A unique public safety message that was ostensibly billed as a billboard advertisement for a funeral home went up on Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway last year.
“Text and drive,” the billboard for Wathan Funeral Home proclaims, encouraging drivers to engage in the deadly practice to give it more business.
But those who looked up and went to the supposed company’s website found the real reason for the ad:
If you’re here, you’ve probably seen our “Text and Drive” billboard. And if you have, you probably came to this website to tell us what horrible people we are for running an ad like that. And you’d be right.
It is a horrible thing for a funeral home to do. But we’re not a funeral home.
We’re just trying to get Canadians to stop texting and driving, which, if current trends continue, is expected to exceed fatalities from drinking and driving as early as next year. And while most people wouldn’t even think about drinking and driving, over half of Ontario drivers admit to reading texts while behind the wheel. That’s more than half of the drivers on the road today risking their lives, their passengers’ lives and the lives of their fellow motorists and pedestrians.
Which should make you even madder than our billboard did.
The billboard was produced by a Toronto ad agency looking to raise awareness of the dangers of texting and driving. The website says that though most people understand the dangers of drinking and driving, more than half of Ontario drivers admit to reading texts while driving. This, while deaths from texting and driving in Canada are on track to surpass deaths from drinking and driving as early as this year, 2017.
In the U.S., 46 states and the District of Columbia ban texting while driving.
Fake funeral home advertises with ‘text and drive’ billboards [via The Miami Herald]
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.
Woman drives a vehicle down a highway… for 15 miles… completely missing one of her tires. Meaning, her front left tire is scraping along at 50 mph on its rim. As one person on the Internet put it, “I wouldn’t feel safe in my third story apartment knowing this woman is on the road.” The cops eventually catch up to her and put a stop to her madness. Hit the jump for the video. Continue reading Woman Scrapes Along Highway With No Front Tire
A bored 24 year old IT worker in Indonesia was allegedly bored sitting in Jakarta’s afternoon rush hour traffic and decided to hack into a roadside electronic billboard after noticing the billboard showed its login credentials. Apparently, he also hacked into a porn website (as Internet porn is banned in the conservative country) and made it so the billboard played Japanese porno “Watch Tokyo Hot” to the surprise and amusement of passing motorists. But taken seriously as it was, authorities subsequently tracked the IT analyst down at his workplace and arrested him, and he could face up to six years in jail. Hit the jump for a relatively tame video of the incident. Continue reading Indonesian IT Worker Arrested After Hacking Roadside Billboard to Show Porn, Because He Was Bored Sitting in Traffic
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]
This is footage from the massive free-for-all intersection at Meskel Square in Addis Adaba in Ethiopia, where there are no headlights or other traffic enforcement devices. Great place to test your reflexes, especially for the pedestrians!
In the Netherlands, a 500 meter section of road near the city of Oss now holds the distinction of having become the first road in thec country to have its lane markings painted using light-absorbing paint which glows in the dark. The special paint absorbs light during the day and then slowly releases this energy at night, during which time it can glow for up to eight hours, clearly illuminating the edge of the road along with other key markings. The technology would be particularly useful for roads where there are no street lamps. The glow-in-the-dark paint was developed by construction firm Heijmans, and though no concrete plans have been set future illuminated roads, the company is said to be very interested in applying the material to other thoroughfares.
First glowing road opened near Oss via [Dutch News]
In California, by making a donation to the 11-99 Foundation, you can get license plate frames that say “CHP 11-99 Foundation,” which is the full name of a charitable organization that supports California Highway Patrol officers and their families in times of crisis. Whether this means you can get out of a speeding ticket when pulled over has been a matter of some discussion.
On Officer.com, in a discussion about 11-99 frames (and fakes) mentioned earlier, a number of cops weighed in. Priceonomics is still trying to verify identities, so their statements could be fabrications. But it presents an intriguing perspective of officers’ potential views on the 11-99 frames.
A number of cops reported ignoring the license plate frames when they decided whether to pull over and ticket drivers. One cop describes a driver whose “first words” were about the stickers indicating the donations he made. When the driver insisted that they required big donations, the cop replied, “Well, paying for these citations shouldn’t be a problem.”
But some answers indicate that people have reason to believe that the frames will help them avoid tickets. In addition to the frames, the CHP 11-99 Foundation gives out membership cards to big donors. In reference to secondhand or fake frames, one cop wrote, “Unless you have the I.D. in hand when (not if) I stop you, no love will be shown.” Another added, “Ya gotta have more than just a license plate frame or a sticker.” The implication from these officers seems to be that buying a fake license plate frame is useless, but real donors will receive some leniency.
Can You Buy A License to Speed? [via Priceonomics]
A really interesting article on the history of the breathalyzer and how it came into being.
The first serious scientific work on mechanizing the determination of whether someone was driving drunk took place in the 1920s. A doctor and researcher in Los Angeles by the name of Dr. Emil Bogen conducted a landmark study in 1927 on how to scientifically determine inebriation. By this time it was fairly well-established that testing blood gave you a solid idea of how drunk a person might be. But by testing urine, blood, and breath, Bogen found that the latter could indeed function as a reliable estimator for blood alcohol content (BAC).
Dr. Bogen’s breath test used a large football bladder that contained sulphuric acid and potassium dichromate. A patient would breathe into it, and as the chemicals in the football bladder changed from yellow to various shades of blue and green, they were compared to tubes of the same chemicals in which different amounts of alcohol had been added. Effective, but not the most practical for a traffic stop.
Drunk Driving and The Pre-History of Breathalyzers [via Gizmodo]