I’m a little worried about this new statistic from the pandemic. All that and more in The Morning Shift for March 12, 2021.
1st Gear: It’s Possible Traffic Jams Are The Only Thing Keeping Us From Crashing Into Each Other
Maybe I’m jumping to conclusions here, but my strong impression of traffic trends during COVID was that though we drove less, our roads were significantly — significantly — more deadly. Here’s a brief roundup of our coverage. “Every time you drove in 2020, you were 24 percent more likely to die,” is how we put it earlier this month.
Contrast those stories with this new one from Automotive News noting that we spent significantly less time stuck in traffic in 2020:
The coronavirus upended travel across the world, and [traffic analytics company Inrix]’s latest report, issued this week, underscores the dramatic nature of the disruptions.
Traffic delays fell nearly 50 percent in major cities across the U.S. The average American driver spent 26 hours in traffic jams in 2020, a drop of 73 hours from just a year earlier. Collectively, motorists saved approximately 3.4 billion hours that would have been wasted sitting in traffic.
“COVID-19 has completely transformed when, where and how people move,” Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at Inrix, said in a written statement. “Government restrictions and the continued spread of the virus led to shifts in travel behavior seemingly overnight.”
The company extracts billions of data points from phones, cars, trucks and cities to compile its annual report.
Maybe it’s too much of a stretch to say that the only thing keeping us from crashing into each other at high speed is being stuck rolling through a traffic jam at five miles an hour.
2nd Gear: That Giant Mercedes Recall Just Got Bigger
Last month, Mercedes-Benz recalled 1.29 million vehicles here in the States for sending out incorrect location data after a crash. The same problem now means a 2.6 million vehicle recall in China, as Reuters reports:
Daimler will recall 2.6 million Mercedes-Benz imported and locally built vehicles in China due to a software design issue, the country’s market regulator said.
Software may fail to communicate a vehicle’s correct location in the event of a crash, China’s State Administration for Market Regulation said in a statement on Friday.
A spokesperson for Daimler in China declined to comment further on the recall. Some 774,382 Mercedes cars were sold in China last year, the spokesperson said.
Reuters points out that Mercedes sold only 2.05 million cars last year, and also that China is its biggest market.
3rd Gear: Renault Out Of Daimler To The Tune Of $1.4 Billion
It’s hard to even remember that Renault and Daimler were in bed with each other, producing such wonderful cars as, uh, the Mercedes A-Class-based Infiniti Q30? Whatever. The financial tie between the two companies is over, with Renault needing all the money it can get right now, as Bloomberg reports:
Renault plans to sell its stake in Daimler worth about 1.2 billion euros ($1.4 billion), securing funds for its turnaround efforts after a record annual loss.
The French automaker will exit its entire holding in Daimler, a roughly 1.5 percent stake, according to a statement on Thursday.
Proceeds from the sale will allow Renault to “accelerate the financial de-leveraging of its automotive activity,” the company said.
It added that its industrial partnership with Daimler, which dates back more than a decade, remains unchanged and is not affected by the transaction.
That Renault is claiming the industrial side of the relationship is unchanged seems strange. A good $1.4 billion would change my mind very quickly.
4th Gear: Chip Shortage Shuts Down GM Plant In Michigan
The global shortage of semiconductor chips is still busily producing real-world consequences right here on American soil. The Camaro/Cadillac CT4 and CT5 plant is getting idled, as Automotive News reports:
General Motors will idle production at a plant in Lansing, Mich., as a result of the ongoing global semiconductor shortage.
Lansing Grand River Assembly will be down from Monday until at least the end of the month, a GM spokesman confirmed. The plant employs 1,400 workers and produces the Chevrolet Camaro and Cadillac CT4 and CT5.
“We continue to work closely with our supply base to find solutions for our suppliers’ semiconductor requirements and to mitigate impact on GM,” spokesman Daniel Flores said in a statement.
I’m not sure who was going to be buying Camaros anyway, so maybe it’s a wash.
5th Gear: Uber And Lyft To Share Info On Banned Drivers A Year After Safety Report
I sort of can’t believe that Uber and Lyft are distinct companies at this point. I’m not sure I’ve seen a single app-driver car that didn’t have both icons on the dash. In any case, the two have announced at least a little bit of coordination and cooperation with regard to safety. The two companies will share info on drivers they have banned, as Reuters reports:
Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. on Thursday said they would share with each other information on drivers and delivery workers they had banned from their platforms for the most serious incidents in an effort to boost safety.
The companies said such incidents would be physical assault resulting in a fatality and the most serious forms of sexual assault, adding they hoped to eventually share such data across the wider transportation and delivery industry.
The move comes more than a year after Uber released its first safety report, detailing about 6,000 reports of sexual assault related to 2.3 billion trips in the United States in 2017 and 2018.
Lyft is yet to produce such a report of its own, though the company claims one is coming.
Reverse: I’ll Never Forget The Dude Driving A Tractor Over Those CDs
Neutral: Do You Miss Your Horrible Commute?
I was puzzled that I could hardly find time to listen to any podcasts anymore, when I used to be struggling to find enough. Then I realized I don’t stand on a subway for an hour and a half every day anymore.