Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Georgia prepares for Hurricane Irma traffic

Georgia prepares for Hurricane Irma traffic

Hurricane Irma bearing down on Puerto Rico and Florida, and evacuation of residents could begin as soon as today in some parts of the Sunshine State.
That means tens of thousands of people could be looking for shelter – and some of them may find their way to Georgia. State transportation officials are already preparing.
“We are working closely with GEMA (the Georgia Emergency Management Agency) and all emergency preparedness partners to monitor the potential tracks of the story and plan accordingly,” Georgia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Natalie Dale told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“We are organizing our teams in South Georgia in preparation to deploy debris response teams when necessary,” Dale said.
Irma has been upgraded to a Category 5 storm and could affect Georgia early next week.

When people say "It's a jungle out there..." Bruh

HENRY COUNTY, Ga. - Police said they shot and killed a tiger that was on the loose in Henry County.
We're talking with investigators as they determine who owns the tiger, on Channel 2 Action News at Noon. 
Triple Team Traffic first reported the tiger sightings after dispatch said they received several calls about the wild animal on the loose.
A source told Channel 2’s Audrey Washington police spotted the tiger in the area of Jodeco Road Wednesday morning.
Washington heard several shots just before 6:30 a.m.
Police said they had no choice but to shoot the tiger, which was seen in a neighborhood, reportedly attacking a dog. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Blue Whale Challenge: What should parents be on the lookout for?

A social media challenge that targets teens and ends in suicide has made its way to the metro area. 
It's called the "Blue Whale Challenge," and it reportedly originated in Russia, but it's been making its way across the world. It's reportedly behind the deaths of two teens in the U.S., one in Texas and another reportedly here in Atlanta, according to news reports
The challenge can be found on social media -- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram -- and in some cases, you can find it on an app. An anonymous instructor or curator assigns the player a series of tasks over a 50-day period, but it gets a lot darker and ends with the final challenge: suicide.
Police Departments are beginning to warn about it. And psychologists are a warning parents to be on the lookout for warning signs their children may be involved in the game.
11Alive's Chris Hopper spoke to an Emory psychologist, Nadine Kaslow, who said teens doing dangerous things like driving too fast or hazing is not uncommon. However, she said if parents start to notice any changes in their teen's behavior, they should be on alert. Some of those red flags that something is wrong include:  
-- A child or teen physically hurting themselves
-- A difference in eating or sleeping habits
-- A significant increase in screen time
-- A teen cutting themselves off from regular life
-- Substance abuse
-- Social media posts using #i_am_whale
Kaslow warned that the 50 days isn't a very long time for parents to pick up on subtle changes, but any significant changes like the ones mentioned above should be taken seriously.
While Kaslow said the game is still too new to know whether certain types of teen -- like ones who may have previously thought about suicide -- seek it out, she said it likely will draw kids from all walks of life who want to play along.
© 2017 WXIA-TV

Southern speeders are in for a bad week

Southern speeders are in for a bad week

Posted: Jul 16, 2017 3:55 PM EDTUpdated: Jul 17, 2017 7:56 AM EDT
Driving around the South this coming week?
Watch your speed.
Law enforcement in Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and Alabama will kick into Operation Southern Shield from July 17-23, making a concerted effort to enforce speed limits in the five-state area.
Harris Blackwood, director of Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, told WSAV-TV the effort isn’t specifically to write speeding citations, but it is to “get everybody to slow down a little bit” though he also warned speeders, “we will write you a ticket.”
Blackwood said in the Gainesville Times, “Drivers who exceed the posted speed limit by 10 miles an hour or more increase their chances of being in a crash because the faster speeds reduce their reaction times and ability to stop suddenly.”
There have been more than 500 traffic fatalities so far in 2017 in Tennessee, according to
WBIR contributed to this story. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Georgia State University police chief charged with DUI

Georgia State University police chief charged with DUI

June 27, 2017
ATLANTA (AP) -- The police chief of Georgia State University is accused of driving under the influence of alcohol following a recent traffic stop.
Georgia State University Police Chief Joseph Spillane has also been charged with having an open container of alcohol and failing to maintain his lane.
Spillane was stopped by the Fayetteville Police Department on June 18. Video shows Spillane repeatedly telling officers he is a police chief. "I'm cool. I'm safe to drive. I'm the chief of police," Spillane says at one point in the video.
Spillane told WXIA-TV that he may have had one drink at a friend's house. However, he says he doesn't believe he was under the influence of alcohol while driving.
Spillane is out on $2,000 bail, and was placed on paid leave pending the case's outcome.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

