Economic reason for traffic policing


HARD SHOULDER:Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar broke his holidays this week to knock back a suggestion that the Garda Traffic Corps be redeployed to pursue fuel and cigarette smugglers. The idea was floated by Retail Ireland, which said the scale of black market activity meant it made economic sense to invest more in tackling the issue.

What Mr Varadkar did not say was there was also an economic rationale behind traffic policing. A study by Goodbody Economic Consultants in 2008 estimated the cost of a crash involving death or serious injury at €3 million. This estimate includes medical costs, insurance payments and loss of taxable income to the exchequer. In 2005, when a dedicated traffic corps was established, there were 386 fatalities on the roads. This dropped to 186 last year, a fall of 200. If the Goodbody estimate is applied to this reduction it suggests a saving of some €600 million per annum.

Separate research by Dr Tony Holohan, chief medical officer with the Department of Health, estimated the cost of alcohol-related crashes at approximately €530 million in 2007.

Rivalry surpasses evolution with the new Toyota Auris

Toyota is promising much more than an evolution with its new Toyota Auris. While the rival to the VW Golf and Ford Focus doesn’t look radically different from the current model the new addition will boast improved dynamics, Toyota say.

Due to be unveiled at next month’s Paris motor show, the new Auris is longer and lower than the current car, and up to 40kg lighter.

As with the current range it will be offered with a choice of petrol, diesel or hybrid powertrains. The entry level petrol will be a 1.3-litre, while the diesel will be 1.4-litre. As with the current car, hybrid variants are expected to feature a tweaked version of the Prius powertrain.

Thieves are kinda fonda Honda

Honda’s 1994 Accord was the most frequently stolen car in the US in 2011 for the fourth straight year as the vehicle’s popularity and lack of security features made it a favourite among thieves.

Last year, 7,596 Accords from the 1994 model year were stolen, according the US National Insurance Crime Bureau. The 1998 Honda Civic was the second most-stolen car, the trade group said. It was the seventh straight year that the top two spots were filled by cars from the Tokyo-based manufacturer.

“They’re actually stealing the older cars because the safety features that the newer cars have – they’re not there,” said Joe Brosius, a retired Tempe, Arizona police officer who heads the International Association of Auto Theft Investigators. “They’re easy to steal, that’s why they’re always No 1.”

Newer vehicles are equipped with a feature to prevent them from being started when a key isn’t present, making the cars harder to hotwire, Mr Brosius said.

Pebble Beach car sale proves classic car values are rock-solid

Wealthy collectors paid record prices for a Ford GT40 and a host of other classics at California’s classic car sales jamboree held last week.

Sales at the events held around the Pebble Beach Concours raised in excess of $220 million (€176.4 million), 33 per cent higher than the $166.7 million generated in the bellwether for US west coast sales last year.

Classic cars, like art and wine, have been attracting increased attention from wealthy individuals looking to diversify their portfolios.

The most highly valued lot of the week was a 1936 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Special Roadster (pictured) offered on the second day of the Gooding auction house sale at Pebble Beach. One of only 30 built, and featuring the desirable “high-door, long-tail” styling, the car had been tipped by dealers to rival the auction record of $16.4 million set by a Ferrari Testa Rossa at the same venue last year.

The Mercedes sold for $11.8 million with fees, underlining the more selective market for high-value pre-war cars.

The price was nonetheless the highest of the week and a record for the marque at auction. A 1935 Duesenberg Model JN Convertible Coupé, formerly owned by Hollywood star Clark Gable, was estimated at more than $9 million but failed to sell. Gooding’s 122 cars raised $115 million, a record for a two-day sale at the auction house.

Global power shift plan for General Motors

General Motors boss Dan Akerson is planning a major reorganisation of the firm that would move it away from long-entrenched regional authority toward a structure built on global functions, said two people familiar with the planning.

Power would shift from regional to global chiefs in areas such as marketing, purchasing and product development, according to sources within the firm.

While details are still being determined, the company is working to upgrade its accounting system to support the new organisation. The reorganisation would be an extraordinary challenge for the world’s largest automaker.