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Voter ID, Construction Trends, and Distracted Driving: Thursday’s show (June 2, 2016)

Judges for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit heard oral arguments last week (May 24, 2016) over a challenge to the state’s voter ID law. Plaintiffs allege the requirement violates section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, by making it more difficult — specifically for African Americans and Latinos — to cast […]

Judges for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit heard oral arguments last week (May 24, 2016) over a challenge to the state’s voter ID law. Plaintiffs allege the requirement violates section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, by making it more difficult — specifically for African Americans and Latinos — to cast a ballot. The ID requirement was initially blocked in 2011 based on Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act but then was implemented in 2013 after the Supreme Court struck down that section of the act.

On this edition of Houston Matters, we walk through the history of this legal battle to date and discuss what the Fifth Circuit is likely to rule with the help of Charles “Rocky” Rhodes, professor of law at South Texas College of Law.

Also this hour:

Construction Trends In Harris County

Rice’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research has released a new study examining construction trends across Harris County. It’s called “Houston in Flux: Understanding a Decade of Bayou City Development.” We learn more about it from two of the institute’s researchers: Kelsey Walker and Kyle Shelton.

Examining the Triggers That Lead to Distracted Driving

Amid ongoing concern over the proliferation of texting while driving, researchers from the University of Houston and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute set out to determine how absent-mindedness and stress impact driving and learned along the way that while texting is far more distracting than talking on the phone, there are cognitive, emotional and sensory factors at play in those and other activities which can lead to distracted driving. The report, published last month in the journal Nature, also offers insight into the importance of — as the old adage puts it — keeping your eyes on the road. We talk with report co-author and computer science professor Ioannis Pavlidis, founder of the Computational Physiology Lab at the University of Houston.

Killing Time in a Houston Traffic Jam

Now that research has reinforced how important it is to keep a close eye on your surroundings while driving, we share a quintessential Houston experience: sitting in a traffic jam. News 88.7 transportation reporter Gail Delaughter joins us in the passenger seat to discuss what we Houstonians do, think and feel when we’re locked in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Houston Matters offers a free daily, downloadable podcast here, on iTunes, Stitcher and various other podcasting apps.

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