transferred per unit time.

Energy (and hence power) comes in many different forms: electrical energy, mechanical energy, wind energy, etc.

Hence "a windmill as a power source" can mean "windmill as a source of electricity" -- but it need not mean that. At its most general, it means "a windmill as a source of energy to pump water".

A "hand pump" is also a "power source" to pump water (no batteries required).

Anonymous said...

Um, if you go through catalogs from the early 1900s (especially those that catered to all including rural areas, like Sears), you'll see many lights, appliances, etc. that are made for DC voltage provided by generators run by - wait for it - windmills. Sheesh, are people really this ahistorical? Back then, there were many, many farms isolated from power generating stations. Those stations needed to have a large customer base (residential and industrial) to be profitable. The customer density in rural areas was not sufficient to entice private power companies to run power to distant areas. Usually if you look through history, the denser the area, the earlier they got electricity.

EliRabett said...

Ms Rabett and Eli were on the Lincoln Highway this weekend. As we drove along, we thought about how in the 1920s Mom Rabett and her three girlfriends had taken her Dad's Model T and driven across country and back. There were essentially NO paved roads then and a LOT of mud. Pretty much all farms were isolated. 1900?? out side of cities nothing but mud and dust.