DRIVING TIP #4: Don’t drive with your disabled placard on your mirror

How often do you see someone driving around with the big, blue (or sometimes red) disabled parking placard hanging from their rearview mirror?  If you’re like me, probably all the time.

If you’re one of those people doing that, then you’re doing it wrong.

Besides the fact that it explicitly says “DO NOT DRIVE vehicle with placard hanging from mirror” in the instructions on the back of the permit (yes, you’re supposed to take the time to read those words there), and although it’s not specifically illegal, it should be common sense that leaving something that big on your mirror while driving blocks a non-trivial portion of your field of vision, an inherently dangerous proposition.  Admittedly, it’s maybe 10% or so of your view, but something could be in that area that makes all the difference, so why take that chance?  It only takes a couple of seconds to take it down from your mirror before driving and put it back up there when you park in a reserved spot.

14 May 2017, 9:32am
Automobiles Laws and policies Safety:
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DRIVING TIP #3: Wait in the intersection to turn left

In my previous tip, I discussed not blocking intersections.  Today, I’ll discuss a time when it’s okay to wait in the intersection.

Sometimes you’ll come to an intersection where you want to turn left and there’s a flashing yellow arrow or a circular green signal but no green arrow at the time you want to turn.  In this situation,  I usually see people dutifully wait behind the stop line.  Then the light turns red and they’re still sitting there.  Even worse are intersections that don’t have a protected left arrow at all– I’ve seen people  wait behind the line through multiple cycles because oncoming traffic is too heavy to allow them to turn.  Occasionally they’ll even give up.

Instead of waiting behind the line, the best thing to do if you need to wait to turn left is to move part of the way into the intersection and wait there.  Then, if the light turns red before you’re able to turn, the oncoming traffic will stop and you can complete your turn.

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4 May 2017, 12:55pm
Automobiles Laws and policies Safety:
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Comments Off on DRIVING TIP #2: Don’t block the box!

DRIVING TIP #2: Don’t block the box!

This week, San Antonio police began targeted enforcement of the state’s law against stopping in an intersection.  The stepped-up enforcement is part of a pilot project called “don’t block the box”, where the “box” is the intersection and adjacent crosswalks.  The program is modeled on similar programs in other cities.  Ten problematic intersections all over San Antonio are part of this pilot project and have had signs like the one shown here installed.  (Understand, though, that the law applies to all intersections, not just those marked with signs.)  This is a statewide problem, so keep reading even if you’re not in San Antonio.

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27 Apr 2017, 1:10pm
Automobiles Laws and policies Safety:
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Comments Off on DRIVING TIP #1: Scan the road

DRIVING TIP #1: Scan the road

For this first bite-sized driving tip, I’m picking a topic that’s not even discussed on my Texas traffic laws page— scan the road.

Driving down the right lane of a major street recently, I crested the top of a hill and immediately saw a stalled truck in my lane nearly a mile down the road.  Traffic in both lanes was light enough to easily change lanes, so I moved to the left lane as soon as I saw the hazard.  There were two other cars traveling in the right lane ahead of me and BOTH of them continued down the lane until they were nearly on top of the broken-down truck.   At that point, they had to hit their brakes and make a sudden lane change to avoid hitting it.

“WTF?  Are these people blind?”

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21 Apr 2017, 3:10pm
Automobiles Laws and policies Safety:
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Comments Off on Driving tips coming soon

Driving tips coming soon

The top-viewed page on my website texashighwayman.com is consistently the page on Texas traffic laws.  It’s obviously a topic lots of folks are interested in.  And from what I’ve seen on the roads, lots more folks need to look at it.  🙂

While that page was initially intended to highlight common questions folks have, it’s become quite comprehensive over the years.  If you take the time to read the whole thing, it’ll take you while and you’ll feel like you’ve been drinking from a fire hose.  So, I’ve decided to parcel-out some of the topics from that page in smaller doses here over the next few months, along with some additional tips that aren’t covered on that other page.

If you’re interested, I’ll announce postings on my Twitter and Facebook pages or just check back here periodically.

Until then, drive safely!
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5 Mar 2017, 9:50pm
Data visualizations Laws and policies
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Comments Off on What drives income inequality?

What drives income inequality?

If we agree that too much wealth in the hands of too few stymies the economy, and even democracy, what do we do?

With the middle class losing ground despite healthy corporate profits, politicians and pundits gladly harp on tax rates, migrant populations and other soft targets to prescribe solutions for growing income disparities.

I decided to see what the data says.

Using World Bank datasets, I analyzed more than a dozen factors to see how they might relate to income distribution, defined here as share of income held by a country’s top 10 percent of earners.

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19 Feb 2017, 9:04am
Commuting Roads Transit:
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Comments Off on Not gonna use the HOV lane? It still benefits you!

Not gonna use the HOV lane? It still benefits you!

HOV-sign

TxDOT is preparing to build San Antonio’s first two high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes on I-10 West and US  281 North. Construction of both is scheduled to start this year.

One comment I frequently hear about HOV lanes is from people saying they won’t use them, so they won’t benefit from them.  A corollary of that is that people who won’t use them don’t think their tax money should be spent on them.  As is often the case, both of these viewpoints fail to see the bigger picture.

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Alamo Ranch Parkway intersection getting lots of criticism

The recent opening of the overpass from SH 151 to Alamo Ranch Parkway is drawing lots of fire from residents of the area claiming that the new design is dangerous. As if on cue, a tragic crash claimed the lives of three people at that intersection just four days after the overpass opened. However, it should be noted that the crash happened on the eastbound side of ARP prior to the overpass, not coming off of it, so the overpass played no direct role in the crash.

That said, the increase in traffic caused by the overpass is overwhelming the four-way stop at ARP and Westwood Loop. The county has a traffic signal under construction there that will surely ease many of the problems folks are complaining about once it goes into operation, currently expected by the end of January. The county planned to have it operational by the time the overpass opened, but the construction of the new Casa Blanca Theater there required them to change the design in order to accommodate the driveway from the theater. Unfortunately, there was a significant delay in getting the plans for that driveway from the developer, which delayed the signal project.

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30 May 2016, 2:47pm
Communities Data visualizations
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Comments Off on Rural teens know their neighbors more than teens in cities

Rural teens know their neighbors more than teens in cities

Where teens live makes a difference in how well they know their neighbors, shows an analysis of data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.

The data comes from a school-based survey of 6,504 youth in grades 7-12 in the U.S.

Nearly 4,700 adolescents living in either rural, suburban, urban or several other types of neighborhoods responded to: “You know most of the people in your neighborhood.”

Results show 83 percent of rural teens said yes, while 69 percent of suburban teens and 70 percent of urban teens said they do.

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Social capital in urban, suburban and rural settings

Research shows adults and communities benefit from social connections. Less is known about teenagers, and whether neighborhood features foster such social capital.

Studies tell us that where teens live can make a difference in their educational success, risky behaviors and social interactions. Also, youth spend a lot of time outside at a formative time in their development.

So, do urban, suburban and rural settings play a role in building social capital?

In a national survey of 6,504 adolescents, respondents were asked if they knew most of their neighbors. Turns out, suburban teens were most likely to say they did not.

question_1

However, not all social familiarity is the same. Gangs too have high social capital.

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