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Union Group Claims Racist Activities Increasing in Auto Plants

Reports of hanging nooses, harassment on the uptick.

by on Feb.16, 2018

UAW President Dennis Williams said that the union is trying to eliminate racism and sexual harassment in plants.

Union activists have detailed a recent series of racial slurs and taunts in plants belonging to car makers and suppliers.

The report follows recent complaints by the EEOC detailing a climate of sexual harassment at Ford Motor Co. plant in Chicago that prompted warnings such behavior would not be tolerated from the company’s top executives, including CEO Jim Hackett, who visited the plant to re-inforce the message.

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United Auto Workers President Dennis Williams also said the union, which represents more than 415,000 employees at work sites across the country, harassment should not and would not be tolerated. (more…)

EPA’s Pruitt Lets Polluting Diesel Trucks Glide Through Loophole

Gliders spew diesel pollutants at rate 43x more than new trucks.

by on Feb.15, 2018

A Fitzgerald employee mates an older diesel engine to a new truck body.

Less than a year after Volkswagen was hit for more than $4 billion in fines, penalties and fees related to the German maker’s noncompliant diesel engines, the Environmental Protection Agency is set to exempt U.S.-built “gliders” that spew emissions 13 times worse than all of VW’s diesels combined.

According to the New York Times, EPA Administration Scott Pruitt is not only set to approve the vehicles, he’s contemplating removing the cap on how many of them can be sold annually. The Obama administration was attempting to cap their production at 300 units annually.

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“Gliders” are trucks that use new truck bodies from Peterbilt, Freightliner and other manufacturers that are mated to rebuilt engines exempt from pollution standards. The resulting truck is cheaper, less expensive to maintain cheaper to repair and, in some instances, gets higher fuel economy than new trucks. (more…)

Highway Fatalities Dip After Two-Year Surge

“Complacency is killing us.”

by on Feb.15, 2018

More than 40,000 Americans died on the highway in 2017, despite a modest dip in fatalities.

Preliminary figures reveal that U.S. highway deaths declined nearly 1% last year but, at 40,100 fatalities, there’s no room for “complacency,” warned the National Safety Council.

Last year’s numbers were still significantly higher than in 2014 which marked the end of a decade-long decline in traffic deaths. And it is still the second year in a row that there were more than 40,000 Americans killed on the highway. The question, according to the NSC, is whether 2017’s decline was just brief a respite or the start of another era of improved automotive safety.

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“The price we are paying for mobility is 40,000 lives each year,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “This is a stark reminder that our complacency is killing us. The only acceptable number is zero; we need to mobilize a full court press to improve roadway safety.”

(more…)

Uber Working to Fight Human Trafficking

Drivers being informed about how to spot victims and what to do to help.

by on Jan.29, 2018

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi continues to rehabilitate the company's image.

Ride-hailing service Uber’s been in the headlines for the last 18 months for a variety reasons, none of them good. However, new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is looking to change that, especially when it comes to the company’s drivers.

He’s made a massive effort to make the company’s 750,000 drivers in the U.S. feel more appreciated, including matching Lyft in allowing for tips and providing a hotline for drivers to call when they have questions.

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Now, the recently appointed CEO is giving them a new responsibility … an altruistic purpose. He’s working with them to make an impact on human trafficking. The company’s always encouraged drivers to play a role in the end of the scourge, but the new initiative is a formalized program. (more…)

California Wants 5 Mil Zero-Emissions Vehicles on Road by 2030

Governor outlines $2.5 bil ZEV plan.

by on Jan.29, 2018

California Gov. Jerry Brown wants to see 5 million zero-emission vehicles on California roads by 2030.

California wants to see at least 5 million zero-emissions vehicles on state roads by 2030 and Governor Jerry Brown has outlined a $2.5 billion plan to hit that target.

The program would echo steps being put in place by several other countries that either already have or are, at least, considering moves to entirely ban use of the internal combustion engine. And it would run counter to steps being considered by the Trump Administration that may roll back the current Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards.

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On Friday, Brown signed an executive order “to curb carbon pollution from cars and trucks and boost the number of zero-emission vehicles driven in California.” (more…)

2 Fed Safety Teams Head to California Tesla Crash Probe

Was drive using Autopilot when Model S crashed into fire truck?

by on Jan.25, 2018

An LA TV station caught the aftermath of a crash involving a Tesla Model S and a firetruck.

Two separate teams of federal safety investigators have been dispatched to California to examine what happened when a Tesla Model S crashed into a firetruck on a suburban Los Angeles freeway on Monday, the agencies aiming to find out if the incident happened while the battery sedan was operating in semi-autonomous Autopilot mode.

