Articles Posted in In The News

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The federal government is not amused by the witty highway safety messages that are posted on several highways across the country, including in Georgia, to prevent auto accidents.   The federal government has banned these humorous electronic safety messages across the country.

The Federal Highway Administration, which is in charge of regulating the nation’s massive network of highways, recently released a 1000 – page manual which also includes rules for the design of safety signs. The manual  makes it clear that it considers these messages to be distracting. Rather than preventing auto accidents, the FHA believes the messages make car accidents more likely.

Over the past few years, several states including Georgia, have attempted  to attract motorist  attention to highway safety issues by posting humorous safety messages that use wordplay,  a pun-friendly  style or references to pop culture to grab eyeballs.  Georgia transportation safety experts experimented with these witty signs, and in 2020, held a contest to find the most humorous sign ideas.  Winning entries included gems like You Look Great, But the Selfie Can Wait, Better Late Than Never, and our favorite If You Missed the Exit, It’s OK, We Made More Up Ahead, and began flashing on several highways after these were picked out of hundreds of entries.  Over the next few months, however, many of these messages may simply be phased out as a result of the new federal rules.

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Sleep experts have always known that night shift workers are at a higher risk of being involved in a car accident.  A new study finds even more conclusive proof that night shift workers are at risk of a number of sleep disorders that can increase their risks of being involved in a car crash.

The study was conducted in the Netherlands where Dutch researchers found that out of all the patients involved in the study, more than 51% suffered from at least one sleep disorder. The researchers focused on more than 37,000 workers who were questioned about their work patterns and sleeping habits.  The researchers screened participants for 6 common sleep disorders including insomnia, hypersomnia or excessive sleeping, sleep apnea and other sleep – related breathing disorders, sleep walking, sleep – related movement disorders and sleep – wake disturbances. They found that 51% or at least one third of the participants suffered from at least one sleep disorder and 13% of all participants suffered from at least two of the sleep disorders for which they were screened.

Among  those who did night shifts, whether regular night shifts or rotational night shifts, 26% reported at least two or more sleep disorders. Consistent and regular night shifts seemed to be the most dangerous for workers with many of these workers reporting lower than optimum hours of sleep.  About 50 percent  of the workers who were on night shifts reported that they often slept for less than 6 hours a day.  The  ideal sleep duration for an adult is 8 hours everyday.

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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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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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Georgia continues to criminalize the use and possession of marijuana for recreational use. While there is a very narrow exception for use of marijuana for medical purposes, the statute is not nearly has broad as found in many other states. Accordingly, marijuana is not as readily available in Georgia compared to other states that have fully legalized marijuana for all purposes or fully legalized marijuana to medical use. As the findings of a  new study shows,  this may be for the  good since legalization of marijuana is linked to an increase in the number of auto accident personal injuries.

The  information comes from a new study that was conducted in Canada.  In  2018, Canada became the second country in the world to legalize the sale of marijuana for recreational  purposes.   According to the study, that decision has resulted in a significant increase in the number of auto accident injuries that are serious enough to  lead to a visit to the emergency room.

The study is quick to affirm  that marijuana – related emergency room  visits after car accidents are still uncommon, but the percentage of such auto accidents has been skyrocketing since the 2018 legalization of marijuana.   According to the study, there has been a  475% increase in car accident personal injuries linked to marijuana use, with the increase being even sharper following the 2018 legalization of marijuana. On the other hand,  there has not been  a similar increase in the number of alcohol – related car accident personal injuries resulting in emergency room visits during the same period of time.

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The  federal administration is proposing a new seatbelt warning system that would apply to occupants of the back seat as well as the front seat passenger.  It is a move that could significantly help reduce the number of people killed in car accidents on America’s roads every year. It is important to keep in mind that persons in the rear seats are injured in car accidents, especially in rear-end accidents and T-bone accidents.

