February 4, 2014
Host: Ted Simons
Arizona Highway and Safety Laws
- The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety has released its 2014 Roadmap of State Highways and Safety Laws and Arizona was ranked among the worst states. Linda Gorman of AAA Arizona will talk about what progress Arizona has made in passing new highway safety laws and the need for more legislation.
- Linda Gorman - AAA Arizona
| Keywords: law
Ted Simons: A group of highway safety advocates has released the road map of state highway and safety laws, and Arizona was ranked among the worst for occupant protection and distracted driving. Joining us so Linda Gorman of AAA Arizona. Good to see you. Who did this study and what were they looking at?
Linda Gorman: It's a consumer group. The advocate for auto highway, or highway and auto safety, so they look at this every year, and they rank the states based on red, yellow, or green, and 11 states, including Arizona, ranked red. And it really has to do with traffic safety laws, so, there are a lot of opportunities for, for improvement, however, we have made a lot of great strides in the past few years, too, so we don't want to discount the strides that we have made.
Ted Simons: We don't want to discount it but I looked at the report, and the map, and there is Arizona bright red down there in the corner, and we're surrounded by a bunch of states that aren't bright red. What are they doing that we're not doing?
Ted Simons: Well, the report included a lot of different recommendations for improvement, but, what they really focused on, the bigger issues are primary seat belt laws, so what we have in Arizona is a secondary seat belt law, what that means is that, is that you cannot be pulled over or cited for not wearing a seat belt. Whereas if you have driven through California you know that as soon as you cross the line you can be pulled over for not wearing a seat belt alone, and so we know that seat belts save lives, and primary laws in Arizona alone could have saved 66 lives last year.
Ted Simons: It sounds like, according to the report, teenage driving, big factor there, as well, we don't seem to be doing as well as others. Why?
Linda Gorman: Teenage driving is another big issue that, that graduated driver's licensing is something that AAA lobbied for, for, since the early 90's, and we did make some, some modest improvements in 2007, but we need to do more. So, a couple, three areas that we can look at in terms of the strengthening of the law, one would be night-time restrictions, second passenger limitations, and the third is wireless use. So, those are the three areas. If you look at night-time restriction, and it makes sense because teens do best when they learn how to drive in steps. And they do it during daylight hours, and we have a midnight to 5 a.m. restriction, if we bump that an hour we could save more lives.
Ted Simons: And one more area of concern is distracted driving. We're not doing too well. Explain.
Linda Gorman: We don't have a statewide ban recognizing that but what this report looked at, is that we need to remove distractions from novice drivers, and these drivers, the foundation for traffic safety has shown that these drivers have cell phones, and they are three to five times more likely to be involved in a crash if they use the wireless phone, texting or even talking on the phone, so we recommend a ban that would prohibit the drivers for the permitted period, and the first six months of unsupervised driving from using the phone at all.
Ted Simons: It's interesting. We need to get to the positives. Child passenger safety. Impaired driving. Arizona did pretty well.
Linda Gorman: Yes, and I am so glad you brought that up. It's not all bad. We have made great progress in terms of the strengthening the child passenger safety law, and added booster seat protection, and a very, very stiff ignition interlock policy to prevent drunk driving, so, there is, there are some private spots, so we should not overlook those. However, we should not ignore needed improvements.
Ted Simons: So what do you think that we need to take from this report?
Linda Gorman: Well, there are very modest changes that we can make immediately that would save lives. So, I mentioned the wireless ban for new teen drivers, and there is a bill being introduced this session, and house bill sponsored by representative sand, that would do just that, ban wireless devices for, for the permit period and the first six months where a teen has his unsupervised driver's license. That would allow teens to, to learn how to drive in an environment free from, free from distractions.
Ted Simons: And other -- it looks like maybe an all rider motorcycle helmet law.
