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Energy Debate Stalls in Washington, and Houston Agrees

Friday, July 23, 2010

(Flickr user Hella (cc: by-nc-nd))

(Houston, Texas - Melissa Galvez, KUHF News)  Esmeralda Gomez sits in Brochstein Pavillion, a model of wide windows, natural light, and waving green fronds at the heart of the Rice University campus in Houston. Gomez works at Rice’s Jones Graduate School of Business. When asked about her reaction to the Gulf oil spill, she said she was “devastated” by the pictures of oiled animals and reports of lost employment. But would the massive oil slick change the way she gets around every day?

“Not at this moment, no.  And that’s mainly because I don’t have a lot of choices of getting to and from work. I can make little changes in other areas of my life -- trying to be a little more responsible about my gas consumption, combining trips, but as far as the overall impact on my day to day, not really,” she said.

That's the consensus among the dozen or so people I spoke to across Houston.  This week, the Senate gave up on broad energy reform, saying Americans weren't ready for the debate and the taxes it brought with it.  Today, the response to the Gulf oil spill again stopped for an approaching storm, this time it's Tropical Depression Bonnie.  Facing these palpable pressure points in the energy debate, Houstonians still feel like life goes on.

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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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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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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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