Tag Archives: VSL

With Road to Zero, DOT commits $3 million; compare that to $9.6 million Value of a Statistical Life

I should be jumping up and down for joy about the recent launch of the Road to Zero Coalition by the US DOT and the National Safety Council. So it doesn’t feel great to be one of those voices who are saying negative things about this great project.

I do look forward to watching how they coordinate the efforts of many organizations around this country who work to save lives. But I have some concerns about the process:

  1. Will they make any significant change in the strategies used to address the disturbing public health problem of 35,200+ Deaths by Vehicle Violence each year?
  2. Will they harness the energy and motivation of survivors/families of victims of vehicle violence?
  3. Will they mobilize citizens to be a significant part of the solution?
  4. Will they have a powerful voice to speak on behalf of the vulnerable victims who cannot speak for themselves?
  5. Will they take steps to address the imbalance of priority in rulemaking of profit over people?

Let’s just consider the last question. One thing which I have learned, after my life was catastrophically up-ended by my two youngest daughters’ deaths from a truck underride crash, is that there appears to be a hesitancy (to put it mildly) to put a meaningful monetary value on the cost of saving human lives.

To begin with, there is the difficulty of getting safety measures to pass the stringent test of the cost/benefit analysis required in federal rulemaking which, in my mind, inordinately favors the cost to industry vs benefit of preventing deaths and serious injuries. This is also reflected in the opposition to increasing the minimum liability insurance for truckers which was set at $750,000 in 1980 and has not been raised since then — despite the current Value of a Statistical Life (VSL) set by DOT at $9.6 million for 2016.

Value of a Statistical Life-guidance-2016

If you have read much of what I write, you might realize that I am in favor of reshaping the rulemaking process to ensure that it properly values human life. But aside from that, let’s just use that $9.6 million and do a little math.

The US DOT announced with the launch of the Road to Zero Coalition that it was committing $1 million/year for three years for grants to non-profit organizations that propose initiatives to save lives. Sounds great, right? But then I took out pen and paper (to get the hands-on sense of the calculation) and worked out the Value of the Statistical Lives of the 35,200 people who died on our roads in 2015 — keeping in mind that it was probably undercounted and does not include the cost of serious injuries.

$9.6 million X 35,200 = $337, 920,000,000 or almost $338 billion in one year alone

Then I decided to take it one step further and calculate the cost of the traffic fatalities over the next 30 years of the Road to Zero strategy to save lives — without taking into account the probable increase in the VSL.

$337,920,000,000  X 30 = $10,137,600,000,000 or over $10 trillion (which includes the cost to society)

And how much is DOT dedicating to this project to try and put a dent on the estimated 1,056,000 Deaths by Vehicle Violence? $3 million (of taxpayer money) — not even 1/3  the supposed value of a person’s life. Why, my two daughters alone were supposedly worth $18.2 million combined in 2013. Two immeasurably precious ones gone far too soon.

$3,000,000 vs $10,137,600,000,000

Now I had trouble even typing those numbers in accurately, so it is entirely possible that I made a mathematical error (didn’t use a calculator). So, please, do the math yourself. And then let me know if you think that we, as a country, are making a truly meaningful effort to do something new to stem the tide of bloodshed.

IMG_4464

 

CBA Victim Cost Benefit Analysis Victim

Car Safety WarsPetition

Complaint about proposed underride guard regulation: Not Cost Effective

As soon as I read the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Underride Protection on Single Unit Trucks, I could smell trouble.

To begin with, I have questions about NHTSA’s  figures, especially undercounting deaths from underride and the overlooking of possible saved lives from requiring improved underride standards on trailers.  https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=underreporting%20of%20underride%20deaths

Then, this is what I read in NHTSA’s explanation as they spelled out their cost/benefit analysis:

http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=NHTSA-2015-0070-0001

b. NHTSA’s Cost-Benefit Analysis (Overview)

As part of its evaluation of whether an underride guard requirement should apply to SUTs, NHTSA conducted a cost-benefit analysis of equipping SUTs with rear impacts guards. The analysis is set forth in Appendix A of this preamble, and an overview is provided below. We are requesting comments on the analysis. . . 

Guidance from the U.S. Department of Transportation (35) identifies $9.1 million as the value of a statistical life (VSL) to be used for Department of Transportation analyses assessing the benefits of preventing fatalities for the base year of 2012. Per this guidance, VSL in 2014 is $9.2 million. While not directly comparable, the preliminary estimates for rear impact guards on SUTs (minimum of $106.7 million per equivalent lives saved) is a strong indicator that these systems will not be cost effective (current VSL $9.2 million).”

Actually, the VSL, as of June 17, 2015, is now $9.4 million. No matter because it still would not be anywhere near the supposed cost of requiring rear impact guards on SUTS (with, of course, certain exempt ones which are already able to prevent underride with their current equipment).

The logical outcome is that the industry will lobby against this rulemaking. I am concerned that cost may too likely win out over preventing countless persons from surviving a truck crash.   http://annaleahmary.com/2015/10/rear-ending-a-truck-should-be-a-survivable-crash-why-isnt-it/

As an example of this, see the two most recent Public Comments on this ANPRM — posted November 2, 2015:

  • http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=NHTSA-2015-0070-0066 “An agency rule may be arbitrary and capricious if the agency, ‘entirely failed to consider an important aspect of the problem’. Motor Vehicle Mfrs. Ass’n of the U.S., Inc. v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 463 U.S. 29, 43 (1983). Without considering the costs to the roads and bridges, any factual determination of the costs and benefits of requiring single unit trucks to include read guards may be unreasonable and could demonstrate that the agency failed to consider an important aspect of the problem.”
  • http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=NHTSA-2015-0070-0065“7. By your own estimates in the ANPRM the rear impact guards are not cost effective and there are still additional costs with the proposal you have not included in the ANPRM.
    Guidance from the U.S. Department of Transportation \35\ identifies
    $9.1 million as the value of a statistical life (VSL) to be used for
    Department of Transportation analyses assessing the benefits of
    preventing fatalities for the base year of 2012. Per this guidance, VSL
    in 2014 is $9.2 million. While not directly comparable, the preliminary
    estimates for rear impact guards on SUTs (minimum of $106.7 million per
    equivalent lives saved) is a strong indicator that these systems will
    not be cost effective (current VSL $9.2 million).As in the analysis for Class 3-8 SUTs shown in Table 2, the
    preliminary estimates for rear impact guards on Class 4-8 SUTs (minimum
    of $55.2 million per equivalent lives saved) is a strong indicator that
    these systems will not be cost effective (current VSL $9.2 million).”

VSL Guidance-2013-2 DOT value of life

DOT VSL Guidance, as of June 17, 2015:  https://www.transportation.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/docs/VSL2015_0.pdf

Rebekah photo of crash

GR Crocodile_Tears for Heavy Vehicle Safety 2004

p.s. This battle has a history:

1974 US Secretary of Transportation says deaths in cars that underride trucks would have to quadruple before underride protection would be considered cost beneficial.” 

https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=1974+US+Secretary+of+Transportation+says+deaths+in+cars+that+underride+trucks+would+have+to+quadruple+before+underride+protection+would+be+considered+cost+beneficial.