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OpenMarket: Automobiles and Roads

  • Automated Vehicles Update: California DMV Releases Draft Rules and Some Notes about that Crash Study

    December 18, 2015

    CALIFORNIA DMV AV OPPS RULES PROPOSED: On December 16, the California Department of Motor Vehicles released its draft licensing and operations rules for consumer automated vehicles, or “autonomous vehicles” as defined in California statute (CA Veh Code § 38750). The draft rules were supposed to have been released in August 2014, so California DMV is more than a year late. California DMV summarizes the rules here. AV consultant Brad Templeton provides a critical summary of the provisions ...

  • FAST Act Debrief: A Few Policy Notes on the Latest Highway Bill

    December 10, 2015

    Last Friday, December 4, President Obama signed into law the FAST Act, which reauthorizes federal surface transportation programs through Fiscal Year 2020 to the tune of $305 billion (about $61 billion annually). AASHTO has a detailed funding table here. You can see how much your state will receive for its highways here.

    On funding, CEI has long urged Congress to adhere to the users-pay/users-benefit principle and to reject general fund bailouts of the Highway Trust Fund. The Highway Trust Fund traditionally funds the lion’s share of surface transportation....

  • Initial Thoughts on the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act

    October 16, 2015

    This morning, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee released its Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act. Unlike the Senate bill, which relies on imaginary pay-fors to support obscene spending increases, the House bill maintains less irresponsible baseline funding adjusted year-to-year for inflation. Eno has a useful table here.

    We’re still reviewing the bill, but a few things immediately jumped out at me.

    There is no movement on lifting the federal prohibition on states tolling their own Interstate segments (Section 1401). Further...

  • No, Politicians Shouldn't Outlaw Driving to Usher in Self-Driving Cars

    October 5, 2015

    Over at Fusion, Kevin Roose has what is perhaps the worst article on automated vehicles (AVs) I’ve ever seen. In it, he calls for a near-term phase-in of a blanket national driving ban—specifically, beginning it in 2017 and completing it in 2020. That’s quite an ambitious “phase-in,” given that the average age within the U.S. car and light-truck fleet is more than 11 years.

    This call to action isn’t based on facts about where the technology is today or what we can reasonably expect it to offer consumers over the next decade (or even that pesky thing called “the law”); rather, it assumes that fully automated, self-driving highway vehicles are essentially already...

  • USDOT Wants it Both Ways with Off-Peak Freight Movements

    September 29, 2015

    Over at the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Fastlane blog, Greg Nadeau, administrator of the Federal Highway Administration, has a post touting USDOT’s support for off-peak freight delivery pilot projects underway in New York City and Pensacola, Florida.

    The problem of local traffic is well-known to any major U.S. city; truck operators suffer when forced to crawl through crowded city streets, and residents suffer when trucks block travel lanes or parking access. With commuter traffic lighter and parking more available, off-peak hours should make delivery easier for truck drivers as well as peak commuters and people scrambling for parking.

    […]

    Funding in both pilots...

  • New York Times Editorial Board Clueless on Smart Car Safety and Security

    August 18, 2015

    On Sunday, August 9, The New York Times ran an editorial, “Protecting Cars from Hackers,” discussing the recent publicized hacking incidents of Fiat Chrysler and Tesla vehicles, with Fiat Chrysler voluntarily recalling 1.4 million vehicles to fix the bug.

    As our cars get smarter, we can expect more of these types of incidents. To be sure, there are new risks presented by the rise of smart cars—particularly when automated systems take over driving task...

  • Reimagining Surface Transportation Reauthorization: Pro-Market Recommendations for Policy Makers

    June 30, 2015

    Today, CEI published my white paper, “Reimagining Surface Transportation Reauthorization: Pro-Market Recommendations for Policy Makers.” In it, I lay out the case for making some small but important changes to federal surface transportation policy.

    Traditionally, free market fiscal conservatives have advocated for devolving all federal highway and transit programs to the states. To be sure, we at CEI support this eventual goal. Unfortunately, it is wholly unrealistic at this time. But there are still things that can be done to move closer to this direction. We suggest a strategy of “de facto devolution,” which basically involves keeping federal spending steady while increasing the flexibility of states to fund and finance their own highways. To...

  • Long Mass Transit Commutes Are Horrible for Your Health

    May 20, 2015

    Joseph Stromberg at Vox.com has an article up arguing that “commuting alone by car” is “associated with obesity, high blood pressure, sleeplessness, and general unhappiness” relative to other transportation modes. His solution to unhealthy lengthy commutes is to increase carpooling.

    Back in 2012, I argued against another now-Voxxer, Matthew Yglesias, on the supposed health harms of auto commuting. The problem, as Census data make clear, is that other than those who walk to work, people commuting by driving alone generally have the shortest commutes. Those using public transit take on average twice as long to make their commuting journeys as those who drive by themselves.

    ...
  • Not So Fast: Fatally Flawed Research Asserts Alcohol Taxes Save Lives

    May 12, 2015

    Last month, researchers at the University of Florida published a study in the American Journal of Public Health that concluded, “Increases in alcohol excise taxes, such as the 2009 Illinois act, could save thousands of lives yearly across the United States as part of a comprehensive strategy to reduce alcohol-impaired driving.” Their study presented the case that the 2009 tax increase resulted in a statistically significant reduction in alcohol-related deaths in Illinois. However, as I pointed out in a blog post, there only appears to be a reduction in fatalities because of the authors’ selective inclusion and exclusion of data. Rebecca Goldin,...

  • Why Is the Federal Government Threatening Times Square's Billboards?

    May 6, 2015

    Colleagues tipped me off to an absurd news story about how the federal government is threatening to punish New York City for its famously gaudy Times Square electronic billboards:

    It is known as the “Crossroads of the World,” the “Center of the Universe” and “the Great White Way,” but Times Square could become like the “Black Hole of Calcutta” if the federal government has its way, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported Tuesday.

    The feds say many of Times Square’s huge and neon-lit billboards must come down or the city will lose about $90 million in federal highway money.

    The edict comes from a 2012 law that makes Times Square an arterial route to the national highway system. And...

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