Eyes on the road: Automated speed cameras get a fresh look as traffic deaths mount



Richmond joins a growing list of cities turning to speed cameras. New laws in California and Pennsylvania will allow them in major cities where they’ve long been blocked.

Traffic fatalities have risen sharply over the past decade, and safety advocates around the country are desperately searching for anything that will get drivers to slow down. But critics say speed cameras can be a financial burden on those who are least able to pay.

Still, they’ve earned the endorsement of prominent safety advocates, including Jonathan Adkins, the CEO of the Governors Highway Safety Association.

“Automated enforcement works,” Adkins said. “For lack of a better term, it sucks to get a ticket. It changes your behavior.”


No one likes getting a speeding ticket. But the objections to automated traffic enforcement go deeper than that.

“We are very skeptical that safety is the real goal,” says Jay Beeber, with the National Motorists Association, a driver advocacy group.

There are other ways to get drivers to slow down, Beeber argues, including speed feedback signs that show drivers how fast they’re going in real time.

Author(s): Joel Rose

Publication Date: 16 Feb 2024

Publication Site: NPR, All Things Considered

Despite vehicle safety improvements, US pedestrian deaths soar

Link: https://scrippsnews.com/stories/despite-vehicle-safety-improvements-us-pedestrian-deaths-soar/



Samuel’s death is part of a growing trend in America, where pedestrian and cyclist fatalities are up 60% since 2011 to more than 8,000 last year.

In the past 25 years, the percentage of people who died in road crashes — while inside a vehicle — dropped from 80% of all road deaths to 66%. At the same time, the share of pedestrian and bicyclist deaths climbed sharply – making up 20% of all road deaths in 1997, to now accounting for 34% of all road deaths.

Nicole Brunet is with the nonprofits Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and Families for Safe Streets. She says street design is part of the issue.

“If you’re somebody in a car, the street is designed perfect for you,” Brunet said. “The ideal street is balanced: A street that’s built for a pedestrian and a bicyclist, somebody that has mobility issues. We need to think about the most vulnerable user of the road.”

Author(s): Maya Rodriguez

Publication Date: 5 Oct 2023

Publication Site: Scripps

The 96 Billion Dollar Game: You Are Losing



That was back in 1993 when the book on “how personal injury litigation has become a costly game to you’ came out so these quotes may be outdated in their numbers.


The Insurance Information Institute estimates that 40 percent of all medical malpractice insurance is written through companies owned by doctors. (page 88)

Litigation is necessary to help the litigants acquire the information necessary to settle cases and to resolve questions of injury, liability, value and law….I estimate that no more than ten percent of the lawsuits currently filed need information that can be obtained only through the deposition process. However, once the information has been obtained, usually within a matter of a few months after the filing, most of these cases should settle. (page 114)

In the less regulated or unregulated states, the insurance rates are lower because the companies can compete freely. The problem is not the insurance companies ripping off the public but the stifling regulations. (page 123)


“The most blatant examples of misguided regulatory involvement in automobile insurance prices occurred in Massachusetts and New Jersey”. Jean C. Hiestand, the V.P. General Counsel of State Farm Insurance Company, in Competition And the Rating Laws: Do They Make A Difference? “They not only pay the highest rates but a large percentage are in the involuntary markets”. (page 149)

Many states do not allow insurance protection for punitive damages because punitive damages are to punish you for conduct beyond ordinary carelessness….Where punitive damages are sought, you have read that juries sometimes find against an innocent person or company for large sums. Worse yet, such debt is not dischargeable in bankruptcy. (page 189)

Author(s): John Bury

Publication Date: 12 Jun 2023

Publication Site: burypensions

The American Addiction to Speeding

Link: https://slate.com/business/2021/12/speed-limit-americas-most-broken-law-history.html


Speeding is a national health problem and a big reason why this country is increasingly an outlier on traffic safety in the developed world. More than 1 in 4 fatal crashes in the United States involve at least one speeding driver, making speeding a factor in nearly 10,000 deaths each year, in addition to an unknowable number of injuries. Thousands of car crash victims are on foot, and speed is an even more crucial determinant of whether they live or die: The odds of a pedestrian being killed in a collision rise from 10 percent at 23 mph to 75 percent at 50 mph. And we’re now in a moment of particular urgency. Last year, when the pandemic shutdowns lowered total miles traveled by 13 percent, the per-mile death rate rose by 24 percent—the greatest increase in a century, thanks to drivers hitting high velocities on empty roads. “COVID,” Roberts said, “was midnight on the day shift.”

