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Millennials, Not Teens, Are the Most Dangerous Drivers

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When it comes to poor driving stereotypes, newly licensed teenagers get a bad rap. But a new study reported by USA Today shows that young adults surpass teens' risky behaviors behind the wheel by a wide margin. According to a 2016 survey from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 88.4 percent of drivers ages 19 to 24 admitted to either texting while driving, running a red light, or speeding at some point in the previous 30 days.

The market research firm GfK surveyed 2511 drivers late last summer for AAA’s latest Traffic Safety Culture Index [PDF]. Following drivers in their early twenties, motorists ages 25 to 39 were the second most dangerous group. More than 79 percent of drivers in this age bracket reported one of the bad behaviors above, making Millennials (defined by Pew as those between the ages of 20 and 36) the most reckless generation on the road. Generation X doesn’t fare much better, with 75 percent of respondents ages 40 to 59 engaging in at least one of the risky acts. Teenagers ages 16 to 18 years old came in third place with 69.3 percent admitting to dangerous habits, followed closely by drivers 75 and older with 69.1 percent, and drivers ages 60 to 74 with 67.3 percent.

Texting while driving is one area where young adults further stood out. Over 59 percent of drivers 19 to 24 years old reported sending a text or email while driving in the past month compared to 31.4 percent of all drivers. This is also the guiltiest age group when it comes to driving through red lights (nearly 50 percent said "yes" compared to 35.6 percent overall), and speeding on residential streets (64.3 percent compared to 44.5 percent).

With some hazardous behaviors, a portion of young adults won’t even admit that they’re unacceptable. Nearly 12 percent of drivers in the group said that speeding in a school zone was fine in some circumstances, compared to 4.5 percent of total respondents.

Fortunately for other motorists, the number of young adults on the road is decreasing. A 2014 survey [PDF] found that just 76.7 percent of people ages 20 to 24 had a driver's license, which is down from 79.7 percent in 2011, 82 percent in 2008, and 91.8 percent in 1983.

[h/t USA Today]

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Design Firm Envisions the Driverless School Bus of the Future
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Engineers have already designed vehicles capable of shuttling pizzas, packages, and public transit passengers without a driver present. But few have considered how this technology can be used to transport our most precious cargo: kids. Though most parents would be hesitant to send their children on a bus with no one in the driver's seat, one design firm believes autonomous vehicle technology can change their rides for the better. Their new conceptual project, called Hannah, illustrates their ideas for the future of school bus travel.

As Co.Design reports, Seattle-based design firm Teague tackled both the practical challenges and the social hurdles when designing their driverless school bus. Instead of large buses filled with dozens of kids, each Hannah vehicle is designed to hold a maximum of six passengers at a time. This offers two benefits: One, fewer kids on the route means the bus can afford to pick up each student at his or her doorstep rather than a designated bus stop. Facial recognition software would ensure every child is accounted for and that no unwanted passengers can gain access.

The second benefit is that a smaller number of passengers could help prevent bullying onboard. Karin Frey, a University of Washington sociologist who consulted with the team, says that larger groups of students are more likely to form toxic social hierarchies on a school bus. The six seats inside Hannah, which face each other cafeteria table-style, would theoretically place kids on equal footing.

Another way Hannah can foster a friendlier school bus atmosphere is inclusive design. Instead of assigning students with disabilities to separate cars, everyone can board Hannah regardless of their abilities. The vehicle drives low to the ground and extends a ramp to the road when dropping off passengers. This makes the boarding and drop-off process the same for everyone.

While the autonomous vehicles lack human supervisors, the buses can make up for this in other ways. Hannah can drive both backwards and forwards and let out children on either side of the car (hence the palindromic name). And when the bus isn’t ferrying kids to school, it can earn money for the district by acting as a delivery truck.

Still, it may be a while before you see Hannah zipping down your road: Devin Liddel, the project’s head designer, says it could take at least five years after driverless cars go mainstream for autonomous school buses to start appearing. All the regulations that come with anything involving public schools would likely prevent them from showing up any sooner. And when they do arrive, Teague suspects that major tech corporations could be the ones to finally clear the path.

"Could Amazon or Lyft—while deploying a future of roving, community-centric delivery vehicles—take over the largest form of mass transit in the United States as a sort of side gig?" the firm's website reads. "Hannah is an initial answer, a prototype from the future, to these questions."

[h/t Co.Design]

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Wisconsin Considers Building a Highway Lane for Self-Driving Cars
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Self-driving cars are already a reality, as companies like Google and Tesla have demonstrated. But the logistics of getting them on the roads with human-operated cars have slowed down their long-anticipated takeover. In Wisconsin, highway planners are looking into one way to accommodate autonomous vehicles when they arrive. Dedicated lanes for driverless cars are being considered for I-94, USA Today’s Journal Sentinel reports.

The project is supported by Foxconn, the Taiwanese tech supplier building a new facility 20 miles outside of downtown Milwaukee. Once the site is complete, it will cover 20 million square feet and employ up to 13,000 people. According to the company, setting aside space for self-driving vehicles could ease traffic congestion, both from new workers and cargo trucks, after the factory opens.

Officials were already planning to expand I-94 from six lanes to eight to accommodate the eventual increase in traffic, but Foxconn says that may not be enough. “We’re thinking about two years down the road; they’re thinking 20 years down the road,” Tim Sheehy, president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, said at a meeting of the Greater Milwaukee Committee.

While Sheehy said the autonomous car lane proposal is “on the table,” he didn’t make any promises regarding the plan’s future. Wisconsin isn’t the only state looking ahead to new developments in road travel: In October, tech investors pitched an idea to Washington state officials to convert Interstate 5 into a corridor for autonomous vehicles between Seattle and Vancouver.

[h/t Journal Sentinel]

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