Zero to Deadly: How More Powerful Cars Endanger Lives

With cars accelerating more quickly, drivers have less time to react and can pose more danger to pedestrians.

2 minute read

January 10, 2023, 8:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

People in crosswalk with blurred fast car passing in foreground

HUANSHENG XU / Car in crosswalk

Car companies boast about the rapid acceleration of their vehicles. Tesla and electric rivals Rivian, Porsche, and Audi claim their vehicles can hit 60 miles per hour in two seconds. Writing in Bloomberg CityLab, Dan Albert asks, what does this mean for road safety? 

Albert provides an illuminating history of the drive for acceleration and power in the car industry. While the muscle car is the quintessential example of that impulse, “EVs possess a big technical advantage over their gas-powered kin when it comes to acceleration.” As Albert explains, “Electric motors can generate all of their power from zero RPM, giving EVs their eye-popping acceleration figures, particularly at the lower end of the speedometer.”

The article goes on to explain why this poses a danger to pedestrians, particularly in urban areas. Albert acknowledges that “The degree to which extreme acceleration could be contributing to the surge in traffic deaths the US has been experiencing in recent years isn’t known; a slew of factors, including the growing popularity of oversized SUVs and pickup trucks, have combined to make American roadways disproportionately lethal, and the dangers that larger vehicles pose is dramatically magnified by speed.” But faster acceleration gives drivers a smaller margin of error, making it harder for a driver to react before a crash. “Safety experts have only begun to consider what this new generation of high-powered vehicles means for the passenger alighting from the bus or the pedestrian scurrying across the road.” While the auto industry is likely to resist regulation, technology such as geofencing that reduces vehicle speeds in certain zones can limit the negative impact of faster acceleration.

Friday, January 6, 2023 in Bloomberg CityLab

Large historic homes and white picket fences line a street.

The End of Single-Family Zoning in Arlington County, Virginia

Arlington County is the latest jurisdiction in the country to effectively end single-family zoning.

March 23, 2023 - The Washington Post

Dilapidated vacant wood slat house painted white in Louisiana

The Quiet Housing Crisis in Rural America

While housing shortages in major cities are grabbing headlines, rural communities are seeing higher rates of growth in housing prices and a silently spreading homelessness crisis.

March 20, 2023 - The Daily Yonder

A view of the Boise skyline, across tress int he foreground. The state capitol is visible amongst other office buildings.

Skyline-Defining High-Rise Potentially Coming to Boise

A rendering making the rounds in Boise depicts a 40-story apartment building that would be taller than all other buildings in one of the fastest growing cities in the United States.

March 20, 2023 - Boise Dev

South of Market

11,000 Housing Units Possible with S.F. Office Conversions, Study Says

A new study by SPUR and the Urban Land Institute’s San Francisco chapter estimates a specific number of apartment units that could be built from vacant office units in the city.

March 29 - The San Francisco Chronicle

Two people riding bikes with helmets on paved park trail

‘Arrested Mobility:’ How Transportation-Related Laws Impact Black Americans

A far-reaching new study highlights the disproportionate effect of biking and walking laws on the mobility of Black Americans.

March 29 - Streetsblog USA


California Attorney General Wants to Get Serious About Housing

A bill sponsored by the AG’s office would give the state’s top attorney more power to intervene in lawsuits related to the state’s housing laws.

March 29 - San Francisco Chronicle

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

HUD’s 2023 Innovative Housing Showcase

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.