Linda Gorman: That was included in the report, which makes sense. Arizona has seen a spike in not only motorcycle registrations but also motorcycle deaths since 2010. It's common sense knowing if you wear a motorcycle, you are less likely to become seriously injured or die.
Ted Simons: Last question, working with the legislature, seeing what, what they are interested in and not, are these -- do these ideas have traction down there?
Linda Gorman: Well, I do think, if you look -- you cannot say that, that -- I don't think it's fair the legislators don't have interest in safety because I think that, that they do, and as you pointed out, so I think that there is some interest, but, things like the, the GDL bill, banning wireless usage, I think, is something palatable and has good support.
Ted Simons: All right. Linda, good to see you and thanks for joining us.
Linda Gorman: Thank you.
- The flu has turned deadly in Arizona, with at least one adult and one pediatric death being reported in Yuma County. State health officials say it is widespread in the highest category possible. Jessica Rigler, Bureau Chief for the State Bureau of Epidemiology and Disease control, will give us a flu update.
- Jessica Rigler - Bureau Chief, State Bureau of Epidemiology and Disease control
| Keywords: medical
Ted Simons: Coming up next on "Arizona Horizon," health officials warn that the flu is widespread across the state. We'll have the latest. Also, an update on global climate change policy, with a former advisor to two Prime Ministers. And we'll find out where Arizona stands on roadway safety laws. Those stories next on "Arizona Horizon."
Narrator: "Arizona Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the friends of Eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.
Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. The flu has turned deadly with one adult and one pediatric death reported in Yuma County. To talk about how hard it is hitting Arizona, we have Jessica Rigler, bureau chief for the state bureau of epidemiology and disease control. Good to have you here and thanks for joining us.
Jessica Rigler: Thank you for having me.
Ted Simons: So how hard is Arizona getting hit?
Jessica Rigler: We're reporting widespread at all time levels like you have said. So we’re seeing flu all over the state currently.
Ted Simons: And the widespread level, is that like the highest level that you can get?
Jessica Rigler: It is the highest level you can get, yes.
Ted Simons: So compared to last year what are you seeing?
Jessica Rigler: We had more cases at this time last year than we do this year. About 40 percent more cases, actually. And, and the thing this year is that it seems like the flu is more severe. It's hitting people more severely this year.
Ted Simons: Interesting, and is it higher, maybe than -- you look at five-year averages and stuff, higher than the five-year average?
Jessica Rigler: No, we're lower than we typically expect to be at this time.
Ted Simons: So basically, it sounds as though it's there, not as much but hitting harder, is that because of the flu strain?
Jessica Rigler: It could be. It's hard to say before we look back at the season, but right now the strain that's circulating is the same H1N1 strain we saw in 2009, and that strain hits folks in the adult age group 18-49 about to harder than it does in the youngsters, or at the senior population.
Ted Simons: I seem to remember back, with the swine flu we're talking about?
Jessica Rigler: That's correct.
Ted Simons: We talked about this back in the day. They were saying some older folks had been, you know, exposed to this, and that's why that younger generation, that particular age group, was getting hit harder. Does that make sense?
Jessica Rigler: We have seen literature to support that back from an outbreak, in 1976 that may suggest what you are saying is true. We don't know for sure.
Ted Simons: So you, if you were exposed, a better chance to avoid it this time?
Jessica Rigler: That's right.
Ted Simons: Best chance to avoid is still the flu shot?
Jessica Rigler: Getting vaccinated. We want folks to go out and get their flu shot, that's going to be the best protection.
Ted Simons: Is that flu shot, the vaccine, is it, is it addressing H1N1 or something similar?
Jessica Rigler: The H1N1 virus circulating is included in this year's shot. So the shot this year is really a good match for all the strains circulating currently.
Ted Simons: Are you seeing some areas hit harder than others in Arizona?
Jessica Rigler: Right now it's widespread.
Ted Simons: So rural, urban? No real -- is that unusual to not see a differential?
Jessica Rigler: From week to week we might but once you get into a the peak where you see it, it's normal to see it all over.
