Current Events in October 2017

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      AAA says drivers are still distracted by infotainment systems

      Even touch screen and voice controls aren't helping that much

      The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has presented new research that shows new infotainment systems found in late model cars and trucks, even those with voice controls, continue to pose dangerous distractions for drivers.

      These infotainment systems, which play music from multiple sources and display maps outlining routes, often come with higher levels of sophistication and more features. According to AAA, that's not a good thing.

      The researchers say they found drivers who used in-vehicle technologies like voice-based and touch screen features could be both visually and mentally distracted for more than 40 seconds when programming a navigation or sending a text message.

      The auto club cites previous research that found taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles the risk of a crash.

      Unsafe situations for drivers

      "Some in-vehicle technology can create unsafe situations for drivers on the road by increasing the time they spend with their eyes and attention off the road and hands off the wheel," said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

      Yang doesn't rule out the possibility that in-vehicle technology could be made less distracting. In fact, he says some systems, while far from perfect, are not as bad as others.

      "When an in-vehicle technology is not properly designed, simple tasks for drivers can become complicated and require more effort from drivers to complete," Yang said

      The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Utah, who examined both the visual and mental demands of infortainment systems. They also measured the time it took to complete a task using the systems installed in 30 vehicles from the 2017 model year.

      Participants in the study were instructed to use voice command, touch screen, and other interactive technologies to make a call, send a text message, tune the radio, or program navigation -- all while keeping the vehicle on the road.

      Navigation most distracting

      The study found that programming a navigation system was the most distracting task for a driver, taking an average of 40 seconds to complete.

      Remarkably, the study found none of the 30 infotainment system generated low demand on drivers. Seven were found to generate moderate demands on a driver's attention, while 11 generated high demand and 12 were "very high" in their demands.

      Among the most demanding were the infotainment systems found in the Honda Civic Touring, Ford Mustang GT, and Tesla Model S.

      The least distracting infotainment systems – those imposing a “moderate” demand on the driver – were found in the Chevy Equinox LT, Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, Toyota Camry SE, and Lincoln MKC Premier.

      "Drivers want technology that is safe and easy to use, but many of the features added to infotainment systems today have resulted in overly complex and sometimes frustrating user experiences for drivers," said Marshall Doney, AAA's CEO.

      Doney says drivers are more distracted when they encounter problems using the audio or navigation systems in their cars. However, since research shows consumers like these sophisticated systems, Doney says AAA is meeting with auto manufacturers and suppliers to find ways to make them easier to use.

      The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has presented new research that shows new infotainment systems found in late model cars and trucks, even those with v...

      Reading difficulties for children may indicate hearing impairment

      Researchers say hearing problems can be detrimental to the learning process

      If your child has reading difficulties, the problem may not lie in their comprehension – it might be due to a hearing problem.

      That’s the conclusion of a Coventry University study, which found that 25 percent of young participants who had reading difficulties also had mild to moderate hearing impairment. Report author Dr. Helen Breadmore says the finding indicates a greater need to screen young children for hearing problems.

      "Many children in school may have an undetected mild hearing loss, which makes it harder for them to access the curriculum,” she said. "Current hearing screening procedures are not picking up these children, and we would advise that children have their hearing tested in more detail and more often.

      Detrimenal to development

      The study compared children with dyslexia to a group of children with a history of repeated ear infections to see if both groups had similar difficulties with reading comprehension.

      The researchers asked nearly 200 participants to complete a series of tests to determine how they used word sounds and meanings in speech and literacy. After an 18-month period, all participants were tested again.

      The test results showed that 25 percent of participants with dyslexia suffered from some kind of hearing impairment, with symptoms mild enough to be missed by parents. Literacy problems were slightly more common in children with hearing infections, affecting 33 percent of these participants.

      Breadmore points out that these hearing problems can be detrimental in a classroom setting, and that it can negatively impact long-term development.

