Carmakers’ Alliance endorses U.S. ban on texting & hand-held phone use while driving

September 23, 2009 at 10:26 pm

(Sources: Reuters & The Detroit News)

Major automakers today endorsed a ban on texting and using hand-held mobile phones while driving, ahead of a Transportation Department summit next week on distracted driving.

“Clearly, using a hand-held device to text or call while driving is a safety risk,” said Dave McCurdy, president and CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. “The alliance supports a ban on hand-held texting and calling while driving to accelerate the transition to more advanced, safer ways to manage many common potential distractions.”The alliance represents 11 automakers, including Detroit’s Three automakers, Toyota Motor Corp., Daimler AG and BMW AG.

McCurdy said using a mobile phone without a hands-free device or scrolling through a cellular phone’s list of phone numbers may put drivers at risk.

But the industry strongly supports allowing hands-free devices to make calls. Some states ban the use of cell phones by drivers without using a hands-free device. “You have to minimize the eyes off the road time. That’s critical,” McCurdy said.

This announcement is a boost for the Obama administration’s efforts to curb this growing problem.  Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood plans to hold a summit next week on distracted driving and address the issue of texting.

“If it were up to me, I would ban drivers from texting,” LaHood said in August. “But we’ve learned from our efforts to get people to wear seat belts and to persuade them not to drive drunk that laws aren’t always enough. Often, you need to combine education with enforcement to get results.”

The wireless industry — including cellphone manufacturers, carriers, and some Internet companies represented by the CTIA-Wireless Association — also believes texting “is incompatible with safe driving.”

The trade group supports state and local efforts to ban texting and driving as well as public education and aggressive enforcement.

There were more than 1 trillion text messages sent and received on wireless devices last year, including cell phones and smart phones, the association said. There are no statistics on how many people drive and text, the group said.  A Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study released in July said drivers of heavy vehicles using a hand-held text messaging system had 23.2 times as high a risk of a crash than drivers who weren’t.

The National Safety Council, a research group, is pushing for a full ban on cell phone use and texting while driving.

About a dozen U.S. states have passed laws banning texting while driving. A handful have made cellphone use illegal while behind the wheel, a practice that automakers do not oppose in all circumstances.

Legislation proposed by Sen. Charles Schumer of New York would withhold 25 percent of federal highway money from states that do not ban texting while driving and the provision is similar to one that enticed states to adopt a 0.08 percent blood alcohol level limit for drunken driving.  A text-while-driving ban has also been proposed in the House of Representatives.

Click here or here to get more details on this story.

Leading by example, U.N. offsets 461 Tons of Carbon Emissions Resulting from Climate Summit

September 23, 2009 at 9:33 pm

(Source: New York Times & Associated Press)

Like most large international conferences, the United Nations climate summit meeting in New York this week generated a hefty dose of greenhouse gas emissions.

Hundreds of presidents, prime ministers and officials from across the globe this week took airplanes to the United Nations meeting, some accompanied by dozens of people. Limousines and motorcades ferried the dignitaries from airports to meetings to hotels and back, often getting stuck in Midtown Manhattan gridlock.

But since the goal of this meeting was to reduce the global emissions that have been linked to global warming, the United Nations decided to try to do something about all the carbon dioxide produced by the delegates: it bought carbon offsets.

Under a new and expanding program for offsetting emissions, United Nations administrators calculated that the meeting would generate the equivalent of 461 tons of carbon dioxide, with air travel being the single largest component. They offset those emissions by directing money to a power project in rural Andhra Pradesh, India, through which agricultural leftovers like rice husks and sunflower stalks are turned into electricity for the local grid.

The offsets are intended to cancel out the carbon dioxide emissions created by airline travel or driving by financing green projects that will eliminate as much CO2 as the polluting activities create.

The United Nations first tried its hand at large-scale offsets two years ago, shortly after Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who called Tuesday’s conference, took office and declared that climate issues would be a central theme of his tenure.

