Uber Outlines Plan to Ensure All Drivers Comply With City Regs

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On Wednesday, Mayor Annise Parker sent Uber a blunt message: give the city your detailed plan for ensuring all Uber drivers are permitted with the city or we'll revoke your permit.

Seems Uber took the mayor's warning seriously. On Friday, as requested, the company's lead official in Texas sent Parker a letter detailing the company's efforts to crack down on divers who aren't permitted with the city.

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Self-Steering Cars in Texas? As If We Didn't Already Have Driving Problems

Is Will Smith's I, Robot self-steering car the future of driving in Texas?
A bill making its way through the Texas Senate that would create a pilot program in the Lone Star State encouraging the development of cars that drive themselves. This very first sentence sounds like something read on a news broadcast during a flashback in a futuristic film about machines taking over the world. Oh, sure, it started innocently enough. We wanted to spend more time fixing our hair and texting while driving, so we invented autonomous cars to handle the driving for us. Little did we know they would TAKE OVER THE WORLD!

The truth is that this is more science than science fiction. The technology to assist drivers with something many Texans find sacred -- steering a giant pile of metal while hurtling at breakneck speeds down a concrete road filled with other giant piles of metal driven by people more interested in Facebook than the highway -- is already part of many vehicles that have assisted parallel parking (finally, no more failing that on a drivers' test) and warnings when other cars are in your blind spot.

But, having the whole car drive itself (as Google introduced a couple years ago to help them expedite and save money on those crazy cars that drive around mapping every street for Google Maps) could be a thing of the future. Still, is that a good idea?

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Rockets, Dynamo on Texas Custom License Plate Chopping Block...and a Few Other Surprises

Dr Pepper? Say it ain't so!
Maybe you didn't realize. Maybe you were so busy working and doing whatever it is you do in your life that you didn't know these poor bastards were about to see their lifespans cruelly cut short. You must be a terrible, heartless, uncaring jerk if you didn't take the time to help these lost souls.

No, not children in Africa or the homeless or victims of violence or stray animals. We're talking about custom license plates here, the truly tragic losers in this cold, unforgiving world.

You see, Texas offers dozens of custom license plate options to spruce up the caboose of your giant, gas guzzling truck (or minivan for you soccer moms). Colleges, sports teams and charities line up to get their names and logos emblazoned on little metal rectangles to be affixed to vehicles across the Lone Star state. They demonstrate pride, respect and the recognition you have enough time and money on your hands to dress up your ride with class.

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Houston's Unofficial Driving Rules and Road Etiquette for Newbies

Texas Dark Horse via Flickr

Hey there, all you newbies! We'd like to welcome you to Houston.

It's easy to see why you're all making the move to the Bayou City. Where else will you find such a rad job market or affordable cost of living? And you certainly can't match our city's restaurant or arts scene; those things are in tip-top shape. So we get it. We like this city too.

You may be new to the ins and outs of our fine city, but chances are, it won't be long before you're considering yourselves actual Houstonians, saying things like "y'all" or "what it do" as you try to explain that "City of Sizzurp" moniker to outsiders.

But before we can sign off on you stamping that "True Houstonian" tag across your forehead, there's something we need to work on: your driving.

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Uber Can Now Legally Drive You to the Airport in Houston for a Couple Extra Bucks


New rules that will allow ride-share drivers to pick up and drop off passengers at Houston airports were rather quietly approved by City Council Wednesday.

Under the new rules, which saw no discussion from council members yesterday, ride-share drivers can pick you up and drop you off at Houston's airport if they get the right airport-specific permit. They will also be required to pay the same fees taxi drivers are charged, which amounts to about $2.75 for each departing ride at Bush Intercontinental and $1.25 at Hobby.

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Here's Proof that Driving an SUV Through a Restaurant Is a Bad, Bad Idea


Well, there's finally cinematic proof that driving a gas-guzzling SUV into a crowded restaurant may not be the best way to get quick service.