      "A mild-moderate hearing loss will make the perception of speech sounds difficult, particularly in a classroom environment with background noise and other distractions. Therefore, children who have suffered repeated ear infections and associated hearing problems have fluctuating access to different speech sounds precisely at the age when this information is crucial in the early stages of learning to read,” she said.

      The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that there is no single treatment or intervention for childhood hearing loss. However, it says that some options may include working with a support group or medical professional, or buying a hearing aid.

      If your child has reading difficulties, the problem may not lie in their comprehension – it might be due to a hearing problem.That’s the conclusion of...

      Hyundai recalls model year 2017 Santa Fes with 3.3L engines

      Engine bearing wear may cause the vehicle to stall

      Hyundai Motor America is recalling 420 model year 2017 Santa Fes equipped with 3.3L engines.

      The crankshaft assemblies may have been produced with surface irregularities in the crankshaft pin, causing engine bearing wear.

      The engine bearing wear may cause the vehicle to stall, increasing the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      Hyundai will notify all owners, and dealers will inspect and replace the engine, as necessary, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin October 18, 2017.

      Owners may contact Hyundai customer service at 1-855-371-9460. Hyundai's number for this recall is 168.

      Hyundai Motor America is recalling 420 model year 2017 Santa Fes equipped with 3.3L engines.The crankshaft assemblies may have been produced with surfa...

      Yahoo says 2013 data breach affected all three billion of its user accounts

      The revision adds to what is already the largest data breach in history

      Yahoo’s massive 2013 data breach, affecting more than one billion of its user accounts, reappeared this week with significantly worse numbers. 

      The company announced Tuesday that all 3 billion of its accounts were, in fact, affected at that time–leaving additional billions of user accounts vulnerable in the interim.

      The revelation follows Yahoo’s acquisition by Verizon, which paid $4.8 billion for the struggling company in hopes of combining it with AOL to create a new entity named Oath. New intelligence prompted a forensic analysis which subsequently led to Tuesday's revision.

      “While this is not a new security issue, Yahoo is sending email notifications to the additional affected user accounts. The investigation indicates that the user account information that was stolen did not include passwords in clear text, payment card data, or bank account information. The company is continuing to work closely with law enforcement,” the announcement said in a statement.

      “Verizon is committed to the highest standards of accountability and transparency, and we proactively work to ensure the safety and security of our users and networks in an evolving landscape of online threats,” added Verizon Chief Information Security Officer Chandra McMahon. “Our investment in Yahoo is allowing that team to continue to take significant steps to enhance their security, as well as benefit from Verizon’s experience and resources.”

      Protecting stolen information

      In an FAQ section of its security update web page, Yahoo says that stolen information involved in the 2013 breach may have included names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, hashed passwords (using MD5), and (in some cases) encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers.

      To counter the breach, Yahoo required potentially affected users to change their passwords and invalidated unencrypted security questions and answers last December.

      However, in light of the recent revision, the company says that all users should change their passwords and security questions, review their accounts for any suspicious activity, and use an abundance of caution when clicking or downloading unsolicited messages, links, or attachments. The company also advises using its Yahoo Account Key authentication tool.

      Users are also free to switch to a different email service, but continuing to monitor accounts and personal information will still be just as necessary either way. 

      Largest breach to date

      The latest announcement multiplies what was already the largest data breach in history, and will almost certainly mean more litigation for both Yahoo and Verizon.

      In late August, U.S. Judge Lucy Koh ruled that class actions over the breach would be allowed to move forward. While she dismissed some parts of one particular case, she said that Yahoo’s actions “alleged risk of future identity theft” and “loss of value of [users’] personal identification information.”

      Koh also said that plaintiffs would be well within their rights to pursue breach of contract and unfair competition charges against Yahoo because they would have been able close their accounts if they had known about the data breach earlier.

      Yahoo’s massive 2013 data breach, affecting more than one billion of its user accounts, reappeared this week with significantly worse numbers. The comp...