“The secretary general started talking about greening the U.N. and that we needed to lead by example,” said Dan Shepard, a United Nations spokesman in New York.

Of necessity, figuring out how much carbon dioxide needs to be offset for a large meeting involves choices. In calculating the potential emissions of the New York meeting, the United Nations tallied the airline emissions for the flights of each leader and one aide, even though many of the leaders who attended have larger delegations.

Ban opened the gathering on Tuesday with an appeal to leaders to set aside national interests and think about the future of the planet — and included a rebuke for their foot-dragging thus far.  The summit drew more than 50 presidents, 35 prime ministers and many environment ministers.

The U.N. conference and the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh this week are believed to be an attempt to pressure wealthier nations into adopting a global climate treaty during a pivotal conference in December in Copenhagen, Denmark. The treaty would also tie in financing for poorer nations to burn less coal and preserve their forests.

Click here to read the entire article.

Side effects of the bitter recession pill: Americans are taking steps to reduce dependence on cars; Interested in alternative transportation options

September 23, 2009 at 5:48 pm

(Source: Transportation for America; USA Today)

A yearly census survey released Monday illustrates the continuation of a trend that started well before the recession: Americans are taking steps to reduce their dependence on cars, and are looking for other options for getting around. The daily drumbeat of high unemployment, home foreclosures and plummeting retail sales drowns out a less obvious impact of the recession: its influence on America’s lifestyle.  Rates of solo driving and car ownership are dropping, according to this story in the USA Today about new census data. The paper cites a census report showing drops in both Americans who drove alone to work and in overall car ownership.

Commuting. The share of workers who drove to work alone has dropped to 75.5% from 76% the past two years — a possible consequence of high gas prices and the recession.

Environmental consciousness and the appeal of living in urban centers also play a role, says David Goldberg, spokesman for Transportation for America (T4America), a national coalition that advocates reduced dependence on cars.

Car ownership. The share of households having one car or no car at all rose to 42.2% from 41.8%. Some of the decline in car ownership may be driven by younger people putting off getting their driver’s licenses or buying their first cars, Goldberg says. “We’ve seen a cultural shift.”  Younger Americans are also changing their perceptions – and the behavior – surrounding automobile use.

Bernie’s Transportation Communications Newsletter (TCN) – September 23, 2009

September 23, 2009 at 5:18 pm

Wednesday, September 23, 2009 – ISSN 1529-1057


1) Europe Orders Checks on More Airbus Speed Sensors

Link to Reuters article:

2) FAA System Helps Controllers Track Planes Out of Radar’s Reach in Colorado Mountains

Link to AP article:


3) Navteq Q&A: The Road Ahead

Link to interview in Mobile Entertainment:


4) Tracking Stimulus Dollars: Dot-Com vs. Dot-Gov

Link to story and audio report on NPR’s Morning Edition:


5) Idle Chatter Clogs Wireless System for Chennai Traffic Police

Link to article in The Times of India:

6) Utah Tackles Texting and Driving Problem Head-On

Link to story and audio on NPR’s All Things Considered:

7) Emergency Evacuation: Get a Road of This

New technique monitors Bluetooth signals from commuter cell phones to derive travel times, road speeds and vehicle movements.

Link to article in Law Enforcement Technology:–Get-a-road-of-this/1$48418


8) National Transportation Safety Board Urges Transit Agencies to Address ‘Safety Glitches’

Link to article in USA Today:


9) To Help Slow Traffic, San Francisco Planners Pick Beige

Link to article in the San Francisco Chronicle:

10) Speeding Up Interstate 15

Utah DOT to begin construction of electronic monitoring system.

Link to article in the Standard-Examiner:


11) The Deadly Silence of the Electric Car

Automakers propose adding some artificial vroom to alert pedestrians.

