Peak Car’s Impending Arrival Has a Deadly Side Effect
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Bloomberg Businessweek has laid out what “” will look like, as “new forms of mobility are making privately owned vehicles obsolete.” Peak car isn’t here yet, though, and before it arrives, the U.S. fleet will keep getting older, bigger and more dangerous for anyone not inside a vehicle.
Fifty years ago, the in the U.S. was 5.6 years. It’s double that now. Light trucks were older in 1970, at 7.3 years, and their average age is now the same as cars. Cars keep getting better, , and that means they last longer.
Average age, though, doesn’t really tell us anything about how much those cars are being driven. A , which tallies data from resale sites, finds that the top 10 light vehicles most likely to be resold with more than 200,000 miles on them are pickups and sport utility vehicles.
They’re also massive. Six of the top 10 vehicles in the iSeeCars list are (admittedly, that’s a Humvee without armor).
I asked Julie Blackley of iSeeCars why SUVs are so dominant in its ranking. She gave several reasons: They’re relatively expensive cars, which means drivers tend to maintain them; they’re “family haulers” meant to be driven often; and they’re built like trucks. She added that because iSeeCars’ data tracks resales, these vehicles are likely to be driven well beyond 200,000 miles thanks to their new owners.
The combination of those factors has some troubling implications for public safety, in particular for pedestrians. As the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety noted in a report on SUV-related deaths:
SUVs are higher off the ground than cars, they're stiffer, and they have blunter geometry in the front compared with the more sloping front ends of cars. These features of SUVs can lead to more injuries of all types when a pedestrian is struck by an SUV, especially injuries to the chest and head.
Indeed, pedestrian fatalities are soaring, from a low of 4,100 in 2009 to .
And while some of that increase correlates with more miles being driven since 2009, it doesn’t fully explain the magnitude of the change. Vehicle miles traveled on a trailing 12-month basis are up less than 9 percent since 2009, while pedestrian fatalities are up more than 50 percent in the same period.
Peak car is coming, but before then, American drivers are locking in years, even decades, with their big vehicles — and helping to lock in potentially troubling trends in public health and safety. Let’s hope that pedestrian fatalities don’t also reach a new peak.
- Michael Bloomberg: .
- U.K. carbon emissions have fallen to .
- Investors think .
- U.S. pension funds, including New York City’s and the leaders of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, are asking the largest U.S. power generators to release their by the year 2050.
- Uber’s and Lyft’s planned IPOs are likely to bring on carbon emissions.
- Uber will offer “” service at San Francisco International Airport: Select a pickup at the nearest parking garage and save $3 over curbside pickup. From me, last year: Garages could be in an autonomous-vehicle future.
- Data from New York City’s electric Citi Bike fleet shows that bike was ridden 61 times in one day.
- Puerto Rico’s energy future is renewable, says Titan Grove’s Jeff Tannenbaum.
- Bloomberg NEF’s Logan Goldie-Scot provides a on lithium-ion battery prices.
- The social robot Jibo is dying. Its servers are being shut down and its functions are diminishing. “I want to say I’ve really enjoyed our time together,” . “Thank you very much for having me around. Maybe someday when robots are way more advanced than today and everyone has them in their homes, you can tell yours I said hello.”
- In a , grocery store Wegmans is No. 1, followed by Amazon. Tesla fell from . Facebook fell from .
- U.S. consumers are paying imposed by tariffs.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.
Nathaniel Bullard is a BloombergNEF energy analyst, covering technology and business model innovation and system-wide resource transitions.
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