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Traffic Team Remembers Captain Herb Emory Captain Herb loved so much. He loved his family, his job, his colleagues and his community. Recently, the Traffic Team remembered Herb on the 5th anniversary of his untimely passing. You can hear Doug Turnbull, Mark Arum, Ashley Frasca and Smilin’ Mark McKay share memories of their mentor on the Traffic Podcast HERE. We invite our Traffic Troopers to WSB for lunch once each year, to thank them for their commitment of giving us great traffic information throughout the year! A good time was had by all! Thank you to Williamson Bros Bar-B-Q for catering. COMING UP! The Traffic Team along with ALL of their WSB Radio colleagues take part in the 19th annual Care-a-thon. This 36 hour fundraiser benefits the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta! Broadcast dates are July 25th and 26th. Stay tuned for ways you can help, and thank you for your continued support! Call our traffic center with traffic incident 24/7/365 at 404-897-7358. You can also get through to us using the “Triple Team Traffic Alerts” app, free in your phone’s app store! The app provides real-time, traffic incidents recorded by WSB radio traffic reporters. Powered by BriteBox Electrical.

The Gridlock Guy- Doug Turnbull

  • Since the enactment of the Hands-Free Georgia Act last July, Georgia has seen roadway fatalities at least slightly decrease from 2017 to 2018. » RELATED: Cops pose as utility workers to catch distracted drivers 1,514 people died in Georgia automobile crashes in 2018, 35 less than in 2017. And the number is trending toward a significant decrease for 2019; that Hands-Free Georgia Act was in effect only for the second half of 2018. Constant media coverage (including five straight weeks of Gridlock Guy columns) and messaging from state and local governments helped positively influence driver behavior last summer. As the law went into effect, many seemed to genuinely at least try to behave legally behind the wheel. Texting and driving already was illegal, but the new mandate for drivers to stop holding phones or even touching their mobile devices in most cases makes enforcing the original texting law much easier. Without the threat of enforcement, any distracted driving law is toothless. Georgia drivers seemed to make a decent effort at following the new legal directives in 2018. With the issue very much top of mind, motorists seemed to, at the very least, less ostensibly text and drive. Some officers even told me different ways that drivers would conceal their distracted driving: the low hold, the quick head bob, the hands-up phone drop. And anecdotally, I saw significantly fewer people holding their devices and driving. But old habits reared their ugly heads as the weeks and months passed. From the WSB Skycopter, we noticed more cars weaving or staying stopped in rush-hour traffic when the lane started moving. From behind the wheel, I saw more and more people holding their phones openly at stop lights. And once those vehicles were in motion, many continued their illegal digital interactions, putting themselves and others at far greater risks. I’m not making these observations from a glass tower, though the WSB Skycopter isn’t a bad comparison. I’ve noticed some of the same behavior in myself. This topic was hot for a few weeks and I went out of my way to buy Bluetooth adapters for my vehicles and mounted phone holsters. I still use those things. But when that phone pings with a text and the voice technology is being finicky, I must admit that leaving messages unread and unanswered is tough. Enforcement of the law is difficult, as citizens very simply far outnumber officers. But Marietta PD, Cobb PD, and the Georgia State Patrol took steps recently to nab violators and send a message to the public about distracted driving. “People assume that if they are not getting pulled over for this law that it’s still OK to slip back into that habit of using their phone while they are driving,” Marietta PD spokesperson Chuck McPhilamy said. “We’re asking the public to realize that the law is in effect for a reason. It’s there to protect you from an accident as well as save lives.” Three Marietta officers dressed as construction workers at the intersection of Cobb Parkway and Roswell Road last week. They eyed vehicles for violations of both the hands-free laws and seatbelt requirements and then radioed their observations to nearby officers. Those officers then pulled over the offending vehicles. GSP wrote 29 tickets, while Cobb and Marietta police officers issued 141. These are astonishing amounts, considering the operation lasted just from 9:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. Wednesday. Public reaction seemed overall to be positive. Certainly the people getting tickets didn’t feel as great. Some people commented on social media about this being over-enforcement or being a ploy for revenue. These were minority dissenting opinions. The fine for the first offense is only $50, so last week’s haul wasn’t exactly a mighty bounty for the city, county, or the state. The fines in the law were made low for that reason: to curb the concerns about revenue ploys. Police cannot run these mini stings all the time, but this case in Cobb County serves as a good reminder of what the law is and what violating it can mean. Don’t hold your phones behind the wheel for any reason. Only touch them to make calls or adjust GPS programs. Only read and answer texts with voice commands or through in-dash systems. Do not use social media or make or watch videos. And know that while most people will not get caught, police aren’t letting Hands-Free Georgia Act violations slide. Lives are on the line.  » RELATED: Study: Georgia cellphone law reduced distracted driving 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.