Link to article in The Washington Post:

News Releases

1) New Study Reveals Benefits of the Parking Guidance System at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa

2) Volvo Cars Takes on Safety Challenges Involving Electric Cars

3) I-95 Corridor Coalition Launches I-95 Corridor Travel Information Time Web Site

4) DC Metro Already Taking Steps to Improve Track Circuit Reliability

5) BART Tests On-Demand Info by SMS Text Messaging

6) Intelligent Vehicle Safety Systems Awards Presented

7) Boeing Completes Ground Tests to Prepare for 1st GPS IIF Satellite Launch

8) New IBM Research Reveals Critical Gap for Managing Congestion Problems in Cities Worldwide

9) IBM Brings 50% Reduction in Waiting Time to the Morning Commute in Sweden’s Capital

10) Michigan DOT Asks for Public’s Feedback on Mi Drive Traffic Web Site

11) ITS America, IBM, Spencer Trask & Partners Announce the Winner in Challenge for Traffic Congestion Solutions

Upcoming Events

8th Annual Maritime Security Expo – October 20-21 – Long Beach, California

Today in Transportation History

1959 **50th anniversary** – The M/S Princess of Tasmania, Australia’s first roll-on/roll-off ferry, began service.


The Transportation Communications Newsletter is published electronically Monday through Friday.

To subscribe send an e-mail to:

To unsubscribe send an e-mail to:

TCN archives:

Questions, comments about the TCN? Please write the editor, Bernie Wagenblast at

© 2009 Bernie Wagenblast

Ready for another round of “Legislative Chicken”? With only 8 days left in the life of SAFETEA-LU Legislation, Oberstar proposes a three month extension

September 22, 2009 at 11:06 pm

(Sources Contributing to this Hybrid Report:  Streetsblog; PBS -The Dig; Journal of Commerce)

Every six years the law authorizing national transportation policy and funding needs renewal. The current law expires Sept. 30 — in nine days.The House will consider a three-month extension of the current highway bill rather than the 18-month extension the administration and Senate want. The extension will avoid a collapse of highway spending on Oct. 1, according to House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee press secretary James Berard.

Rep. James Oberstar (D., Minn.), Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is staunchly against an 18-month delay. As a result, it is likely he will propose a three-month extension later this week.

Without some kind of action, legislation to extend the current transportation law by 18 months — already in place in the Senate and endorsed by the Obama administration — would almost certainly have to pass in order ensure transportation funding past the end of the month.

The 18-month extension is favored by the Senate and White House. A Senate spokesman said that the four committees with jurisdiction over the highway bill have reported legislation to the floor, but the bills have not been up for debate before the full body.

The House’s decision to press onward with a three-month delay sets up a game of legislative chicken similar to the one that developed in late July, when Oberstar was still standing firm on his vow to produce a new transportation bill before September 30. That impasse ended with the Senate and White House prevailing and the nation’s highway trust fund receiving a $7 billion infusion to keep it solvent until the end of this month.

Will this month’s version end with the House again bowing to the Obama administration’s preference that a new transport bill not be considered until early 2011? Now, as in July, the deck is stacked against the lower chamber of Congress. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business interests are behindOberstar’s three-month plan, but their lobbying in favor of a gas tax increase has not yet succeeded in rousing a reluctant Congress.

Meanwhile, State highway officials warn that unless Congress acts, they will lose $8.7 billion in money allocated for projects ranging from interstate highway maintenance to safe routes for school buses on Oct. 1.

The Federal Highway Administration announced that it will rescind funds that have been budgeted but not obligated for highway contracts on Sept. 30. The action will not be affected by congressional legislation to extend the highway law known as SAFETEA-LU. Tony Dorsey, spokesman for the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), said preventing the loss will require separate legislation.

An AASHTO press release on this subject notes that all 535 members of the House and Senate received an urgent letter from AASHTO yesterday, requesting that Congress repeal an $8.7 billion rescission of highway contract authority. The rescission was written into SAFETEA-LU, the highway and transit authorization bill passed by Congress in 2005.

