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The opioid overdose epidemic has been a top-priority for safety advocates as well as federal agencies for several years now. However, a little-known fact that has not garnered as much press is that opioid use has also contributed to an increase in the number of car accidents linked to drivers who were driving while under the influence of these painkillers.

A dependence on opioid medications or painkillers like Oxycontin has been blamed for a nationwide crisis that has raged unabated. In 2017 alone, 47,000 Americans died as the result of an opioid overdose. Deaths from opioid overdoses increased 14% nationwide in that year.  In Georgia, however, opioid deaths increased over 16% in 2017.  And to make it more a part of the daily conversation, social media has been awash with images and videos of addicts passed out or dead in their cars, sidewalks and commercial spaces.

Now, researchers at the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention at Columbia University Medical Center say that there is ample evidence that opioid painkillers and drivers high under the influence of medications like Oxycontin are also causing an increasing number of car accidents. Their conclusions are based on results from a study that was conducted on 18,000 drivers involved in fatal accidents between 1993 and 2016. According to the researchers, the number of fatal car accidents involving drivers under the influence of opioid painkillers actually tripled over this 25-year period.

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Atlanta recently received the dubious honor of being ranked 4th in the nation for having the most aggressive drivers, according to GasBuddy.  Aggressive driving involves hard braking, swerving, but most often speeding.  Accidents caused by speeding kill more people than any other accident factor, including drunk driving or distracted driving.

Speeding accounts for at least one-third of all traffic fatalities every year, and has continued to be the single biggest factor contributing to crashes over the past two decades. In 2017, the last year for which conclusive data is available, speeding caused 27 percent of all traffic fatalities.

Speeding is a major traffic safety issue primarily because of the tremendous impact that results in an accident caused by speeding, compared to a moderate-speed accident. There are a number of other safety concerns associated with speeding. For example, data shows that motorists who are more prone to drive at high speeds are prone to other risk factors such as a failure to wear seatbelts. In 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 49 percent of all people who died in speeding-related accidents were unrestrained at the time of the crash, compared to 21 percent of motorists who were not in high-speed accidents.

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Although spring typically isn’t known as a particularly busy time of the year for boating, there are still many boating enthusiasts who love the crisp air and the unique joy of boating during spring time. Boating during spring is exhilarating. It is also the ideal time to brush up on your boating skills, and make sure that your boat is in the right shape and tuned up not just for spring, but also for the more hectic summer boating season ahead.  This way you, and others around you, will be sure to be safe whether you’re boating on Lake Lanier, the Chattahoochee River, or any other body of water in the North Georgia area.

Across the country, the Coast Guard estimates that as many as 80 recent of all boating accidents, caused by user error, involved boaters who had never undergone a boating education program. Learning how to operate and handle your boat is a must whether you plan on boating regularly or just a few times a year.  Just as you would never dream of driving your car on the highway without knowing the basics of driving, learning the essentials of boating technique is also necessary to ensure not only your safety but also those around you on the water.  However, a surprisingly large number of boaters every year see no problem in taking to the lakes and rivers across Georgia in boats without even a single hour of training or education.   Operating a boat can be as, or even more, challenging than driving a motor vehicle. In fact, an untrained boater may be at an even higher risk of causing an accident than a motorist because of the special challenges posed by water currents, weather and other factors that are beyond the control of the boater. Not only can boating accidents cause severe injuries, they can also be fatal when the victim’s injuries disable them to the point where they cannot swim in the water and drown as a result.

To help reduce the number of boating accidents, the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators conducts a special campaign every year to encourage boaters to focus on safety during the spring months. This year, the special program will be kicked off during the week from March 17 to March 23.

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Pedestrian safety statistics in the United States are have been pretty grim lately. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that in 2016, there was a pedestrian accident fatality every 1.5 hours in the United States.  Even more alarming, the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) found that the number of pedestrian deaths in 2018 were at a 28-year high.

Georgia was one of five states that accounted for almost half of the number of pedestrian deaths just in the first six months of 2018.  In the Atlanta area, pedestrian deaths were also on the rise, especially in 2017, with an alarming number pedestrian accidents occurring on highways.

A recent report by the GHSA found that pedestrian deaths were higher among certain groups including the poor, people of color, and those without health insurance, as these groups were more likely to live in areas that have fewer sidewalks and are otherwise more dangerous for pedestrians.  The GHSA also found that, the elderly and children were especially vulnerable to being struck as a pedestrian.

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The ways in which a motorcyclist can be injured while riding on the streets of Atlanta is numerous.  But one accident scenario that carries the most serious risk of leaving a motorcyclist with devastating injuries is when a motorcycle crashes into a car making a left turn.

According to estimates, as many as 40 percent of all motorcycle accidents involve a car making a left turn in front of the motorcycle or at an intersection. Many of these situations involve car drivers who incorrectly gauge the distance between their vehicle and the motorcycle.  When this happens, it usually results in the motorcycle crashing into the car, often at high speeds.  In other cases, the car driver may be distracted and fail to notice the motorcyclist pulling up alongside them.

Often, these accidents occur at intersections when the motorcycle is riding straight and a car driver suddenly makes a left turn in front of him.  There are many dangerous intersections located throughout the metro Atlanta area, thereby setting the scene for these types of accidents for countless motorcycle riders.  The impact of an accident like this can be devastating, and the motorcyclist may be at risk of sustaining injuries that include brain injuries, spinal injuries, fractures, major or severe cuts and lacerations, facial injuries and other serious injuries. Some of these injuries can leave a motorcyclist with possibly long-term damage, reducing his ability to lead a normal, productive life.

