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The Gridlock Guy- Doug Turnbull

  • Last week’s column on e-scooters galvanized plenty of reactions. Most people emailed in with their ire about scooter riders and their leaving the electric devices all over the place like litter. But one Twitter exchange took a more defensive approach. User and reader Marian Lou wondered why faulty street design wasn’t part of my list of grievances. She suggested to her followers that Darin Givens from ThreadATL be allowed some time to share his views. Givens and I were both intrigued by the idea.  » RELATED: GDOT completes Cedar Ridge Road Bridge replacement two days early I wanted to learn exactly what street design problems existed and how fixing them would improve the commute, so I reached out to Givens, who co-founded ThreadATL. This organization is a group that advocates for smart design and planning policy in the City of Atlanta.  Givens started his advocacy after harrowing experiences pushing his son in a stroller on Ponce de Leon Ave. in Virginia Highlands. Sidewalks were in bad shape and drivers turned angrily in front of them in crosswalks. He moved into the City of Atlanta from Cobb County.  'I thought when I moved to the city, it would be pretty easy to get around,' Givens recalled, thinking that walking in the city certainly would be easier than even using mass transit. 'And I found out that just wasn't the case and that drivers were often pretty hostile to people who were not in cars.' So Givens started studying urban design as a hobby and began understanding what policies work in other cities. Then he began pushing for these types of plans in Atlanta. One of the biggest problems Givens sees is simply with the inefficient use of space on and around the roads. 'We cannot widen these streets really any more, because there are buildings up against them. So what we need to do is rethink how we use the width of these streets.' Givens noted the undoubted spatial efficiency of putting 50 people on one MARTA bus, which takes many vehicles off the roads and out of parking spaces. But ThreadATL's main focus is even simpler: optimizing street design to allow for safer pedestrian and bike-use. Overall, they want to reduce trips in cars.  Let's stop there - you've probably heard this urbanism train of thought before. Reducing car trips by taking to mass transit is a great goal in Atlanta, but the citizens and MARTA still have a lot of changes to make to make MARTA more viable to many. Givens and his group espouse another transportation strategy that gets less press.  'I feel like the biggest thing we can do is to reduce car speeds in this city, one way or the other,' Givens said, stating he and other advocates in this realm think all city street speed limits should lower to 25 miles per hour. 'The lower the speed you're going in a car, the less of a chance you have for that impact with a pedestrian or e-scooter or bicycle rider to be a fatal impact.'  We cover that concept every back to school season, as AAA data shows that pedestrians are far more likely to die at a 35 mph impact than 25.  Givens thinks the city could be better stewards of transportation funds. Instead of spending $33 million on the Northside Drive pedestrian bridge, he said they should spend money on smaller street improvements, such as narrowing vehicle lanes. 'Wider car lanes generally result in higher car speeds. In narrower lanes, drivers can drive more slowly and carefully.' This adjustment, Givens said, would then allow for construction of bike (and e-scooter) lanes without taking vehicle lanes away or impossibly widening the roads.  Givens looked out his condo window onto Ralph McGill Blvd., as he talked. He said the road is four, wide lanes and passing vehicles take advantage of that space. 'Every night, I mean, it's like they are drag racing out there. Cars are just flying out there. And this is a street that my son walks on.' Givens' point is that narrowing lanes will reduce those speeds, make the road more multi-modal (different types of transportation), and make the environment safer for pedestrians.  Givens and ThreadATL not only appeal to local leaders and administrators, but also neighborhood associations. Some of those neighborhood groups have been vehemently against bike lanes and other more urbanist measures, because of the traffic they fear such changes will create. Atlanta's adherence to car culture could be the biggest obstacle to reducing car trips and trying new ways to commute. But there are difficulties in making the switch. MARTA doesn't go a lot of places and can take longer than driving. Bicycle lanes don't exist in many areas, making rides less safe. And riding a bike in general is not everyone's cup of tea. Walking takes a longer time and more energy and sidewalks are not in great shape at all.  This is why Givens thinks that Atlanta could better spend transportation money and divert more to building 'complete streets' with narrower lanes, bike lanes, smart traffic lights, HAWK pedestrian signals, and more. Having these would at least encourage people to make some changes more easily.  In this same vein, Georgia Commute Options' 'Cear the Deck' campaign this week urges employers to sign up and allow employees to work remotely or to promote carpooling. They do this in an effort to reduce single vehicle occupancy. Last year's campaign yielded over 1,200 parking spaces saved.  The efforts and passion of Givens and people and organizations like him are necessary. Atlanta simply cannot grow and only cater to cars. Both the economy and the environment demand us to be inventive with our travels. But we have to be willing to take that risk. On another note, we cannot only advocate for travel outside of cars. The new and the old have to coexist to move the most people, the most safely, and in the least amount of time.  » RELATED: Work at I-285 and Ga. 400 means traffic hassles in north metro Atlanta Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on 95.5 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@coxinc.com.
