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Winter  is coming,  and with it comes the risk of slip and fall accidents that can result in  serious personal injuries.  Doctors are warning pedestrians, especially the elderly, to be extra cautious while walking during the season.

Atlanta sees  more than its share of snowy, wet and icy conditions during winter, and these can provide ideal conditions for a slip and fall accident.  Sidewalks  and paths can be covered with black ice that may be invisible, but  treacherous enough to cause a fall.

What is the best thing you could do to prevent a slip and fall accident this winter?  The  answer is surprisingly – walk like a penguin.  Slip and fall safety experts say that walking with short, slow steps is the ideal walking pace to prevent a slip and fall accident this winter.  Use heavy, weighted   steps  and be aware of your surroundings at all times. Avoid walking fast even if the path ahead seems safe and free of ice.  Avoid  taking long strides that can make it hard for you to prevent a fall.

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Motorists driving while fatigued or sleepy cause as many as 100,000 car accidents every year.  This  November, the National Sleep Foundation is marking Drowsy Driving Prevention Week to raise awareness about the dangers of driving while sleepy.

The National Sleep Foundation commemorates the first week of November every year as Drowsy Driving Prevention Week to coincide   with the end of daylight savings time.  The  National Sleep Foundation estimates that as many as 100,000 car accidents every year are caused by drivers who are too sleepy or fatigued to   drive. According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than half of all American motorists admit to regularly or consistently driving while sleepy.  About 20% of American drivers admit to having operated a motor vehicle while sleepy at least once in the past year. Clearly,  there are far too many people who feel comfortable driving a car when they are simply too tired or sleepy to do so.

Some categories of motorists may be at a greater risk of drowsy driving than others.  For  example, motorists between the age of 16 and 25 are at  a higher risk of driving while sleepy.  Male  motorists may also be much more likely to find nothing wrong while driving in a sleepy condition compared to female drivers.  Shift workers and commercial drivers like long haul truck drivers may also be at higher risk of not getting enough sleep resulting in drowsy driving. Apart  from these business travelers as well as persons suffering  from medical conditions like sleep apnea are also at a higher risk.  Apnea is a sleep condition that causes a person to suffer from respiratory interruptions  during sleep at night which causes the person to be fatigued and sleepy   in the daytime. Sometimes, drowsy driving  is the result of  taking medications like anti -depressants and antihistamines that may have sleepiness as a side effect.

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It is always a nerve wracking moment for any parent when their child receives a driver’s license and begins operating a motor vehicle.  A  new technology that makes use of a video game to identify teen responses to car accident risks may help parents understand better what kind of driver their child is likely to become.

Research scientists at the Neuroscience of Driving program at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Centre for Injury Research and Prevention recently designed a virtual driving assessment test that is aimed at understanding teenage behaviors and responses to common auto accident risks and evaluating future driving behaviors based on these.

The new technology is called Already Assess by Diagnostic Driving. It consists of a 15 – minute simulator drive that is designed like a video game.  Teenagers  are required to follow the simulated course on a large computer screen using headphones, foot pedals and a steering wheel. As the teenager moves through the simulated course, the technology monitors around 100 driving skills that can predict the teen’s risk of a car accident. These skills include the crucial ability to navigate difficult curves and intersections, lane position,  control of the vehicle,  the proximity of his vehicle to other vehicles,  and his or her ability to respond to sudden and emergency hazards.  When the teenager completes the course, he is given a personalized  report card that clearly outlines his or her responses to various stimuli and the areas of deficiency as well as the areas that she or he can improve on.

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Traumatic brain injury of the kind that is often sustained in car accidents, trucking accident as well as slip and fall accidents is linked to several  health consequences, including mental health symptoms like depression.   A  new study finds that  women may be at a much higher risk of suffering depression after a traumatic brain injury, compared to men.

Researchers recently analyzed 9 studies on traumatic brain injury and related depression, and found that women had a risk of suffering depression after a personal injury that was as much as 50% higher than the risk for men.  The  analysis focused on more than 700,000 people who suffered a traumatic brain injury, including more than 360,000 women. Out  of these, approximately 29% or 104,000 women reported depression after the injury. In contrast, 332,000 men suffered a brain injury in the study, and out of these, 72,000 or 22% reported  depression in the months after the  injury.

The researchers have been unable to speculate about the reasons for this difference between men and women, but the fact is that women seem to be at a much higher overall risk of suffering depression compared to men.  Among  older women, for instance, the top cause of depression is traumatic brain injury and the biggest cause of brain injury in women is  slip and fall accidents.  The  researchers believe that it is important for physicians treating older women or any women suffering from brain injury to caution them about their risks for depression.

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Recent  studies by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety find that some technologies may be especially beneficial in identifying distracted drivers and preventing car accidents. Distracted driving is one of the main causes of auto accidents involving serious personal injuries.

The  Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently released the findings of two new studies that show that roadside cameras are very beneficial in helping identify motorists who are using cell phones while driving. The study found, in fact, that these cameras were almost as beneficial as  in – car monitoring systems that are designed to identify whether motorists are distracted by cell phones when at the wheel.  The  study also found that in – phone apps that measure and collate data about cell phone use while driving are also extremely beneficial in helping identify driving behaviors that  are  likely to result in car accidents.

Currently  much of the data  that we have on cell phone-related behavior by motorists at the wheel come from roadside surveys conducted every year by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  The  data in this survey comes from cameras that are used by the federal administration to monitor driving behavior from morning to evening during a few weeks every summer.  Obviously,  the kind of data that results from a survey like this is fairly limited since it is   only collected over a certain period of time every year.  There  are also limitations on the number of people that can be identified or monitored using this technology.

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There are several areas in which Georgia can improve its auto accident prevention and safety record, but as a new report finds, the state scores very well as far as preventing teen driver car accidents is concerned.