In the first six months of 2021, projected traffic fatalities in the U.S. rose by 18 percent, the largest increase since the U.S. Department of Transportation started counting and double the rate of the previous year’s surge. “We cannot and should not accept these fatalities as simply a part of everyday life in America,” said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in a press release.


It is as strange as cigarettes on airplanes or dating ads in newspapers to think that between 1974 and 1995, the United States maintained a national speed limit of 55 miles per hour in the name of saving lives. It was one of those moments, like the end of the Concorde’s supersonic passenger jet service or the collapse of the Arecibo Telescope, when technology lurched backward.

The 50-state slowdown known as the “double nickel” began in 1973, with President Richard Nixon’s appeal for collective sacrifice. In retaliation for America’s support of Israel in the Yom Kippur War, the coalition of Middle Eastern states known as OPEC decided that fall to stop selling oil to the United States. Prices quadrupled. The president wanted Americans to change their ways: He asked gas stations to close on Sundays and businesses to turn off lighted advertisements. Mayors and department stores dimmed Christmas bulbs nationwide. Daylight saving time went year-round in an effort to use less electric light. Thanks to the lowered thermostat, women were permitted to wear pants in the White House.


But that did not come to pass. The number of annual auto deaths dropped below 44,000 in 1990 and has not passed that number since; instead, it fell to a 40-year low in 2014, despite enormous growth in the number of cars on the road. Every state has raised the speed limit over the past few decades, with parts of Texas now topping out at 80 mph.


Given all this, speeding enforcement could use a tighter focus. Relatively few motorists drive at what the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration calls “extreme speeds” of more than 20 mph over the limit. In the District of Columbia, it was just 6 percent of speeders in 2019. (One of them was going 132 mph in a 50 mph zone.) For a police-based enforcement system to be able to find and stop those drivers would be remarkably good luck. But those are exactly the drivers most likely to hurt themselves or others in a crash.


Speed cameras and speed traps have something in common: They both rely on the wisdom of speed limits, which are not very wise. The conventional wisdom in the field of traffic engineering is that the speed limit should be set according to the 85th percentile rule—at the speed of the 15th-fastest of 100 drivers on the road. City transportation officials do not like this method: The fastest 15 percent of drivers, they argue, are not always the most rational appraisers of what constitutes a safe speed. Nor should drivers’ interests determine the character of a street for its other users. In an essay in the Harvard Law Review, Greg Shill and Sara Bronin write, “The 85th Percentile Rule is perhaps unique in American law in empowering lawbreakers to activate a rewrite of the law to legalize their own unlawful conduct.”

Author(s): Henry Grabar

Publication Date: 15 Dec 2021

Publication Site: Slate

Why is it so hard to buy things that work well?



It’s also true at the firm level that it often takes an unusually unreasonable firm to produce a really great product instead of just one that’s marketed as great, e.g., Volvo, the one car manufacturer that seemed to try to produce a level of structural safety beyond what could be demonstrated by IIHS tests fared so poorly as a business that it’s been forced to move upmarket and became a niche, luxury, automaker since safety isn’t something consumers are really interested in despite car accidents being a leading cause of death and a significant source of life expectancy loss. And it’s not clear that Volvo will be able to persist in being an unreasonable firm since they weren’t able to survive as an independent automaker. When Ford acquired Volvo, Ford started moving Volvos to the shared Ford C1 platform, which didn’t fare particularly well in crash tests. Since Geely has acquired Volvo, it’s too early to tell for sure if they’ll maintain Volvo’s commitment to designing for real-world crash data and not just crash data that gets reported in benchmarks. If Geely declines to continue Volvo’s commitment to structural safety, it may not be possible to buy a modern car that’s designed to be safe.

Most markets are like this, except that there was never an unreasonable firm like Volvo in the first place. On unreasonable employees, Yossi says

Who can, and sometimes does, un-rot the fish from the bottom? An insane employee. Someone who finds the forks, crashes, etc. a personal offence, and will repeatedly risk annoying management by fighting to stop these things. Especially someone who spends their own political capital, hard earned doing things management truly values, on doing work they don’t truly value – such a person can keep fighting for a long time. Some people manage to make a career out of it by persisting until management truly changes their mind and rewards them. Whatever the odds of that, the average person cannot comprehend the motivation of someone attempting such a feat.

