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Distracted Driving

Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: More finger pointing in Hudson River Rail Tunnel, Google Invests in "A Bike Lane With A View," and MTA Deficit Plan "Risky"

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Department of Transportation wants airlines to refund baggage fees in the event of lost or delayed luggage.  Unsurprisingly, there's opposition from an airline trade group, which says defining a timely delivery is "subjective." (Marketplace)

The Hudson River rail tunnel saga continues: Senator Lautenberg says that Governor Christie won't let NJ Transit staff meet with the Federal Transit Administration. (Star-Ledger)

Google invests in Shweeb, a human-powered monorail line. "Think of it as a bike lane with a view," says NPR.

A Maryland ban on (cell phone) talking while driving goes into effect this week. (WAMU)

Bangladesh to develop the "Greater Dhaka Sustainable Urban Transport Corridor Project," which contains BRT lines and an elevated expressway.   (Daily Star)

The New York State comptroller says the MTA's plan to reduce $1 billion deficit is risky (DNA Info).  Read the audit here (PDF).

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Transportation Nation

Billings to Ban Distracted Driving

Thursday, September 23, 2010

(Jackie Yamanaka, Yellowstone Public Radio) Montana has no law banning cell phone use or texting while driving--but that will soon change in the state's largest city. An ordinance going into effect next month says if a Billings City police officer sees a driver holding up a cell phone to their ear, or texting while driving, that driver can be immediately pulled over and given a written warning or a citation.

For a first offense, the fine is $110. Billings Police Chief Rich St. John says he’s hoping the law will deter drivers from using a cell phone while driving. “If we don’t write a ticket for this, I’m okay with that," he says, "as long as we get compliance. Because ultimately the goal is to get people’s heads out of the cell phone or Blackberry and out on the road where it belongs.”

People who use a hands-free device are exempt from this ordinance, as are emergency responders, such as police and firefighters. The ban takes effect October 31, 2010.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: NYC Taxi Drivers Accused Of Overcharge Scheme, and Virginia's DOT has millions in unspent funds

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dozens of New York City taxi drivers have been arrested on charges that they defrauded customers by doubling fares. (WNYC)

More than a year after Virginia implemented a statewide ban on texting while driving, local police officers say they're unlikely to write a ticket for a violation. (WAMU)

Another round of strikes hobbles transportation in France.  (NPR)

The results of an audit of Virginia's Department of Transportation are expected to reveal that the department has almost $500 million in unspent funds. (Washington Post)

The Bay Area's AC Transit voted to slash weekend and overnight service (San Francisco Chronicle). Meanwhile, BART is considering selling naming rights to stations to raise revenue (Sacramento Bee).

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Transportation Nation

Commercial Trucking Texting Loophole Closed

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

(Washington, DC — Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation)  Commercial interstate truckers hauling cars or chickens are already banned from texting while behind the wheel. So you'd think it would be a no-brainer that rig drivers hauling gasoline or other flammable materials would be banned too.

In fact, federal rules laid down last year prohibiting texting while driving in the federally-regulated commercial trucking industry left out rigs hauling hazardous materials. Now that loophole has been closed, under planned new regulations announced by the Department of Transportation Tuesday.

In addition to the trucking ban, Obama Administration officials also said they want to lean on private companies to do more to curb distracted driving in their vehicle fleets.

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Transportation Nation

The New Frontier of Highway Safety: Distracted Driving

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

(Washington, DC -- David Schultz, WAMU) In the 70s and 80s, highway safety advocates waged fierce public awareness campaings to convince drivers that not wearing a seat belt is dangerous. In the 80s and 90s, their cause shifted to the dangers of drunk driving.

Now, it appears that cause has shifted once again.

This week, dozens of people involved in the transportation field - from industry execs to federal regulators to non-profiteers - convened in Washington D.C. for the second annual Distracted Driving Summit. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood gave the opening address, calling on more states to pass bans on texting while driving and announcing nationwide texting bans for train operators and commercial bus and truck drivers.

But LaHood also said this problem can't simply be legislated away. Each individual driver needs to be aware of how dangerous distracted driving is, he said, just as they're already aware of the dangers of drunk driving and the importance of wearing seat belts.

For more, check out this story from WAMU.

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Transportation Nation

Distracted Driving Is Bad. Distracted Office Working--That's Called Multitasking.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Today the Department of Transportation kicks off its second Distracted Driving Summit. Members of the Transportation Nation team are there and will be posting later on today.

But in the meantime: there's no need to let, say, your work schedule interfere with your desire to follow the proceedings. A recent Ray LaHood tweet reads: "Can't watch at work? Staff blogging distracted driving summit live at http://fastlane.dot.gov You can participate w/comments!"

