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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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 safe!
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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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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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29 Jun 2015, 11:18am
Construction and closures Roads Safety:
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Ribbon cut on Fred-Med project

After nearly 20 years in the making, TxDOT, COSA, and South Texas Medical Center officials celebrated the completion of the Medical Drive underpass at Fredericksburg Road this morning with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and opened the new lanes to traffic a short time later.

The nearly $15 million project was primarily done for safety, namely allowing ambulances quicker access to the Medical Center from I-10, bypassing the oft-congested Fredericksburg/Medical intersection.  As if on cue, the wailing siren from an emergency vehicle trying to navigate the intersection above interrupted the ceremony.  After the ribbon was cut, an ambulance and EMS squad truck were the first vehicles to “officially” use the underpass.

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24 Jan 2015, 9:30pm
Communities Data visualizations
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Diverse neighborhoods really do make a difference

Odds of rising to another income level are notably low in certain cities

Image of upward mobility data visualization by New York Times

Community planners have long touted the benefits of diverse neighborhoods. And they employed lots of anecdotes along with targeted studies to spread their enthusiasm.

Now a study, released in 2013 and updated last year, pulls together millions of records to give researchers powerful new insights on what drives a person’s chances of rising above the station of their birth.

For the first time, there’s enough data to compare upward income mobility across metropolitan areas, according to the New York Times. This allows consideration of local factors in a deep way that previous studies could not do — like where people live.

The story says upward mobility tends to be higher:

  • When poor families are more dispersed among mixed-income neighborhoods
  • When there are more two-parent households
  • With better elementary and high schools
  • When there’s more civic engagement, including membership in religious and community groups

Also, the story says, while regions with larger black populations had lower upward-mobility rates, researchers’ analysis suggests this was not primarily because of race. For instance, both white and black residents of Atlanta had low upward mobility.

Be sure to check out the online story, if anything to probe the data visualizations.

19 Mar 2014, 4:47pm
Construction and closures Roads:
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Comments Off on Loop 1604 West expansion continues

Loop 1604 West expansion continues

Loop 1604 meeting

TxDOT held an open house on March 18th to show their plans to improve Loop 1604 from Culebra south to Potranco.  That section of the loop is currently a four-lane divided highway with signalized intersections at SH 151, Wiseman, Military, and Potranco.  This project will upgrade that section of the loop to an expressway by adding overpasses at Wiseman, Military, and Potranco and building access roads and associated entrance and exit ramps.  The intersection of SH 151, although technically included within the project limits (mainly for signage purposes), would not see any actual changes with this project (more on that later.)  The $69 million project is set to begin in about a year and will take about 2 1/2 years to complete.

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