  • With more and more kickstands flipping up on electric scooters in different pockets around Metro Atlanta, especially the capital city itself, the laissez-faire feel of the whole craze has hit a tipping point. The City of Atlanta, under increasing pressure to further regulate e-scooters after the fourth Metro Atlanta rider died last week, has taken the first steps at such. City officials announced Thursday a ban on e-scooter ridership between 9 p.m. and 4 a.m. Three of the four scooter deaths have occurred in this time frame. Expect this move to be only a stop-gap change, as more has to fall in place for e-scooters to grow and coexist with other forms of transportation. Atlanta first started trying to curb scooters in January, when the city banned the scooter-riding on sidewalks, instituted a 15 mph speed limit, and levied a $12,000 annual permit fee for e-scooter vendors. And the city has gotten more strict in enforcing the sidewalk ban in recent times, with violators on the hook for up to a $1,000 fine. But these initial stabs at trying to make both scooter riders and sidewalk pedestrians safer obviously didn’t go far enough. In the months since, the number of riders has grown and so have complaints. Pedestrians find the scooters annoying and dangerous, as more aggressive or flippant riders zigzag in and out of crowds. Those sudden moves increase the danger for both parties. Combine this with the fact that e-scooters now are banned from sidewalks and the annoyance level finds another height. But with legal scooterists now taking to streets and bike lanes, they find themselves in more danger. With no skill level required for a scooter patron and no helmet requirement (helmets are suggested, but not included on e-scooters), scooter riders are seemingly even more in danger in the street. So pedestrian safety improved at the cost of the safety of scooter riders. This is easily quantified by the fact that all four scooter deaths have taken place since scooters were banished from the sidewalks. Atlanta has now tried to stymie the increasing hazards by eliminating nighttime e-scooter-renting and riding when conditions are more dangerous and when people are more likely to use the handy bi-wheeled, low-riders to bar hop. And maybe this can at least stop the increase in injuries and deaths. But this doesn’t address the rest of the problems or maybe even the meat of the e-scooter controversy. Where are these things supposed to go? Atlanta cannot feasibly create scooter-only lanes everywhere. Heck, there aren’t even enough bicycle lanes around town for that more established transit vessel. Outside of the dangers of scooter riders being so close to passing motor vehicles unprotected, being mixed in with faster-moving and better-protected cyclists isn’t exactly a recipe for safety. There just doesn’t seem to be a great place for these scooters to operate. When the scooters aren’t in operation, riders dispense them all over the place, left to the mercy of entrepreneurial fellow citizens to gather them in bulk and charge them. As nimble, convenient, and modern as this may be, it does create a blight for many. And the responsibility for scooter operating companies seems very low. Their main overhead is the scooters themselves and then the apps that receive payments and activate the units. One solution to the haphazard scooter disposals could be requiring docks or racks for all e-scooters. But this certainly would be a major buzz-kill on the convenience level of this technology, which allows ridership of any distance. But the docking system works well for bike-share services, like Citi Bike. Enforcement, however, would be quite difficult and would more than likely fall upon the different operators to penalize customers with charges for not following this theoretical docking policy. And the docks themselves could also be aesthetically lacking and logistically challenging. Would all the e-scooter companies make their docks interchangeable, or would there have to be different docks for each company? There are more questions than answers going forward for the e-scooter craze. Not only Atlanta, but other Metro cities will have to decide in their own ways how to handle them as they spread to other city centers. Maybe scooters could soon return to sidewalks and BeltLine passing rules could be in place: the fast go to the left and the slow to the right. But e-scooter success takes cooperation of everyone, not the least of which being the highly criticized riders. One fact is certain — the status quo cannot and will not remain. Turnbull and Smilin’ Mark McKay discuss the e-scooter ins and outs on their most recent WSB Traffic Podcast. Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on 95.5 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@coxinc.com.