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Transportation Nation

LaHood: Distracted Driving Caused 5500 deaths in 2009

Monday, September 20, 2010

Writing in the Orlando Sentinal, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood writes that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports at least 5500 deaths and 450,000 injuries in 2009 from calling or texting while driving. At least, because many local police departments still don't record this information when taking accident reports. Texting while driving, LaHood writes, is like driving "the length of a football field blindfolded."

Ending distracted driving has become a cause celebre for LaHood. Tomorrow he'll convene his second annual distracted driving summit in DC.

-- Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation

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Transportation Nation

The Jonas Brothers Want Teens To Take the Pledge

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Jonas Brothers appear in a video urging young drivers to pledge to "X the TXT" -- an Allstate-funded campaign to stop texting while driving.   Sample comment on the Facebook page: i took the pledge even tho i cant legally drive yett!! ♥

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: Oil Boom Agony and Ecstasy, CA drivers still texting despite ban, and old NYC Subway Cars Walk the Plank

Friday, September 17, 2010

California drivers are still texting while behind the wheel. At approximately twice the rate they were texting before the state ban went into affect last year. (Los Angeles Times)  Meanwhile, a battle is shaping up over a ballot initiative that would suspend that state's stringent greenhouse gas emissions rules. (New York Times)

Oil boom in North Dakota drives up revenue -- and rents. (Minnesota Public Radio)

BART votes to approve the Oakland Airport Connector.  Again.  (SF Streetsblog)

Shareholders of United and Continental Airlines vote today on the proposed merger.  (Marketplace)

Where do old NYC subway cars go?  Hint: their passengers now include black sea bass and flounder. WNYC takes a look at a photo exhibit of their watery graves.

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Transportation Nation

Federal Funds Tied to Distracted Driving Laws

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

(Washington, DC -- Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation)  Lawmakers in Washington are moving to withhold federal highway funds to states that don't crack down on distracted driving.

A new bill introduced today would dock 25% of annual federal aid from states that don't enact or enforce distracted driving laws. The bill goes by the catchy handle, "The Avoiding Life-Endangering and Reckless Texting by Drivers Act", or ALERT Act.

The bill orders the Department of Transportation to withhold the money from any state that doesn't prohibit an operator of a motor vehicle from writing, sending, or reading a text message or using a hand-held mobile telephone except in an emergency. It excludes vehicle-integrated, voice-activated devices that can be operated hands-free. States would also have to require the imposition of certain minimum penalties for distracted driving rule-breakers.

"There is no reason for any life to be lost due to distracted driving. We are a smart nation and the technology is available, we just need to put it to work to save lives,” Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), the bill's chief sponsor, said in a release.

Thirty-one states currently ban texting while driving, according to AAA. Thirty-two outlaw teens from using cell phones while driving, while far fewer ban all hand-held cell phone use.

The bill comes just days before DOT is set to convene its second "Distracted Driving Summit" next Tuesday. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood has made distracted driving a top priority, saying all states should move to curb it. Several months ago LaHood publicly embarrassed a pair of lobbying firms when they tried to rally cell service carriers and other companies in a campaign to undermine distracted driving awareness campaigns at DOT.

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Transportation Nation

Should There Be a Safer Way to Text and Drive?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

(The Takeaway)  Why isn't there a better way to text while driving? That’s a question that Joel Johnson, editor at large of Gizmodo.com asked in a recent column.

So far, he’s received over 500 responses to his column, most of which suggest that people who text and drive should simply give it up, use the phone instead, or die behind the wheel because they deserve to. However, Johnson insists that, in a world where most people text and drive, his question is valid. If we can't stop it, why not make it safer?

What do you think? Should texting while driving be outlawed or be made safer?

Susan Kuchinskas also weighs in. A freelance journalist who writes about connected car technology for Scientific American and Telematics Update, she sees both the value and flaws in making texting safer.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: GM Profit soars, High Speed Rail gets a Groundbreaking

Thursday, August 12, 2010

One year after losing almost $13 billion and going bankrupt, GM reports $1.3 billion in profit (WSJ)

Early probe results show no cause for sticking gas pedals; Toyota lawsuits to be a challenge‎ (Detroit Free Press)

Pelosi, LaHood attend high-speed rail groundbreaking in San Francisco, (SF Chronicle)

NTSB urges Coast Guard to fight distracted boating, especially among its officers (USA Today)

CA budget impasse threatens $3 billion in transportation projects, DOT warns (SF Chronicle)

How do you spell "school" outside such a building in North Carolina? PIC (Yahoo)

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories

Monday, August 02, 2010

Chevy Volt to increase production by 50 percent (LA Times)

Nearly 9 out of 10 teens has driven while texting or talking, says survey by AAA/Seventeen (USA Today)

Twin Cities mark third anniversary of I-35W bridge collapse without a memorial (KARE TV)

Ninety-nine cent gas in Detroit?  NASCAR promotion makes it possible today  (Detroit Free-Press)

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Transportation Nation

Distracted, Again: LaHood Convenes Summit II

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

(Washington, DC -- Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation) When it comes to stamping out distracted driving, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has already been to the mountaintop once. Now he's ready to go a second time.

