Todd Litman's blog

Rethinking Transportation Safety

A paradigm shift is changing the way we think about transportation safety. In the past, traffic safety experts evaluated risk using distance-based units (traffic crashes and casualties per 100 million vehicle-miles or billion vehicle-kilometers), which ignores increases in vehicle traffic as a risk factor, and mobility management as a safety strategy. Yet, we now have overwhelming evidence that the amount people drive has a major impact on their chance of being injured or killed in a traffic accident. Here is a small portion of the evidence:

Crises Come And Go, But Smart Policies Live on

A recent report that I coauthored, "Managing Transport Challenges When Oil Prices Rise" provides practical policy guidance on how to manage the risks of rising oil prices by increasing transport system efficiency. People with short attention spans might think that this report is already outdated, since global financial uncertainty has replaced rising fuel prices as the crisis-of-the-month. Leading businesses are bankrupt, employees are frightened, consumers are cautious, and fuel prices plummeting.

Planning for True Security

Most people have a highly distorted view of the risks they face, which skews their decisions and ultimately reduces their happiness. We live in one of the safest times and places in history, yet, many people live in constant fear, and respond in ways that actually reduce overall security. This is a major obstacle to efficient transportation, healthy living, and livable community.

Driving Versus Public Transit Costs

I often hear debates over the costs of different modes of transportation, particularly between driving and public transit travel. Rising fuel prices have made public transit more attractive for some trips, boosting ridership, but critics point out that for most trips, transit fares are still comparable with fuel costs (for example, at $4 a gallon, fuel costs about $2 for a typical 10-mile trip, comparable to a bus fare in a typical city), and generally take longer. It is therefore legitimate to ask whether public transit really saves money.

Please Tax My Carbon

North American (United States and Canada) policy generally favors low energy prices, with low taxes, production subsidies and other types of energy industry support. As a result, North Americans are energy rich: an average worker can purchase more fuel per hour of labor than almost any other time or place. In response North Americans have developed energy intensive lifestyles and industrial practices, have failed to implement many energy conservation practices common in other parts of the world, and consume more energy per capita than most other times and places.

Comprehensive Analysis of Transit Energy Conservation Benefits

A recent report by the libertarian Cato Institute, Does Rail Transit Save Energy or Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions?, claims that public transit service improvements are ineffective at conserving energy and reducing pollution emissions. But this conclusion is based on faulty analysis.

Pages