In his letter, AASHTO executive director John Horsley contends “…an additional $8.7 billion rescission will result in substantial, real program cuts, not merely a reduction of unused dollars on the books. Provisions in section 1132 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which require that the states apply the rescission proportionately across all programs, will exacerbate the problem by further reducing state discretion to make reductions according to priorities. The letter also states that the rescission must be repealed or “it will nullify the benefits from economic recovery efforts.”

Bernie’s Transportation Communications Newsletter (TCN) – September 22, 2009

September 22, 2009 at 9:56 pm

Tuesday, September 22, 2009 – ISSN 1529-1057


1) Garmin Tries to Find Ways Around Smartphone Threat

Link to Dow Jones Newswire article:


2) Patrol Vessels Make Waves with High-Tech Equipment

Link to article in the Detroit Free Press:

Link to further information from US Customs and Border Protection:

3) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is Increasing Use of GPS Logs for Hours of Service Audits, Qualcomm Exec Says

Link to article in Transport Topics:


4) Ford Brings In-Dash Computers to the Next Level

Link to article from Driving Today:


5) Evaluation of Smart Video for Transit Event Detection

Link to report from the Florida Department of Transportation:

6) Intercoms Coming to New York City Subway Platforms at All Future Station Rehabs

Link to article in the Daily News


7) Westwood One’s Metro Traffic Launches Smartphone Service

Link to article in Radio Online:

Link to news release from Westwood One:

8) Waze Rolls Out Crowdsourced Traffic Data App

Link to CNET News article:

Link to further information on Waze:

9) Group to ‘Tweet’ G-20 Traffic Updates

Link to story on KDKA-TV:


10) Chrysler to Put Owner’s Manuals on DVD

Link to article in The Detroit News:

11) Ford Promotes Taurus with Microsoft Tags

Link to blog in The Wall Street Journal:

12) In-Car Tech Sales to Top $9.3 Billion

Link to article in the Detroit Free Press:

13) Defensive Driving with Cop-Alert Device

Link to article in the San Francisco Chronicle:

News Releases

1) Orange County Transportation Authority Launches Redesigned Web Site

2) TrafficTalk Announces Voice-Based Traffic Information Service at DEMOfall 09

3) Intelligent Transport Systems and Services to Improve Our Daily Lives

4) Cellular M2M Connections to Triple by 2014

5) Houston TranStar Adds Weather Radar to Traffic Map

6) New FAA System Improves Safety in Remote, Non-Radar Regions

Upcoming Events

Satellite and Content Deliver Conference & Expo – October 14-15 – New York

Today in Transportation History

1909 **100th anniversary** – Ferdinand Ferber, a French Army captain, became the fourth person and the second pilot to die in a powered aircraft crash.


The Transportation Communications Newsletter is published electronically Monday through Friday.

To subscribe send an e-mail to:

TCN archives:

Questions, comments about the TCN? Please write the editor, Bernie Wagenblast at

© 2009 Bernie Wagenblast

The Price You Pay…Market-based Road Pricing in the United States

September 21, 2009 at 10:56 pm is proud to share this insightful presentation on market-based road pricing in the U.S. prepared by Mr. Glenn Havinoviski, a long time supporter of, for his recent discussion with the Public Policy program students at George Washington University in Washington, DC.

When Glenn updated his status message on LinkedIn after the classroom discussion, TransportGooru jumped on the opportunity to get a glimpse of his briefing material prepared for the class and wrote to him seeking permission to publish the briefing materials.  Glenn graciously agreed to share this excellent presentation and sent along a PDF version (shown in the PDF viewer below).   Please feel free to leave your comments/questions in the “Comments” section below and they will be brought to Glenn’s attention right away.   Thanks for sharing the presentation, Glenn.