The Department of Transportation plans to hold a second distracted driving "summit" in to be held in Washington, DC, in September. LaHood has made driving-while-texting and other forms of distracted driving a public priority at DOT.

The federal government has little direct influence over driving laws, since they're mostly reserved for the states. But LaHood saw to it that texting while driving was banned in the federally-regulated commercial trucking industry. LaHood also credits his first distracted driving summit as main force behind a growing number of state and local laws cracking down on texting and the other forms of distracted driving. Topics at the summit will include research, technology, policy, public outreach, and best practices in enforcement, according to a DOT release.

Earlier this month LaHood publicly shamed a pair of Washington, DC PR and lobbying firms.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

In Boulder, where bicycle commuting is 18 times the national average, biking "verges on a religion." (The Denver Post)

Could saving the US auto industry cost less than originally thought? A Detroit Free Press analysis says that taxpayers could recoup $74 billion of the $86 billion the government spent on the bailout.

If the game goes into overtime, turn the dial: listening to sports on the car radio can be dangerous. (Kansas City Star)

The Takeaway wants to know: why do we still drink and drive?

The NYC MTA has to close a $400 million budget gap. One of the proposals on the table: pulling all funding from Long Island Bus, which would gut the system. (Newsday) Meanwhile, west of the border, the controversy over how the Pennsylvania State Transportation Committee should close their $500 million funding gap rages on. (WDUQ)

The New York State DOT warns: close the Sheridan, prepare for more traffic. (New York Daily News) but New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu says a highway teardown there could be a "game-changer" (in a good way).  (Times-Picayune.)

And the New York Times reviews one local museum's exhibition "Cars, Culture, and the City."

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Transportation Nation

Audio Diary of a Distracted Driver

Monday, July 12, 2010

(Houston, Texas - Melissa Galvez, KUHF)  Houstonians live in a largely-lawless world when it comes to using a phone and driving.  The federal push and coverage of distracted driving's dangers has yet to change the mind of Texas lawmakers.  The KUHF News Lab has been profiling the enforcement challenge faced by cops and the national regulatory environment surrounding talking and texting while driving.  But I also sent a query out to my KUHF colleagues: would anyone be willing to go cell-phone free while driving, for three full days-- and then talk with me about it?  Two drivers recorded their thoughts, which we've turned into audio.

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Transportation Nation

Spotting a BlackBerry from 20 feet Away: Notes on Texting Ban Enforcement

Friday, July 09, 2010

(Houston, TX - Melissa Galvez, KUHF News Lab)  For most drivers in Texas, it is legal to both talk on a cell phone and text while driving — except in school zones and certain cities. There are some who say one or both of those should be outlawed. In the second of a series on distracted driving, a look at how such a law could be enforced.

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Transportation Nation

Houston Considers Cars, Phones and their Future

Thursday, July 08, 2010

(Houston, TX - Melissa Galvez, KUHF News Lab)  The diary of a distracted driver:

"Day 2. I consider myself to be a light phone user while driving, I have to suppress a need to check my phone every few minutes. I see my right hand inching toward my purse in the passenger seat, snatch it back, repeat. Day 3: I almost broke today..."

Houston is a place almost totally free of laws against talking or texting while driving.  But Texas and other states stand in the path of a federal push to change that, and research showing distracted driving is a deadly problem and, potentially, an addiction.  So, we asked drivers to keep a diary, and let us in on the experience of distracted driving as part of a series looking at how Texas view this debate.

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Transportation Nation

Firm Backs Off after LaHood Lashes Out on Texting Campaign

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

(Washington, DC - Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation)  A Washington, DC, lobbying firm has nixed a campaign against federal distracted driving initiatives after Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood lashed out at the plans.

LaHood took a swing today at the Seward Square Group, who he said is drumming up opposition to DOT's distracted driving campaign.

LaHood accused the lobbyists, some of whom represent mobile phone device manufacturers, of cynically trying to undermine efforts to curb distracted driving. DOT claims distracted driving, including the use of PDA's and cell phones while behind the wheel, causes 6,000 deaths per year on U.S. roads.

“Those of us who care about safety will join our effort, not undercut it. Thousands of lives are at stake,” LaHood said a press conference at DOT headquarters in Washington.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Ford sales in China are up 53 percent, a record.  The Fiesta is a hit! (AP)

LaHood faces lobby against his push for stronger distracted driving laws.  (Washington Post)

Vegas officials agree on high-speed rail plan.  Now go to feds.  (Las Vegas Sun)

LA's Expo Line now a target for SoCal developers, previously interstate-focused.  (NY Times)

Manhattan's pedicabs "not all a bunch of lawless renegades," says NY Post.

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