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If you’re out driving on the roads anywhere, there is no doubt you’ve seen them – traffic signs.  Traffic safety signs play a huge part in helping reduce traffic accident fatalities every year. However, for many motorists, they are usually routine, and extremely easy to ignore.

To help improve noticeability, the Georgia Department of Transportation had recently announced a contest that invited residents of Georgia to submit their ideas for traffic safety signs, and the results are out. The contest had been announced last fall, and was meant to revamp traffic signs across the state, and make them more interesting and eye-catching. Residents were asked to submit their captions for traffic signs in several categories. These categories included distracted driving, impaired driving, seat belt use, work zone safety, and general safety.

The Georgia Department of Transportation received hundreds of entries for the contest, and chose the best and wittiest one-liners in the contest. Here’s a sampling of some of the captions that made the winners’ list.

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Across the nation, more towns and cities, including Atlanta, are trying to provide more pedestrian-friendly areas.  This in turn means that the potential for more pedestrian accidents exists.

In 2018, more than half of all pedestrian accidents occurred at intersections. These resulted in approximately 6,700 pedestrian injuries, and 1,500 pedestrian fatalities. This indicates the seriousness of the lack of safety measures taken at intersections.  However, studies have shown that simple infrastructure enhancements in these areas can help reduce those risks.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently reported on a study which found that simple enhancements like bollards and rubber curbs can help prevent pedestrians from crossing the street diagonally at intersections, thereby helping prevent many of the pedestrian accidents that result in fatalities every year.

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With boating season upon us, the U.S. Coast Guard is recommending that all boaters take some extra steps to stay safe on the water.

The number of boaters on Georgia’s lakes is likely to increase over the next few weeks as Georgians begin to enjoy being out after several weeks of shelter-in-place measures.

Boating is a safe activity from the point of view of social distancing, when compared to other types of activities such as visits to amusement parks. Boating offers a great opportunity for smaller groups to be away from other people, thereby ensuring that social distancing is maintained. However, there are still some things you need to keep in mind before you plan boating trips with family or friends this summer.

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Red light running fatalities in the U.S. have reached a 10-year high. In 2018, 846 people were killed and 139,000 injured in red light running crashes. Half of those fatalities included pedestrians, bicyclists, and people in other vehicles. In fact, drivers running red lights kill at least two people every day.

A red light violation occurs when a vehicle enters an intersection any time after the traffic signal turns red. In Georgia, this violation is generally considered a misdemeanor, and is punishable with fines as high as $1000.  In addition to fines, penalty points can be added to the motorist’s driving record.

Although there is no typical violator profile, data from fatal red light crashes do show certain trends. Red light runners are more likely to be young or male. These drivers often have prior accidents, or they may have been convicted of alcohol-impaired driving in the past. Red light runners are also more likely to speed or be under the influence of alcohol at the time of the incident. In addition, these drivers are less likely to have a valid driver’s license.

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Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has rolled back his decision allowing new drivers to receive their driver’s licenses without a road test.

The order allowing drivers to skip road tests was issued on April 23rd  after the state had implemented massive social distancing measures and shelter-in-place orders in the face of the expanding COVID-19 pandemic. Last month, Governor Brian Kemp’s office released an order that immediately suspended driving tests for teen drivers. The order made no mention of rescheduling the road tests.

However, criticism from parents as well as traffic safety advocates seems to have pressured the Governor to reconsider his decision, and thankfully better sense has prevailed. Governor Kemp has now signed a new order which makes it clear that all new drivers who have received their licenses since the April order must take the road exam. After the April order suspending driving tests, as many as 20,000 Georgia teens had obtained their driver’s licenses without appearing for road tests. These teens must now take their road tests in order to retain their licenses.  The new order gives drivers until September 30th to fulfill this requirement and take their tests.  The order also provides for individuals to take the test either remotely or with a supervisor in the vehicle.

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All throughout the country, nursing home residents have been one of the hardest hit groups of the Covid-19 pandemic.  The same deadly results have been seen in Georgia as well.  According to estimates, as many as 50 percent of the fatalities in the state have involved residents of nursing homes.