This time-lapse video of the I-85 collapse repair is pretty impressive

With the completion of the I-85 bridge this past weekend, Atlanta’s long traffic nightmare is finally over. Well, the traffic nightmare related to the bridge collapse, anyway—anyone who drove over the Connector this weekend likely noted that it was back to its usual, congested state. But the speed at which construction crews put the bridge back together—just six weeks from collapse to reopening—is impressive, and a new time-lapse video from Atlanta-based OxBlue, a construction site camera company that produces videos and photos for businesses, shows just how monumental the job was. Original article at:

Monday, May 15, 2017

Meet Nathan Lewit of Nathan’s Driving School in Chamblee and Brookhaven

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nathan Lewit.
Nathan, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I started my career as a driver’s education instructor back in the 1970’s. I had a passion for the work back then and still do today. I knew I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives, provide a service and run my own business. I took my passion for driver’s education and created the company I have today. What started out in my living room has grown into a well-known business that serves all of metro Atlanta. I have now been in the Driver’s Education business for more than 40 years. My motto is “Saving Lives…One Safe Driver at a Time”.
My business often relies on word of mouth by our customers and friends and family. I am often stopped in the store or on the walk path, greeted and told, “Hey you taught me to drive!” … It is exciting to me that I have taught more than one generation in a family now.
I look at my company as a family business. Most of our instructors started with us many years ago and I now have my own family members working for me and have become a second-generation business. I believe in treating everyone with respect and care including my employees along with my customers. We take what we do with great responsibility. We are a long-standing, respected local business and plan on continuing to grow and serve.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Nothing in life comes easy. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to succeed in any business. When it is your own company, your hardest boss is yourself and all of your employees depend on you. When I first started out, I had one car and taught classes in my living room. Along with running my own company, I also have a family, which is the most important part of my life.
Starting out, I was supporting a wife and two very young children. I remember budgeting down to the penny in order to start and run Nathan’s. The hard work and struggle paid off. From there I opened an office and starting hiring others and have continued to grow over the years. I have had to learn and adapt to all the changes in the industry and in our city which has grown tremendously. I work very closely with the state to stay in compliance with laws and regulations as this is a very regulated industry. I always operate with integrity, honesty and in an ethical manner, which I have found not all businesses do, and that can be a challenge.
So, let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Nathan’s Driving School, Inc. story. Tell us more about the business.
We provide a variety of services including private behind the wheel instruction, teenage driver’s education, defensive driving courses, risk reduction (DUI) courses, Alive@25, on-site third party road tests and medical evaluations. We teach in many local high schools both public and private.
We also work with non-profit organizations and other supportive services to help others. We believe in giving back to the community too through sponsorships, scholarships and donations. I also serve on a board for Chamblee Cares which helps students overcome the emotional challenges of high school.
One thing I am particularly proud of is the diversity of the clients who come to us. Over the years, we have taught students from all walks of life with a variety unique needs and now are known as the driving school in Atlanta to go to if you have any disabilities and/or exceptional needs. We have a licensed special education teacher on staff. I also have a unique need as I am completely deaf and use two cochlear implants to hear so I understand the need to be patient with others and provide compassion and empathy.
All of our employees are patient and knowledgeable and sincerely want to help others. Nathan’s Driving School is also the only school in Georgia that currently is and has been a member of the National Safety Council, the Driving School Association of the Americas, and licensed by the State of Georgia since 1986.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I consider myself a very lucky man, no matter what challenges happen. I am a husband, father, grandfather, cancer survivor, and successful entrepreneur. Everyone experiences difficult times. I work through them though and always say, “any day you are not in the ground is a great one”. I also tell my children and grandchildren, “the future’s so bright, I have to wear shades”. I am where I am in life today not so much because of luck, but because of hard work and dedication to everything I do.
Contact Info:

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Phones have gotten smart. Drivers? Not so much.