  • Outside of the Hands-Free Georgia Act changes in 2018, the road rule that seems to draw the most confusion from “Gridlock Guy” readers is about passing school buses. In 2018, Georgia legislators essentially liberalized when oncoming vehicles could pass stopped school buses as a concession for allowing automated cameras to catch violators. The new rule went into effect last July 1st - the same day as the stricter distracted driving rules; it lasted less than eight months.  » RELATED: Legislators take aim at school bus law they say endangers students On February 15th, 2019, newly inaugurated Governor Brian Kemp signed a revision into law that brought back the tougher regulations for oncoming vehicles. The 2018 law had eliminated the need for a raised or grassy median to be in place for oncoming vehicles to pass a school bus with its stop arm extended. Very simply, the 2019 revision has brought back that requirement for a center divider. This was Gov. Kemp’s first signing in his new post: in with the new, in with the old. The 2018 law change had caused confusion, as drivers on busy roads still continued to stop in the opposite direction of buses. Then groupthink persisted. When some people stopped unnecessarily, others stopped also, so as to not have appeared to be in violation. The herd caused people to doubt their own knowledge of the laws. It was a mess. One reader wrote in to describe this mess on Highway 9 in Roswell during morning drive. They, of course, were hoping that people would obey the 2018 version of the law and that traffic would start moving better. Alas, now people again must stop on any road that doesn’t have some sort of median divider. Child safety was the main concern of advocates for this reversion. Although school buses normally offload their precious cargo on the same side of the road as the actual stop, vehicles speeding by at 35 mph or more in the opposite direction seemed to be a recipe for disaster. Gov. Kemp’s Senate Bill 25 signature put the rule changes into effect immediately. So the rules actually got stricter in the middle of the spring semester. But the new school year warrants both a reminder of this change and a grander focus on school-zone safety this month. With 56 million children heading back to school, AAA again launches their “School’s Open — Drive Carefully” campaign. Pretty straightforward, right? The auto safety organization’s data shows that afternoon driving in school zones may require even more attention: nearly a third of all child-pedestrian fatalities occur between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. One factor in this is likely that roads are simply busier when school adjourns than when it starts each morning. Nonetheless, this is a sobering statistic. “We are aware of the risk to children in and around school zones,” says Sasha Marcinczyk, Georgia Field Vice President, AAA — The Auto Club Group, on why AAA has championed this campaign since 1946. “If Georgia motorists slow down and stay alert, they can save lives.” That notion is certainly why the first of AAA’s seven safety tips is about watching school-zone speed. Pedestrians hit by vehicles at 25 mph (the normal school-zone speed) are two-thirds more likely to survive being struck by a vehicle than at 35 mph. If that stat doesn’t prompt someone to drive with an egg shell under their throttle, none will. Other AAA back-to-school driving safety tips including eliminating distractions behind the wheel, being extra careful when driving in reverse, reminding teenagers of driving risks (crashes are the number -one killer of teens and most occur between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.), coming to complete stops at stop signs and lights, and watching for bicycles. AAA also reminds people to also be on the lookout for its School Safety Patrollers. Around 654,000 school children in this program help remind commuters, parents — and other students — to be mindful of each other and safe. Sometimes schools are hidden atop hills or around curves, so Safety Patrollers with their bright yellow or orange belts really stand out and remind those passing by that they are in a school zone. Whether around buses or schools, we all have a responsibility to keep children and each other safe. Remember in most cases that vehicles must stop around loading buses. And don’t forget the importance of minding speeds and distractions near schools. A small change in speed or a small lapse in attention can be the difference in life or death.  » RELATED: Excitement, fear abound as some metro Atlanta schools open Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on 95.5 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@coxinc.com.
