Teen Driver Safety Week 2014: Part 1 of 2

Despite what teenagers may believe, they are not the best drivers. Tragically, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States. In many cases, the teenagers who died were behind the wheel.

Since it was established by Congress in 2007, National Teen Driver Safety Week has been observed in the third week of October. This year it runs from October 19 to 26. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which sponsors the program, is emphasizing the importance of parents in taking a proactive role to keep their teens safe.

During last year's campaign, the NHTSA introduced the "5 to drive" program--five key rules for teens to be safe drivers. The rules address the major causes of accidents for young drivers.

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October is National Crime Prevention Month

While we specialize in helping people pick up the pieces after misfortune strikes, we never like to see a crisis occur. While some accidents are unavoidable (especially for the victims), some problems can be avoided through careful planning and prevention.

While we celebrate National Crime Prevention Month at our office, we'd like to give you three pointers on how to further prevent crime in your life.

1. Make sure your home is secure.

In the classic story of the Three Little Pigs and the mischievous Big Bad Wolf, there is an obvious threat: the gusts from wolf will blow the pigs' houses down! We all know the story. Two of the pigs ignore the importance of home protection by building their homes of straw and sticks. Only the third adequately prepares by building his home of bricks.

In our day and age, threats come in many shapes and sizes, and for this reason, may not be as obvious as a Big Bad Wolf! From physical threats of burglary, arson, or vandalism to digital threats of internet hacking and identity theft, the threats can seem ominous.

Our advice is to think carefully of the threats you have not adequately prepared for. Is your computer's firewall made of straw, brick, or better yet, ironclad? What does your house look like to a Big Bad Burglar from the outside? Will he be able to blow your house down (and grab some of your prized heirloom jewelry while he's at it!).

Sit down with a friend, your family, or a security specialist and brainstorm what you can do to protect your home from harm!

2. Be a better driver!

Surveys have shown that most people view themselves as above average drivers. After a day of driving in Atlanta traffic, I think we all know those surveys are less than accurate (I'll admit, I question my driving abilities during rush hour!).

While we may not think of pushing through a light turning red or cutting another person off as crimes (especially when we're the offending driver), they are. We may not get caught or penalized, but these are crimes for an obvious and good reason: they endanger our lives!

At our office, we work for a large number of clients injured in motor vehicle accidents. Many of these accidents could be avoided by people driving a little safer, a little friendlier.

So, be a better driver!

3. Be aware of your surroundings.

Last, but not least, be aware of your surroundings. As mentioned before, crime can come in many forms, from the more immediate imagined issues like robbery on the street to credit card fraud. When you're online, think twice about submitting your financial information on certain websites. When you're out late in an unfamiliar area (or familiar for that matter), travel in groups in well-lit areas. Hide your valuables from sight when you leave your car. Or better yet, don't leave them in your car at all!

In the hustle and bustle of life, stop and think. What are the potential risks around you? Don't focus on them until you lock yourself away. Just take the proper precautions and you can feel the safety of knowing that you're prepared!

How do you and your family protect yourselves from crimes? How are you going to be more responsible in your own personal life? And, hey, did you cut anyone off in rush hour today?

Post in the comments and let us know how you prevent crime!

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Network of Employers for Traffic Safety Kicks Off Drive Safely Work Week 2014

Unless you are a bomb squad technician or a professional stuntman, driving is probably the most dangerous part of your job. In fact, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death on the job and the second-leading cause of unintentional fatal injuries off the job. To raise awareness of the hazards and to promote safe driving practices among employees, the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS) has designated October 6 through 10 as its annual Drive Safely Work Week.

While traffic collisions obviously have a huge impact on the individuals involved, they also affect their employers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the annual economic cost of car crashes in the U.S. is $277 billion. NETS seeks to reduce these costs by having employers encourage driver safety among employees as part of their corporate culture.

The theme of this year's Drive Safely Work Week is "Driving your safety culture home." The campaign is designed to help employers incorporate safe driving into their corporate safety culture. In particular, the campaign is encouraging employers to set company policies regarding seat belt and mobile device use. This seems like a good place to start: a recent study by the National Safety Council found that cell phone use causes 26% of car accidents. And despite seat belts' well-known effectiveness in saving lives, many adults still do not wear them.

This is the 18th year of Drive Safely Work Week. In past years, an average of 3500 organizations, representing 16.5 million employees, have participated in the campaign. To access the free toolkit, visit the NETS website at trafficsafety.org.

With one of the worst average commuting times in the nation, Atlanta is notorious for its nasty traffic. If more local employers take advantage of the materials offered by Drive Safely Work Week, perhaps more automobile accidents could be prevented.