Ted Simons: And as far as the flu, itself, it just seems as though every year it happens. Ok. And I'm wondering, is it happening earlier? It seems like February, and maybe into March, we're talking about this, we're into February, and obviously, but it's early. Seems kind of early.
Jessica Rigler: You know, the one thing that we like to say is that the only thing predictable about the flu is that it's unpredictable so we expect it to start sometime in late September or early October, and to last into may, but, where that peak happens, and where you are seeing the number of cases, that can vary, January, February, and March, it's really different every year.
Ted Simons: And are you thinking that the peak hasn't happened yet?
Jessica Rigler: It's so hard to say. Some of our reports come in later than they were diagnosed. Right now we're on the upward swing and we could turn that corner and go down. We have seen states in the southeast start, start turning the corner and going down and seeing a decrease in cases. But, it's really too soon to tell.
Ted Simons: As far as Arizona and the rest of the country, do we follow a pattern? Do you see it first in the northeast, southeast, northwest, and then Arizona? How does that work?
Jessica Rigler: Every year is different, and, and so, you cannot look at one year and say the next one will be the same.
Ted Simons: Can you look at the weather? It's been a relatively mild winter. Does that make a difference?
Jessica Rigler: There is theories out there that where it's colder and people are congregated closer together indoors you may get more rapid spread of flu and maybe a higher number of cases. But, we're seeing cases in Arizona, and you know it's beautiful out here now. So, it's, it's tough to say there, as well.
Ted Simons: It's probably an old wives' tale but when the weather is bad and cold, people get colds and the flu.
Jessica Rigler: Not a lot of cold weather, and I don't think that it's really related to the temperature as much as the congregation of folks in an indoor environment.
Ted Simons: As far as the vaccine is concerned, still, you can still get the vaccine, the flu shot, why equity?
Jessica Rigler: That's right.
Ted Simons: Should you still get the flu shot?
Jessica Rigler: We would say yes. From the state Health Department perspective, it is important to get yourself protected if you are not already. I would caution it takes two weeks for the body to build the immunity, so if you get it today, you can't expect to have immunity until two weeks. If you come into contact with the flu between now and two weeks, it is possible you will get it.
Ted Simons: And especially in the age group, that demographic that it is getting hit the hardest by this H1N1 is probably the group that doesn’t get flu shots.
Jessica Rigler: Right, it has a lower number of shots than the rest of the population.
Ted Simons: Good information and good to have you here, and thanks for joining us.
Jessica Rigler: Thank you very much.
Sustainability: Climate Diplomat John Ashton
- Climate Diplomat John Ashton will be taking part in an Arizona State University panel discussion on the future of global climate policy and other issues. Ashton, a former climate policy advisor to two former British Prime Ministers, will appear on Arizona Horizon to talk about global climate policy.
- John Ashton - Climate Diplomat
| Keywords: sustainability
Ted Simons: ASU's Global Institute of Technology will be hosting a panel discussion tomorrow on the future of global climate change policy. The event starts at 4 p.m. inside Wrigley hall on ASU's Tempe campus. Among the featured speakers, John Ashton who served as the former climate policy advisor for two British Prime Ministers. It's good to have you here.
John Ashton: It's a great pleasure to be with you this evening.
Ted Simons: The, this event is titled Rescuing Climate Policy. Why does global climate policy need rescuing?
John Ashton: Because it's not working. Is the short answer to that. And, and so, that raises a really interesting question. Throughout our lifetimes we have hit a lot of problems in Britain and America and all the economies. We hit problems and we're creative at finding ways of solving our problems. We have big, big, financial crisis in 2008, and America is really picking itself up from that crisis. But climate change is a problem where we have not so far been able to do that. We have a lot of ideas about how to do it, but we have not been able to put it all together, and break through and, and there are lots of conversations going on around the world about why that should be the case. And I think that ASU is convening under micro, some extremely interesting conversations, and that's why I'm here, and I think that part of that is the idea that you really have to get people out of their stove pipes. We live in a stove pipe way, people are experts on different things, but, this is about the whole of society, the whole of the economy, and how do we build a sense of the future into which we can fit a solution to climate change, and that's why it's exciting to, to be taking part in the event tomorrow at ASU.