  • Driving with more functionality and conveniences behind the wheel, but also less distractions seems like a choice at divergent paths. That isn’t necessarily true, as newer technology features more voice commands and a sleeker integration into the bigger and bigger screens in vehicle infotainment systems. But recent AAA studies find that while these digital dashboards get better, they still cost far too much brain power for drivers.  » RELATED: Study: Georgia cellphone law reduced distracted driving While in-vehicle navigation, music, and texting may be built-in to the dashboards and hands-free, they still take drivers’ attention off the road. AAA’s most recent study that measured drivers’ maneuvers with both the technology and driving did so on about two dozen different vehicle models. It not only measured how distracted people are overall with this technology, but also which vehicles’ infotainment systems were most and least distracting.  These studies found that, on average, a person is distracted for 40 seconds when programming navigation and that navigation and voice-to-speech (hands-free) texting are the most cognitively demanding tasks on these systems. The studies also show that Apple CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto are easily more safe and less demanding than the various systems that manufacturers use.  Sygic is a worldwide GPS company that hopes to become a part of these infotainment systems. The 15-year old Slovak company, which boasts 200 million downloads of its navigation app of the same name, is hoping to extend the idea of hands-free to another realm of the navigation experience: crash and road obstruction-reporting.  Sygic Senior Global PR official Marek Lelovic said that the app will eventually be able to use the camera on a driver’s phone or that is already built into a vehicle to sense crashes, construction, stalls, and other road problems.  'Artificial intelligence will not only recognize it, but will also warn other users,' Lelovic explained. He said that the traffic info on this app will eventually be more accurate than competitors Google and Waze, because it can instantly get the data that the cams give it, from surrounding Sygic users, and from GPS titan TomTom. Lelovic said they are still working on ways to eliminate duplicate reporting of wrecks (a big problem that Waze has) and they hope that by next year they can have this technology more perfected and used by more commuters in the U.S.  Another Sygic feature is the augmented reality of the route, as opposed to a digitized map. 'We use augmented reality to show you the route in the real world,' Lelovic said. This innovation will overlay road names and other route info onto a view of the roads that looks more similar to Google Earth or Street View.  The WSB Traffic Team released the Triple Team Traffic Alerts App two years ago and we continue to work on some updates we would like to make the experience even easier to use with minimal distractions. For those that haven’t used it, the app’s biggest feature is our automatic audio traffic reports that play automatically (when you’re running the app in the background while you’re driving) when you drive near a big traffic problem. We also send push notifications to different geographical regions when bigger problems break out. And reporting crashes is as simple as pushing the phone button and calling the WSB 24-Hour Traffic Center.  We still very much value traffic experts - actual humans - to process and vet this information and decide what is best and most pertinent for commuters.  There is no doubt that in-vehicle technology is continuing to improve, including ours. The idea of apps automatically detecting wrecks is the next step in decreasing distractions. But for every feature added, that’s a new item for drivers to look at and consider. As motorists, we need to do our best to decide what really is worth having at our fingertips when driving. Maybe making a call is, but not a hands-free text. Maybe eliminating reading emails hands-free is a way to minimize distractions. The conveniences will keep expanding. But heed AAA’s warning on trying to use them. Having the world at one’s fingertips is tempting, but the thing between those fingers - the steering wheel - is the most demanding and vital tool and responsibility.  » RELATED: Georgia's distracted driving law: Have you put down your phone? Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on News 95-5 FM and AM-750 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@coxinc.com.
  • Stories and headlines often precede most major holidays about the best and worst times to travel. The large banks of data that firms like INRIX, Waze, and Google collect can be extremely useful in tracking past behavior and informing our present and future. Motorists plan around trends and have more data than ever to do so. But data is only useful if applied within context. » RELATED: Atlanta ranks among America’s ‘most congested’ cities The recent July 4th weekend came with its own headlines about traffic trends. AAA anticipated nearly two million more motorists would hit the road, and more than 40 million would drive. But within their holiday news release came this surprising revelation from travel data firm INRIX: the worst time to travel for the July 4th weekend was supposed to be July 5th from 5-7 p.m. This seemed very much counterintuitive. This past July 4th was a Thursday, meaning traffic data was predicting that the busiest time to travel would be a Friday afternoon. Friday afternoon traffic before holidays is generally awful, with PM rush hours that start and peak very early, but that usually ends early. Recent July 4th holidays have happened midweek, so many people not taking most or all of those weeks off would have to return on a July 5th. This trend is what informed traffic