Our yearning to stay connected with the world at all times has made Georgia’s roads an increasingly dangerous place to be.
Now, the numbers make clear that what we sensed is true.You already sensed it just driving around. People drive like birdbrains: A car blows blithely through a red light (a doctor on her phone once T-boned my family van), the driver ahead of you who just can’t stay in a lane, the SUV that lags behind others in the flow of traffic and then suddenly rushes to catch up.

Last year, 1,554 people died in motor vehicle accidents in Georgia, a 33 percent increase from 2014 when 1,170 were killed. Georgia’s increase in deaths was more than twice the national increase during that time. In all, 40,200 people died in the U.S. last year, the first time it reached that level in a decade.
For years, highways had gotten safer, with better-designed cars, almost universal seat belt usage and alcohol-related deaths dropping to 10,000 a year, down from an average of 14,000 a decade earlier.
But what is almost certainly driving the increase in deaths is that many drivers have the attention span of a gnat because they are gawking at their phones.
Yes, we know that texting, Facebooking and checking email while driving qualifies you for a Darwin Award. In fact, 98 percent of respondents to a study commissioned by AT&T said exactly that. Still, 74 percent of those same respondents still did just that.
The disconnect is a familiar one. Generally, we think we’re smarter than the average bear.
“Motorists report that they use a cell phone because they harbor the belief they are personally capable of driving safely while doing so,” said a study from the University of Utah. “However, they also see other driver’s usage as much riskier than their own and consequently tend to support laws to restrict the behavior. That is, motorists want the laws to apply to the other driver.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says 3,500 people were killed because of distracted driving. But that number, almost everyone believes, is woefully low.
“That’s just the ones we can prove; it’s probably much higher,” said Harris Blackwood, director of the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. “We have this 800-pound monster. We know it’s a problem but there’s no way to measure it.”
There are ways to measure how distracted driving played into fatal crashes. But it can be difficult. Skid marks can determine whether a driver was speeding. Investigators can draw blood from a corpse to measure alcohol. But what was going on in a driver’s mind in those last few moments of life is more difficult to determine.
Cops are getting better at cataloging such instances and are getting more aggressive about enforcing a 2010 law that outlawed texting behind the wheel.
A couple of years ago, Marietta officers posed as construction workers on the street to catch drivers texting. Marietta Police Chief Dan Flynn told me that cutting down on smartphone use while driving must go the same route as drunk driving once did — making it socially unacceptable.
“The mentality for drunk driving used to be, ‘There but for the grace of God go I,’” Flynn said. “But that whole scene changed.”
Still, he said, it’s hard to focus on writing such tickets when the public clamors for burglaries to get solved and drunks to get caught.
The Georgia Legislature outlawed texting at the wheel in 2010, but technological advancements since then — and the ubiquity of smartphones — make the problems of seven years ago seem quaint.
State Rep. John Carson, a Marietta Republican, has introduced a resolution to create a study committee to try to figure out some way of dealing with it.
“This is something that must be addressed,” he said. “We have to do something.”
The comparison to drunk driving is an apt one because a 2004 study found that a motorist talking on a cellphone has the same impairment of a driver who is legally drunk — a blood-alcohol content of .08 percent.
But back then, the iPhone, which was released in 2007, was just a gleam in Steve Jobs’ eye.
If talking on a cellphone — it doesn’t matter if it’s hands-free or not — is like blowing a
.08 BAC, then watching a video on YouTube or checking Facebook while driving is like smoking crack behind the wheel.

Studies show that people who constantly check incoming texts, tweets and Facebook messages do so for a little bump of dopamine in the brain. So if the phone buzzes, chirps or dings while driving, then the hand can’t resist reaching for it.
David Strayer, a professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University of Utah, has since 2000 been at the forefront of research into how cellphone use affects driving.
Years ago he wrote, “When a driver talks on a cellular phone, visual scanning is disrupted, prediction of hazards is impaired, identification of objects and events in the driving environment is retarded, decision for action is altered, and appropriate reactions are delayed.”
In an interview this week, he said:
“As alarmed as we were with cellphones, the use of smartphones and all the social media functions make those (previous) concerns pale in comparison. We are tracking a significant distraction with something that is worse.”
Please be safe out there. And keep your eyes on the road.

Which generation is the better driver?

When I taught behind the wheel, I would remind students that the future of our society rested upon their shoulders. I am sure that there was...