Current Event January 14, 2019
The current partial government shutdown is affecting many employees and contractors who are not being paid while the president and Congress are arguing about whether the federal budget should include funds for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. One important area where the shutdown may pose a safety risk is air traffic control. Uncertainty about the future is influencing the day-to-day work of these federal employees as well as the experiences of the flying public. Listen to this story to hear about the various ways that the shutdown is impacting airport travel.
Current Event December 18, 2018
Millions of people travel through airport security each year. When scanning carry-on luggage, TSA agents are usually on the lookout for liquids or wrapped gifts, but recently they have been seeing more guns. Firearms are on the TSA list of prohibited items, meaning that they are never allowed in the cabin of an airplane. Listen to this story to hear more about why this is an issue, how the TSA is managing it, and what happens to those who mistakenly try to carry a gun on an airplane.
Current Event November 21, 2018
There are many potential hassles of air travel, including getting sick. Airports can be virus incubators, and researchers have investigated which particular airport spots carry the most germs. Recent studies have revealed that the dirtiest places in airports might not be where people expect. Listen to this story to find out how air travelers can take precautions to avoid bringing home a cold for the holidays.
Current Event November 9, 2018
Electric scooters are becoming increasingly popular in big cities where traffic is congested and public transportation can be unreliable. Some companies are offering electric scooters that can be unlocked via mobile app, ridden, and dropped off anywhere in the city. This may be convenient for some people, but it can be hazardous for others. Listen to this story to learn about the controversy caused by electric scooters and debate: Should electric scooter rentals be allowed in cities?
Current Event April 6, 2018
Uber, a ride-sharing company, has expanded into new areas such as self-driving cars and food delivery. A self-driving car operated by Uber struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona. It was the first pedestrian death involving a vehicle that was self-driving. There was a driver in the car in case of an emergency, however the accident was not avoided. Listen to hear how this accident might affect new laws related to safety and self-driving cars, as well as the factors involved in this tragic accident and then debate: Are self-driving cars safe?
Current Event June 19, 2017
Recently, Uber announced plans to use new technology to create flying cars which will be ready for demonstration by 2020. Rather than picturing a car from a science fiction story, imagine a vehicle that looks more like a helicopter. In fact, Uber is calling them “vertical takeoff and landing aircraft”. Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas were selected as the company’s first United States partner cities. Listen to an aviation engineer from Uber explain this new technology.
Current Event June 9, 2017
A new technology has been developed that could help law enforcement detect if a person has been texting while driving. Typically, in cases of auto accidents, law enforcement has to get an order from a court to look through a person’s phone records to see if they were texting at the wheel. This is a lengthy and difficult process that many believe slows the course of justice. However, the “textalyzer”, if used, would allow police to plug into a driver’s phone and quickly see their last 90 seconds of phone activity to determine if they were texting and driving. Listen to learn more about texting-while-driving bans and debate the benefits and challenges of using the textalyzer to improve safety.
Current Event September 9, 2016
Driving after dark is more dangerous than driving during the day, especially for teens who don’t have a lot of experience. A recent study found that most crashes happened before midnight, but states that restrict teen driving don’t start until midnight, which is too late to make a big difference. Listen to hear ideas about setting regulations for teens who are learning to drive, and debate whether you think teenagers should be allowed to drive after dark.
Current Event July 7, 2016
Volkswagen, the largest car maker in Europe, is known for making cars that are good for the environment. Last year Volkswagen admitted to knowingly cheating the emissions tests of their diesel cars. They have now agreed to pay more than $15 billion to compensate customers and to fix damage done to the environment. This is the biggest judgment ever made against an automaker.
Current Event May 13, 2016
Uber is a ride-sharing company that allows users to request rides, and allows drivers to use their own cars to provide rides. When demand for Uber rides is greater than the supply, Uber uses “surge” pricing. During surge pricing, the rides cost 2, 3, or 4 times more than they do normally. The drivers like surge pricing since it accounts for a large part of their income. But the riders don’t like surge pricing because they pay more for the same ride. Uber is planning to end surge pricing. Listen to this story and debate the rights of both the workers and the consumers. Have students think about whether consumer rights are more important than worker’s rights.
Current Event April 19, 2016
According to a new study, fewer and fewer Americans are getting their driver’s licenses and owning cars. This has been a young adult trend for a long time, but now older adults are driving less, too. People across age groups cite a variety of reasons for choosing other modes of transportation, especially in cities that offer public transportation and have ridesharing services. Listen to the story to hear more about why people are choosing not to drive and opting to get around in other ways instead.
Current Event March 23, 2016
Amelia Earhart attempted to become the first female airplane pilot to circumnavigate the globe. Her plane disappeared during her flight 80 years ago. Although human remains believed to be Earhart’s have been found on an island off of Hawaii, the wreckage of her airplane has never been discovered. Now, the Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery is using new technology to map the ocean floor off the island and search the area for parts of the plane. Listen to learn more about the search expedition and Amelia Earhart’s legacy.
Current Event September 28, 2015
Volkswagen, the largest car maker in Europe, is known for good gas mileage and being environmentally sound. This week it was revealed that for the last 6 years, 11 million of its diesel cars were equipped with software that cheated U.S. emissions tests. This is a huge problem for the Volkswagen brand, current owners and carbon emissions. Volkswagen's Chief Executive stepped down, but this is just the beginning of this scandal. People are looking for answers to how diesel cars will be fixed to meet emissions requirements, how that will affect car performance and whether other car manufacturers falsify emissions tests as well. Listen to learn more.
Current Event August 13, 2015
Self driving cars are on the roads in some cities and could be coming to a highway near you. General Motors is only 5-10 years away from offering a self-driving car to the general public. But drivers are thinking about their privacy and safety as this new hands-free driving technology becomes available. Two hackers were recently able to remotely take control of a Jeep, which highlights concerns about cybersecurity. Listen to hear about the new automated technologies and the steps car companies are taking to ensure their customers are safe and secure.
Current Event May 20, 2015
Last Tuesday, May 12, 2015, an Amtrak train traveling from Washington, D.C. to New York City derailed when going around a sharp curve at over 100 miles an hour. At least eight people were killed and 200 injured. As the cleanup and investigation continues, people are looking for answers. Listen to this story about the history of Amtrak’s founding and funding and how this has shaped the troubled rail system’s infrastructure.
Current Event October 27, 2014
The price of a gallon of gas is dropping dramatically, in some cases more than 25 cents a gallon. This drop in price will mean people have more money to spend on other things. This public radio story analyzes the true economic impact this price drop could have on the economy as a whole.
Current Event June 9, 2014
The Panama Canal was built 100 years ago as a shortcut for maritime trading. Today, construction is underway to widen the canal so larger ships can pass through. With the wide canal, Panama hopes to become the Hong Kong of Latin America, but construction is often halted due to arguments over funding.
Current Event March 19, 2014
The Malaysian Airlines airplane, carrying 239 people, is still missing after a week of intense searching by more than a dozen countries. The Malaysian government now believes that its off-course route was deliberately planned.
Current Event March 4, 2014
The new operator of the Massachusetts Commuter Rail is a French company whose trains played a role in the Holocaust. Now, the company wants to manage trains in Maryland. A Holocaust survivor is protesting, though, because the company’s trains once transported thousands of Jews to death camps. Listen to this story to understand how the actions of a company decades ago can affect its business today.