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Fewer People Are Getting Driver's Licenses, Study Finds

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If your teenage years are long gone and you still haven’t bothered to get a driver’s license, you’re not alone. According to a recent study, the percentage of people with a driver’s license decreased across all age groups between 2011 and 2014. And, while the decrease began for those over 44 around 2008 and for those over 69 around 2011, there has been a continuous decrease for those 16 to 44 years old since 1983.

According to The Atlantic, researchers are unsure why fewer people are driving. Some of the reasons suggested by an earlier study of unlicensed young adults include cost, access to public transportation, the ability to obtain transportation from others, and lack of time. Thirty-seven percent of those surveyed claimed they were too busy or didn’t have enough time to get their licenses.

That study also found that the majority of people polled intended to get a license eventually, even if they never did. A full 69 percent of respondents said that they planned to get a license in the next five years, while 22 percent said they never planned to at all. The findings implied that, rather than eschew cars entirely, driving has become less of a priority than it was in the past.

The Atlantic speculates that this may just be because we’re traveling less, explaining, “The ease of Amazon, the rise of teleworking, and the endless entertainment provided by the Internet may be leading people to stay home more, but it’s hard to say—there’s no research available that explains these trends.”

But whatever the reason, it seems clear having a car doesn’t have the cachet it did in, say, the 1980s when teen star Corey Feldman called the driver's license “a license to live, a license to be free, a license to go wherever, whenever and with whomever you choose," in the movie License To Drive (1988). If the driver's license was a symbol of freedom to teens in 1988, it seems like, in 2015, not having the responsibilities that come with owning a car may be perceived as its own kind of freedom.

[h/t: The Atlantic]

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technology
Dubai Plans to Outfit Police Force With Hoverbikes
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Dubai is home to plenty of flashy fashion and architecture, and it has over-the-top police gear to match. The department already is outfitted with some of the fastest cars on the streets, including a Ferrari and a Lamborghini. Now, Autoblog reports that police officers in the United Arab Emirates city are getting hoverbikes to access hard-to-reach places.

The bikes, which were developed by the Russian startup Hoversurf, debuted in early October at the Gulf Information Technology Exposition (GITEX) in Dubai. Like Hoversurf’s Scorpion-3 hoverbike, the police version is battery-powered and uses propellers at each corner to float like a drone. The newly-released model can reach maximum altitudes of 16 feet and move at speeds of up to 43 mph. Though the quadcopter can only carry one passenger at a time, it can withstand weights of up to 660 pounds. A fully charged battery is enough to fuel a 25-minute ride.

The futuristic addition to the force’s fleet of vehicles isn’t designed for chasing bad guys. Rather, the city hopes to use it to reach out-of-the-way spots during emergencies. If there’s a car wreck at the end of a traffic jam, for example, the Scorpion hoverbike could simply fly over the congestion and reach the scene faster than the department could with cars on the ground.

While cities around the world are still figuring out how low-flying drones and vehicles fit into pedestrian areas, Dubai has been quick to embrace the technology. In 2015, the city invested in jetpacks for first responders. While it's still unclear when the gadgets will be used in an official capacity, the CEO of Hoversurf has confirmed that mass production of the bikes is already underway.

[h/t Autoblog]

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Big Questions
What's the Difference Between a Street, a Road, and an Avenue?
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Depending on where you live, your address will end in a different designation. You might live on 10th Street, or Meadow Lane, or Red Fox Road. Maybe those throughways intersect a road with a name like Washington Avenue or Park Place. Why the difference? There’s actually a method to the road-naming madness that goes beyond just the whims of urban designers.

Just like there are defined factors that distinguish a highway from a regular city street, there are characteristics that make streets, roads, and avenues distinct from one another. The difference between names like C Street and Avenue B comes down to variables like the size of the path, what surrounds it, and how it intersects with other roads.

A plain old “road,” for instance, is a general term for any throughway that connects two points. Like a square is also a rectangle, streets and avenues are types of roads.

“Streets” are public roads that have buildings on both sides. They’re often perpendicular to “avenues,” which historically were grander and wider. These days, the difference tends to be directional.

In Denver, for instance, naming conventions dictate that Streets run north-south and avenues run east-west. In Manhattan, it’s the opposite, with “Avenues” running north-south and streets running east-west. This isn’t always the case, though: in Washington, D.C., avenues run diagonal to the street grid.

Oddly enough, avenues and streets can be combined, too. In a naming convention particular to Tucson, Arizona, some roads are “Stravenues,” which run diagonal to the normal north-south/east-west grid. (The U.S. Postal Service recognizes these by the abbreviation “Stra.”)

There are many other kinds of street names, of course. "Boulevards," designed to funnel high-speed traffic away from residential and commercial streets, are even grander than avenues, with trees on either side and a sizable median. Then there are the smaller roads, with names that might feel familiar to anyone who’s driven around a suburban housing tract. A “Way” is a smaller side street that splits off from a road. A “Place” has a dead end, as does a “court,” which usually ends in a cul-de-sac. A “Lane” is narrow, and is usually located in a more remote, rural place. A "Drive" tends to wind around a natural landmark, like a mountain or a lake.

To get a better sense of the visual differences, a video from Vox handily illustrates these principles:

Now, you can look at an address and know plenty about the street without even seeing it. 

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