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. Talking Urinals Discourage Drunken Driving

Toilets that talk - Richard Deutsch of Wizmark Technologies told AFP he came up with the idea for talking urinal devices while using a restroom in a US airport and realizing he had little to occupy his attention while relieving himself. "It's urination with imagination," said Deutsch, a chiropractor with background in bioengineering. "We are doing our best to incorporate a little humor and a little dry wit."
by Staff Writers
San Francisco (AFP) Feb 16, 2007
Urinals in the US state of New Mexico have a few words to say to drinking men before they zip their pants, leave bar restrooms and head for their cars: only drive if you're sober. Electronic urinal inserts bought for a pilot program launched this week by the state department of transportation sense when someone is in position and then a female voice delivers a sultry warning not to drive drunk.

The message warns about the dangers of crashing or being caught by police and then playfully concludes with "Your future is in your hand."

"The woman's voice is flirtatious yet stern," said Tom Trowbridge of the New Mexico Department of Transportation, which bought 500 Urinal Communicators from Long Island-based Wizmark Technologies for 22.50 dollars each.

The devices were distributed to bars and restaurants in the southwestern state.

"Usually the last place a man goes before he gets behind the wheel of a car after drinking is the bathroom. There is no more captive audience than a man at a urinal."

Richard Deutsch of Wizmark Technologies told AFP he came up with the idea for talking urinal devices while using a restroom in a US airport and realizing he had little to occupy his attention while relieving himself.

"It's urination with imagination," said Deutsch, a chiropractor with background in bioengineering. "We are doing our best to incorporate a little humor and a little dry wit."

Wizmark devices are motion activated and have microprocessors powered by batteries that typically last three months.

They are programmed to allow time for men to "get unzipped and be truly captured" before beginning the message, Deutsch said.

The woman greets "visitors" with "Hey there big guy, having a few drinks? Then listen up!"

She goes on to firmly contend it would be smarter for a drinker to rely on a cab or a sober friend for a ride home than to risk driving inebriated.

"It makes you think, especially because a man isn't used to a woman talking to him at those moments," Trowbridge said, saying the program could be expanded if it proves effective.

"Will it end drunk driving? Of course not. But if it saves a couple of lives it is worth it."

Wizmark interactive urinal communicators have been used in other US states to deter drunken driving, smoking, and sexually transmitted diseases, Deutsch said.

They were also used recently to promote the 2006 Universal Pictures film "Let's Go To Prison," Wizmark said.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Posh Areas Cough Up As London Expands Traffic Toll Zone
London (AFP) Feb 18, 2007
A controversial charge on cars that enter the centre of the British capital is to be extended Monday to some of London's plushest districts -- threatening a new wave of anger. The brainchild of Mayor Ken Livingstone, the so-called congestion charge was greeted with howls of protest when it was imposed in February 2003 in a 20 square kilometre (7.7 square mile) zone of central London.

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