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New Advanced Technology May Help Save Lives at Atlanta Accident Sites

In the future, an accident site in Atlanta could have drones hovering above wrecked cars, and high-tech ambulances equipped with video -streaming features that allow patient data to be transmitted instantly to the nearest hospital. New intelligent transportation technology could help expedite the process of responding to accident scenes, and help save more lives each year.

In car accidents, where a person has suffered devastating injuries like brain injuries or spinal injuries, the first hour after the accident is critically important. In fact, a person's chances of surviving an accident increase dramatically if he receives life-saving critical care during this period of time. Unfortunately, very often, precious time goes by as the person is transferred to an emergency trauma care center. By the time the person reaches the center and receives the life -saving care that he needs, it is often too late.

However, at a recent conference that showcased intelligent transportation technology in Michigan, promoters exhibited new devices and technologies that can be used at accident sites to provide faster medical treatment. These technologies can be used both inside an emergency responder vehicle and outside the vehicle.

One of the technologies displayed at the event was a Max Life ambulance that came with telemedicine technology, which allows medical personnel inside the ambulance to immediately live stream or transmit data in real-time to doctors at the hospital. That provides doctors the opportunity to more quickly diagnose the medical issues involving the accident victim, and prepare the emergency room for the victim’s arrival. The technology in this particular ambulance consisted of six cameras in the ambulance and a number of other life-saving devices that actually transmitted information to hospitals.

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More Attention Being Paid to Concussions and Prevention

Concussions are common injuries in car, motorcycle, and bicycle accidents. These are mild brain injuries that can occur even during a low-speed collision, or even if a person is wearing a helmet at the time. New research confirms that concussions should be taken more seriously than they have been in the past. 

Concussions are mild brain injuries that may or may not be accompanied by a temporary loss of consciousness. Symptoms of concussion include headache, nausea, fatigue, muscle weakness, and confusion. The concussed person may have difficulty concentrating, learning new tasks, and may also struggle with memory loss.

New research seems to suggest that there are longer-term consequences of mild brain injuries common in bicycle and motorcycle accidents. In the study, scientists compared the performance of persons who had suffered mild or moderate concussions on thinking and memory tests with the performance of persons who had not suffered a concussion. They found a marked difference in the performance of both groups. The persons who suffered from concussions seemed to perform poorly on the thinking and memory tests, compared to those who had no brain injury.

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Ignition Switch Failure Becoming Large Issue for Automaker

General Motor’s faulty ignition switches have been a hot topic in the news since the beginning of 2014. In February, GM recalled 800,000 vehicles due to defective ignition switches, and since then, the number has grown to 29 million vehicles recalled in North America. Vehicles affected by the defective ignition switch include the Chevy Cobalt, Chevy HHR, Pontiac Solstice, Pontiac G5, Saturn Ion, and Saturn Sky

According to GM, a heavy key ring or a “jarring event,” such as hitting a bump in the road, could cause the defective ignition switch to slip out of position, shutting off power steering and brakes, and causing the air bags to fail in a crash.

Deaths & Injuries Linked to the Faulty Switch

GM has linked 13 deaths and 54 crashes to the defective switch; however, a recent review of federal crash data commissioned by the Center for Auto Safety identified over 300 deaths in GM cars with undeployed airbags. The drastic difference in numbers it attributable to the criteria GM is using to tally deaths. The automaker is only counting failures that resulted in front-impact collisions in which airbags did not deploy. For these victims and their families, GM has set up a compensation program.

According to GM’s criteria, if a vehicle’s airbag deployed or if the resulting accident wasn’t a head-on crash, the victims don’t qualify for the compensation program—even if ignition switch failure caused or contributed to their injuries. That means hundreds of accident victims are potentially ineligible for compensation. For example, an injured passenger who was riding in the backseat, or who was involved in a rear-end collision, would not qualify for compensation.

 

 

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What to Do If Your Car Is Recalled

2014 is turning out to be a record year for recalls. Millions of cars already have been recalled this year, most of them from the General Motors. Fresh data released by Carfax confirms that as many as 36% of all recalled cars on American roads are not repaired.

In fact, last year, the auto industry recalled more cars than it sold. In 2013, recalls were up by approximately 25%, which is the highest increase on record since 2004. One of General Motors largest recalls this year, involving more than 2.6 million vehicles, was for a defective ignition switch that has already been linked to 13 fatalities. Clearly, car recalls are not always linked to defects that are inconveniences to customers, but possibly serious defects that could actually cause car accidents involving injuries and death.