It’s rare that people are willing to expend a significant amount of personal capital to do the right thing, whatever that means to someone, but it’s even rarer that the leadership of a firm will make that choice and spend down the firm’s capital to do the right thing.

Economists have a term for cases where information asymmetry means that buyers can’t tell the difference between good products and “lemons”, “a market for lemons”, like the car market (where the term lemons comes from), or both sides of the hiring market. In economic discourse, there’s a debate over whether cars are a market for lemons at all for a variety of reasons (lemon laws, which allow people to return bad cars, don’t appear to have changed how the market operates, very few modern cars are lemons when that’s defined as a vehicle with serious reliability problems, etc.). But looking at whether or not people occasionally buy a defective car is missing the forest for the trees. There’s maybe one car manufacturer that really seriously tries to make a structurally safe car beyond what standards bodies test (and word on the street is that they skimp on the increasingly important software testing side of things) because consumers can’t tell the difference between a more or less safe car beyond the level a few standards bodies test to. That’s a market for lemons, as is nearly every other consumer and B2B market.

Author(s): Dan Luu

Publication Date: March 2022, accessed 7 Jun 2023

Publication Site: Dan Luu

Speed Limit Signs – a History of Speeding in the US

Link: https://www.roadtrafficsigns.com/speed-limit-signs-history



The debate between those demanding the freedom to travel at high speeds in an unregulated environment and others citing the need for greater security and increased regulation (e.g. signs) was common in the 20’s and 30’s. For certain communities, “too slow speeds” were also an issue. As reported in the June, 1925 Lyle Sign Post, the chairman of the Maryland State Roads Commission, John Mackall, “advises substitution of the maximum speed limit with a minimum speed limit, to speed up traffic. Mackall also suggested slow-moving vehicles be barred from main streets during peak hours”.

Many states did not require drivers licenses. As part of the author’s own family lore, there is a wonderful story of two strong-willed daughters, Lydia and Mary, traveling from their home in North Dakota to visit their father, Senator Langer, in Washington, DC. With little experience, other than on farm machinery and certainly no license, they ended up in Washington in record time. Speed limits (and the few Speed Limit Signs) were proudly ignored.

For more discussion, see the excerpt below on fixed speed limits: “Should there be Fixed Speed Limits?“. Even in the 30’s and 40’s, speed limits were not uniform. Should speed limits change, depending upon the weather conditions, road conditions and time of day (for example, during school hours)?

Publication Date: accessed 7 Jun 2023

Publication Site: RoadTrafficSigns.com

Car insurance prices soar in Illinois, Rep. Will Guzzardi aiming to crack down on insurers

Link: https://www.wbez.org/stories/car-insurance-prices-soar-in-illinois/b46209a7-5606-4bf4-8f15-806689c76e28?utm_source=Wirepoints%20Newsletter&utm_campaign=387e2a5fbc-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_895ee9abf9-387e2a5fbc-30506353



The five biggest auto insurers in Illinois have raised automobile insurance rates a whopping $527 million since January, an analysis by two consumer groups shows.

That follows about $1.1 billion in rate increases last year by the top 10 Illinois car insurers.

The analysis by the nonprofit Illinois Public Interest Research Group and Consumer Federation of America looked at auto insurance rate increases by the five largest companies in Illinois: State Farm, Allstate, Progressive, Geico and Country Financial, which together make up 62% of the Illinois market.


Now, state Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago, has introduced legislation to address those issues and crack down on insurers. Guzzardi’s bill would:

  • Require automobile insurers to get prior state approval for rate hikes.
  • Ban “excessive” insurance increases.
  • Prohibit using gender, marital status, age, occupation, schooling, home ownership, wealth, credit scores or a customer’s past insurance company relationships in setting car insurance rates.

It’s already illegal to use race, ethnicity and religion in setting rates. That would continue under Guzzardi’s proposal.

Author(s): Stephanie Zimmermann | Chicago Sun-Times

Publication Date: 6 May 2023

Publication Site: WBEZ in Chicago

Why Two States Remain Holdouts on Distracted Driving Laws

Link: https://khn.org/news/article/distracted-driving-state-laws-two-holdouts-missouri-montana/



Despite such tragedies, Missouri is one of two states — the other is Montana — that do not prohibit all drivers from text messaging while operating vehicles. (Missouri has such a law for people 21 and under.)

Before this year, Missouri state lawmakers from both parties had proposed more than 80 bills since 2010 with varying levels of restrictions on cellphone use and driving. Similar legislation has been proposed in Montana, too. In both states, such bills have faltered, largely because Republican opponents say they don’t think the laws work and are just another infringement on people’s civil liberties.