The accident happened at Dimassi's Mediterranean Buffet in a strip center near NRG Stadium on Kirby at 1:55 p.m. Wednesday, and left a number of restaurant patrons injured.

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Shrapnel-Shooting Airbag Recall Now Focused on Gulf Coast

Takata Website Screenshot
A nationwide recall of defective, shrapnel-shooting airbags may affect more than 7 million vehicles in the U.S. from nearly two dozen brands, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is now saying owners of the cars in extremely humid areas like the Gulf Coast are most at risk.

The airbags in question were supplied by Takata, a Japanese manufacturer and supplier of automotive safety parts, and have reportedly been documented as exploding under force, with the inflator parts spraying shrapnel made of tiny bits of plastic and metal at drivers and passengers during a crash. The problem has reportedly caused four deaths and several injuries in the U.S.

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UPDATED Driver Arrested in Hit-and-Run Death of Northwest Side Bicyclist

Photo from Houston Police Department
Eduardo Torres, 30, turned himself in to police days after bicyclist Jose Mendez-Manzano was killed in a traffic accident.

A 30-year-old Houston man was arrested in the hit-and-run accident that killed Jose Mendez-Manzano on Saturday. Eduardo Torres was charged with failure to stop and render aid, which as of September 2013 is considered a second-degree felony.

The victim, Mendez-Manzano, was a 63-year-old grandfather who sold fresh produce from a grocery cart tethered to the bicycle he used to get around town. He was struck near Link and Airline, along a two-way road without sidewalks. A white memorial bike marks the site of the accident, only a few blocks away from Mendez-Manzano's home.

Houston police say Torres turned himself in days after the accident.

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Meridian Sale Disrupts Houston Food Park

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Photo by Susan Du
Miguel Villegas and Tirzo Ponce are looking beyond East Downtown to possibly relocate the Houston Food Park.

With the recent sale of the former Meridian nightclub - and by extension its parking lot - the Houston Food Park is prepared to pack up and roll out of East Downtown.

In 2013, the abandoned warehouse at 1503 Chartres St. seemed like the perfect place to open the city's first food truck park. The Meridian's last year in business was rife with management disputes, and owner Gary Katz couldn't find anyone to lease the 50,000 square feet property. Foodie partners Tirzo Ponce and Miguel Villegas offered to take the parking lot off his hands.

As trucks clustered outside, Ponce and Villegas cleaned up the Meridian. They rewired the electricity and fixed damaged water pipes, hoping to build an air-conditioned dining area on the first floor. In return for their investment on the building, Katz offered Ponce and Villegas below market-value rent on the parking lot.

So it came as a shock to the food park partners when Katz, who could no longer afford the building, gave it up in a bankruptcy sale. It went up for auction, top bidder Ecclesia church signed a contract to purchase it for $3.75 million, and by September the food park was sitting on some pretty shaky ground.

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10 Things We Are Sick of Seeing on Houston Cars and Trucks

Categories: Cars and Trucks

Photo by Jennifer Hughes
Sitting in traffic, particularly during morning rush hour, life feels tedious. Your mind wanders. Your faith in humanity wanes. You glance around at your fellow drivers hoping for a glimmer of hope in what feels like a cruel, unforgiving world. Then you see it, out of the corner of your eye. It's a license plate from another state or a bumper sticker from your alma mater. Your interest has been piqued. For one, albeit brief, moment, your attention is focused and you don't feel alone in the universe.

Unfortunately, you start moving again -- crawling really -- and you spy something you hate, something that evokes a visceral response. You drive angry. You don't let people merge. Your day has nearly been ruined by this jackass who so wantonly displays the source of your rage. You're glad you don't have a gun.

First, you might want to look into your road rage problem because, well, damn. But, we don't disagree that plenty of Houston drivers exercise poor judgement when decorating their cars with all manner of adornments. Instead of a murderous rampage a la Michael Douglas in Falling Down though, cowboy, we put pen to paper (or keyboard to pixel) and came up with a list of what vexes us so on area vehicles.

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