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This interview is part of the “Tomorrow Lives Here” Conversation Series presented by Miami Business School.
–DraftKings CEO and co-founder Jason Robins grew up in Miami.
–And it was that upbringing that turned Robins into a sports fanatic from an early age.
-He took that passion into the business world with the launch of DraftKings in 2012.
-The company is in the daily fantasy sports industry and allows its customers- people who manage fantasy sports teams, to compete for cash prizes.
-In a wide-ranging conversation with Miami Business School Dean John Quelch, Robins talked about how he and his two co-founders got the company off the ground despite fierce competition, what he learned from his UM economics professor father and about the power of differentiation in startups.
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About the AuthorRich Robinson is the CEO and publisher of Rise News. He is also a journalist and a native of Miami. Robinson graduated from the University of Alabama and can be followed on Twitter @RichRobMiami.
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By Mark Kaire
The I-95 Express lanes are literally deadly. Ineffective “delineators” — those flimsy orange plastic poles you see falling down like so many pins on a bowling lane — invite collision and abuse. They are obstructive more than instructive, and they do little to divide high-speed traffic from cars driving at more normal speeds.
As a result, Miami now faces a new phenomenon known as lane diving, in which drivers weave between express lanes and regular lanes as though there isn’t any difference in them at all.
It’s a dangerous habit, but one that has become commonplace — all on Miami leaders’ watch. Real people are suffering real injuries. I’ve seen it first-hand. My firm has represented some of these people. These are your neighbors. They could be your family members. They could be you. And all because Miami-Dade County rushed into an Interstate “improvement” project it wasn’t ready for.
The intentions were undoubtedly noble. The state needs revenue. Drivers want to get where they’re going quickly. One might reasonably argue that the fast traffic ought to be divided from the slow and assessed a fee for the privilege of efficiency. But when priorities are ranked, money and speed should never surpass safety. And moreover, if the goal is to divide traffic, division ought to be a keyword.
The I-95 Express lanes in Miami do not provide adequate division, nor have they advanced safety. On the contrary, they’ve introduced a new danger in our community, and our commuters’ lives are at stake.
It’s time to admit that, however, worthwhile the original aspirations might have been, the project hasn’t worked. And now it’s time to fix it.
It’s time for Miami and the State of Florida to own up to its error. It’s time to admit that, however, worthwhile the original aspirations might have been, the project hasn’t worked. And now it’s time to fix it.
I’d like to demonstrate just how dangerous the problem has become by looking at actual numbers. Consider the following, keeping in mind that these all pertain to just a short stretch of road right here in Miami (about 13 miles):
- In 2014 alone, state troopers made more than 150 arrests for lane diving. That is an especially compelling number when you consider that, by their own admission, officers are increasingly reluctant to enforce the laws on I-95 because the traffic conditions are so dangerous there. They fear for their own lives. It is likely, then, that these 150 arrests represent only a very small portion of the amount of lane diving that actually occurs.
- There have been more than 17,500 crashes on this specific stretch of I-95 between 2005 and 2014. That is an astounding total. No 13 miles of asphalt should be that dangerous.
- The total number of crashes that have occurred on this section of I-95 has increased over 50% in the past eight years.
- At least four people have died as a result of lane diving in Miami during just the last few years. Even more have been injured.
- Crashes are most likely to occur during peak traffic periods (i.e. southbound in the morning rush hours and northbound in the evening rush hours).
- Fatal crashes are most likely to occur between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., and are more common when traveling southbound.
- Serious injuries happen at all times of the day, with incapacitating injuries evenly distributed across the 24-hour driving period.
- Road crews replace 11% to 15% of the plastic delineators on I-95 every single week. That’s how often cars hit them.
- Each delineator is replaced between 6 and 8 times per year, on average.
- When the Express lanes were installed, the average shoulder width shrank by 40%. As WLRN reports, the shoulder along I-95 in Miami is now 7 feet, 11 inches on average (about the size of a single parking space).
Why the I-95 Express Lanes Are Dangerous
Before going further, it’s important to understand exactly why these lanes are dangerous. It isn’t just that they’re fast. Speed is indeed dangerous, but it isn’t the sole source of the problem.
The Express Lane situation is more complicated than that. A number of factors converge to create the danger here, and we can begin with the delineators themselves.
Lightweight as they are, the delineators still stand as obstructions to traffic. Every time a car hits one of these in-the-way wobblers, there is an increased likelihood that the driver will be distracted by the collision and/or lose control of his or her car, thus raising the risk for subsequent or multi-vehicle collision.
The simple fact is that the delineators make it more difficult to drive down I-95. Difficult driving isn’t anyone’s objective, so why did we pursue it?
Drivers have historically shown little patience for obstacles, and many simply ignore them. Figuring that they can easily zip between the delineators with little risk of real damage to their own vehicles, many of Miami’s drivers — already known for an occasional proclivity toward recklessness — now pick the lane that suits their interests best in the moment.
“If I see a line at a grocery station that’s faster than the one I’m in, I’m liable to jump over there,” expert traffic analyst Scott Cooner recently told Miami’s WLRN. That same instinct kicks in on I-95.
To be clear: the standard and Express lanes are not intended to be interchangeable. Drivers aren’t supposed to hop between them. But with very little to prevent them from doing so, drivers do it anyway.
The problem with such “lane diving” is that higher-speed traffic is suddenly entering into slower-speed traffic without warning, and vice-versa. Different speeds don’t mix well, and sudden changes in acceleration often lead to unexpected impacts.
Without a Shoulder, Drivers Can’t Shrug Off Their Mistakes
Adding insult to injury (or, as the case may well be here, adding injury to injury), the diminished shoulder width on the Express Lanes leaves little room for error. So not only is driver error more likely on these roads but there is also a small margin for correcting those errors before they cause a crash.
The shoulder size poses other dangers too. Police officers say the small shoulder is the biggest reason they avoid enforcing the laws on I-95. They simply don’t have a safe space for pulling people over anymore.
Pedestrians are vulnerable too.
On March 5, 2011, five people were killed on the shoulder of an I-95 Express lane. They were standing on the side of the road after a series of accidents had forced them out of their cars. Then another vehicle — this one with a drunk driver behind the wheel — entered the Express lane and veered off course, killing all five. It was Miami-Dade County’s deadliest I-95 accident in a decade. And while the drunk driver is to blame, those bystanders might not have been in such peril had the Interstate not been so poorly redesigned.
The Proof Is in the Price Tag
The delineators aren’t just dangerous. They’re expensive too. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) spends more than $1 million on replacing delineators that have been damaged or destroyed by vehicle impact every year.
If you need a sign that something isn’t working, a million-dollar annual repair budget is it. And again, we’re talking about a cumulative total of 13 miles here. That comes to about $77,000 in annual delineator repair-and-replace costs for every mile.
It’s Time for Change
It is not permissible for our leaders to recognize a dangerous condition and then simply do nothing about it.
We here at Kaire & Heffernan, LLC hold irresponsible parties to a basic duty of care every single day — hospitals, storeowners, insurance companies, vehicle and drug manufacturers, and more. We expect the same kind of care from the people who have a responsibility to keep our roads safe.
Our firm has called on county and state leaders to take immediate action to rectify the dangerous situation on Miami’s I-95 Express Lanes. We only hope that more people won’t have to lose their lives before we see real change.
Take a minute to sign our petition for Florida representatives to step up and fix the failed, deadly, and costly I-95 Express Lane.
Mark Kaire is a personal injury lawyer in Miami and a cofounder of Kaire & Heffernan, LLC.
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for you us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place.
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In the best and most extended attack on Republican Presidential front-runner Donald Trump by a fellow candidate, Marco Rubio leveled a high octane screed against his rival during a campaign event today in Texas.
For more than 10 minutes, Rubio bashed Trump on everything from his shaky business record to the millions he inherited from his father.
For much of the speech, Rubio was speaking off the cuff and even pulled out his phone to reference Tweets that Trump had sent out.
WATCH: The Epic Rubio Takedown Of Trump.Post Views: 478
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By Georgia Lala
Rebecca Black’s childhood dream was to attend The Juilliard School in New York.
Far before the viral hit “Friday” was ever conceived, Black says she spent all of her free time performing.
“I was in dance groups, singing groups and musical theatre,” Black said in an interview with RISE NEWS.
A driven student, Black says she was always looking to her future, planning for college and life after high school.
“I was always thinking college, college, college”, Black said.
And that drive, according to Black, was where her song “Friday” originated.