About Glenn Havinoviski: Glenn currently serves as an Associate Vice President (Transportation Systems) at Iteris in Sterling, VA and is a registered PE.   Until recently, he was an Associate Vice President and ITS Group Director for HNTB Corporation in the Arlington, Virginia office. His 27 years of experience (25 in consulting, 2 in the public sector) include serving as both a practice builder and a practice leader, providing project management and technical leadership for ITS and traffic management projects in the US and abroad.Glenn N. Havinoviski, PE joined Iteris in Sterling, VA on July 6 as Associate VP, Transportation Systems, after serving as Associate Vice President and ITS Group Director for HNTB Corporation in the Arlington, Virginia office. His 27 years of experience (25 in consulting, 2 in the public sector) include serving as both a practice builder and a practice leader, providing project management and technical leadership for ITS and traffic management projects in the US and abroad.

Bernie’s Transportation Communications Newsletter (TCN) – September 21, 2009

September 21, 2009 at 5:59 pm

Monday, September 21, 2009 – ISSN 1529-1057

Register Now for INRIX’s Free Webinar on the INRIX National Traffic Scorecard Special Report

Covered by CNN and hundreds of other news media, INRIX has just released the INRIX National Traffic Scorecard Mid-Year 2009 Special Report, calling a “bottom in traffic gridlock.” Traffic congestion across the country is rising due to signs of economic recovery, initial rollouts of highway construction projects funded by federal stimulus packages, and lower fuel prices.

By analyzing traffic in the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas, the Scorecard provides the most comprehensive and national scale glimpse into the intractable issues of urban traffic congestion. Additionally, INRIX analyzed information from its vast data warehouse to provide a snapshot of commercial freight traffic concentration. This webinar — hosted by Rick Schuman, INRIX VP of Public Sector — will provide an executive summary of the report findings.

Register now at Download the full Scorecard report at

Date: Thursday, September 24, 2009 Time: 10:00AM-11:00AM (PDT); 1:00PM-2:00PM (EDT)


1) Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport Starts Facebook Page

Link to article in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal:

2) Charting a New Path for FAA

Link to commentary from FAA CIO in Federal Times:


3) Pakistan Government to Establish Communication System for Port Security

Link to article in the Daily Times:


4) Intelligent Transport Innovations Center Being Built in UK

Link to article in The Engineer:

5) Castrol Uses Cameras and Digital Billboards to Talk Directly to Motorists

Link to article in Brand Republic:


6) Lawsuit Threat Got Amtrak to Disclose Bridge Inspection Reports

Link to report in The Philadelphia Inquirer:


7) Washington State DOT Report: ‘Rumble Strips’ on State Highways Cut Accidents by Nearly 60 Percent

Link to article in The Seattle Times:


8) Transportation Security Administration Privacy Stewardship

Link to report from the US Department of Homeland Security Inspector General:


9) DC Metro Turns to Suicide-Prevention Groups for Help

Link to article in The Washington Post:

10) Miami-Dade Transit Cards to Introduce No-Cash Fare Payments

Link to article in The Miami Herald:

11) London’s Tube Puts Thames Back on the Map

Link to story on NPR’s Morning Edition:

12) Transit Advertising in Kenya Slows as Marketers Slash Budgets

Link to article in Business Daily:

13) Seattle Transit Expands Smart Card System

Link to article in Metro Magazine:

14) MBTA Updates System Maps, Signage

Link to article in Metro Magazine:


15) Real-Time Traffic Reporting, on Time

Link to article in The New York Times:

16) The National Incident Management System – A Workbook for State Department of Transportation Frontline Workers

Link to documents from the Federal Highway Administration:

(supervisor instructions)


17) Building a Safer Car

Your next vehicle might automatically check your pulse, help with steering—and tell you to put down your cell phone.

Link to article in The Wall Street Journal:

News Releases

1) FAA Approves 1st US Ground Based Augmentation System

2) Bridge Data Available On New Illinois Department of Transportation Web Site, Public to Get More Access to Bridge Information

Upcoming Events

International CTIA Wireless IT & Entertainment 2009 – October 6-9 – San Diego

Today in Transportation History

1959 **50th anniversary** – The Ford Falcon was introduced in a closed circuit TV news conference.