This marks the second time both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board have examined a Tesla crash to see if the maker’s self-driving technology may have malfunctioned.

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In the first case, 40-year-old Joshua Brown was killed in a Florida crash in May 2009 when his Model S failed to stop when a semi-truck turned in front of it. The former Navy SEAL was ruled at least partially at fault for failing to take evasive action, but the NTSB also determined that flaws in the design of the Tesla Autopilot system contributed to the crash.

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More Americans Willing to Trust Self-Driving Vehicles, Finds AAA Study

But “deep divides” still exist.

by on Jan.24, 2018

General Motors petitioned NHTSA to begin testing as many as 2,500 autonomous Chevy Bolts annually on public roads.

Waymo, Uber and Lyft have all begun testing autonomous ride-sharing vehicles and the Google spinoff plans to field a small number of completely driverless models this year. General Motors, meanwhile, plans to start building a version of its Chevrolet Bolt EV, sans steering wheel and pedals, next year that could be used by Maven, its own sharing service.

While the development of self-driving technology is moving faster than many proponents predicted just a few years ago, the auto and ride-sharing industries face several potential roadblocks, including state and federal restrictions as well as the uncertainty of how consumers will respond. But a new survey by AAA released Wednesday finds that Americans are rapidly becoming more comfortable with the ideas of not only taking their hands off the wheel, but also having no wheel in the car at all.

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“Americans are starting to feel more comfortable with the idea of self-driving vehicles,” said AAA Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations Director Greg Brannon. “Compared to just a year ago, AAA found that 20 million more U.S. drivers would trust a self-driving vehicle to take them for a ride.” (more…)

Safety Groups Join Forces, Push for Traffic Safety Reforms

Groups rallying around 16 optimal laws that should be in place across U.S.

by on Jan.22, 2018

KidsAndCars.org President and Founder Janette Fennell pushed for the changes outlined in the SafeRoads.org report.

Rhode Island and South Dakota are the best and worst states, respectively, for driver safety in the U.S., according to a new report out by Advocates for Highway Safety.

The group’s annual report, the 2018 Roadmap for Highway Safety, gives each state a ranking based on what the safety advocacy group considers 16 fundamental traffic safety laws to ensure roadway safety. Rhode Island employs 13 of the 16 while South Dakota just two.

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“Advocates has spent decades fighting for vehicle safety technology and we too believe driverless cars have the potential to one day make our roads a dramatically safer place,” said Advocates’ President Cathy Chase, during a press conference earlier today. (more…)

NYC Could Join List of Cities With Congestion Charge for Drivers

Even Uber drivers would have to pay fees in Midtown, Downtown.

by on Jan.22, 2018

New York City may become the first U.S. city to charge a congestion fee, similar to those charged in London or Singapore.

After facing years of delays New York City seems set to become the first American metropolis to enact a congestion charge on drivers passing through its crowded Midtown and Downtown streets.

The proposal, issued by the “Fix NYC” task force would hit drivers of passenger vehicles with a congestion charge of $11.52, if enacted, while trucks would pay $25.34. Even taxis and ride-share vehicles would have to pay between $2 and $4 a ride. If approved by state officials, New York would join cities like London, Milan, Stockholm and Singapore that have been using congestion charges to try to reduce central city gridlock.

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The measure is backed by Governor Andrew Cuomo and some lawmakers who opposed similar proposals in the past now appear to be ready to sign on. “Though I have been a critic of congestion pricing in the past and still remain skeptical, the plan released today … offers a wide variety of innovative suggestions,” said Democratic Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. (more…)

Government Panel Wants Lower Drunk Driving Threshold

Drunk driving deaths “entirely preventable.”

by on Jan.19, 2018

There is a movement underway to lower the legal blood-alcohol content limit for drunk driving to 0.05.

You might have to skip that extra beer or third glass of wine, at least if you’re planning to then get behind the wheel of a car. A new government report recommends states significantly lower the level of alcohol in the blood that would be considered driving under the influence of alcohol.

In recent decades, a crackdown on drunk driving has had a significant impact, but an estimated 10,000 people a year still die in alcohol-related accidents and the figure has begun creeping back up, warned the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. The worst part, a panel added, is that those deaths are “entirely preventable.”

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In the U.S., all states now count a blood alcohol level of 0.08% as driving under the influence. By comparison, the figure has dropped to 0.05% in much of Europe and as little as 0.02% in Norway and Sweden. The National Academies panel wants to see all U.S. states drop to 0.05%, the same figure went into effect in Utah Dec. 30. (more…)