Safety issue debated
The government should require automakers to make the latest collision prevention technologies standard equipment on all new cars and trucks, a move that could reduce fatal highway accidents by more than half, federal accident investigators said.
The technologies include lane departure warning, forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, automatic braking and electronic stability control. They are available on many cars and trucks already, although some are limited primarily to higher-end models. The National Transportation Safety Board said they should be required on all vehicles, despite the auto industry’s concern that doing so would add thousands of dollars to the cost of a new car.
Such technologies can prevent accidents that involve running off the road, rear-ending another vehicle and lane-change maneuvers, the board said. Those types of accidents account for 60 percent of fatal highway accidents. There were more than 32,000 traffic deaths in the U.S. last year.
Casino giant to divide
Penn National Gaming Inc., the operator of 29 casinos and racetracks including an Ohio division, plans to split into two public companies by placing 17 of its properties into a real estate investment trust.
Penn National will continue to run most of the casinos and tracks, while the properties will be spun off to shareholders as the first casino-focused REIT, the Wyomissing, Pa.-based company said. The split, subject to regulatory approval, is expected in the second half of 2013, with the REIT effective in January 2014.
Investors also will receive a dividend of about $5.35 a share, in addition to the REIT stock, according to the statement. The casino operation will pay the REIT about $450 million a year in rent. The company said it received a private letter ruling from the Internal Revenue Service related to the tax treatment of the split.
Chief Executive Officer Peter Carlino, 66, built Penn National via acquisitions and construction from a single horse racing track near Harrisburg. REITs, with their primary income from real estate, don’t pay federal income taxes. They’re required by law to distribute at least 90 percent of their taxable earnings to shareholders as dividends.
Reports to be released
A look at economic news coming this week:
Monday — National Association of Home Builders to release housing market index for November; National Association of Realtors to reveal existing home sales for October.
Tuesday — Commerce Department to release housing starts for October.
Wednesday — Labor Department to release weekly jobless claims; Freddie Mac, the mortgage company, to release weekly mortgage rates; Conference Board to release leading indicators for October.
Thursday — Stock and bond markets closed for Thanksgiving Day; European heads of state to meet in Brussels on government finances. Through Friday.
Friday — Germany’s Ifo institute to release its survey of business optimism, a key leading indicator for Europe’s largest economy.
— Compiled from wire reports