The New York Times has a new report checking in on road rage during the pandemic. It turns out, things could be going better. All that and more in The Morning Shift for April 13, 2022.
1st Gear: Turns Out There Is No Federal Database On Road Rage
For all the money we, as a nation, spend on policing, you might think we’d have things like “databases on violent and deadly crime,” but you’d be wrong! The American police apparatus thrives on funding without accountability, and that seems to be holding true for road rage, as the New York Times details:
Last month, a woman driving with her dog shot and wounded another motorist in Oklahoma City. In Miami, a man fired 11 shots from his car on Interstate 95 in what he has said was self-defense. A Los Angeles couple is set to stand trial for firing into a car during morning rush hour last year, killing a 6-year-old boy on his way to kindergarten.
Criminologists cautioned that any theory of motivation behind road rage shootings is hampered by a lack of data. Most police departments do not keep statistics on road rage episodes, in part because it is not itself a crime category. There is no federal database.
Arizona has tried to get a rough approximation of the number of road rage incidents, adding a box for “possible road rage” to the form filled out by police officers for car crashes in 2018. The data showed an increase in such incidents in 2021 compared with the previous two years, according to Alberto Gutier, the director of the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.
“It’s going crazy,” he said of road rage. “People are so stupid.”
I love this absolutely zero effort declaration. Arizona, as the NYT further notes, keeps no records on how many road rage incidents devolve into shootings. Cool!
2nd Gear: America, Doing Next To Nothing To Make Roads Safe For Pedestrians, Wonders Why Pedestrian Deaths Continue
I am in love with this Bloomberg CityLab report on how Vision Zero efforts across the country are doing. (Poorly, it turns out!) Please enjoy this description of Norway, which is doing pretty well in its program:
Hartmann highlights several policies that have made Norway a safer place to travel. The national government has set standard speed limits of 50 km/hr (31 mph) within cities and 80 km/hr (50 mph) outside of them, with local governments able to go lower. Omnipresent automatic speed cameras act as a deterrent against reckless driving.
Cars have been banned from much of central Oslo, the country’s capital and largest city. “It’s quite hard to find a neighborhood in or near Oslo when you can drive on residential roads,” Hartmann said. When a crash occurs, it triggers a government investigation, not just a one-page police report: Investigators examine contributing factors and search for ways to avoid a recurrence. “We always do reports for serious or lethal crashes,” Hartmann said.
That’s not a difficult ask, because there are very few such crashes to investigate: In 2019, only one person was killed in a vehicle collision in Oslo.
Note that in this description, Norway is actively working on protecting people who are not in cars by banning cars from city centers and slowing them where that’s not possible.
Now enjoy this American scene:
“It’s an easy thing for a politician to say that they’re committed to Vision Zero,” said Jeff Paniati, the executive director of the Institute of Transportation Engineers, “without actually doing anything different from what they were doing before.”
U.S. mayors generally hear few objections when they commit to Vision Zero. “It’s hard to be opposed to safety,” said Corinne Kisner, the executive director of the National Association of City Transportation Officials. But a Vision Zero campaign supported in the abstract is likely to meet headwinds when it comes time for implementation.
Seleta Reynolds, the director of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, said she has noticed a familiar pattern. “A moment comes when a person shows up to do the actual [infrastructure] project, and it’s down the street from your house. Whether it’s a bike lane or a bus lane, the calculus suddenly changes, and it feels like a fundamental assault on your way of life.”
This is to say, Americans may like talking about saving the lives of people not physically inside a two-ton automobile but are not actually doing anything about it, and then end up seeing that Vision Zero is not working. This is a comedy.
3rd Gear: Things Could Be Better For The One Good Electric Car Startup
I hate to say that I may have cursed Electric Last Mile Solutions, which has been going from bad to worse news. The SPAC-backed startup that has boldly claimed it is redefining deliveries when it is just rebranding some electric vans GM makes in China is in trouble with NASDAQ, as Crain’s Detroit Business reports:
The Nasdaq Stock Market has notified Electric Last Mile Solutions Inc. that the EV startup has fallen out of compliance with its listing rules, signaling more trouble for the struggling company.
The notice was issued to Electric Last Mile, which trades under the ticker ELMS, after it failed to file required periodic reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission in a timely fashion.
The Nasdaq’s action, announced Monday, has no immediate impact on the company’s listing or trading, but ELMS must submit a plan to regain compliance by May 31, according to a news release. If the plan is accepted, the company may be granted until Sept. 27 to regain compliance.
I understand that this company is, at best, two steps away from a scam, but I still love the idea of cheap electric microvans making their way to the States, so I can’t help but root for the poorly-named ELMS to make it.
4th Gear: Hyundai Will Be Making EVs In Alabama
At least that’s what Reuters is saying, in a somewhat conflicting report. It notes that this will be the first electric vehicle production for Hyundai in the States, but then adds this:
Hyundai said it plans to invest $300 million to build the Electrified Genesis GV 70 and hybrid version of the Santa Fe at its U.S. manufacturing center.
Electric and electrified are not the same thing!
5th Gear: Europe’s Highest Paid Automotive CEO … Runs Stellantis
I don’t know if Carlos Tavares’ salary would be getting as much scrutiny if it was any other company he was running. That it’s Stellantis really throws the wholes thing into perspective. From Automotive News and wire reports:
A French government spokesman said that the financial compensation for Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares was not “normal” and showed there was a need for more regulation at the European level.
Tavares, who oversaw the merger between PSA Group, where he was CEO, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles that created Stellantis in January 2021, is set to be paid about 19 million euros ($20.5 million) for 2021.
He is also eligible for a stock package worth an additional 32 million euros and long-term compensation of about 25 million euros, according to Phitrust, an investor.
Reverse: This Feels Later Than I’d Think
Neutral: How Is Your Driving?
I find it hard to connect with road rage, as I drive a car from 1974, which generally chills you out. I can’t say that I’ve noticed any uptick in angry drivers on the roads here, but also I might be out at the wrong times.