In  2021, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Acting Administrator, approximately 43,000 people were killed in car accidents and approximately 50% of them were not wearing seatbelts  at  the time of the auto accident.  Their chances of surviving the crash could have significantly improved had they been buckled in.  Unfortunately, the current law only    requires seat belt reminder systems for drivers, but has no such requirements for front seat passengers as well as occupants of the rear seat of the car.  These people are also at a very high risk of suffering  fatal  injuries in the event of an auto accident.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently issued a Proposed Rule which requires motor vehicles weighing up to 10,000 pounds to have seatbelt reminder systems for all passengers in the car, including front seat and backseat passengers.  The  requirement would require a visual alert that would go on for approximately 60 seconds and would alert the driver to the status of rear seatbelt usage.  It  would also require an audible alert that would alert the driver when a backseat passenger removes the seat belt while the vehicle is in operation. The rule would   also require an audio visual alert system for the right  front seat passenger  to buckle his seatbelt. Auto manufacturers would have the flexibility to decide how frequently and how loud the audible  reminder system should be.

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A law that prohibits the use of hand cell phones while driving for Georgia motorists has possibly contributed to a drop in the number of auto accidents caused by distracted drivers in the state. Unfortunately, before the law was passed, there were a significant number of car accidents in Georgia involving persons talking and texting while driving.

According to representatives at the Georgia Governors of Highway Safety, there has been a reduction in the number of car accidents directly caused by distracted motorists since the ban was passed. The law which prohibits Georgia motorists from using a handheld cell phone to send or receive text messages or to even touch a telephone while driving was passed in 2017, and went into effect the following year.

The  Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety only has statistics for the year 2021, and the data for that year seems to  indicate that the number of people convicted for handheld cell phone use increased significantly after the stricter ban was enacted. There were more than 43,000 distracted driving convictions in 2021 for violation of the ban.  Many  of these involved people who were driving while holding their cell phones.  That was a significant four -fold increase from 2017.

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When an individual has been convicted of drunk driving, they often are required to have an ignition interlock device placed on their cars. These devices prevent a person from starting a car until they have passed a breath test for driving. States have passed compliance laws that strictly require individuals who have had an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle after a DUI offense to comply with these devices. The devices can only be removed once the person has shown to have complied with the devices for a defined period of time. These compliance laws seem to have much higher success than other methods of preventing repeat offenses and reducing the risk of alcohol – related car accidents.

Those  findings come from a new study conducted by the Governors Highway Safety Association. The report focused on the effectiveness of compliance- based removal components in ignition interlock device laws.  Currently, all states, including Georgia, have some form of ignition interlock device laws which require that they get devices installed in their vehicles that prevent them from operating their vehicle if their system contains more than a certain amount of alcohol.  At  least 33 states have compliance- based removal laws in place that clearly define conditions that must be met for an exit from the interlock device requirement.  Georgia, unfortunately, does not have a compliance- based removal component as part of its  ignition  interlock device laws.

The  Governors Highway Safety Association focused on two states that   have compliance – based removal laws and two states that do not have such laws.  The study established that states that have compliance -based laws have  much lower recidivism rates  for drunk driving compared to states that do not have such compliance laws in place. The Governors Highway Safety Association researchers say that there is no way to absolutely confirm that these higher recidivism rates in states that do not have compliance -based removal laws were related to the absence of these laws and that other factors could also play a role.  But  they also stress that compliance -based  removal laws do  provide an extra layer of protection that can prevent these auto accidents. The researchers  are encouraging states like Georgia to review their ignition interlock laws to identify deficiencies and correct  these in order to make these laws more effective.

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Researchers  have known for a while that a brain injury can result in depression, but the kind of depression that a traumatic brain injury causes is different from other forms of depression. Traumatic brain injuries often arise out of car accidents, motorcycle accidents, trucking accidents, or any other event that causes a significant impact to the head.

A  new study finds that the kind of depression that results after a brain injury may be different from   regular  depression with some unique symptoms.  In  fact, the researchers believe that  brain injury -related depression could possibly be its own distinct condition.  These  are important findings because they shed new light on the kind of consequences that a brain injury patient can suffer.

For years now, researchers have known that  depression can set in after a person has suffered a brain injury,  but there have been questions about whether the depression is a result of the injury itself or because of the trauma related to the car accident or incident that caused the personal injury.  The general consensus, however, is that the depression is caused by the personal injury.

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