Nevertheless, Missouri Republicans and Democrats introduced at least seven bills this session concerning hand-held phone use while driving — and road safety advocates think such legislation has a better chance of passing this year. Montana, meanwhile, has a bill seeking to block localities’ distracted driving laws.


Supporters of hands-free driving laws concede that distracted driving restrictions are not a panacea for all traffic fatalities. And even if Missouri passes additional restrictions on cellphone use, small nuances in wording could influence whether such a law is effective.

Nationwide, about 3,000 people typically die in distracted driving crashes each year, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data, though researchers suggest that’s an undercount. While hands-free options are now standard for new vehicles, the number of distracted driving deaths has stayed relatively steady. They represented at least 1 in 12 traffic fatalities in 2020.

Distracted driving laws reduce fatalities — if, like the ones established in 24 states, they ban all hand-held cellphone use rather than banning only a specific activity such as texting, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association and a study published in 2021 in the journal Epidemiology. Banning texting alone does not make a difference, those researchers found.

Oregon and Washington saw significant reductions in the rates of monthly rear-end crashes when they broadened their laws to prohibit “holding” a cellphone as compared with states that banned only texting, according to a study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Those two states also prohibited holding a phone when stopped temporarily — say, at a red light.

Author(s): Eric Berger

Publication Date: 6 Feb 2023

Publication Site: Kaiser Health News

Traffic Safety Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Fatal Crashes Relative to Pre-Pandemic Trends, United States, May–December 2020

Link: https://aaafoundation.org/traffic-safety-impact-of-the-covid-19-pandemic-fatal-crashes-relative-to-pre-pandemic-trends-united-states-may-december-2020/

PDF: https://aaafoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/22-1339-AAAFTS_Impact-of-COVID-19_Research-Brief_r3.pdf



A total of 38,824 people died in motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. in 2020, 2,570 (7.1%) more than forecast from models developed using data from 2011 through 2019 (Figure). In April 2020—the first full month of the pandemic—the number of fatalities was much lower than what would have been expected based on pre-pandemic trends. By May 2020, however, the actual number of fatalities was similar to historical levels. The number of fatalities greatly exceeded forecasts based on pre-pandemic trends for the remainder of 2020. In May through December collectively, there were a total of 28,611 traffic fatalities nationwide, which was 3,083 (12.1%) more than expected based on pre-pandemic trends.

The increase in traffic fatalities was not uniform across crash-, vehicle-, and driver-related factors. Scenarios present in greater than expected numbers in fatal crashes in 2020 included evening and late-night hours, speeding drivers, drivers with illegal alcohol levels, drivers without valid licenses, drivers of older vehicles, drivers of vehicles registered to other people, crash involvement and deaths of teens and young adults, and deaths of vehicle occupants not wearing seatbelts. In contrast, several crash types followed pre-pandemic trends (e.g., crashes in the middle of the day; crash involvements of drivers with valid licenses; pedestrian fatalities), and a few decreased (e.g., crashes of elderly drivers; crashes during typical morning commute hours).

Author(s): Brian C. Tefft, Meng Wang

Publication Date: December 2022

Publication Site: AAA Foundation

Massive Collapse in Used Car Prices and Bankrupt Dealers Is Coming Right Up

Link: https://mishtalk.com/economics/massive-collapse-in-used-car-prices-and-bankrupt-dealers-is-coming-right-up





Carvana may have just quietly started liquidating:

The company is now advertising its *retail* inventory to *wholesale* dealers.

Look at the $5,000 price difference. Wild times.

These are all retail-ready cars being advertised to other dealers – likely at a big loss.

(h/t RayMF for submission)

Alright everyone is asking how to take advantage – here you go:

Dealers: If you’re willing to buy one of these cars for consumers at a flat $600 mark-up, please comment below.

Consumers: If you want one of these cars and willing to pay a flat $600 mark-up, DM the dealer.

