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CNN10 2022-10-11

CNN 10

Are We Getting Closer To Having Our Cars Monitored And Controlled By The Government? CNN Hero: Dustin LaFont. Aired 4-4:10a ET

Aired October 11, 2022 - 04:00 ET


COY WIRE, CNN 10 ANCHOR: Hello and terrific Tuesday, everyone. I'm Coy and I'm grateful to be spending part of this day with you right here on CNN 10.

Let's get our engines running today by fueling up our minds with some news on the road. Are we getting closer to having our cars monitored and controlled by the government? The infrastructure law passed last year gave the Transportation Department three years to craft a mandate that new vehicles feature alcohol impairment detection technology.

The National Transportation Safety Board, the federal agency responsible for conducting independent accident investigations, is recommending alcohol detection and calling for car makers to be incentivized to put speed limiters in new cars. Speed limitation could come in the form of a simple audible or visual warning or even technology that would physically slow the vehicle down despite what the driver is doing.

Proponents say that it will make roads safer. Opponents say that it's an attack on our freedom. What do you all think?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 32 people die of alcohol-related collisions every day, more than 11,000 per year, with fatalities climbing five percent last year.

More now from CNN correspondent Pete Muntean who got a ride inside of one of the vehicles in New York, a state that already has the new technology in place.



(voice-over): In this electric car, a lead foot can only get so far. It's equipped with intelligent speed assistance that means the car knows the speed limit here is 20 miles per hour and it won't let you go above it.

MEERA JOSHI, DEPUTY MAYOR OF OPERATIONS, NYC: So I'm pressing the pedal but you see actually the numbers going down.

MUNTEAN: Driving me is New York City Deputy Mayor Meera Joshi.

The city is the first in the U.S. to try speed limiter technology in 50 of its fleet vehicles.

JOSHI: We need to be at the forefront. There's no reason today with so much technology and so much awareness that anybody should die at the hands of an automobile.

MUNTEAN: Federal data shows more than 20,000 deaths on our roads in the first half of this year. It is one reason why in its latest safety recommendation, the National Transportation Safety Board is calling on the federal government to start incentivizing car makers to put speed limiter systems in new cars.

JENNIFER HOMENDY, NYSB CHAIR: We have to remember these aren't just numbers these are people who have lost their lives.

New York's speed limiter program works through something called telematics, stored data on local speed limits is cross-referenced with a car's GPS position. Software in New York's cars gives the driver an alarm, or simply just cuts off the accelerator when you reach the speed limit.

JOSHI: It's called a dead pedal.

MUNTEAN: This system does have an override. If you press this button, you can accelerate beyond the speed limit for 15 seconds in case you need to merge or speed up to meet the flow of traffic.

PATRICIA WATFORD: If somebody's in the fast lane driving too slow, then to me that caused more accidents than driving fast too.

BAYLEN MEYERS: It feels kind of intrusive and invasive.

NAKU MAYO: I think from a regulatory standpoint, I think it might be overstepping some bounds.

KARL BRAUER, EXEC. ANALYST, ISEECARS.COM: I think the average consumer is going to see this as an overreach by the government.

MUNTEAN: Industry expert Karl Brauer says it will be up to car makers to accelerate safety without putting the brakes on sales.

BRAUER: I think a move like this is certainly a sign of the future. It's a preview of coming attractions and probably an unavoidable one.

MUNTEAN: A change can't come soon enough for Juan Paulido.

JUAN PAULIDO: I'm very hopeful they take it serious and they actually do make the changes.

MUNTEAN: His wife and kids were killed by an oncoming speeding drunk driver, a crash that served as inspiration for the NTSB calling for speed limiter systems.

PAULIDO: It's going to save lives. It's going to prevent more accidents from happening and less families having to go through what I'm going through.



WIRE: Ten-second trivia: "Velocipede", "hobby horse" and "running machine" were all early nicknames for what invention?

Treadmill, bicycle, golf cart, or elevator?

Answer is the two-wheeled bicycle evolved and improved over the course of a century thanks to several inventors.


WIRE: Sticking with our transportation theme today, I'm going to introduce you now to Dustin LaFont, a former middle school history teacher whose non-profit Front Yard Bikes helps thousands of kids in Louisiana turn bicycles into vehicles of opportunity. The program teaches students how to build their own bikes and gives them academic and job training opportunities.

Meet now Dustin LaFont.


DUSTIN LAFONT, CNN HERO: Our kids in south Louisiana grew up knowing they have to be resilient from day one.

The ties stay together.

We have a lot of storms. We have such poverty. There's not enough resources for education, for school, not enough food or nutrition.

We have a sobering murder rate, very high crime rate in Baton Rouge. If you look at the national ranks, we're at the bottom of a lot of them.

Inside, let's go, let's go.

We could probably get you a whole new stem with a bar that has new grips, is that what you would like the most? Something like that there's always this ingenuity we can make do with less and we can be creative and do more with it.

I want you to do this with me. All right. Can you grab onto it? And there we go.

All throughout my time at LSU, I was paying my way, so I just knew that if I was going to get to campus, I was going to do it by a bike. And if my bike was going to break, well, I better learn to fix it.

One kid on the street from me had a broken bike, so I told him I'll make you a deal, I will provide you the tools and I will teach you how to do this, I thought that was my you know Good Samaritan deed being a good Cajun neighbor, and that would be the only time I would ever build a bike like that.

But the next day, I met his brother, you know? Then I met his sister, then I met 15 of his best friends who started coming to my house every day looking for tools and bike pumps and bike parts. Kids would come after school and we would pull everything out and have this outdoor open classroom in a yard.

At that point, people in the neighborhood just called us the Front Yard Bike Shop.

After getting my masters, I went to teach middle school, history. There was hundreds and hundreds of kids who had no extracurricular outlet in middle school. They needed a space and a place to belong. Nothing was more infuriating than seeing a kid in my class and then one day that desk is empty, because they were expelled.

I really want to teach that kid. I want to see them get to that accomplishment. Our program is really open to anybody who would like to access it to build a bike. We want any kid of any age to come learn mechanics and build it, earn it.

I want you to take your lever and running around, all the way. There you go. So, now, we have to insert your tube next.

We have amazing talented wonderful kids who build and put in sweat and put in energy and put their all to making what they hope to be the vehicle of opportunity.

We've seen over 2,000 kids participate in our programs.

I'm proud of you. I love you guys. I want to announce the winners.

In our space, our students get opportunity to see themselves as builders, creators and designers, dreamers. There you go. That's all right.

It starts to build on this thought of affirming who they are, but they're a wonderful person, but they're a person that makes the world better. But they are beautiful.


WIRE: And here's something to talk about for today's "10 out of 10".

It looks like it's straight out of a spy movie. This massive yacht nearly half a football field long has open-air dining, a sprawled out sun deck with, a boat-a-full swimming pool, but it transforms, seals up and becomes a fancy schmancy submarine, too. You and 120 of your closest peers can dive 650 feet beneath the sea for up to four days at a time.

Unfortunately, it costs about $25 million, so dry land looks just fine too.

That's about all I have time for today. Remember, you are all more powerful than you know.

Before I go I want to give a special shout out to a crew from Wichita, Kansas, the Sunflower State. Hamilton Middle School sending us the love and we're sending it right back at you. Yachts what I'm talking about.

I'm Coy and this is CNN 10.