A bubblegum pop song about what tweens get up to on the last day of the week, Black and her mother organized the recording of the song as a way for Black to boost her resume and get some performing experience under her belt.
“I just really wanted to go that extra mile at my school and get some experience,” Black said.
According to her, it was never really meant to go far beyond her circle.
That, of course, is not what happened.
When “Friday” was uploaded to Youtube by ARK Music Factory on March 14, 2011 it quickly went viral. In its first month online, the video amassed 30 millions views.
The 13-year-old Black didn’t know what to do.
Suddenly, she was propelled into the forefront of the public eye.
And with all of the sudden and unexpected attention came large amounts of criticism, directed both at the song, and Black herself.
It became one of the most “disliked” videos in the history of Youtube.
Eventually comments on the video had to be turned off due to the negative and hurtful nature of them.
Today, Black struggles to watch back interviews of herself in the weeks and months following the viral success of “Friday”.
The pain she was experiencing at the time, she says, is so clearly written over her face.
“I was so scared and so confused and had no idea what to do,” Black said. “I was hurting inside”.
Black herself admits there was no way anyone in her position could have been prepared for all of the attention.
“I just put on, or at least tried to put on, a really brave face”.
So, Black did what any person in her situation would do, and turned to the people around her for advice, all of whom had an opinion of what the teenager should do next.
But the advice, which largely came from music directors and talent managers at the time, wasn’t what she expected.
Rather than stepping down from the spotlight, Black went on to produce even more music, under the advice of the studio.
“A lot of the music was stuff that other people told me to make”, Black said. “I just thought I’ll listen to everyone around me because they obviously know better than me…I thought, I’m 13 and dumb”.
Sadly, the internet was more than happy to have another swing at the child star trying to make a name for herself, promptly tearing down all of her work.
The “dislikes” just kept piling up.
Black finally had enough, and in 2013 she split from her talent agent and went independent.
It wasn’t until the release of her song “Saturday“, a collaboration with Youtuber Dave Days, that Black finally felt like she had some control over her music career.
“[Saturday] was when I was able to take [my music] into my own hands, Black said.
The song itself almost acts as a parody of “Friday”, with witty references to old jokes and a sense of understanding that Black’s previous songs lacked.
Black herself admits that the song was less about making a serious single, and far more about making something fun for her own enjoyment- for the first time.
Around the same time, Black also reformed her roots on Youtube, signing onto the Youtube Network Maker Studios.
From her bedroom at home, Black began to upload casual videos, including question and answers, vlogs and song covers.
Black says that this was the time she finally began to feel free to do what she wanted creatively, free from a team of advisors telling her how to craft her image.
“It was very freeing to take it into my own hands and make content,” Black said.
Black also made a point on her channel to talk about her experience being bullied and share her advice with others.
Now, her channel has amassed a strong following of over one million subscribers, and the reception of Black’s videos today contrasts vastly with the reception of her old music videos.
Black believes this is due to the more genuine nature and rawness of her new videos.
“I could finally show a little bit more of me as a person in these videos”, Black said. “I was able to connect with others out there who have dealt with or a dealing with bullying, and I really hope that I have been able to reach them and let them know that it’s ok.”
Finally, Black feels like she can move on with her life.
She released a single called “The Great Divide” in 2016, during a period of time in her life when Black said that she started to accept everything that had happened to her since “Friday”
“The song itself is about letting go of the the people that might be holding you back, and also the parts of yourself that might be holding you back,” Black said.
And move on, she has.
In April, Black released a new single, “Foolish“, a song which she says truly shows her progression as an artist and her own growth, “ I think [Foolish] is very representative of how, stylistically, my tastes have changed and started to develop.”
Now 19, Black seems comfortable and at peace with her past.
“A lot of people ask me if I hate ‘Friday’, and I truly don’t,” Black said. “I never want to put down my own music”.
The young star’s level headed attitude is something to be admired.
Black knows that she can’t convince everyone to move on from “Friday”, and that she might always be known for its unbelievable notoriety.
But Black says that’s ok.
“You’re not going to be able to change everyone’s mind. You’re not going to please everyone,” Black said. “But at least I could finally start pleasing myself.”
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.
Watch More: 96 Year Old WWII Veteran Still Works At His North Miami Beach Barbershop
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