What would it mean to treat guns the way we treat cars?

“The decline of motor vehicle deaths in America over the past two decades is part of a broader trend that began in the 1960s. Ralph Nader’s seminal 1965 exposé, Unsafe at Any Speed, catalyzed an auto safety movement that culminated in the creation of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which set up the infrastructure for automobile safety.

From the 1970s onward, the NHTSA would maintained a database on motor vehicle-related deaths, make research investments, and provide safety certifications for cars on the market, incentivizing auto companies to adopt safety procedures. The work of the NHTSA and civil society groups like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety helped usher in a new era where safety features like seat belts and airbags became standardized. All of this, along with measures like universal state licensing of drivers and registration of cars, led to the decline in youth and overall American motor vehicle mortality. The CDC would eventually tout this decline as one of the country’s biggest public health achievements of the 20th century.

And as Lee recounts in the NEJM article, that progress continued into the 21st century. In 1998, frontal airbags became mandatory in all cars and trucks sold in the US. Other improvements like automatic emergency braking, blind-spot detection, side airbags, and rear-facing cameras also contributed to an improved auto safety landscape. “What we’ve seen is more than a half-century of efforts to make the automobile safer,” said Mitchell Moss, a professor of urban policy and planning and director of the Rudin Center for Transportation at New York University.

If cars went one way with safety, guns went the other. Guns are one of the only consumer goods whose safety is not regulated by any government agency. Gun manufacturers are also very insulated from lawsuits, and perhaps consequently, have little incentive to design safer guns, such as “smart guns” that would only be operable by the users they are registered to. As Moss said, “We really have a Wild West approach to the manufacture of weapons in this country.””

GM Slashes Prices for Its Electric Vehicles (To Compete With Tesla)

“How much of this innovation and aggressive price-slashing is due to government intervention in the clean energy market? It’s hard to tell. E.V. sales have long been boosted by government subsidies that offer electric and hybrid vehicle owners federal income tax credits of up to $7,500 for new cars bought in or after 2010. But in a splendid twist of government logic, carmakers also get punished for being too successful, since customers are phased out of subsidies if the automaker has sold more than 200,000 qualifying units—a threshold Tesla has reached, rendering owners ineligible for tax rebates. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has even criticized such tax credits, noting that they’re simply not needed in order to drive demand for E.V.s. Though likely correct, Musk delivered this critique years after the subsidies were put in place and after his company’s customers became ineligible for it. It’s entirely possible that tax credits helped drive the early transition to E.V., but play less of a role now, and will play no role in the future.

In May, the Biden administration signaled that it would incentivize further E.V. adoption—pursuing ill-advised and market-distorting economic nationalism despite the fact that consumers were already gravitating in that direction (as strong Tesla sales, even post-subsidy-expiration, have suggested, and Musk has confirmed). The administration last month started to put in place a $3.1 billion plan to ramp up domestic production of E.V. batteries. Though packaged as a way “to insulate consumers from the fluctuation of global oil markets,” as The New York Times reports, gesturing at Russia’s war in Ukraine, the shift to mass domestic production of E.V. batteries will take quite a while to implement, and the effects even longer to be felt. It also ignores that much of the lithium, cobalt, and nickel mining needed for these batteries is done in China and will be difficult to scale up to sufficiently meet demand.

Mass electric vehicle adoption need not be spurred by socially conscious word-fluff or well-meaning (but flawed) subsidies; it’s looking like customers want electric vehicles because they’re high-quality, convenient products made increasingly attractive by their lower price and easier maintenance. May the best man win in the coming price wars.”

Cop Flipped Pregnant Woman’s SUV While She Was Searching for a Safe Place To Pull Over

“Nicole Harper, pregnant with her daughter, was driving her SUV home on a Arkansas freeway in July 2020 when Arkansas State trooper Rodney Dunn decided to stop her for allegedly driving 84 in a 70 mph zone. He turned on his lights in an attempt to make her pull over.

Following what she understood to be standard safe procedure in this situation, Harper moved into the right lane, slowed down, turned on her hazards to indicate to the officer that she understood what was going on, and was seeking a safe shoulder or exit to pull over.

No sane person could have imagined, given Harper’s behavior, that she was involved in any active attempt to escape the raw justice of a speeding ticket. Fewer than two or three minutes had passed since the cop first turned on his lights.