  • Knowing what triggers a reader’s response to a column is a nebulous thing. Some topics certainly seem like they will galvanize emails and social media comments, but they don’t. And then others unexpectedly prompt people to respond. Last week’s rampage on drivers that stop in thru lanes to change lanes at the last second certainly sparked some nerves. Many agreed with my ire at inconsiderate lane maneuvers, but also added enough of their own pet peeves to fill an entire other column. Here it is. » RELATED: Atlanta's traffic mess: Readers offer 'magic wand' solutions Michael M. emailed in and wondered if people stopping in lanes to prevent missing a turn is a result of inadequate driver’s education in Georgia. He compared driving here to his experience in New England. That certainly could be a factor, but I really believe a reliance on GPS makes people less invested in their commutes. Thus, they aren’t aware of their surroundings as much and make last-minute decisions, as Ken B. wrote in saying. And people have become more selfish, as the bar of consideration has lowered in general. Jennifer C. vented about several issues, including behavior at a four-way stop: when two people stop at the same time, the person on the right has the right of way. She also is upset about behavior in roundabouts. “These are designed to keep traffic moving so why are you stopping at the yield sign when no cars are coming?” she said via email. Jennifer added that people do not need to signal entering a traffic circle (since they all move counterclockwise), but “your decision to leave the circle does require a signal, as it indicates to other drivers what you are going to do.” Donald T. pointed out how red-light behavior affects not just traffic flow, but road capacity. He has been upset about how people do not tighten up to the cars in front of them when stopped at signals. “Don’t people realize (or care) that this procedure has the same effect as doubling or tripling the number of cars on the road when you consider the amount of usable road space this process takes up?” Good points. Fred S. not only bemoaned people who refuse to miss a turn and then stop traffic, but also when — or if — they ever even use turn signals. “I figure only about 10% of drivers know that (turn signals) are to indicate a driver’s intention. Slowing down, entering a turn lane, and then put on the turn signals makes no sense and is aggravating. Some even come to a stop and then turn them on,” he emailed. Theresa B. highlighted an opposite problem. “Notice the actions of drivers when attempting to change lanes while using the indicator to do so. It is so predictable that they will instantly accelerate to prevent you from getting in front of them. This causes accidents.” Courtesy goes both ways, yes. Patsy B.’s frustration extends past her windshield, as pedestrian traffic impacts her ride in Buckhead. “So many people just don’t know or refuse to adhere to the laws at crosswalks. And many times I see people crossing Peachtree in front of the MARTA station in Buckhead, where there is no light or crosswalk, while traffic is moving. I don’t believe they have the right of way in that case,” she said. As drivers, we should always treat pedestrians with the right of way, whether they are “right” or not, because if we hit them the consequences are worse for them. Human life is precious, even if it can be inconsiderate and stupid. John W. highlights the dangers of my personal traffic pet peeve playing out on interstates, such as he saw for many years when people would stop in a thru lane on GA-400 to try to get over to their exit lane to I-285. “This tactic clogged the lane next to the exit lane, forcing other drivers to shift to their left to avoid being struck — dangerous.” He noted how the new interchanges and C.D. lanes in the area won’t stop the behavior; it will just shift the tactic backwards. True. Those maneuvers by others constantly stop traffic and actually caused someone to rear-end me in that spot on GA-400/southbound years ago. Finally, Charles W. wondered about enforcement. “Am I the only one who never sees the police or state patrol on the interstates? They always show up for accidents, but I wonder how many accidents would be prevented if there was regular enforcement of speed and traffic laws on the expressways?” While this is a fair point, a better question may be how can the government better fund law enforcement to deploy them more readily? The truth is, they can do a better job both enforcing the law and spending tax money more tactfully. But even with twice the budget, there will always be a lot of traffic and plenty of violators. And traffic stops (flashing lights) can also cause more traffic. We may not have accomplished much in airing these grievances, but at least we drew awareness to a few more flies in the traffic ointment. Still, unselfishness, defensive driving, and patience can help solve most of these violations and annoyances.  » RELATED: Photos: Weird things that have snarled Atlanta traffic 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.
