Studies Suggest Ride-Sharing Reduces Drunk Driving, But Causation is Hard to Prove

Apr 14, 17 Studies Suggest Ride-Sharing Reduces Drunk Driving, But Causation is Hard to Prove

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Despite a recent wave of bad press, ride-hailing platform Uber has managed to retain its good reputation, especially in terms of reducing drunk driving accidents. But while a number of studies have suggested cities that have Uber have decreased alcohol-related crashes, researchers may need to be more careful when determining causation from correlation. While many Americans are staunchly against drunk driving, every two minutes, someone is injured in a drunk driving crash. It would only make sense that if intoxicated individuals have easier access to a safe ride home, they’d be more inclined to take it instead of getting behind the wheel. One recent independent study found that in four of New York City’s boroughs, alcohol-related car crashes reduced by 25 to 35% since Uber became available for residents in 2011. That amounts to around 40 fewer collisions in those boroughs every month. Another report from Temple University in 2015 found that Uber’s presence correlated with a reduction of motor vehicle-related homicides in the state of California. A study found that in California locations where Uber was made available, the number of alcohol-related accidents decreased by 6.5% every month among younger drivers. And a separate report from West Carolina University suggests that Uber’s availability led to fatal accident rate reductions nationwide. Uber’s own 2015 report stated that Uber ridership spiked during times when drunk driving accidents are most likely to happen. For instance, Independence Day weekend is considered to be the deadliest time of year: on average, 400 accident fatalities occur during that period, and 41% of all accident fatalities are caused by drivers with BAC levels above .08. However, that doesn’t mean that Uber is responsible for reducing drunk driving accidents. After studying 100 highly populated counties across the U.S., one report found no definitive correlation between Uber’s rollouts in those areas and the number of fatal traffic accidents. Experts stress that there are additional variables to consider, and while Uber’s availability may be a contributing factor, correlation does not equate to causation....

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While Understaffed, National Park Service Offers Free Admission April 16-24

Apr 07, 17 While Understaffed, National Park Service Offers Free Admission April 16-24

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In celebration of its 101st anniversary, the National Park Service will be offering free entrance during National Park Week from April 16-24. Visitors can cure their spring fever by enjoying any of the nation’s 417 national parks. Forbes reports that the establishment of the national parks started with the Act of March 1, 1872 and the opening of Yellowstone. From there, the government commissioned national monuments throughout the western region of the country. The National Park Service now has parks in the continental United States as well as Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and Saipan, according to Forbes. Fee free days at the parks cater to all outdoor lovers around the country. Much like 47% of adult campers who report enjoying camping simply for the joy of the activity itself, those seeking beautiful sights and fresh air can revel in the nation’s natural wonders without worrying about cost. For these campers, however, fees still apply. This year’s National Park Week follows a particularly popular year for the Park Service. National Parks Conservation Association reports that the parks saw a record-breaking 331 million visitors in 2016, showing a 13% visitor increase over the last two years. “Today’s report shows that our national parks are more popular than ever,” Theresa Pierno, President and CEO of National Parks Conservation said in a statement. “From the shores of Acadia to the peaks of Rocky Mountain and hallowed ground at Gettysburg, our national parks are dynamic places that visitors from around the world visit to have once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and as these numbers show, national parks are only becoming more popular.” This increase in visitation, however, comes with a drop in staff and funding, placing significant strain on park resources. She cited a $12 billion maintenance backlog. “But this popularity also means more stress on the staff charged with protecting our national parks. Greeting park visitors, giving tours, maintaining historic buildings, monitoring iconic wildlife and rescuing lost hikers require the dedicated efforts of tens of...

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Wells in Maine Contaminated With Arsenic; Scientists Urge Residents to Take Action

Apr 06, 17 Wells in Maine Contaminated With Arsenic; Scientists Urge Residents to Take Action

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In Augusta, Maine, concerns are being raised about potential contamination in tap water. Scientists shared their research last week at the Maine Sustainability and Water Conference held by Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions. Scientists are encouraging residents to test their water for invisible pollutants such as lead and arsenic. Their goal isn’t to frighten people, but rather to educate them about the potential dangers of contaminated tap water. “The major problem is that Maine has a high reliance on wells, but very few people test their wells,” said Anna Farrell of the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory in Bar Harbor. “And knowing what to do with that information once you get it is also not known.” Arsenic is a toxic chemical that is naturally found in Maine’s bedrock and soil. According to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. It dissolves into the drinking water through the ground or as runoff, eventually making its way into the private wells that more than half of Maine residents solely rely on for drinking water. About 90% of our freshwater supplies lie underground, but less than 27% of the water Americans use comes from underground sources, which illustrates the underutilization of groundwater. But considering that an estimated 10% of wells in Maine have elevated levels of arsenic, perhaps those numbers are too high. Drinking arsenic-contaminated water can lead to the development of health issues such as skin damage, stomach pain, nausea, circulation problems, and tingling in the hands and feet. Long term exposure can increase the risk of developing cancers of the skin, bladder, and lungs, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In children, arsenic exposure can cause low birth weights and affect brain development. Ultimately, the Maine CDC highly recommends testing tap water every three to five years for arsenic, lead, uranium, radon, and fluoride levels. Tests are available at laboratories across the state and generally cost no more than $100. If high levels of arsenic are detected, the Maine CDC...

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