Wallet Hub recently conducted a survey of all 50 states, and compared the driving environments in all  based on  safety, economic factors and driving laws. Georgia ranked very well on several of the parameters. Overall, the state ranked at number 10 in conducive driving environments for teen drivers.  It was ranked at  Number 16 for safety and Number 12 for the quality of its driving laws for teenage drivers.  It was also placed at Number 35 for economic environment. The state was placed at Number 1 for the quality  of  its laws against texting and distracted driving, Number 6 on the quality of its roads,  and  at  Number 7 on the quality of its occupant protection laws. Georgia’s Graduated Drivers License programs also received a nod, placing at number 11.  Its DUI laws were  ranked at number 14 for number of DUIs for every 100,000 drivers. It also placed at number 25 for the quality of its laws against driving under the influence  of alcohol.

The data speaks for itself.  Georgia’s  Graduated Drivers License programs and the effectiveness of the state’s laws against distracted driving make for an ideal environment for teenage drivers in the state. The state also has invested in targeting greater participation by parents in their children’s driving journeys, and many education and awareness programs have been geared towards this aspect.  Safety  advocates say that parents should model exemplary driving behaviors in front of their teen children.  For  instance, there is little point barking at your child to wear his or her seatbelt when you do not bother buckling up every time you drive either.  Lectures  against using cell phones while driving mean nothing if you, as the parent, are unable to avoid checking a text message while you are at the wheel.  Parents should not only display excellent driving habits, but also discuss driving lessons with their child.  For  instance, If you are using a turn signal while driving, explain to your teen why you are doing so.  Taking a  practical approach like this makes for creating a stronger, safer and more responsible teenage driver who is at a lower risk of car accidents.

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New  research recently attempted to identify the various types of medications that could exacerbate a senior’s risk of being involved in car accidents, and found that painkillers and antidepressants topped the list.

A senior person may be at a much higher risk of being involved in a car accident due to a number of factors.  These  factors include lower vision,  lower hearing abilities,  delayed reaction times,  impaired   judgement abilities,  and one of the most important of all,  the side effects of medications.   A  senior is more likely to suffer from a number of health conditions, including cardiovascular disease,  heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, and  may be on medications for several of these conditions.  Many  of these medications do come with side effects that include  drowsiness,  fatigue,  confusion,  disorientation,  lack of concentration  and other symptoms.

A recent study attempted to identify the specific classifications of drugs that are most dangerous for a senior driver. The researchers followed a group of  senior adults over 10 years of their lives, and focused on their performances on  annual road tests.  The researchers found that seniors who were on certain types of drugs were much more likely to fail their annual tests or score very low on the tests. The biggest culprits  were anti – depressants  and sedatives or sleeping aids which were found to have the most serious impact on senior driving skills. Seniors who used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or over-the-counter painkillers were also much more likely to do poorly on their driving skills tests. The researchers found that when the seniors were on these three different types of drugs, they were more likely to get marginal or failing scores on the driving tests.

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Seniors  who suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder may have a significantly increased risk of being involved in car accidents.

A  new study finds that it is not just teens with ADHD who may be at a higher car accident risk, but also seniors between the age of 65 and 79 who may also have elevated risks as a result of their condition.  The  study focused on 2,800 seniors between the age of 65 and 79 . Out of these seniors, approximately 2.8% suffered from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder,  a condition that is categorized by high activity levels, lower attention and concentration levels and other symptoms that make it difficult for the person to concentrate and focus attention for long periods of time.

The  researchers found in their analysis that  seniors who suffered from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder had a 74% higher risk of being involved in car accidents compared to those who were not diagnosed with ADHD. They were also much more likely to be involved in violations that result in traffic tickets with a  102% higher risk of traffic violations.  Seniors with ADHD also had a 7% higher risk of sudden braking incidents, which often lead to auto accidents.

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The federal government under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is funding  transportation projects across the country, and recently announced funding for new initiatives that would help  speed up commercial driver’s licensing processes and, if these drivers are effectively trained, help prevent truck accidents.

The Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently announced in a press release that it would release $48 million in funding grants to states and other entities.  This money would be used to increase opportunities for people who wish to train as truck drivers and obtain commercial driver’s licenses, as well as other efforts aimed at increasing the number of experienced  and trained truck drivers on our highways.  Approximately $44 million, for instance, would be used for expanding commercial drivers license programs through the Commercial Drivers License Program Implementation Grant.  States would receive funding to speed up the process of issuance of commercial drivers licenses.

The funds would also be used to make it easier for states to communicate with each other about violations and other data electronically.

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It is the most dangerous time of the year to drive, even more dangerous in fact than winter.  Not  too many people realize it, but fall is the most dangerous season with a motorist’s risk of being involved in car accidents  at its highest during these days.

Auto insurer Carfax recently announced that according to its data, it is autumn and not winter which is the deadliest season of the year for drivers.  In  fact, according to the data, more than 72% of Americans live in states like Georgia where fall is the deadliest season of the year with the highest number of auto accidents recorded.

There are a number of reasons why the risk of car accidents is greater during fall season compared to other times of the year.  The  days are shorter which means fewer daylight hours and greater volumes of driving in the dark when the risks of being involved in an auto accident are at their highest. Only 25% of all travel in the United States occurs during night time, but night time     accounts for  the same number of   accidents every year as day time.  Another  factor contributing to the higher risk of car accidents during autumn is deer. More than 50% of all auto accidents involving deer in the United States occur between October and December. Mating season kicks off during this time, and you will find larger numbers of deer along busy roads.  A  third important reason for the high number of car accidents during fall season is the slippery and wet road surfaces.  Roads may  be  slick because of wet leaves that fall down during storms, and these provide ideal conditions for an auto accident.

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