  • Commuting patterns have changed in this bustling metropolis and so have individual driving habits. The rush hour flows have evolved with the changes in population and the spreading out of commerce centers. Job hubs exist in many areas across Metro Atlanta, so drive time demand doesn’t point just mainly to Downtown Atlanta. But while traditional rush hour commutes have evolved, driving practices have devolved. » RELATED: Gridlock Guy: Treating the right of way the right way I want to hone in on a particular behind-the-wheel-maneuver that I anecdotally have determined may be one of the biggest negative changes I have seen in drivers. I absolutely cannot stand when people stop short in a lane and wait until a gap in the next lane to get over, so they can make a turn. This chaps my [bumper] and conjures up a disgust in me that I should probably reserve for reports about genocide and molestation. Pulling such a move, first off, is dangerous. When a motorist suddenly realizes they need to turn and then they abruptly slow or stop, that can cause an accordion effect behind them. When they do this in the left lane, the pause is even more abrupt because the trailing drivers aren’t really expecting that dead stop to happen in a passing lane. The danger becomes more so when the inconvenienced drivers then scurry out of the left lane and into the next one. Those maneuvers can be out of frustration, so aggression levels rise and crashes become more likely. All of this starts with one driver deciding that they had to turn right then, rules and courtesy be damned. Stopping in the wrong lane to make a turn is also highly inconsiderate. Those that do so appear to be cruising around in opaque bubbles, with zero cares about who or what is going on around them. While missing a turn is a bummer, rectifying that small foible is not worth the delays and danger created. Stopping a through lane of traffic and slowing others’ progress to help better one’s own is a basic building block of selfishness. As I’ve stated many times before in this column, our traffic ecosystem works best when we drive around others as we want others to drive around us. Driving with an all out “me” approach goes at direct odds with easing the city’s gridlock. We have to cut each other breaks, drive defensively, and drive alert to avoid causing extra crashes and delays. Stopping in a passing lane to turn completely contradicts this philosophy. Other behaviors of ours have laid the groundwork for inconsiderate driving. Walking slowly down, say, a sidewalk or a store aisle and texting slows the progress of others. Not being ready in a fast food line because of being on the phone is another selfish move. The proliferation of phone use goes hand-in-hand with “bubble behavior.” I am guilty of it. In the very moment of replying to a text or Facebook comment, doing those things seems more important than being considerate. The reason social media and smartphones are so successful is at least partly because of the dopamine that digital social interaction produces. Prioritizing phone use above driving attentiveness is why the state enacted the new Hands-Free Georgia Act last July. On a more macro level, we need to shake off the idea that what we want is always most important. The byproduct of that self-centeredness can be more than annoying and angering; it can be deadly. » RELATED: Gridlock Guy: Getting around roundabouts shouldn't throw you for a loop 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.
  • The WSB Traffic Team and Georgia Department of Transportation officials hosted a traffic special late last month on News 95.5/AM750 WSB. Smilin’ Mark McKay, Ashley Frasca, Mark Arum, and I asked GDOT about the status of the Transform I-285/GA-400 project and what it will achieve and the timeline for its completion, a discussion we covered in this column last week. The other big piece of that roundtable was the future advent of new toll lanes on large sections of both I-285 and GA-400. » RELATED: Gridlock Guy: GDOT experts explain the changes on I-285 and GA-400 These new Express Lanes, which will run on GA-400 between I-285 and McFarland Parkway and on I-285 anywhere north of I-20, are four pieces in the 11-project Major Mobility Investment Program (MMIP). Former Georgia Governor Nathan Deal approved the plan, which aims to reduce overall congestion on Georgia roads by 5% by 2030. GDOT aims to do this by adding hundreds of lane miles to the state’s freeway system, many of which will come in the form of toll lanes in Metro Atlanta. This plan came to fruition before the tolled, reversible I-75 and I-575 Express Lanes in Cobb, Cherokee, and Henry counties opened in the last couple of years. But their successes further justify the endeavor. “Folks are traveling in that Express Lane system at very high speeds, compared to the general purpose lanes,” GDOT MMIP Program Manager Tim Matthews said of the lanes northwest of town. He noted on our Triple Team Traffic Special that the reversible toll lanes on I-75 