Heart-stopping footage from China has emerged of a toddler being run over by a pink Ford car while playing outside. The driver stopped the car on top of the boy on realizing what had just happened, presumably to prevent even more injury to the child. Miraculously, the toddler was largely unhurt and escaped with just scratches to his scalp. His mother was reportedly close by but looking the other way at the time. Passers-by helped to lift the car and the mother extracted the boy.
This is half a joke and half a thought exercise. Gordon Tullock (February 13, 1922 – November 3, 2014), an American economist, once posited that if governments were serious about ensuring people drive more safely, they would mandate that a sharp spike be installed in the center of each car’s steering wheel (instead of an air bag), to increase the probability that an accident would be fatal to the driver. The reasoning behind this is, if you increase the risk of negative consequences to the person with the most control, you will be more likely to get them to moderate their behavior than if you install safety systems that will only protect that person and not necessarily other motorists on the road. Though no one would seriously consider the Tullock Spike, the rationale behind it is an interesting concept in public choice that can be applied to a number of other situations and fields.
What would scenes of Kevin getting the best of the burglars from Home Alone be like if they also had a healthy amount of blood spatter? A brilliant amateur special effects wizard took the time to make it so. The newly edited scenes are actually kind of cool, although it’s a twisted thing to admit.
Hit the jump for three more blood-stained videos.
In China, a motorcycle riding bandit brazenly stole a trucker’s cell phone but was soon on the receiving end of some gravity-defying kung fu moves by his intended victim. The trucker has since become something of a national celebrity, who explained he was fed up after his phone had been stolen three times in recent months. Hit the jump for the video.
Yes, this really happened. A Halfmoon, New York man high on LSD allegedly broke into a neighbor’s home to save a dog… from a fire that only existed in the man’s mind. He drove his black BMW sedan through a fence surrounding the property before breaking through the back door to save the family’s large white dog.
Troopers say 43-year-old Michael Orchard of Inglewood Drive told them he mixed LSD with cough medicine Thursday afternoon and they found him, standing heroically with a dog in his arms outside of what he thought was a giant inferno.
Fortunately, the dog was unharmed by neither the “good Samaritan” or the imaginary blaze. Before dropping acid he probably should have seen this video of a 1950s housewife describing her experiences with LSD. Hit the jump for TV news video of the incident.
As part of a broader campaign to reduce traffic deaths by 50% by 2025, New York City has released several interactive maps that give both real-time and historical information on traffic-related injuries and deaths as well as on general road conditions.
Vision Zero View gives detailed information on driving-related injuries and fatalities going back to 2009. But the main event is a visually impressive interactive map called the Vision Zero Dashboard which has real-time information about traffic conditions, accidents, traffic cameras, weather, and even air quality in NYC.
Different kinds of data is available using the menu at the bottom of the map. For example, by selecting ‘Traffic,’ you can see a real-time overview of traffic on the city’s streets, with heavy traffic indicated in red. Roads with heavy traffic are also shown along the bottom of the map with information such as the current average speed. Other options allow you to see the precise locations where accidents or fatalities occurred in the last 24 hours, categorized as pedestrian vs cyclist vs motorist. The dashboard even lets you quickly access more than 500 traffic cameras to let you see what’s going on in real-time.
A new documentary, Command and Control, premiers on Jan. 10 on PBS and takes a look at the terrifying prospect of an American nuclear weapon accidentally detonating on – U.S. soil. It also examines the likelihoods of false alarms, including the following incident from June 3, 1980:
President Jimmy Carter’s national-security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, was asleep in Washington, D.C., when the phone rang. His military aide, General William Odom, was calling to inform him that two hundred and twenty missiles launched from Soviet submarines were heading toward the United States. Brzezinski told Odom to get confirmation of the attack. A retaliatory strike would have to be ordered quickly; Washington might be destroyed within minutes. Odom called back and offered a correction: twenty-two hundred Soviet missiles had been launched.
Brzezinski decided not to wake up his wife, preferring that she die in her sleep. As he prepared to call Carter and recommend an American counterattack, the phone rang for a third time. Odom apologized—it was a false alarm. An investigation later found that a defective computer chip in a communications device at norad headquarters had generated the erroneous warning. The chip cost forty-six cents.
The documentary is based on a 2013 nonfiction book of the same name by Eric Schlosser about the history of nuclear weapons systems in the United States.
World War Three, By Mistake [via The New Yorker]
Hit the jump below for what is supposedly dashcam video from a Tesla as it slows down, predicting (correctly) a car crash is just about to occur ahead. The Tesla computer system is capable of monitoring not only the movements of the car immediately in front, but several cars out. It’s not clear from the video where the accident occurred, but according to car blog Electrek, the incident happened in the Netherlands.
Tesla uploaded new software to its vehicles this year to improve its Autopilot self-driving system. Teslas now rely more on radar instead of other sensors, and they can now beam radar waves underneath the vehicle in front of it. The system is meant to detect if an unseen vehicle ahead of the one directly in front comes to a sudden stop, as this could lead to chain-reaction crash.
Fortunately, everyone in the overturned vehicle turned out to be okay.
Israeli company Cellebrite is reportedly developing a portable unit that would allow police officers to examine a motorist’s cell phone to determine if they had been texting at a certain point in the past, such as just prior to a motor vehicle accident. The idea is that this may be permissible and not violate the motorist’s Fourth Amendment rights if the device does not automatically access the rest of the contents of the phone. Legislation has recently been proposed in New York which would require motorists to submit their cell phones for such on-the-spot testing. According to the CDC, each day in the United States, over 8 people are killed and 1,161 injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver. In 2013, 424,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver, representing an almost 10 percent increase since 2011, and nearly one in five crashes (18 percent) in which someone was injured involved distracted driving.
First came the Breathalyzer, now meet the roadside police “textalyzer” [via ArsTechnica]
California will soon provide driver’s license to autonomous (self-driving) vehicles that meet certain standards. The licenses will cost $150 – but cover up to 10 vehicles and 10 human drivers, as the autonomous vehicle will be required to have a driver behind the wheel, ready to take over in case something goes wrong. Also, the vehicles must be insured for $5 million in the event of an accident. But all roadways in California will be open to the vehicles.
Although for now the only individuals who can get their hands on such vehicles are employees of companies that are producing them (like Google or Volvo), car manufacturers are hoping autonomous vehicles will become available to the general public by 2020. And perhaps one day in the not-so-distant future, the number of people killed annually in car accidents will drop from thirty-odd-thousand to literally zero (it is actually the stated goal of Volvo that by 2020 one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo).