Entries in Traffic (13)


Traffic in Congested US Cities Costs Drivers Extra 5.5B Hours a Year

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If you live in one of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas, you may want to allot yourself some extra time before hitting the road to make that doctor's appointment or job interview.

A report out Tuesday by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute finds that taking what should be a 20-minute trip can take as long as two hours in the nation's most congested cities because of traffic.

Washington, D.C., is the worst offender this year, followed by Los Angeles, San Francisco-Oakland, New York-Newark and Boston.  Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia and Seattle rounded out the Urban Mobility Report's top 10 list of the most congested cities in the U.S.

According to the annual report, congestion cost drivers an extra 5.5 billion hours in their cars and an additional $121 billion in gas in 2011 alone.

While congestion is down from its peak in 2005, conditions on the road are expected to get worse as the economy continues to improve.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Holiday Travel: What 43 Million Americans Can Expect

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As 43 million Americans prepare to travel for Thanksgiving this week, some will have to brave snow, wind and heavy rain as they trek to their holiday destinations.

Bad weather will cause a rough start for some travelers expected to be on the move this week, 90 percent of whom will be travelling in cars.  Snow is forecast for mountain passes in Washington state by Thanksgiving, and heavy flooding in Northern California is already creating dangerous road conditions in the West.

A closed vortex will drop over the Northeast Pacific and move slowly southward, bringing in the wet and soggy conditions to the region, according to the National Weather Service.  In the areas with the highest terrain, temperatures are forecast to be low enough to support snow, creating rough conditions for motorists.

"Thirty-nine million people will be traveling in cars, so interstates and the roads are going to be very busy," AAA spokesman Michael Green told ABC News.

In the air, very few delays are expected, as the airlines are looking forward to clear weather for the week.

"Mother nature looks to deliver a beautiful weather week for holiday travel.  Let's do this," airline Jet Blue tweeted.

But air travel is actually down 3 percent this Thanksgiving, mainly because airlines have cut the number of flights and prices are high.

The busiest day for travel will be on Wednesday, when 45 percent head out, with 35 percent returning home on Sunday and 25 percent waiting until Monday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Drought Affecting Mississippi River Levels and Traffic

Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Experts who watch the Mississippi River say they haven’t seen it this low since the 1940s.

These days, the river, which sometimes resembles a slow-motion interstate highway for barge traffic, has narrowed to one lane -- where the water is the deepest.

Outside Memphis, Tenn., crews raced to remove a car from the river.  It had been quietly sitting at the bottom for years but as the water level went down, it was suddenly blocking traffic.

River traffic was backed up for 11 miles Tuesday night as vessels waited for a stretch of the river to be reopened.

Officials say the Mississippi River’s water levels have gone down dramatically -- from Illinois to Louisiana -- because of drought conditions over the last several months.

Like a wreck on the road, a barge that was stuck in the mud blocked traffic as nearly 100 boats and barges waited to move.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it was dredging the river to keep water at least nine feet deep -- any less and authorities said they would be forced to close the river.

Frank Segree, captain of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Dredge Hurley, said there had been some “close calls” with ships hitting the river’s bottom.

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The Mississippi is the nation’s artery of commerce, where more than 500 tons of grain, coal and other goods are moved every year.

More than 400,000 U.S. jobs depend on the flow of river traffic, and each day that traffic on the river stops, the U.S. economy loses $300 million.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


N.J., Other States Turn Focus to Pets in Fight Against Distracted Driving

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- First, it was pedestrians distracted by their cellphones and other gadgets. Now, New Jersey is taking a hard look at drivers who travel with their pets unrestrained.

Under a new law, police and officers with the state’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals could fine a driver $250-$1,000 for giving a four-legged family member free rein of the car while it’s moving.

Some in the Garden State scoffed at the news, but New Jersey is not the only state to consider or take up legislation to curb what transportation experts consider another contributor to distracted driving.

Arizona, Connecticut and Maine residents can be penalized under distracted-driving laws if they’re driving with a pet in their lap. In Hawaii, drivers are not allowed to drive with pets in their laps; Rhode Island and Oregon are considering doing the same.

According to a 2011 pet passenger safety survey by AAA and Kurgo pet products, 65 percent of dog owners admitted to engaging in at least one potentially distracting activity while driving with their dog.

In that group, 52 percent said that activity included petting their pet, even when the animal was in the back seat. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, looking away from the road for just two seconds can double a driver’s risk of being in a crash.

“The devastation to your pet and any other passengers can be incredible” in the event of an accident, Heather Hunter, a AAA spokeswoman, told ABC News Tuesday.

In Cranberry, Pa., David Reed ran a red light in April and crashed into another vehicle after his dog crawled into his lap. His 2-year-old basset hound hit the windshield and landed on the dashboard but didn’t sustain any injuries.

He and his daughter were not hurt but the other driver had to be treated for injuries.

“You see people doing it [driving with a dog] all the time,” he said. “You just don’t think it’s going to happen....I never gave it a thought -- my pet being a distraction to me when I was driving or anything.”

AAA’s Hunter said restraining a pet while traveling in a vehicle minimized distractions to the driver, protected other passengers and also allowed emergency personnel to get to the vehicle and treat passengers if an accident occurred. Restraints also stop a pet from running off when a door is opened.

Gordie Spater, Kurgo’s president, said that many pet owners simply didn’t know that car restraints existed for their pets and that they were easy to use and relatively inexpensive.

He said that even though his company did not advocate laws such as New Jersey’s, it had partnered with AAA and Toyota to get the message out.

“Our biggest thing is to get the word out that [restraints] are available,” he said. “Things are available [and] the cost is low. You should be doing this.”

Click here for a 25-percent discount off harnesses at the ASPCA’s online store using the code SAFETY. The deal is available through Friday.

And click here for tips on traveling safely with your pet this summer and any time of the year.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


2 Dead, 22 Treated for Injuries in 40-Car Pile-Up

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW ORLEANS) -- Two men are dead after a massive road accident in New Orleans involving 40 cars and about 60 people Thursday, ABC TV affiliate WGNO reports.

The accident occurred early Thursday morning, and caused lane closures for at least a half-mile for I-10 east and westbound traffic for several hours into the evening.

According to WGNO, 22 people were transported to a local hospital and treated for injuries, while 37 people refused medical attention.

A 54-year-old Springfield, La. man was killed in the crash along with another adult male, whose age is unknown. Police will not reveal the victims' identities until all family has been notified, WGNO reports.

Authorities are still investigating the cause of the pile-up, but drivers involved note there was a dense fog in the air at the time of the crash.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Deadly Year for Law Enforcement Officers, Report Shows

The casket of NYPD officer Peter Figoski is brought out following his funeral in Babylon, New York. Figoski, a 22-year NYPD veteran was gunned down during an attempted robbery in December. Spencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- This year was one of the deadliest in recent history for U.S. law enforcement, according to a new report.

In-the-line-of-duty deaths among police officers ticked up for the first time in four years, the report from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund said. A total of 173 officers were reported killed in the line of duty, up 13 percent from the year before.

“We've seen drastic budget cuts affecting law enforcement agencies across the country and those budget cuts have put our officers at grave risk,” the organization’s Craig Floyd said, adding that “These numbers we’re releasing today are a wake-up call to legislators across this country that when it comes to public safety, we must stop cutting.”

This year marks the first time in 14 years that firearm deaths were higher than the number of officers killed in traffic. Of the 68 firearm deaths, Floyd says, 14 were shot making an arrest.

The report found that 64 officers died in traffic accidents this year, down from the 71 killed in 2010.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Interstate 405 Closure Ushers Traffic-Free Weekend

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Despite the ominous closure of one of the nation's busiest thoroughfares, traffic around Interstate 405 in Los Angeles seems to be flowing freely.

A ten-mile stretch of I-405 was closed down on Friday as part of an extensive widening project. Crews have a matter of days to tear down the Mulholland Drive overpass.

Authorities reportedly gave the contractor a Monday, 6 a.m. deadline, with a $6,000 fine for every ten minutes the project goes over schedule.

Officials remain concerned that the lack of traffic over the weekend may encourage drivers on Sunday, creating widespread back-ups. That, however, remains to be seen.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Precarious I-405 Construction Project Underway in LA

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- The city of Los Angeles shut down a portion of the heavily-trafficked Interstate 405 at midnight on Friday as part of a billion-dollar project.

An estimated 500,000 cars pass over the affected 10-mile area, which links Los Angeles with the San Fernando Valley. Workers have until the Monday morning commute to tear down the Mulholland Drive bridge.

The city has threatened to find the contractor $6,000 for ever 10 minutes the construction project goes over the 5 a.m. deadline on Monday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Are Red-Light Cameras Causing Accidents?

Comstock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- It's the "Gotcha!" flash that no driver wants to see after running a red light.  And it's quickly becoming the target of critics who say the cameras may cause drivers to take desperate measures to avoid being caught on film.

Red-light cameras, designed to catch drivers who run lights and endanger others, are now the subject of significant debate because some believe they may cause more harm than good.

It is a controversy that is leading to a red-light camera backlash.  Houston has already voted them out, and now the driving capital of the world, Los Angeles, is on the verge of doing the same.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, nine states have banned red-light cameras.  Several others have passed laws limiting the use of camera enforcement.

There is evidence to support both sides of the debate.  A study this year by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety claims that in 14 of America's largest cities the cameras have saved 159 lives during a four-year period.

The study also said that if all 99 of the country's largest cities had them installed, 815 lives could have been saved.

On the other side of the debate are statistics that show the cameras also cause accidents.  A 2005 federal study demonstrated that while injuries from right angle or T-bone crashes decreased by 16 percent at red-light camera intersections, injuries from rear-end collisions increased by 24 percent.

The final argument in the debate in Los Angeles may have already been decided by the courts.  The courts have ruled that violations caught on a photo are unenforceable since there is no live witness to testify against an alleged offender.

Nearly half the tickets issued in Los Angeles go unpaid without consequence, leaving the city paying $1.5 million a year for unpopular, if lifesaving cameras.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Suspicious Vehicle Found Near Pentagon

Leesburg Police Department   (ARLINGTON, Va.) -- One suspect was taken into custody Friday morning as authorities investigated a suspicious vehicle found near the Pentagon, ABC News has learned.

Federal officials detained the man -- identified by two separate law enforcement sources as Yonathan Melaku, 22, of Alexandria, Virginia -- in Arlington National Cemetery.  He was carrying a backpack that contained ammonium nitrate and ammunition for an automatic weapon.  The bag also contained written material that referenced al Qaeda and the Taliban.

The FBI, however, determined that the material in his backpack was harmless.

"There was not a device and the products found are determined right now to be inert," said Brenda Heck, a special agent in charge of counterterrorism for the FBI.

Melaku allegedly told police that there were other "devices" in the area and also mentioned the location of a vehicle.

The vehicle in question -- a red 2011 Nissan -- was parked off the roadway on Washington Boulevard.  Authorities were examining it to determine if it contained a bomb or other weapon of mass destruction, but early reports are it didn't appear to be a "workable" bomb.  According to a law enforcement spokesman at the scene, authorities neutralized the suspicious device as a precaution.

Several roads in the vicinity were closed off by authorities as a result.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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