and I-575 average more than 55 miles per hour. “We’re hearing via our social media pages that people are saving 15 to 30 minutes on their commute times from end to end.” We have observed the big improvements between I-285, Acworth, and Holly Springs from both the WSB Skycopter and our 24-Hour Traffic Center. The rush hour has decreased by more than an hour from start to finish in both the mornings and afternoons, on average, GDOT said. Matthews explained the added capacity to both freeways hasn’t just helped those who pay: “Also, trip times in the general purpose lanes are more reliable, too. We are getting higher travel speeds in the general purpose lanes as well.” Engineers and officials had to explore what was right to to achieve the same impact on both I-285 and GA-400. “Every section of our interstate has different challenges,” GDOT spokesperson Natalie Dale said on the traffic show. “I-285 is really its own beast, when you look at the numbers.” Dale said more than a quarter of a million people use the north side of I-285 daily. “We’re looking 20 years down the road. To make that long-term impact, you’re going to need two on each side. A reversible system will only make a dent.” Their goal is to decrease congestion not just in the general purpose lanes and the toll lanes, but on the crowded side roads, as well. “We’re going to have two lanes, barrier-separated in each direction, from I-75 in Cobb County all the way to I-85 in DeKalb County,” Matthews said of the I-285 lanes. This then would eventually continue all the way down the east and west sides of I-285 to I-20. “We’re going to try to build a system that, again, is aerial — similar to what you see on the Northwest Corridor project.” Adding more than a hundred miles of lanes to I-285 is a huge undertaking, as is the complete, much-needed redesigns of both I-285/I-20 interchanges. These six projects — four for toll lanes and two for the I-20 interchanges — cannot happen simultaneously. Matthews said not only do GDOT and the state not have $11 billion in the bank to fund everything at once, but that simply would take too much manpower. All 11 MMIP projects are set to be either underway or finished by 2026. As for the timeline on the I-285 and GA-400 toll lanes? “The 400 project is scheduled for 2021 through 2024. And the northside Express Lane project is from 2023 to 2028 for construction,” Matthews said. So the new, free collector-distributor lanes and ramps of the Transform I-285/GA-400 project will open several years before any toll lanes do. I-285 turns 50-years-old this year and was only two lanes in each direction then. GDOT is essentially building “1969 I-285” around the current Perimeter north of I-20. GA-400 will also see added toll lanes and hopefully a decrease in the growing trip times. Both of these projects could cross people’s properties, but only if doing so is unavoidable. Nonetheless, seeing some relief on busy and growing I-285 and GA-400 should be a welcome reality for the whole area.  » RELATED: Gridlock Guy: Residential cost of GA-400 expansion illustration of bigger conundrum 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.
  • There are many “bad traffic days” on Atlanta’s roads, but an 18-hour stretch from Thursday, May 16th, and into Friday, the 17th, was absurd. In particular, the subsequent closures of I-75/northbound between McDonough and Stockbridge on Thursday almost entirely proved Murphy’s Law. This was a period for the ages, and the horror also broke out elsewhere. » RELATED: Gridlock Guy: When traffic is stopped and you need to go The gridlock started at approximately 10 a.m. Thursday, when a tractor trailer overturned on I-75/northbound at I-675 (Exit 227) in Henry County. The big rig stretched perpendicularly across the lanes and completely shut down I-75/nb. “(Thursday) was one of the most unusual middays I’ve ever worked,” WSB Triple Team Traffic’s Alex Williams said, still a bit aghast after processing the day. “We had a total of roughly four traffic RED ALERTS.” As we have covered here before, the WSB Traffic Team defines a RED ALERT as an interstate’s or major highway’s entire closure for an extended duration. For four such closures to happen near or at the same time is not a common thing. The first I-75/nb closure was bad enough, but just as it started clearing, a far bigger RED ALERT unfolded around noon. “I-75/nb south of Highway 20/81 in McDonough, which is south of the first RED ALERT, was shut down with a deadly crash & big rig fire,” Williams explained. The WSB Jam Cam showed a tractor trailer sliced open and engulfed in flames, obviously necessitating all of I-75/nb’s closure. The breadth of the wreckage made clear very early that this closure would last for hours. Then we learned that two big rigs actually collided and smashed a car between them, killing two. That meant an investigation extended the closure even later. There was correlation between the two wrecks, as the extreme backups from the first wreck created the traffic changes that galvanized the other. The Atlanta roads mirror NASCAR: cautions breed cautions. The I-75/nb shutdown in McDonough drilled traffic back into Butts County, before Highway 36 (Exit 201). Police diverted traffic off on the exits south of the crash and the side roads, especially Highway 42/23, became jammed. The extreme northbound commotion jammed I-75/southbound with onlooker delays all the way back to I-675. » RELATED: Gridlock Guy: How we decide where the WSB Skycopter flies The South Metro Express/Peach Pass Lanes stayed pointed in the northbound direction all the way through Friday morning. Crews near the crash before Hwy. 20/81 forced some traffic into those toll lanes, which worked effectively like an open freeway lane. Both the rubbernecking and the lack of relief the reversible lanes usually bring made for an evening commute that was an hour worse than normal on I-75/sb. And this was in the direction opposite of the closure. “What an unbelievable day for Henry County commuters,” WSB’s Veronica Harrell stated, after working those wrecks from the WSB 24-Hour Traffic Center. “I-75 northbound was shut down from 10:30 a.m. until well into the evening rush. I felt so sorry for everyone involved.” From the WSB Skycopter, I watched I-75/nb finally re-open just before our 6 p.m. Non-Stop News Feed. The cleanup of the two mangled and charred trailers on the right shoulder didn’t completely clear until around 10 p.m., WSB’s Steve Winslow observed. When monitoring major problems, like those on I-75 on the south side, losing sight of other problems is easy. Thankfully, Williams and Harrell did not. “I-285/northbound shut down at LaVista Road, so we had three RED ALERTS at once,” Williams recalled. “Luckily I-285 opened shortly after. Then, less than an hour later, I-20/eastbound shut down at I-285 in Fulton County.” But Williams and Harrell, and then WSB’s Smilin’ Mark McKay and Mike Shields, kept scouring the WSB Jam Cams and updating our Triple Team Traffic Alerts App with new problems. As soon as I-75/nb finally opened in Henry County, a vehicle flipped over on GA-400/northbound south of the Glenridge Connector. We arrived in the WSB Skycopter, just as a HERO unit spent about five minutes towing it to the right; traffic was awful back before Lenox. And to top off the rush hour, a devastating wreck shut down I-285/southbound at Atlanta Road (Exit 15) around 7 p.m. Thursday, keeping Shields busy through the evening. The wee morning hours of Friday saw Atlanta Police shut down I-85/northbound at Cleveland Avenue and I-75/85/sb at Highway 166, for crash reconstruction scenes. Those opened quickly. Then the south side got hit again with a three-hour RED ALERT at about 5:30 a.m. on I-675/northbound at Highway 42. The last hour of that closure saw half of I-75/northbound in Morrow, the main I-675/nb alternate, get blocked with its own wreck. McKay watched I-675/northbound open from the Skycopter after 8 a.m. We spell this all out to say that bad traffic happens with very little rhyme or reason. Drive alert and always prepare before your commute by checking our app, wsbradio.com, and keeping in tune with our live reports on News 95.5/AM750 WSB and Channel 2 Action News. If you don’t, you may find yourself saying, “Ohhh-ah,” as Harrell often does when the, uh, traffic hits the fan.  » RELATED: Gridlock Guy: WSB Triple Team Traffic App helps navigate commute 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 man said his pain medication and a broken back door are what led to his 2-year-old son wandering onto a busy Florida highway. Jacob Krueger, 25, and the child's mother, 28-year-old Yajaira Tirado were both arrested on neglect charges after their son was found on the highway around 10:30 a.m. Monday with a dirty diaper and bug bites covering his arms.  'I'm sorry,' Krueger said after walking out of jail Tuesday. 'I didn't mean for it to come down to this.' Krueger explained that he and Tirado are on medications for conditions that he said kept them asleep during the ordeal. He also blamed a broken door at the home they rent as why his son was able to escape. >>Read: Toddler wearing dirty diaper, covered in bug bites found crossing highway, police say; 2 arrested When asked why there wasn't any attempt to fix the door to prevent an incident like this, Krueger said, 'There's no way. Doesn't matter if I tried doing something to it.' Krueger went on to deny a responding deputy's claim that his home was littered with broken bottles and smelled like feces. >> Read more trending news  'I love my child. I want the best for them (and) don't ever want to hurt them,' Krueger explained.  Officials said they had been to the home in 2018 for another case of child neglect in which Tirado was arrested after a 1-year-old and 2-year-old were left at the home alone, according to the Volusia County Sheriff's Office.  Deputies said the toddler found crossing the highway was placed in the custody of the Department of Children and Families. Tirado remains in the Volusia County Jail.
