- Category: Industry News
Agencies Step Up Efforts to Prevent Fatal Crashes: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently released its early estimates of traffic fatalities for the first quarter of 2022, noting that two regions specifically were higher than crash data reported at the same time last year. According to the release, NHTSA estimates that 9,560 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in Q1 2022, representing an increase of about 7 percent as compared to 2021 and is the highest number of first-quarter fatalities since 2002.
By region, the New England area (region 1 from Maine to Mass.) saw an increase of 23 percent and the Mid-Atlantic (region 3 from Md. to N.C.) increased by more than half at 52 percent. Region 9, which comprises California, Hawaii, and Arizona, saw an 11 percent drop.
As ending traffic fatalities remains a top priority for the US Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Biden administration, several agencies have launched programs to help combat the problem, including the DOT’s National Roadway Safety Strategy; NHTSA’s Speeding Wrecks Lives campaign and Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Labor Day enforcement; and the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which makes significant investments in highway safety.
Sources: NHTSA, US DOT
SBA Head Reacts to Biden Bill: The Small Business Administration (SBA) is calling the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which was signed into law last week by President Joe Biden, an urgent investment in America’s 33 million small businesses. SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman said: “This law not only tackles inflation and powers America’s transition to safer, cleaner energy, it also shrinks the budget deficit and—most importantly—drives down health care and energy costs for small businesses and their employees. Lower costs mean small business owners and entrepreneurs can focus on doing what they do best, creating jobs, developing talent, innovating, and opening doors of growth and opportunity across all of our communities—including selling more American-made goods and services to the world’s largest buyer: the U.S. Government.
However, the IRA has not been without controversy, specifically due to the $80 billion that has been pledged to dreaded IRS enforcement over 10 years. The concept is, the understaffed agency can target those businesses that have largely benefited from a generous tax code to skirt out of paying billions in taxes. Still, many are leery that middle- and low-income earners will also be targeted with as much zeal. According to the Governmental Accountability Office: “In recent years, IRS audited taxpayers with incomes below $25,000 and those with incomes of $500,000 or more at higher-than-average rates. But, audit rates have dropped for all income levels—decreasing the most for taxpayers with incomes of $200,000 or more.” Also, the Treasury Department claims that small businesses, as well as low- and middle-income earners, won't be the focus of increased IRS enforcement activity.
Sources: SBA, US Treasury Department, GAO
Crisis Hotline Gets an Easier Three-Digit Number: Mental health has been a constant topic for many years, which was exacerbated by a global crisis and the following spike in inflation. To meet the needs of the growing epidemic, the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, which is meant as an alternative to 911, has relaunched as 988. The call line isn’t new, it’s been around 2005, and it is still run by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and Vibrant Emotional Health. The line connects those (or loved ones of those) who are facing suicidal or depressive thoughts with qualified counselors, but privacy laws do apply to protect callers.
The newly rebranded hotline, however, recently faced scrutiny from social media users who urged sensitive communities (i.e., those vulnerable to police enforcement) not to call 988 in fear of having law enforcement dispatched to their home. A report from NPR cited that fewer than 2 percent of 988 calls resulted in a 911 dispatch, and generally only with the patient’s consent. SAMHSA Senior Medical Advisor John Palmieri said that patients aren’t required to give counselors their personal information, and 911 is only used with the patient’s permission in the most extreme and emergent cases.
Sources: 988lifeline.org, NPR
- Category: Industry News
The roster of electric vehicles from Mercedes-Benz is growing as the luxury German automaker is expected to release the EQE sedan and EQS SUV for the 2023 model year. The EQS, a sedan based roughly on the popular S-Class, is already available for 22MY. We also recently wrote about the upcoming EQB SUV, which can be read here. The EQ moniker is part of its electric vehicle line delineation.
Information has been somewhat scant on these models, judging from the Mercedes-Benz USA website, but details have been leaked online to various automotive sites as well as press releases from the OEM. Both vehicles are slated for a late 2022 release. Range capacity is estimated and will vary based on optional equipment, terrain (flatter-than-a-pancake versus mountains and hills), temperature, and weather.