The Georgia Department of Community Health recently released Covid-19 fatality numbers and the results are frightening. The data suggests that more than 6,000 residents and staff members of nursing homes in Georgia are currently infected with the virus. About 350 facilities in the state are currently grappling with the outbreak. About 20 percent of all Covid-19 cases in Georgia have occurred in nursing homes and 659 deaths have been linked to nursing homes.

The picture is even bleaker in the rural parts of Georgia.  The virus, which was earlier believed to be confined to urban areas, has spread with staggering speed in rural areas.  These counties, with predominantly poor or African American populations have been affected disproportionately by the outbreak, and nursing homes in these regions have seen an alarming spike in death tolls.

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Gas prices have been falling all over the country in the past few weeks.  In most places around the metro Atlanta area, a gallon of gas in now less than $2.00.

The last time gas prices were this low, there was a boom in the sport utility vehicle market.  And while sales of SUV’s dropped somewhat when gas prices were at a peak several years ago, these large vehicles have never lost their popularity among drivers.  In fact, SUV sales have risen consistently since the 2009.  In 2019, sales of SUVs made up 70% of all new vehicle sales.

Many buyers of sport utility vehicles often cite a perception of increased safety as one of the reasons for driving an SUV.  In other words, a driver behind the wheel of an SUV feels relatively safer in their larger vehicle as opposed to a regular sedan.   This may be because a driver of an SUV is seated higher than in a regular passenger vehicle and feels as though they have a greater line of sight.

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The National Transportation Safety Board is calling on Georgia and other states to take stringent action to reduce the number of bicyclists killed in accidents every year.

The National Transportation Board recently released its first report on bicycle safety since 1972.  The Board makes note of the fact that there has been a spike in bicycle accident deaths, specifically the 857 bicycle accident deaths that occurred in 2018.  There was an increase in bicycle accident deaths in 2018, even as there was an overall drop in auto accidents that year.  Those numbers were an increase of 6.3 percent from the previous year. In fact, the bicycle accident death toll in 2018 was the highest number on record since 1990.

The record fatality numbers in 2018 is likely the reason why the National Transportation Safety Board has decided to address the issue of bicycle safety for the first time since 1972. The Board makes note of the poor infrastructure that is often the cause of bicycle accidents. Too many cities in Georgia have seen an increase in their bicycle population, but oftentimes there is no safe infrastructure in place to support it. This situation has resulted in a staggering increase in bicycle accident deaths in urban areas. Since 2009, the number of bicycle accident deaths in urban areas has increased by a whopping 48 percent.

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Lately, there have been quite a few news stories of people driving on the roads with excessive speed.  While most people are currently under shelter-in-place orders, this means that there are fewer cars on the road and less traffic to navigate.  In fact, pictures have been circulating widely of empty roadways in the usually most traffic congested cities.  This has resulted in some drivers taking advantage of the empty streets and pushing the envelope on speed limits.

In the metro-Atlanta area, this behavior has been seen both on the local streets in town as well as the area’s highways.   Some drivers are not only engaging in excessive speeding, but there are others that are actually racing on the streets.

This driving at excessive speeds has caused deadly accidents with devastating results.  Most recently in Atlanta, an 11 year-old child was struck and killed by a speeding driver, and a police officer was also killed in a deadly high speed accident.

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A Tik Tok stunt that has recently gone viral places teens at a high risk of brain injury and spinal injury.

The “Skull Breaker” challenge on the popular platform Tik Tok involves two teens pulling the legs out from under a third person who is essentially the victim. The resulting fall can cause a serious spine injury or brain injury. In fact, hospitals around the US have reported serious neck, spine and brain injuries linked to the stunt gone horribly wrong.  And now that more children and teens are home due to schools being cancelled, the incidence of these injuries is rising.

Basically, the stunt involves tricking a third person into jumping, and sweeping their legs out from under them as they jump. When the victim falls, he is likely to sustain a severe impact to his skull, resulting in a head or brain injury. Other possible injuries include a spinal injury as the back sustains the maximum impact of the fall. These injuries have led to several hospitalizations.

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