  • The Democratic presidential primary debates begin Wednesday with 10 candidates going head-to-head in Miami as the 2020 presidential election season gets underway. >>Read more trending news Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Beto O’Rourke, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and seven others will likely face questions on border security, health care and climate change on the first night of the two-night event. >>Jamie Dupree: Warren leads Democrats into first night of 2020 debates Here’s what to know about and how to watch Wednesday’s Democratic debate.  When and where is the debate being held? The debate will be broken up into two nights with 10 candidates on the stage to debate each night. The debates will take place on Wednesday and Thursday at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami. Who will be on the stage on Wednesday? Here is the lineup for Wednesday’s debate: Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey  Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts  Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke of Texas  Former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii  Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota  Former Housing Secretary Julián Castro  New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington  Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio  Where will they stand onstage? The candidates will stand from left to right in this order – de Blasio, Ryan, Castro, Booker, Warren, O’Rourke, Klobuchar, Gabbard, Inslee, Delaney.  Who will be asking the questions at the debate? Lester Holt, Savannah Guthrie, Chuck Todd, Rachel Maddow and José Diaz-Balart will moderate the debate. Holt, Guthrie and Diaz-Balart will moderate the first hour, with Holt, Todd and Maddow asking questions in the second hour. How can I watch the debate? NBC is sponsoring the debate, but it will be shown on all three major networks and on cable news channels. It will stream online free (without requiring an account with a television provider) at NBCNews.com, MSNBC.com, the NBC News Mobile App and OTT apps, and Telemundo's digital platforms. What time wil it be on? The debate will air from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Wednesday. Where can I watch the livestream? Here is the livestream link of the debate from YouTube Live coverage: Come back here beginning at 7 p.m. for live coverage of the first night of the debate. 
  • Police arrested a woman who allegedly tried to kidnap a couple’s children in the atrium of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on Saturday morning. Police said Esther Daniels, 26, tried to grab a stroller with a child in it before being fended off by the child’s mother. She then picked up one of the couple’s other children and walked away, but the father took the child back from her, Atlanta police spokesman Sgt. John Chafee said in an emailed statement. >> Read more trending news  An officer responded a few minutes later and found Daniels in a frenzied mental state, Chafee said. She then allegedly ran toward a nearby family and had to be restrained by the officer, Chafee said.  Daniels, who lives in Kansas, eventually calmed down and was escorted to the police precinct in a wheelchair, the statement said. She was checked out at Grady Memorial Hospital before being taken to the Clayton County Jail. Daniels was charged with kidnapping and obstructing an officer. Her bond has not been set.
  • A Virginia man and woman are facing homicide charges after their 2-month-old daughter died from cocaine and heroin intoxication last year, authorities said. According to WDBJ-TV, police on Tuesday arrested Eugene Chandler Jr., 27, and Shaleigh Brumfield, 26, of Danville, on felony homicide charges in the baby's November 2018 death. Officials also charged the pair with child abuse and neglect, the news station reported. >> Read more trending news On Nov. 24, Danville police and emergency crews responded to a report of an infant who couldn't breathe, according to court documents. The child, identified as Marleigh Rain Chandler, was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital, the Danville Register & Bee reported. While searching the family's home, investigators discovered evidence of drug use, including marijuana and drug paraphernalia, WSET reported. The Western District Office of the Chief Medical Examiner conducted an autopsy, which revealed that Marleigh died from 'acute heroin and cocaine intoxication in a setting of co-sleeping,' officials said. Chandler and Brumfield were booked into the Danville City Jail, where they are being held without bond.
