Article December 28, 2000
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Do you have that on video

Do you have that on video?

Texas Transportation Institute (ITE) has turned into a second arm of the law in the Lone Star State.

In 1995, the Texas legislature passed a bill that required the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to install and operate automated highway-rail intersection (HRIs) enforcement systems as a demonstration project. In response to the demand, TxDOT enlisted TTI to facilitate the process.

According to the Texas Transportation Researcher, the purpose of the demonstration project was to determine whether the current technology could adequately identify violations. TxDOT selected three sites and the systems, once installed and activated, photographed vehicles driving under and around the gate arms.

The images and information were sent to a processing center, where a clerk confirmed the violation and recorded the license plate number and physical characteristics of the vehicle. The vehicle information was then sent to TxDOT’s motor vehicle registration department, which in turn provided the vendor with information on the vehicle’s owner. Depending on the site, the vendor or the police department mailed education letters to violators.

A significant finding from the project was the identification of types of violations that exist at gated HRIs. The research team monitored 19 HRIs for a total of approximately 600 hours and found, on average, one violation occurs per gate activation.

Didn’t see a sign

The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) can’t always ask for police protection. Guards surrounding a highway sign would seem a little excessive, but the infamous organization is starting to run out of options.

In protest of the KKK joining Missouri’s Adopt-A-Highway program, two brown signs along I-55 announcing the involvement were mysteriously removed back in November.

Some community leaders are suggesting Missouri drop the program altogether to avoid future conflict with the Klan. After years of debate, Missouri transportation officials granted the Klan an Adopt-A-Highway application after a federal judge ruled the state could not deny the KKK from participating in the litter-control program.

An honest day’s award

Dickies Workwear announced its 1999 state and national winners in the 8th Annual American Worker of the Year Awards.

Fifty state and two national winners were selected from over 10,000 entries nationwide. Entrants were asked to write 75 words or less about why their nominee represents "an honest day’s work."

National winners were Lisa Chaplin and John G. "Beanie" Jones. Chaplin, a merchant marine from Rhode Island and the lone female on her oil tanker, is the first single woman to win in the competition’s history. Jones is a career machinist from Millers, Md.

Kim Tonozzi, a Quincy, Ill., construction worker whose father taught her how to roof when she was a child, was the 1999 Illinois Worker of the Year. She was nominated by her mother, Dixie Tonozzi, who wrote, "She works year-round in the elements doing everything from building bridges, highways and buildings to blasting explosives. After she completes a 40-80 hour work week, she works building ramps and doing minor home repairs for the disabled."

State winners received over $500 in cash and prizes, while the two national winners won a 2000 full-size Chevy Silverado pickup truck.

So tired at such a young age

Teenagers need their privacy . . . and their sleep.

A recent National Academy of Sciences forum, entitled "The Sleep Needs, Patterns, and Difficulties of Adolescents," looked at teenage sleep patterns and found most are just plain tired. The findings were published in the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety Progress Report.

"Almost all high school and college students do not get enough sleep," said Dr. William C. Dement, director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Stanford University. "They are at risk for a number of serious consequences, including poor performance at school, increased incidence of automobile accidents, increased moodiness and increased use of stimulants and alcohol."

While teens need around 8 to 9 1/4 hours of sleep per night, surveys show that during the week high school students actually get an average of 7 hours, and 26% sleep 6 hours or less per night.

Additionally, young adults from 16 to 25, especially males, have the highest risk for drowsy driving crashes.

A driving chihuahua

If a chihuahua can talk, it can certainly stand behind the wheel of a car. A car slammed into the Jeep of Tinker Melonuk in the parking lot of a Taco Bell in Oregon.

When Melonuk went out to investigate the crash, he found the tiny dog in the driver’s seat.

Connie Sies stopped at a McDonald’s, and when she tried to step out of her car to pay for her order, her foot slipped off the brake. The Chrysler, with the chihuahua inside, crossed five lanes of traffic before hitting a dead end.

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