Ted Simons: Is a major problem, you said, the problem of climate change, is it a major concern that, that, that some very vocal folks don't think that climate change is a problem?
John Ashton: I think it's a concern that there is some powerful forces at the moment operating to try and keep us on a kind of business as usual track. And one of the, the strategies you have seen has been a very serious attempt to undermine what the scientific community, or to, to undermine the credibility of what the scientific community has been, has been saying. As you go around the world and look at what is happening, you find that all kinds of different societies are experiencing more and more climactic stresses, which look very similar to the kind of stresses that the scientists have been saying we're going to be experiencing, and I think at the level of personal and public experience, that argument has, actually, is over. And I think that people, people realize around the world something funny is going on. They don't know what it is. They don't know what to do about it. But, I just think that, that the real problem is what do we do about it and what do we do with that? And that's not a science question. It’s not even an environment question. It seems it is an economy and politics question. How do we find a way of dealing with this, which is attractive in terms of the jobs and the growth and the competitiveness at a time when there is an enormous amount of anxiety about jobs and growth and competitiveness?
Ted Simons: It sounds like you change from an existing carbon intensive model to, to, at best, a carbon-neutral model. Does government do this? Does capital do this? Does Government and capital do this? Who does this?
John Ashton: I think you put your finger on it, it has to be together. This is not a minor adjustment to the structure of the economy. If you think about it, what was the Industrial Revolution about, that was, that was, that created a very fairly defined foundation for economic growth, which was a high carbon foundation. If you want to go to a low carbon emission, government, public, and private capital can't do it by itself, government and private capital are not very good, certainly, in Britain. Coming to, to a common understanding of how to deal with any particular problems, so that's one of the barriers, and then you have a lot of other voices. You have the faith groups, and you have the NGOs and the professions, and everybody has a stake in this, and we have to find a way of building a conversation where we all feel our voices are being heard and moving forward.
Is it a conversation that, I don't know for lack of a better phrase, is forced until someone, somewhere, perhaps, right now, perhaps, in the future, still, develops an advanced energy system that makes all of this conversation moot?
John Ashton: It's tempting to see it in that way. But actually, I don't think that that's really the heart of the matter. We have the advanced energy systems now, and we know, we know what to do in terms of the technology and engineering. And actually, one of the, one of the interesting things that has changed despite the overall lack of progress, one of the things that has changed in the last few years, is that you could see very significant examples in some of the major economies. All the low carbon economy working in practice. We have had, in Britain, a pretty stagnant economy since 2008, since Lehman Brothers and all of that. Just starting to pick up again now. Meanwhile, the low carbon economy has been growing at 4 percent. Quite spectacular. China is investing in enormous amounts in a reconfigured energy system. Everybody says it's about coal in China, and yes, there is a lot of coal, but if you look at what's happening in solar and wind, they are putting in the equivalent of 50 large power stations worth of solar, for example and Germany has days where it is getting more than 50 percent of its electricity from, from solar and wind. So, you can, actually, see on the ground some powerful examples of the transition happening and, and contributing to hope about, about jobs and growth, rather than anxiety about jobs and growth.
Ted Simons: Is it -- are we seeing a grassroots kind of a thing right now? And if we are, what gets that grassroots level above board in a big, swaying trees, if you will.