Corporal Dunn was having none of that. Using an insanely dangerous strategy that police in Arkansas are using more and more—144 times last year, double the number of times the year before—he slammed into her SUV causing her to hit the concrete median, flipping her SUV. The practice, called the “precision immobilization technique” (PIT), killed at least three people in 2020.”

The fastest way to get more people to buy electric vehicles

“Whether the United States can get to net-zero emissions by 2050 hinges hugely on our love of cars: They’re the dominant mode of transportation in America — ridership on trains, buses, and other public transit pales in comparison.

Other transportation options are limited, and cars are ingrained in American culture. This makes switching to electric vehicles an attractive way to decarbonize. But in order to encourage more people to buy electric vehicles (EVs), the US needs a better charging station infrastructure.”

“Because gas stations are the most common method of refueling cars in the United States, powering up electric vehicles might call to mind clusters of charging stations next to convenience stores next to a highway or road.

But the two modes of powering up are fundamentally different. For one thing, driving into a gas station, filling up, and driving out typically takes just a few minutes.

The fastest EV charging stations — like DC Fast — on the other hand, take up to 20 minutes to charge enough to power the vehicle to a 60- to 80-mile range. Some state and city planners and EV experts are working on putting charging stations outside of restaurants, grocery stores, and shops, so that people can go off and eat a meal or shop while their car is refueling.

“Most charging, we would hope and expect, is happening while people are doing something else,” said Eric Wood, a research engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Center for Integrated Mobility Sciences. “The idea that charging is happening slowly can be convenient for the driver as well as the grid.””

“Home charging may be the most convenient, but home charging is also typically relegated to higher-income people who can actually afford to charge from within their home. For lower-income people who don’t have a garage or a dedicated parking spot with easy access to a charger, the logistics of charging at home become much more complicated.”

The Trade War Drove American Automaking Jobs to China as Tariffs Stalled U.S. Exports

“China had become the second-largest export market for American-made cars by 2017, the last full year before Trump’s trade war began. After a series of tit-for-tat tariff increases between the U.S. and China, however, American automotive exports to China fell by more than one-third. Higher tariffs on imported car parts from China raised costs for automakers in America, while China’s retaliatory tariffs on American-made cars hiked prices and reduced demand in China.

To avoid those costs and to evade increased uncertainty, some carmakers began shifting their supply chains—but not in the direction the White House was hoping.

BMW, for example, shifted much of the production of its X3 sport-utility vehicle from Spartanburg, South Carolina, to China after reporting that tariffs had cut the company’s American profits by about $338 million in 2018. The higher costs imposed by the trade war caused Tesla to announce that it was “accelerating construction” of a new plant in Shanghai.

Overall, the number of American automating jobs peaked in September 2018, shortly after Trump’s trade war began, and then declined during 2019 and 2020.

The signing of the “phase one” trade deal with China did little to stop or reverse those shifts. Even though China pledged to increase its purchases of American-made vehicles and car parts as part of the agreement, exports are still lagging well behind their pre-trade war totals, according to the PIIE report.”

“Trump believed that hiking tariffs would reduce America’s imports from China, allowing the gap between the value of those imports and the value of America’s exports to fall. What he failed to grasp, however, is that many of those imports—especially when it comes to manufactured goods—are materials necessary for making the items that American companies end up exporting back to China: like cars.

Higher costs imposed on imports ended up slowing American exports—and thus the trade deficit actually grew. Meanwhile, companies could avoid the cost of Trump’s tariffs by shifting production out of the United States, and some chose to do that.

Biden, so far, seems unwilling to remove Trump’s tariffs. By announcing a misguided “Buy American” policy for government procurement, Biden is also expanding on some of the Trump administration’s protectionist manufacturing policies.

If the past few years are any indication, all Biden will likely accomplish by this is to further erode America’s industrial base by trading away automaking jobs in exchange for the appearance of “toughness.””

Massachusetts Voters Affirm the Right To Repair Your Own Car

“voters had approved Massachusetts Question 1. The initiative’s passage means that car manufacturers will be required to provide vehicle diagnostic data to consumers and independent mechanic shops. Voters in the state approved a similar right-to-repair ballot measure in 2012, but this year’s election closes a loophole that auto manufacturers had been using to skirt the requirements established by that earlier vote.”