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Moving Violations

Automobiles, Experts, and Regulations in the United States

Lee Vinsel

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The first comprehensive history of auto regulation in the United States.

Regulation has shaped the evolution of the automobile from the beginning. In Moving Violations, Lee Vinsel shows that, contrary to popular opinion, these restrictions have not hindered technological change. Rather, by drawing together communities of scientific and technical experts, auto regulations have actually fostered innovation.

Vinsel tracks the history of American auto regulation from the era of horseless carriages and the first, faltering efforts to establish speed limits in cities to recent experiments with self…

The first comprehensive history of auto regulation in the United States.

Regulation has shaped the evolution of the automobile from the beginning. In Moving Violations, Lee Vinsel shows that, contrary to popular opinion, these restrictions have not hindered technological change. Rather, by drawing together communities of scientific and technical experts, auto regulations have actually fostered innovation.

Vinsel tracks the history of American auto regulation from the era of horseless carriages and the first, faltering efforts to establish speed limits in cities to recent experiments with self-driving cars. He examines how the government has tried to address car-related problems, from accidents to air pollution, and demonstrates that automotive safety, emissions, and fuel economy have all improved massively over time. Touching on fuel economy standards, the rise of traffic laws, the birth of drivers' education classes, and the science of distraction, he also describes how the government's changing activities have reshaped the automobile and its drivers, as well as the country's entire system of roadways and supporting technologies, including traffic lights and gas pumps.

Moving Violations examines how policymakers, elected officials, consumer advocates, environmentalists, and other interested parties wrestled to control the negative aspects of American car culture while attempting to preserve what they saw as its positive contributions to society. Written in a clear, approachable, and jargon-free voice, Moving Violations will appeal to makers and analysts of policy, historians of science, technology, business, and the environment, and any readers interested in the history of cars and government.

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Moving Violations

Lee Vinsel

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Reviews

Moving Violations is a superb history of automobile regulation in the United States from 1893 to the present, a case study of the relationship between regulation and technological change... Moving Violations will benefit all those with an interest in transportation history, regulatory history, technological history, innovation, and public policy and many others who will find something to savor in the details.

A truly excellent book: well written, deeply researched, exceptionally wide-ranging, and compelling in both its large interpretations and its detailed assessments. Moving Violations will stand as a pioneering and authoritative treatment of government regulation across the long twentieth century.

So much more than a history of automobile standards, Moving Violations puts regulation and technology at the heart of political economy. Vinsel shows how a century of contests between activists, experts, and officials—not merely private innovation—shaped and reshaped both the modern car and modern capitalism.

From traffic lights to emission controls, airbags, and autonomous vehicles, Vinsel studies how varying types of automobile regulation, broadly construed, affected technological innovation. Ultimately, he shows that well-crafted regulations can serve the public good and encourage technological creativity. This engaging book is highly recommended for historians, scholars of innovation, and policymakers.

Government regulation works most effectively by focusing the attention of experts on problems that represent the public good. In his insightful account of auto industry regulation as the interplay of public and private interests, Vinsel maintains that the public good would have been poorly served if the 'market' had represented only driver preferences and commercial interests.

About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
424
ISBN
9781421429656
Illustration Description
24 b&w illus.
Table of Contents

Introduction
Part I. Standards
Chapter 1. The Auto World Gets Organized
Chapter 2. Standardization Is the Answer
Part II. Safety
Chapter 3. The Creation of Crashworthiness
Chapter 4. From Movement to

Introduction
Part I. Standards
Chapter 1. The Auto World Gets Organized
Chapter 2. Standardization Is the Answer
Part II. Safety
Chapter 3. The Creation of Crashworthiness
Chapter 4. From Movement to Government Agency
Chapter 5. The Limits of Federal Automotive Safety Regulation
Part III. Pollution
Chapter 6. Discovering and (Not) Controlling Automotive Air Pollution
Chapter 7. Command and Control
Chapter 8. Establishing the State of the Art
Part IV. Bureaucracy
Chapter 9. The Bureaucratic Struggle over Fuel Economy
Chapter 10. Deregulation and Its Limits
Chapter 11. Indecision, Regulatory Uncertainty, and the Politics of Partisanship
Conclusion
Acknowledgments
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Lee Vinsel

Lee Vinsel is an assistant professor of science, technology, and society at Virginia Tech.
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