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Falls are a major cause of unintentional injuries around the global and the World Health Organization classifies falls as the second leading cause of such injuries and deaths every year. Every year, as many as 640,000 persons worldwide suffer a fall accident that leaves them with serious or fatal injuries, and seniors above the age of 65 form a sizable chunk of this group.  In the U.S., 2.8 million people are treated in the emergency room or hospitalized for fall related injuries.

Many times, a fall accident can be the result of property that has been poorly or negligently maintained.  In Georgia, business owners have a duty to keep their property safe and free of dangers, or warn of dangers, that could cause injury to their guests.  If a guest on their property trips and falls, or slips and falls, and gets injured because of their failure to maintain the property, they can be held liable for compensating the party that suffered personal injuries.

A fall accident can result in a number of injuries, many of which can be serious. Here is a look at some of the most common injuries that occur as a result of slip and fall accidents.

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It should be no surprise that commercial truck drivers are more likely to suffer from sleep deprivation compared to other drivers.  Studies done by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that sleep deprivation is a factor in as many as 13 percent of all large truck, semi-rig and 18-wheeler accidents.  In a high traffic area such as the Atlanta and North Georgia region, this can result in catastrophic, and often deadly, car accidents that result in serious person injury.

A commercial truck driver’s schedule usually involves long hours without many breaks. Drivers are often under great pressure to clock-in a certain number of hours on their logs, which requires them to drive for more and more hours without scheduling a rest break. This can be a grave mistake that can have deadly consequences because a sleep-deprived driver is much more likely to make the types of mistakes that result in accidents.  Couple this with an 80,000 pound vehicle like a tractor-trailer, and it’s no wonder that a sleep-deprived truck driver can be one of the most dangerous drivers on the road.

Unfortunately for truck drivers, delivery schedules can be tight and it’s often not possible for a truck driver to rest when he wants to. The secret to sound sleep for a truck driver, therefore, may be to sleep when he can, instead of when he wants. This not only compromises the safety of other drivers, but your own health as well.  If you are a big-rig driver, here are a few tips for drivers to get more rest on the job.

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Most of us will go on at least one trip in our lifetime where a hotel stay is necessary.  A key to making the trip a success is ensuring your safety while at the hotel.  Unfortunately, more travelers than most people would expect have experienced some type of assault or danger while staying at a hotel.  With the Superbowl coming to Atlanta in the next few weeks, the local hotels will no doubt need to take extra security measures to ensure the safety of all of their guests.

Factors such as negligent security, inadequate lighting and negligent maintenance can contribute to occurrences of assaults at hotels.  It’s hard to say exactly how many assaults are reported at hotels and resorts across the US every year. Not all assaults are reported to police, and a hotel’s TripAdvisor page will hardly feature a summary of the number of assaults and suspected attacks the hotel has been involved in over the past few years.  Likewise, a hotel will not make known the number of personal injury lawsuits filed against them for negligence.

Solo female travelers need to take strong steps to safeguard their own security. It’s important to not be lulled into a false sense of safety when you are walking around in the quiet hallways and guest areas of a hotel.  Even with the state–of-the-art check- in systems and seemingly foolproof door lock systems many hotels use these days, it is not, unfortunately, a complete safeguard against crime.  Therefore, all travelers, and especially females, must be on their guard at all times.

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Throughout the nation, the population of those age 65 and older continues to rise.  In fact, as the baby boomer generation continues to age, it is projected that the number of older people in the U.S. population will be greater than children in just a couple of decades.  In Georgia, the population of those 65 and older is projected to constitute over 65% of the state’s population by 2030.

With the rise of the aging population, more and more of these individuals are now living in nursing homes.  However, statistics show that many of these residents suffer from poor and neglectful care, and other abuse.  Residents of for-profit nursing homes are more likely to be subjected to poorer care standards, compared to residents of non-profit facilities. A new report confirms that for-profit nursing home residents have increasing rates of suffering injuries resulting from neglect than those living in other residential arrangements.

The researchers found that seniors over the age of 60 who lived in private community residences were most likely to be well cared for. They found more signs of neglect among residents of for-profit nursing homes.  Some of these cases included serious signs of neglect such as extreme dehydration and stage 3 and stage 4 bedsores. These residents were also more likely to suffer from the effects of mismanagement of their feeding and medication schedules.  The neglect also involved malfunctioning or broken feeding tubes, broken catheters and overall mismanagement of chronic health conditions which are prevalent in the nursing home population.  Numerous lawsuits are filed nationwide against nursing homes and assisted-living facilities for failure to provide adequate care and safety measures.

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The DOT’s National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration recently announced some welcome news for motorists, pedestrians, motorcyclists and bicyclists around the country – traffic accident fatalities for 2017 were down by 2 percent.  This decline followed two prior years of large increases.  The decline in fatalities also continued for the first half of 2018.

Overall, according to data from the Department of Transportation, a total of 37,133 people died in traffic accidents across the country in 2017. That was a decrease of 2 percent from the previous year. This was also in stark contrast to the 6.5 percent increase in fatalities from 2015 to 2016 and the 8.4 percent increase from 2014 to 2015.   The trend also appears to have carried over into Georgia as total traffic deaths on Georgia roadways decreased in 2017 after two large years of increases in 2015 and 2016.

The data has more good news. It shows a 2 percent decrease in pedestrian fatalities. This was a traffic safety area that had been a huge source of concern for safety advocates because of the increase in pedestrian accident fatalities over the past several years. In 2017, federal authorities recorded the first decline in pedestrian accident fatalities since 2013, and that is welcome news indeed.