Wednesday, May 19, 2010
(United Nations - Collin Campbell, Transportation Nation) - Distracted driving is a top priority at the U.S. Department of Transportation. Which isn't saying much some days. Secretary Ray LaHood talks about it a lot. The department is funding researching into how cops can write more tickets for talking and texting while driving. LaHood often appears in public with people from Focus Driven, a non-profit that he helped create to raise awareness.
But the secretary's push faces a world moving the other way. Cell phones have maps and GPS, automakers do things like put Twitter in the dashboard, and minivans are becoming wireless hot spots. According to LaHood, the world now has 4.6 billion cell phone subscriptions and 600 million cars. The math adds up to drivers who must resist many distractions. And, even in the U.S., most cities, states and cops have yet to pass or enforce laws and regulations to back new behavior.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Over the past three years, the popularity of unpasteurized milk – or raw milk, as it’s sometimes called – has grown across the country. Advocates say heat-treating milk destroys enzymes and nutrients, while detractors say it's necessary to keep people from getting sick. Battles over how milk is sold and regulated have exploded.
Ten states, including Maine, Connecticut, and New Hampshire, have made it legal to sell unpasteurized milk in stores. Meanwhile, other states are fighting to make it easier to purchase. In Wisconsin, Governor Jim Doyle indicated last month that he’ll sign a bill – already passed by the senate and assembly - legalizing and regulating the sale of raw milk between farmers and consumers. In Massachusetts, raw milk supporters this week protested the fact that they ONLY have this right. They’d like to be able to buy milk from more places than the state’s 27 regulated farms. And in many states like New Jersey, raw milk supporters secretly run unpasteurized milk across state lines.
If you’re not part of the milk wars, you might be wondering: Why are people fighting so hard to drink milk that’s not pasteurized? And is it safe?
Friday, April 23, 2010
(New York - Matthew Schuerman, WNYC) -- In the wake of a well-publicized double-stabbing in a Greenwich Village subway station last month, many hands were wrung about the woeful lack of security cameras in subways.
Turns out that New York's attempts to install security devices in subways have been fraught with questions from the beginning.
In the weeks after the London Underground bombing five years ago, New York City officials repeatedly hammered the region’s transit agency for being unprepared for a similar terrorist attack. Six weeks alter, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority responded with a massive $215 million dollar contract to Lockheed Martin.
But almost immediately, watchdogs and oversight officials began to wonder aloud whether Lockheed could deliver on a high-profile promise: installing cameras that could detect unattended bags on subway platforms.
Fast forward to 2010: Large portions of the contract have failed to deliver what was promised. MTA and Lockheed are fighting in court. And the zooming technology? Didn’t work, because it didn’t take into account the hundreds of people who would be passing in front of, behind, and next to that briefcase.
WNYC's Matthew Schuerman traces the history of the contract, from its original promise until today.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
An explosion and fire at an oil drilling platform last night off the coast of Louisiana has left at least 11 and as many as 15 people missing. The rig was about 52 miles southeast of Venice, Louisiana.
Thursday, April 08, 2010
(Syracuse, NY - Transportation Nation) On the window sill next to Captain Shannon Trice's desk, there's a toy cop car. Instead of the badge of the Syracuse Police Department, where he's worked for the last 20 years, it has the logo of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Trice is a traffic nerd. He's worked on a bunch of federal-state-local programs, reads the studies. The toy car is one of a few awards he's won for traffic safety programs. He's a modest man, but you can almost get him to brag about how many tickets he's written as part of New York State's "Click It or Ticket" program -- something he does for an hour now and then just to get out of the office. He has served long enough to see the difference his work has made.
But Trice and the Syracuse PD are now taking on a new challenge.
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
Monday night's explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine in Raleigh County, West Virginia, left 25 confirmed dead and four more miners missing underground. Rescue operations were stalled yesterday because conditions were deemed too dangerous. The mine is owned by Massey Energy Company, which was immediately criticized for allowing egregious and numerous safety violations. Massey's CEO, Don Blankenship, responded in an interview with the Metronews radio network in West Virginia, saying, “violations are unfortunately a normal part of the mining process. There are violations at every coal mine in America.”
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
In a statement released yesterday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said he intends to levy a $16.4 million fine, the largest allowed by law, against embattled, multinational Toyota Motor Company.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
(New York - WNYC) The Metropolitan Transportation Authority here is letting go of 450 station agents this spring because of its budget crisis. There are many New Yorkers who wonder what these people were supposed to be doing anyway, considering that they stopped selling tokens years ago and ticket vending machines were installed instead.
But they are invaluable for parents who want to take their strollers through service gates, for tourists who need directions, and for subway riders who don’t want to use their credit cards in machines.
The people that station agents now serve are outliers who need a human touch in an increasingly mechanized transit system. But in a city of 8 million, it turns out there are a lot of outliers. They are slowly learning to adapt—but they aren’t happy about it. WNYC brings us a report from Matthew Schuerman and a photo essay from Stephen Nessen.
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
The definition of distracted driving is expanding under the Obama Administration -- they're fighting talking and texting while driving, and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has asked for a ban on just about everything behind the wheel. Here's the secretary recently reciting his list, which includes combing you hair, putting make-up on and yes, shaving:
On Tuesday, March 2, Megan Mariah Barnes (right) helped LaHood's cause. The 37-year old Florida woman crashed while "shaving her bikini area," according to the Key West Citizen. She was traveling 45 MPH -- within the speed limit -- but hit a car traveling about 5 MPH. The three people in the car Barnes hit were treated for minor injuries.
Even worse -- the day before the wreck, Barnes was convicted of DUI and driving with a suspended license., reports the Citizen. She faces a year in jail for Tuesday's collision. So far, no word from Secretary LaHood on the incident. -- Collin Campbell