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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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Driverless Cars Could Be Hacked With Stickers on Traffic Signs, Study Suggests
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As driverless cars inch toward becoming regular sights on our streets, experts have started to warn that the connected cars could be vulnerable to hackers who can take control of the vehicles from a distance. Though most of these warnings are related to hacking into the internet-connected computer on board, there’s an analog way to disrupt the workings of a driverless car, too, as Autoblog reports. Researchers from across the U.S. recently figured out how to trick a driverless car with a set of stickers, as they detail in a paper posted on arXiv.org.

They examined how fiddling with the appearance of stop signs could redirect a driverless car, tricking its sensors and cameras into thinking that a stop sign is actually a speed limit sign for a 45 mile-per-hour zone, for instance.

They found that by creating a mask to cover the sign that looks almost identical to the sign itself (so a human wouldn’t necessarily notice the difference), they could fool a road-sign classifier like those used by driverless cars into misreading the sign 100 percent of the time.

Five different views of a stop sign with black and white block-shaped stickers seen from various angles and distances.

Evtimov et al., arXiv.org

In a test of a right-turn sign, a mask that filled in the arrow on the sign resulted in a 100 percent misclassification rate. In two thirds of the trials, the right-turn was misclassified as a stop sign, and in one third, it was misclassified as an added lane sign. Graffiti-like stickers that read “love” and “hate” confused the classifier into reading a stop sign as a speed limit sign the majority of the time, as did an abstract design where just a few block-shaped stickers were placed over the sign.

“We hypothesize that given the similar appearance of warning signs, small perturbations are sufficient to confuse the classifier,” they write.

The study suggests that hackers wouldn’t need much equipment to wreak havoc on a driverless car. If they knew the algorithm of the car’s visual system, they would just need a printer or some stickers to fool the car.

However, the attacks could be foiled if the cars have fail-safes like multiple sensors and take context (like whether the car is driving in a city or on a highway) into account while reading signs, as Autoblog notes.

[h/t Autoblog]

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This Just In
London is Using Imaginary Speed Bumps to Curb Speeding
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In London, excessive speeding isn’t defined in quite the same way as it is in the States. While drivers here may get ticketed in some areas for hitting 40 or 50 miles per hour on city streets, vehicles there are in danger of being ticketed for exceeding 20 miles per hour.  

To curb the problem, the city began a clever initiative 18 months ago. Rather than spend the money it would take to install real speed bumps, officials for Transport for London painted stencils on the road that give the illusion of being raised. There’s no actual bump, but drivers who anticipate going over one might wind up slowing down.

We say “might” because, as a pilot program, there’s no word yet on how effective the faux-bumps have been. London has been struggling with traffic threats, noting in 2015 that speeds needed to be reduced to 20 mph in main arteries to help reduce the number of cyclists and pedestrians injured or killed as the result of collisions. The city recorded 136 fatalities in 2015 and 2092 injuries. The hope is to cut this number by 50 percent by the end of this decade.

[h/t Fast Company]

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