Heh, while those don't sound like groundbreaking articles, a lot of those are made to look silly on layman considerations, but it seems to me that they likely include important details that the press can't really appreciate.
For example, were those scientists studying IF air polution is bad for you, or are they determining precisely how bad it is? Were they studying if traveling long distances means you're more likely to die, or were they comparing distance traveled vs. the quality of care you might get and trying to identify which types of cases can afford to travel farther for better care? Or were they perhaps even trying to figure out the optimal order in which to respond to emergency cases based on distance and condition? Were they studying if teens drive more impulsively or were they saying something about brain development and how it might relate to people's daily lives (perhaps with the context of driving as a main example)? Is it true that the question of 'why' a person being far away is harder to recognize is not interesting, or is it that the media knows nothing about the field? For example, what would the results of such a study say about brain circuitry involved in vision? It seems unlikely that the scientists were studying cases where a person's features could not be resolved due to distance, and then if it is the case that they can be resolved you can always ask things like, is it a 'size' issue or is it the case that if you use perspective tricks to keep size constant across conditions of varying 'distance' (using various visual illusions) still produces diferences in recognition? (and if that's the case that's pretty interesting to me).