John Ashton: You don't have a critical mass. You don't have enough to criminal drive us across the threshold, but, I mean, I mentioned Germany just now, Germany is an interesting case because the, among the least popular institutions in Germany, at the moment, are the, the big utility companies. People feel that they are remote, that they are exploiting the consumer and they are charging too much for electricity. And, and one of the attractions of this transition has been, has been that you have got communities coming together, and you say grass roots, this is real grass roots stuff, and building their own local electricity systems based on renewable energy, nearly half of all of the new renewable energy in Germany in the last few years has come from those local grassroots initiatives, and that's partly because people want to do something about climate change, but it's more because people want to liberate themselves from the sinister clutches of the remote utilities who they don't like.
Ted Simons: What about the sinister clutches of Government? You mentioned China, and I think they are like a number two as far as oil and coal in the country, as far as, you know, emissions. I think Russia, isn't Russia number one these days? How do you convince Russia and China, Government run here, that this is the way to go?
John Ashton: There is an enormous difference between those two because Russia is, is a producer of, of oil and coal and natural gas. And wants to sell as much of it as possible to, to people who will buy it from them. Whereas China, China does have a lot of domestic coal but essentially it's a consumer economy. China is very worried about the way in which the rising demand from the Chinese economy tends to push off the price of oil, for example. And also, to create pressure that is mean the price of oil is unpredictable. You might get more dramatic spikes in the price in the future. So, there is a lot of concern in China. How do we get off this hook? It's about getting off the hook of fossil fuels, and that's a much more conducive, if you are looking for where are you going to see the most rapid progress, I would not, at the moment, look in the direction of Russia. But I am looking in the direction of China. And what I'm seeing is really interesting.
Ted Simons: Can you look in a direction of the United States, considering, and I am going back to this, we'll get, get email, we'll get telephone calls, climate change doesn't exist. It's nature’s way, it falls within the variability, the temperature changes recently. This whole business of the CO-2 levels before the two celsius increase and before the industrial age. Who cares if it's two celsius, nature has gone six this way and four. We hear those arguments a lot. And those arguments hold a lot of sway in at least one major chamber of Congress here. How do you convince folks it's wrong?
John Ashton: Well, I am, I am aware of the intensity of the emotions that go around, and I have to say, America is very much a part of my life, my mother had a second family in Pennsylvania, in all my previous activities before I became involved with climate change. America has been an important part of that. I don't know whether I should say this on your show, but, you know, America is part of me, I love America. But, the America that I came to love as a child was an America that had the best science in the world, that respected and listened to what was coming out of the science, and had an optimism about its ability to build a better future for Americans, by taking the messages coming out of science and turning them into technology and into a sense that we can take control of our destiny. I think one of the things, as a friend of America that makes me sad and anxious now, is that that does not seem to be the case anymore. The debate about climate change is not really, it seems to me, a debate about climate change. It has become a symbol in a deeper debate about where America is going and what it means to be American, and what's the relationship, the correct relationship between the government and the market, for example, in America. And it's very hard in that situation to mobilize the forces that you need to mobilize in order to be, if you like, a leader in the global effort rather than a follower in the global effort. The right place for America, it seems to me, in any great process of transformation, is to be a leader and to be seen as a leader, and it pains me to, as I travel around the world, to China, around Europe, to Africa and to Asia, at the moment, America is seen as a follower in this debate because it's got tied up in this knot. I would say one more thing, if I may, about Arizona because it's, it's really exciting for me to be here. It seems to me this is a state where you have a very direct experience of climactic stress. You have a drought going on at the moment and a prospect of hotter and dryer conditions. But, you also spend in Arizona, $12 billion a year importing oil and gas and coal. And if America is going to make this transition, it seems to me Arizona is going to be a winner from it. You have a tremendous resource of low carbon energy, not leased in solar. And so, I think that, that, you know, Arizona is -- so, ASU is in a very interesting position. It has very good leadership. The Global Institute of Sustainability and the people there are breaking down those barriers between stove pipes and convening these conversations. I am going to keep coming back here if I can because I would love to see how that goes.
Ted Simons: It's good to have you here and thank you very much for joining us. We appreciate it.
John Ashton: Ted, thank you very much.