Research Recap, December 12: Healthy GHG Mitigation, Safer US Roads, EV Connectivity

A new report by the WHO finds the immediate health benefits of active transport in combination with public transit to be greater than other greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigating transport options. Photo by Kyle Gradinger.

Welcome to “Research Recap,” our series highlighting recent reports, studies and other findings in sustainable transportation policy and practice, in case you missed it.

Healthy GHG Mitigation

The World Heath Organization (WHO) released a new report on the health benefits associated with transport options that target greenhouse gas emission (GHG) mitigation. The report found that combining active transport options (walking and biking) with public transit yielded greater immediate health co-benefits than the GHG mitigating transport options of improved fuel and vehicle efficiency. Three hundred studies on the health outcomes of various types of land transport were reviewed for the report. As part of its Health in the Green Economy initiative, WHO released the report last week at the United Nations Framework on Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP-17) in Durban, South Africa. In conjunction with the report’s conclusions, WHO asserts the need for further, more systematic study by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on the GHG mitigation potential, as well as health implications, of active transport options.

Safer U.S. Roads

New data released by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) reveals that 2010 U.S. highway traffic fatalities reached record lows not seen since 1949. The welcomed news was the result of updates to previously collected data, finding that there were 32,885 highway traffic fatalities in 2010. The updated data also uncovered that 2010 held the lowest U.S. fatality rate ever recorded with 1.10 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood announced these findings last week in Washington D.C., saying that, “While we have more work to do to continue to protect American motorists, these numbers show we’re making historic progress when it comes to improving safety on our nation’s roadways.” Other findings were that drunk driving-related deaths decreased by 4.9 percent in 2010, and that fatalities increased among pedestrians, motorcycle riders and large truck occupants.

Added EV Connectivity

The ability of electric vehicles (EVs) to stabilize power grids and reduce the utility costs of buildings will grow as the EV fleet with necessary vehicle-to-grid (V2G) connectivity expands from its current unit count of 100,000 to more than 5 million vehicles in 2017, according to Pike Research. Only one V2G test project—conducted by the University of Delaware and PJM Interconnection—has been done thus far. Pike predicts that the data from this effort will inform future V2G connectivity explorations. Pike cites several obstacles for these equipped EVs gaining prominence. Among them is a current lack of incentives for auto manufacturers to include this additional technology, as well as utility providers exercising resistance for fear of losing money from increasingly flexible grid power drawing schemes.

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