Who is to blame for this poor response to recalls? According to Carfax, there are currently at least 36 million recalled cars being operated by motorists in the United States. In many cases, people are completely unaware of the recalls, while in the remaining cases, the people have been informed of the recall, but chose not to respond anyway.

One major reason for such a poor response rate is the fact that people are understandably fatigued by all the recall alerts that are being posted in the media. Many Atlanta residents actually discard recall notices that they get sent in the mail. In other cases, an owner may not really believe that his vehicle will give him any trouble, since he's never had trouble with it before. Therefore, he may not take the car to the dealer to get the problem fixed.

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Atlanta Is One of the Most Dangerous Areas for Pedestrians

Atlanta has once again received the dubious distinction of being one of the most dangerous and risky cities for pedestrians in the United States. This recent designation came via the Dangerous by Design report, which spotlights cities that pose the highest risk of injuries and accidents to pedestrians.

The report is compiled by Smart Growth America, which formulated a Pedestrian Danger Index measure for all major cities in the country. When cities and states were compared, Florida was found to be the most dangerous state, while Orlando was found to be the most dangerous city for pedestrians in the country.

The Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta region comes in at number eight on the list, with 839 fatalities occurring between 2003 and 2012. The region had a Pedestrian Danger Index of 119.4.  Atlanta fared quite well, however, when compared to Orlando’s 244.3 Pedestrian Danger Index.  But the rating clearly indicates that there are a lot of changes needed to help keep pedestrians safer in our city.

Georgia government officials have for several years now promoted a pedestrian walking culture to help reduce the notorious traffic congestion problem in Atlanta. Atlanta has some of the worst traffic congestion problems in the country, and an increased number of pedestrians could help reduce much of the congestion. However, those attempts to increase the number of pedestrians have not been accompanied by corresponding changes to pedestrian travel infrastructure.

For example, there has not been a significant increase in the number of designated crosswalks that allow pedestrians to safely cross the road. Additionally, there are few initiatives targeted at helping motorists understand that they must yield the right of way to pedestrians at a crosswalk and must respect pedestrian rights. In the absence of informed motorists, the auto-centric culture that is focused more on the well-being of motorists than pedestrians has only become stronger.

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Playground Accident Preventable with Better Safety Precautions

It’s too late to save the three-year-old boy who died in a playground accident in Alpharetta recently. However, parents of toddlers and children who will be swarming the state’s playgrounds over the next few weeks of summer must take heed. It's very easy, and much more common than you know, for children to suffer serious or even fatal injuries while playing at the playground.

In the Alpharetta incident, the three-year-old boy was playing on the slide when he choked on a piece of twine. The caregiver had turned her attention away from the child, and had gone inside for a moment. That is when the accident occurred. The boy was sliding down when his head got caught in the twine. When the caregiver found the child, he was hanging from the twine. He was rushed to the hospital, but died days later. The cause of death was ruled as asphyxiation.

It appears that the piece of twine was at the top of the slide, and shaped like a loop. When the child was sliding down, his head got into the loop, cutting off his air supply. At this time, no charges have been filed against the caregiver or anyone else involved here.

At the time, the child was in the care of a caregiver who runs an in-home childcare service. The Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning has issued an order for the Emergency Closure of the care service in Alpharetta. According to the statement by the agency, this incident seems to have spotlighted several rule violations, which resulted in the death of the child.

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Georgia GHSA Spotlights Heat Strokes in Cars

A growing number of incidents across the country in which young children have died after being left inside a hot car have shocked child safety advocates and parents.  In Georgia, state agencies are trying to draw attention to the fact that over the next few weeks, children in Atlanta and across the State are going to be at an increased risk of dying from such preventable incidents.

The Georgia Governor's Office of Highway Safety recently joined the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to mark National Heat Stroke Prevention Day. The goal was to increase awareness about the fact that any parent is at risk of making these dangerous mistakes. According to the NHTSA, more than 50% of all car- related heatstroke fatalities involving children are caused when a parent or caregiver unintentionally leaves a child behind in the car. In 29% of the cases, the child manages to get inside the car on his or her own, and is unable to get himself out.

This year alone, there have been 17 child fatalities from heatstroke. There is no doubt that these tragedies were all preventable. While calls for technology that could help alert parents when their children are in the backseats before they get in the car are increasing, there is no doubt that this is a problem that can be avoided by taking simple steps.

Never leave a child unattended around the car for any reason. That doesn't simply involve leaving children behind in a car. It also involves making sure that children are nowhere around an unlocked car. A child can easily access the car, and lock himself inside in just a few seconds. Make sure that your car is always locked, and make sure that the car keys are away from the child.

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