The Transportation Communications Newsletter is published electronically Monday through Friday.

To subscribe send an e-mail to:

To unsubscribe send an e-mail to:

TCN archives:

Questions, comments about the TCN? Please write the editor, Bernie Wagenblast at

© 2009 Bernie Wagenblast

Don’t forget to leave your car behind! September 22 is Car Free Day

September 21, 2009 at 5:29 pm

(Source: CarFreeMetroDC)

Car Free Day is an international event celebrated every September 22nd in which people are encouraged to get around without their car – highlighting transit, bicycling, walking and all alternative modes of transportation. By taking a fair number of cars off the roads people who live and work there are given a chance to consider how their neighborhood might look and work with a lot fewer cars. Click here for more information about World Car Free Day.

Washington celebrated Car Free Day for the first time in 2007 with about 1,000 District residents committing to be car free for the day. Last year, Car Free Day expanded to the entire Washington Metropolitan Area, and 5,445 residents throughout the region pledged to be car free. This year we hope even more drivers throughout the region will leave their cars at home or go “car lite” by sharing a ride to work. By taking the Car Free Challenge, participants not only help to improve air quality, save money, and reduce their carbon footprint, but also get a chance to win great prizes at the event.

There are a number of regional resources that can help you be Car Free or Car Lite.

While you are on the website, don’t forget to take the Car Free Day Pledge and try your hand to win an iPod and other great prizes! You can still pledge and win prizes even if you’re already using alternative transportation modes, such as bicycles, transit, teleworking, and carpooling.

No More Spy Shots! Russian Tycoon Roman Abromvich’s Mega-Yacht Goes Papparazzi-Proof With Hi-tech Laser Shield

September 21, 2009 at 2:02 pm

(Source: Times Online, UK & Wired)

Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich has a rather curious new addition built in to his latest oversized yacht. The 557-foot boat Eclipse, the price tag of which has almost doubled since original plans were drawn to almost $1.2 billion, set sail this week with a slew of show-off features, from two helipads, two swimming pools and six-foot movie screens in all guest cabins, to a mini-submarine and missile-proof windows to combat piracy.

It might not seem like somebody with such ostentatious tastes would crave privacy, but along with these expensive toys, Ambramovich has installed an anti-paparazzi “shield”. Lasers sweep the surroundings and when they detect a CCD, they fire a bolt of light right at the camera to obliterate any photograph. According to the Times, these don’t run all the time, so friends and guests should still be able to grab snaps. Instead, they will be activated when guards spot the scourge of professional photography, paparazzi, loitering nearby.

The high-tech system on Eclipse, a mega-yacht measuring up to 557ft, relies on lasers to block any digital camera lenses nearby.  Infrared lasers detect the electronic light sensors in nearby cameras, known as charge-coupled devices. When the system detects such a device, it fires a focused beam of light at the camera, disrupting its ability to record a digital image.   The beams can also be activated manually by security guards if they spot a photographer loitering.

The ThyssenKrupp-built boat, which has reportedly more than doubled in cost to £724m since it was commissioned three years ago, glided out of port in Hamburg last week on its maiden voyage. On board were 150 engineers and maritime experts who will put it through its paces over 10 days. One witness described the boat as “a great white castle on water”.

The yacht — the fourth in Abramovich’s private fleet — drips luxury. It boasts two helipads, two swimming pools — the larger of which doubles up as a dance floor when drained — and 6ft-wide home cinema screens in all 24 guest cabins.

Mindful of a rise in piracy on the high seas, the yacht has a hull and windows capable of withstanding a missile attack and a mini-submarine for emergencies. Once it leaves the Blohm + Voss German shipyard, it will be fitted with a missile defence system in France.

The Sunday Times Rich List reported that last week Abramovich has splashed out £55m on a 70-acre estate on the Caribbean island of St Barthélemy. The exclusive retreat looks out onto Gouverneur Bay, where the oligarch will be able to moor his new yacht.

More details on Times (via Wired).