The EQS SUV is essentially a sports utility version of the EQS sedan. Like the EQS, the SUV is expected to have the Hyperscreen, a three-panel (although it gives the illusion of being seamless) information center that stretches from the driver to the passenger window and is part of the MBUX, or Mercedes-Benz User Experience. It shares the length of the sedan (201.8 inches), the SUV has an anticipated range of up to 370 miles, besting the sedan at 350 miles. The EQS SUV has a rumored max 74 cubic feet of cargo capacity (presumably with the rear seats folded), seating for up to seven, and a 107.8 kWh battery that can DC fast-charge to 80 percent in just over 30 minutes. No word yet on price, but based on its sedan counterpart, the EQS SUV is likely to ring it over $100,000.
Smaller and more economical, the EQE is akin to an E-Class sedan in the EQ lineup. Boasting an even better estimated range—up to 410 miles—the EQE has been called “the downsized EQS” by the automotive press. And early reports show that it does have a lot of available features, including the popular Hyperscreen (with Augmented Reality Navigation) and ambient lighting. It’s about 5 inches shorter than the EQS (196.6 inches) and has seating for up to five. Estimated horsepower clocks in at 288 hp and has a 90 kWh battery. Early rumors have price estimates around $70,000.
As these models are not yet available for sale, the information is subject to change.
Visit mbusa.com for more information.
- Category: Industry News
The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), the world’s leading corporate travel organization, recently held their 2022 convention in San Diego this past August 14-17 with a reported 4,600+ registered attendees descending upon the West Coast for the four-day event. Working from the theme of (Re)connect, (Re)Imagine, and (Re)Create, the goal of the conference was to represent the evolution of the travel industry, as well as the future of work, sustainability, and the corporate trend of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Those concepts were ever-present throughout the event, including the association’s first Sustainability Pavilion where thought leaders offered their advice and debates for greener efforts in travel during their aptly named Green Talks.
In addition to the education lineup (90+ sessions with more than 300 speakers), Green Talks, and exhibit floor, the association held a 5K run/walk; announced election results and discussed bylaw reviews; released several reports including GBTA Business Travel Index™ 2022-2026 (made possible by MasterCard), The Evolution of Travel Program Technology, and GBTA-CWT Global Business Travel Forecast 2023; and hosted the standing-room-only WINiT by GBTA Summit, which was geared toward engaging and inspiring women in the industry.
“I’m delighted that we have been able to bring the industry together at the convention to celebrate achievements, recognize our members and volunteers, and build momentum for the future of business travel. Our industry is back after a few challenging years and the value of the networking, collaboration, and learnings gained from being together in-person cannot be underestimated,” said CEO GBTA Suzanne Neufang. “And there’s more to look forward to with our other GBTA events coming up around the globe including in Mexico City in October, Brussels in November, and Bangkok in December.”
The GBTA Convention has long been a favorite of our own industry, and about a dozen operators exhibited at the event including BLS, A1A Global Ground, Dav El/BostonCoach, EmpireCLS, RMA Worldwide, Mundi Limos, U.S. Sedan Service, Sunny’s Limousine, 305 Transportation Services, La Jolla Star Transportation, NYC Limo VIP, and Sixt.
Neufang was also center stage as the association revealed its new branding. In a process that took nine months and was conducted with collaboration between an external firm, GBTA leadership, and volunteers from around the world, Neufang noted that the new rebranding—which includes an updated logo and website—connects the brand closer to their global purpose while continuing their pillar missions of community, learning, and advocacy. The association also debuted its new tagline, “Many voices, one purpose,” to embody the international travel community that they represent. You can view the video from the announcement here.
The association is also busy planning several other events leading up to its 2023 Convention in Dallas next August 13-15, including GBTA reconecta CDMX: Educacion y Networking in Mexico City (October 6), GBTA Sustainability Summit in Brussels (November 8), GBTA Europe also in Brussels (November 8-10), and the PATA and GBTA APAC Travel Summit in Bangkok (December 8-9). Other events are available by clicking here.
Those who were unable to attend the conference can access highlights on-demand via Convention Plus, which includes five Main Stage sessions, five Collaboratory Spotlights, and 15 education sessions.