data to spell July 5th as a busy travel holiday. Data is a prism and all sides need examining to make the proper judgment. One beam of refraction seemingly left unseen in this data dump is the day of the week the holiday fell upon and how that would influence driver decision making differently. With Independence Day at the end of the week, that meant people were much more likely to take a four- or five-day weekend and extend the holiday. In fact, PM drive on July 3rd was more like a pre-holiday Friday. The roads got busier around lunch and stayed thick into the evening. Let the weekend begin! But if the weekend was on, why would it end on a Friday afternoon? This report brought news organizations (including the three for which I work) to run the headline suggesting that the worst traffic would be a time when people would be dead-center in the middle of their holiday. The WSB Traffic Team was fully staffed for Friday afternoon, just in case. Here’s what happened: The Friday PM commute wasn’t heavier than normal. It was actually far lighter than normal, just as the morning commutes generally were that week. There was no PM drive. The ride on I-75 in Henry County wasn’t even that slow. The only real delays anywhere in Atlanta were because of wrecks. The robots guessed wrong. In fact, the worst travel period of the July 4th holiday was what we suspected it to be. Saturday and especially Sunday afternoons saw droves of people marching up and down I-75 in the McDonough-Stockbridge area. People leaving town, returning, and passing through stopped it up. And this caught those going merely by headlines and trends off guard. So the lesson here is that we should always question headlines, studies, stories, and data and hold them up against common sense. If any headline causes you to raise your eyebrows, read the whole story. If it still doesn’t sit right, consider what factors the story or study may have missed. Frankly, more media outlets (including my own) would do themselves better to question studies before writing them into stories and presenting them as facts. Fortunately on News 95.5/AM750 WSB, Atlanta’s Morning News host Scott Slade and I talked on the air briefly about if we thought roads would be that bad in that 5-7 p.m. window on July 5th. We each expressed our skepticism and said why we did not. The other lesson learned in this missed prediction is again that raw data is nothing without the proper analysis and filter of common sense. Sure, our sense can be wrong and data has proven that. But traffic statistics have often times come presented as sheer fact and have conflicted each other. Several years ago, there were two studies just months apart that ranked how bad Atlanta’s traffic was. One said Atlanta had one of the top 10 worst commutes in the world. The other said that Atlanta’s rush hours were 12th-worst in the U.S. While those studies are fun to read and brag or moan about, they make little difference on our commutes themselves. Their results were so far apart that the studies just look silly. There are all sorts of ways to measure bad traffic and they can each produce different results. So just as we should with any bit of information, we need to hold them against what we know and expect before accepting them as fact. A little bit more critical thinking around the July 5th commuting data might have made for some different, more accurate headlines and conclusions. » RELATED: Atlanta's traffic mess: More solutions from our readers Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on News 95-5 FM and AM-750 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@coxinc.com.

News

  • A Texas couple was killed moments after their marriage Friday when their car and a pickup truck collided on a highway outside the justice of the peace courtroom. >> Read more trending news  Harley Joe Morgan, 19, and Rhiannon Boudreaux Morgan, 20, both of Vidor, died in the 3 p.m. collision, KFDM reported. The newlyweds were pulling out of the private drive of Joy Dubose-Simonton, a justice of the peace, according to the Orange Police Department. The couple was heading to the Orange County Courthouse to file their marriage license, the Beaumont Enterprise reported. Police said Harley Morgan was driving a 2004 Chevrolet and a man was driving a 2015 Ford F-250 pickup truck towing a trailer carrying a tractor. KDFM reported. Police said Harley Morgan was exiting the private drive when the vehicles collided. The impact caused the car to flip multiple times before coming to rest in a ditch. the Enterprise reported. The mother and sister of the groom told KDFM they witnessed the crash. 'They had just gotten married,' Kennia Lashawna Morgan, the groom's mother. told the television station. 'They haven't even been married for five minutes.' Dubose-Simonton, who performed the wedding, attended their bodies as a coroner, KTVT reported.  The driver of the pickup truck was not injured, the television station reported. Police have not released the cause of the crash.
  • Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch have made their marks as professional wrestlers. Now, both believe they have formed a perfect match and are ready to grapple with married life. >> Read more trending news  The WWE stars announced their engagement Thursday, with Lynch, 32, announcing the news on Instagram.. “Happiest day of my life,” Lynch wrote in her post. Lynch and Rollins’ fellow WWE stars shared their congratulations in the comments section, along with Nikki Bella and her sister, Brie Bella, People reported. “Awww yay! Love this so much!” Nikki Bella wrote. “You deserve all the happiness in the world!!! Love you Becky!!!” “Yay!!!! Congrats!!! So happy for you both!!!” Brie Bella wrote. On Twitter, Rollins called himself the 'luckiest man alive' and posted a photo of Lynch showing off her engagement ring.