Author(s): Mike Shedlock, CarDealershipGuy

Publication Date: 17 Dec 2022

Publication Site: Mish Talk, Twitter

Defining Discrimination in Insurance

Link: https://www.casact.org/sites/default/files/2022-03/Research-Paper_Defining_Discrimination_In_Insurance.pdf



Unfair Discrimination without Disproportionate Impact. As previously defined, unfair discrimination occurs when rating variables that have no relationship to expected loss are used. A hypothetical example could be if an insurer decided to use rating factors that charged those with red cars higher rates, even if the data did not show this. In this case, there would be no disproportionate impact, assuming protected classes do not own a large majority of red cars.
Disparate Treatment. Disparate treatment and unfair discrimination are not directly related if we use the Fair Trade Act definition of unfair discrimination. However, in states where rating on protected class is defined to be unfair discrimination, disparate treatment would be a subset of unfair discrimination. In such cases, an insurer would explicitly use protected class to charge higher rates, with the intention of prejudicing against that class.
Intentional Proxy Discrimination. If proxy discrimination is defined to require intent, it would be a subset of disparate treatment, whereby an insurer would deliberately substitute a facially neutral variable for protected class for the purpose of discrimination. Redlining is an example of this type of discrimination, given the use of location characteristics as proxies for race and social class.
Disproportionate Impact. Disproportionate impact focuses on effect on protected class, even if there is a relationship to expected loss. An example of this is the one mentioned in the AAA study, whereby a rating plan that uses age could disproportionately impact a minority group if those in that minority group tend to have higher risk ages. This disproportionate impact is not necessarily the same as proxy discrimination, since it is likely that even after controlling for minority status, age would have a relationship to
expected costs.

Unintentional Proxy Discrimination. If proxy discrimination is defined to be unintentional, the focus is more on disproportionate outcomes and the variables used to substitute for protected class. Several variables are being investigated by regulators to potentially be proxy discrimination and include criminal history for auto insurance rating. In order to prove proxy discrimination, an analysis would have to be performed to understand the extent to which criminal history proxies for minority status, and whether its predictive power would decrease when controlling for protected class. It is important to note once
again that terms like “unintentional proxy discrimination” may be subsumed by “disparate impact,” but they are included in this paper to show how various stakeholders use the term differently.
Disparate Impact. Disparate impact is unintentional discrimination, where there is disproportionate impact, but also other legal requirements, such as the existence of alternatives. To date, no disparate impact lawsuits against insurance companies have been won. An example of potential disparate impact (although it was not litigated as a lawsuit) is from health care. Optum used an algorithm to identify and allocate additional care to patients with complex healthcare needs. The algorithm was designed to create a risk score for each patient during the enrollment period. Patients above the 97th percentile were automatically enrolled in the program and thus allocated additional care. Upon an independent peer review of the model, researchers found that the model was in fact allocating artificially lower scores to Black patients, even though the model did not use race. The reason behind this was the model’s use of prior healthcare costs as an input. Black patients typically spend less than white patients on health care, which artificially allocated better health to Black patients.18
Unfair Discrimination and Disproportionate Impact. In this case, an insurer would use a variable that both has no relationship to expected loss, but also has an outsized effect on protected classes. An example of this could be the same red car case above, but where protected classes also owned almost all the red cars. In this case, higher rates would create a disproportionate effect on protected classes, while also having no relationship to expected loss.

Author(s): Kudakwashe F. Chibanda, FCAS

Publication Date: 2022

Publication Site: Casualty Actuarial Society

$50 to drive to Manhattan. $100 to come into N.J. How a fight over traffic cameras could prove costly.

Link: https://www.nj.com/news/2022/10/50-to-drive-to-manhattan-100-to-come-into-nj-how-a-fight-over-traffic-cameras-could-prove-costly.html


A war of words between New York and New Jersey legislators over red light cameras could prove costly to commuters who could be slapped with hefty fees to travel between New York City and the Garden State.

New York lawmakers want to slap Jersey drivers with a $50 “non-cooperation fee” when they drive into New York City, in response to a bill that would bar the state Motor Vehicle Commission from helping New York enforce red light and speed camera tickets against Garden State drivers.

If passed by New York State’s senate and assembly, that charge would be on top of the $16 cash toll to cross the Hudson into Manhattan, and could be added to proposed congestion pricing fees for driving south of 60th Street, that might take effect in 2024.


O’Scanlon reiterated his long standing opposition to automated enforcement, citing his analysis of National Highway Traffic Safety administration statistics that showed red light camera and other automated enforcement did not translate in to lower death rates in states that had them.

“There is no correlation to safety benefits. Every unbiased assessment showed no benefit,” he said. “It’s a demonstrable fact that automated enforcement and red light camera systems don’t improve safety.”

Author(s): Larry Higgs

Publication Date: 1 Oct 2022

Publication Site: NJ.com