  • When the first Democratic presidential primary debate kicks off Wednesday night, Kirkland Dent will be watching. Dent, 28, a medical librarian at Mercer University in Macon, has been trying to keep up with the sprawling Democratic field aiming to unseat President Donald Trump — “I can probably name 80% of them,” he said. But he is looking forward to seeing them in action. “I’m curious about what their goals are, what issues they want to tackle.” So are Judy Hauser, Michael Murphy-McCarthy and John Chastain. They are among about a dozen Democratic and independent voters in Georgia who have agreed to take part in an informal focus group organized by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution to discuss the 2020 Democratic primary race. The AJC checked in with them for the first time ahead of the debates Wednesday and Thursday in Miami, the first opportunity many voters will get to see the candidates answer questions for a national audience. THE LATEST | Georgia Presidential candidate visit tracker MORE | Democratic presidential hopefuls emphasize Georgia’s big role in 2020 For the most part, the Georgia voters said they have been paying some attention to the race but want to know more. That’s true of Democratic voters nationally, too. According to a poll released this week by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs, only 35% of Democrats who are registered to vote say they’re paying close attention to the campaign. The size of the field doesn’t help, and most of the Georgia voters who talked to the AJC said they are eager for it to thin out a bit. The debates, which will feature 10 candidates on stage each night, won’t give the contenders a lot of time to make their case. “It’s going to be really, really hard to stand out in that big a crowd,” said Murphy-McCarthy, who lives in Peachtree Corners and works in IT. “It will be easier to fall down than to stand out.” Dent said a number of candidates have stood out for him so far: Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Yang. But he’s open to being surprised by lesser-known candidates. “It’s important for our generation to start paying attention a lot more,” he said. RELATED | Biden reverses stance on Hyde abortion amendment at Atlanta event MORE | Georgia’s ‘heartbeat’ law targeted by Democratic presidential hopefuls Chastain, 73, lives in largely Republican Cherokee County. “If I say I am a Democrat, it’s like I have the plague,” he joked. He said he’s very interested in the Democratic primary race and wants to hear candidates get specific at the debates. “I’m looking for some action plans,” he said, “I want to know what they are going to do, not just getting Trump out.” He’s retired and said health care is a top issue. Hauser, a registered nurse from Buckhead, wants a candidate who can win. “We need someone who is going to be able to take on Trump and his mouth,” she said. She said she likes Biden but is also interested in Buttigieg and Harris. Biden, she said, “has very good core values. Yes, he’s made some mistakes, but who hasn’t?” His age doesn’t bother her. “I see him as a one-term president that will bring this country back on even keel,” she said. Murphy-McCarthy, 51, said he’s been impressed by Warren but says he’s open to the others. “I’m OK with somebody coming out of nowhere,” he said. DEEPER COVERAGE | Which Democratic candidates have raised the most in Georgia PHOTOS | Top Democratic presidential contenders campaign in Atlanta Howard Giambrone of Coweta County is an independent who has mostly voted for Republicans in the past, but he is considering a Democrat in 2020. It won’t be Bernie Sanders or Warren, who he says are too liberal. He said he is looking for a candidate who is fiscally responsible, supportive of the military and has what he considers a moderate view on immigration. Giambrone’s wife is from Colombia and he doesn’t like Trump’s immigration policies. “I want to strengthen the border but make coming here (legally) less difficult,” he said. So far he thinks Biden and Cory Booker are possibilities. What can the candidates say to win him over? “I want to hear fresh ideas and get away from trashing Trump,” he said. William Black, 38, is a housekeeper in Jones County. He said his top issues are race relations and global warming, and his favorite candidates so far are Sanders and Biden. He isn’t too worried about the size of the field. “They will weed themselves out,” he said. He’s happy to see the enthusiasm. “It’s good for the Democratic Party that there’s that level of interest of people who want to change the country.” How to follow Democratic presidential debates NBC will host the first Democratic presidential debates Wednesday and Thursday, starting at 9 and concluding at 11 each night. Each night will feature 10 candidates. The debates will be broadcast by NBC News and also appear on MSNBC and Telemundo. Telemundo will broadcast the debate in Spanish. They also will stream online free on NBC News’ digital platforms, including NBCNews.com, MSNBC.com, the NBC News Mobile App and OTT apps on Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV, in addition to Telemundo’s digital platforms. NBC News will also stream the debates live and in full on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
  • A 58-year-old man is behind bars after police said he raped a child nightly over a three-year period. According to the Jackson Sun, William Paul Godwin of Parsons, Tennessee, was arrested Sunday and charged with 12 counts of child rape, as well as one count of continuous child rape, authorities said. >> Read more news stories Godwin is accused of forcing the girl into sexual intercourse nightly beginning in fall 2012, when she was 5, the Sun reported. The victim said the rapes continued until summer 2015, according to court documents. Godwin was jailed on $100,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in court July 8, WBBJ reported. Read more here or here.