The Everyday Hazards of Life in Houston

Photo by William Michael Smith
Pothole Patrol

One of the most widely-understood gripes about this city is the deplorable condition of our streets. Those of us who drive (and since we're dealing with Houston-level public transit here, that's most) swerve to avoid craters like this every day.

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Greater Houston's Biggest Speed Traps

Don't radar me, bro
We all know the gut-churning mix of frustration and confusion that washes over us whenever we see those blue and red lights flashing in our rear-view mirror. Assuming you're not running from warrants, some version of this song and dance probably follows: A cop will ask you why you're in such a hurry, whether you didn't see that school-zone sign, or if there's any particular reason you rolled through that stop sign back there -- as if any explanation or justification really matters by that point -- before handing you a traffic ticket.

As you drive away, you sigh (or, if you're the angry type, pound on the steering wheel) knowing your bank account is about to get a couple hundred bucks lighter.

People who've lived in a region long enough swear they know the stretches of road where cops lurk with radar guns at the ready. But to help you better navigate the sprawl of Greater Houston, we give you hard data on our region's greatest speed traps.

Those who have to pass through places like Montgomery, Spring Valley Village, or Magnolia on the regular probably already know what we're about to tell you: Cops will ticket the hell out of you in some of the small towns around here. Montgomery, for instance, has a population of 676 at last count, yet cops there wrote 2,515 traffic tickets last year -- a stunning 3.72 tickets per resident. Traffic cops in Spring Valley Village, population 3,715, wrote over 13,000 tickets last year (3.54 per capita).

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Please Stop Packing Your Guns in Your Carry-On at Bush Intercontinental Airport

Not that we needed any further proof that Texans love guns, but here it is anyway, courtesy of the TSA.

As of last week, the TSA had discovered a record-breaking 1,855 firearms in carry-on bags at airports across the nation, and two of the top five airports for those discoveries were -- surprise-- in Texas, including Bush Intercontinental Airport.

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UPDATED Lyft Threatens to Leave Houston, Because $62 Is Just Way Too Steep to Make Sure Its Drivers Aren't Criminals

Alfredo Mendez
Your commute's about to get a little less mustache-y.

See below for comments from Chelsea Wilson, Lyft's public policy communications manager.

Citing "expensive" new citywide regulations that mandate drug testing, fingerprinting and background checks for drivers, Lyft, one of the two app-based companies operating in Houston, says it would rather close up shop than comply.

The city's new requirements, set to take effect November 4, will require Houston applicants to use a state fingerprint-based background check company, rather than the online background check system that Lyft currently uses. Drivers must also submit to a warrant check, be drug-tested and give the city their personal information.

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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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Here's What the Houston-Dallas Bullet Train Routes Might Look Like

Photos of the N700 used under permission of JR Central

A more concrete picture of the high-speed bullet train from Dallas to Houston is emerging now that Texas Central Railway, the private company behind the multibillion dollar project, has revealed the two routes the line may take.

The bullet train, meant to rival air travel between the two cities, will reportedly be built with an estimated $10 billion in private funding and will -- in theory -- travel at speeds of about 200 miles per hour, connecting travelers between the two cities in 90 minutes flat.

In order to move forward, the company is federally required to study the environmental impact of the proposed project. Of the nine route options that were proposed initially, two have been chosen for further evaluation.

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Houston Auto Lender Fined $2.75 Million for Screwing With Customers' Credit

First Investors Financial Services

If you happened to need a sub-prime auto loan sometime in the past few years, and you happened to get said sub-prime loan from Houston's First Investors Financial Services Group, you may want to check your credit score.

Seriously. These guys might have screwed you over. Last week, First Investors was fined about $2.75 million by the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau over allegations that they botched the credit reports of thousands of car buyers. Knowingly. For years.

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Woman, 60, Recovering After Being Struck by Downtown Light Rail

Wikipedia Commons
Another one for the accident files.
A 60-year-old woman is in stable condition after being struck by a Metro light rail train early this morning.

The woman, whose name hasn't been released, is recovering at Memorial Hermann Hospital. Reports said she was unconscious and breathing at the time of the incident.

The crash occurred early this morning just after 6 a.m. near Main Street and Lamar Street, according to a Metro spokesperson.

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Don't Sweat Your Commute: H-GAC Asks Houstonians To Consider Alternatives

Flickr user MichaelB
Consider the light rail.
You might think you spend a lot of time sitting in traffic, but did you know that the average Houstonian also spends $6,000 a year on commuting? That's not just gas. That includes everything from new tires, wear and tear on your car, and wasted productivity.

That's why this month the Houston-Galveston Area Council is trying to encourage Houstonians to consider alternative means of transport as part of something they're calling "Commute Solution Months."

Yes, months, plural. Commute Solution Month (singular) is a nation-wide effort in August to get people to drive less. But due to Houston's heat, H-GAC extends the program into fall to make it a little more effective. After all, no one wants to bike to work in the dead of summer.

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Car and Light Rail Collide at Jefferson and Main (PHOTOS)...Again

Steve Jansen
Sometime after 2:30 p.m., a Dodge Charger tried to take on a Metro light-rail train.

The light rail won.

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