  • Lindsey Vonn and P.K. Subban are making the switch from Olympic rings to wedding rings. >> Read more trending news  Vonn, 34, a gold medalist in the 2010 Olympics and winner of 82 World Cup skiing events, made the announcement Friday on Instagram. She and Subban have been dating for at least a year, ESPN reported. 'He said YES!!' Vonn posted. 'Can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with this crazy/kind/handsome/hyper/giving man.' Subban, 30, won a gold medal as a member of Canada's men's hockey team at the 2014 Olympics, ESPN reported. He was traded from the Nashville Predators to the New Jersey Devils in June. The couple met two years ago at the Nickelodeon sports show that follows the ESPYs, Vogue reported. The pair made their relationship official in a red carpet at the CMT Music Awards in June 2018, People reported. “Right off the bat, I knew he was different,” Vonn told Vogue. “But I’d been married before, so I was pretty hesitant to let myself think that I could find someone that I would want to be married to again. After a few months of dating, I knew he was the one I wanted to be with, though. He makes me happy, and he’s so positive and energetic.” In addition to her marriage to skier Thomas Vonn, Lindsey Vonn dated golfer Tiger Woods for nearly three years until they split up in 2015, ESPN reported. 'Lindsey's the best thing that's ever happened to me,' Subban told Vogue. 'There are people in life that deserve to be with good people. They have that person who takes care of them and makes them smile, and she deserves to be with someone who loves her more than anything else in the world, and I do.' Vonn said the couple has not set a date for the wedding but will live in New Jersey, Vogue reported. We’re in such a busy time right now. We’re trying to move to New Jersey,” Vonn told the magazine. “I just want to enjoy the moment and the engagement. We’re not in a big hurry to get married. It kind of depends on his playing schedule, and when we have time to sit down and go through it. I don’t want to stress him out because he has a big season coming.”
  • A school resource officer is out of a job after she filmed a nude video of herself inside an elementary school bathroom during her shift. >> Read more trending news  Kissimmee Police told WFTV the woman removed her badge, uniform and gun when she went to the bathroom at Kissimmee Charter Academy to make the video for her husband in December. The video, which is heavily blurred, shows the woman asking the recipient what they thought of her video. The video was unearthed after the Osceola County Sheriff's Office investigated a personal incident with the school resource officer and her husband.  An investigation showed that while she was on lunch break, she was subject to recall at any point. Police said she was fired because if a shooting had occurred, she wouldn't have been able to respond.  The officer said that she locked the bathroom door and does not believe she should have been fired.  WFTV did not include the woman's name, as it was redacted in the report. 
  • A Nevada man overcame a weighty problem to become the first member of his family to enlist in the U.S. Army. >> Read more trending news  Seven months ago, Luis Enrique Pinto Jr., of Las Vegas, weighed 317, which meant he could not pass the Army's weight requirements, Army Times reported. The 18-year-old embarked on a program of exercise and diet and shed 113 pounds, allowing him to report to basic training, KNTV reported. Pinto now stands 6 feet, 1 inch and weighs 204 pounds, the television station reported. Pinto had been an offensive lineman in high school and had a steady diet of carbohydrates, but he changed his diet and dropped the pounds. 'I had struggled with weight my whole life. I’ve always been a big kid,' Pinto told KNTV. The biggest hurdle to losing weight was cardio training, Army officials said in a news release. Pinto began to combine jogging and sprinting to improve his times. 'Running wasn't my strong suit,' Pinto said in the news release. 'Carrying all that extra weight and trying to run definitely increased my time.' 'When no one was looking, I was doing push-ups in my room, eating right, knowing what to eat,' Pinto told KTNV. 'I feel like everyone has the power to know what they take into their body, so I just took that into consideration. I just did the right thing at the end of the day,' Pinto's work ethic impressed his friends, family and his Army recruiter, Staff Sgt. Philip Long. 'There were a couple times where he hit a plateau. He would lose a pound or two, maybe,' Long told KTNV. 'But to continue to push forward and put the effort and dedication in, it inspires me and it should inspire you.' Pinto will report to basic training in September, Army Times reported.
  • Six inmates were injured -- two seriously -- during a prison riot Friday night at a San Diego prison, officials said. >> Read more trending news  The disturbance began at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility shortly after 8 p.m., The San Diego Union-Tribune reported. Cal Fire San Diego spokesman Capt. Thomas Shoots said approximately 100 prisoners were in the prison yard when the riot broke out, the newspaper reported. It was not clear how many inmates were involved in the riot, the Union-Tribune reported. Officials with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said a fight involving several inmates on the recreation yard escalated into a riot, KNSD reported. According to KSWB, staff members ordered the inmates to stop fighting. When the fighting continued, 'officers used several rounds of less than lethal use of force to quell the disturbance.' Two of the inmates were seriously injured and airlifted to area hospitals, Shoots told the Union-Tribune. No prison staff members were injured, KNSD reported.