AirTalk for September 20, 2010

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Secretary LaHood says distracted driving remains epidemic

The dangers of distracted driving are irrefutable, but drivers are not changing their behavior. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood yesterday announced that distracted driving-related crashes claimed nearly 5500 lives in 2009. Secretary LaHood calls the current state of texting while driving an epidemic. A recent Orange County Auto Club study found that 2.7% of motorists were observed texting at any time – twice as many as when the statewide law banning texting behind the wheel went into effect in January of 2009. The penalty for texting behind the wheel in California is $20, with no points assessed to the driver’s record. Does the law need to be strengthened in order to change people’s habits? What are your texting habits while driving?
Mercer 10447

Grading the food trucks

We trust our stomachs to a restaurant with that reassuring “A” in the window, knowing it’s passed its regular health inspection. But what about the corner taco truck – is it up to code? Public health officials are asking the Board of Supervisors to expand the restaurant rating system to include mobile food vendors, requiring them to submit to inspections in order to keep their grades up. The board makes its decision Tuesday. Would you lunch at a truck sporting a “B” on its bumper?
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Shark attack survivors save sharks

Talk about an ability to forgive. There’s a group of shark attack victims—some of them with missing limbs—who are now banding together with world charities to save endangered sharks. What motivates these brave and forgiving souls?
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Cheating workers – it’s a crime!

Thousands of workers in California are paid lower than the minimum wage, or forced to work long days with no overtime. That’s against the law of course, but employers know these low-wage earners, desperate for work, are afraid to speak up for fear of losing their jobs. If they quit or get fired, they have no recourse to collect wages they’re owed. A bill on Governor Schwarzennegger’s desk would bring the hammer down on scofflaw employers, increasing the penalties for those who underpay their workers. California businesses and farms have called this a “job-killing” bill, claiming that retroactive action could seriously hurt their businesses.
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Using computers to teach kids

Learning math, physics, and English, at least for most kids, just isn’t as much fun as running around or blasting something away in a video game. But what if you could merge all those worlds? That’s what some educators are now attempting to do. A school in New York called “Quest to Learn” is using computers and interactive games in new ways to hammer home basic school room concepts. Programmers at Arizona State University are working on “Smallab,” an immersive, Wii-like game that teaches kids English and basic physics, by having them run around and interact with projected images. But can it really replace or even effectively supplement traditional learning? Or is this just a way to amuse children, masquerading as learning?
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