Articles Posted in In The News

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The federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is poised to soon have its first confirmed chief in several years.  The good news is that the new head promises to take an extra special look at the increasing rates of traffic accident fatalities in the country.

The Biden administration has zeroed in on Steven Cliff to be the next head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  Cliff has been serving as the deputy administrator for the NHTSA since February 2021.

Cliff is no stranger to auto safety, and is currently overseeing the federal administration’s investigation into auto accidents in Tesla automobiles. He is making it clear that the recently-approved infrastructure bill would boost the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s spending budget by 50%. According to Cliff, the funds will help the administration implement strategies to understand the causes of car accidents, and will enhance the quality of data as well expand the use of electronic reporting systems, moving them from paper-based to digital systems.

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Transportation safety advocates have been hailing the infrastructure bill that allocates billions in spending on upgrading infrastructure.  Georgia could be an especially lucky beneficiary of that funding.

The infrastructure bill recently signed by President Joe Biden will earmark a staggering $1 trillion for infrastructure funding across the country. Billions of dollars of those funds are on their way to Georgia where many bridges, roads, and highways will benefit from upgrades and repairs. The state has several bridges and highways that have been deemed dangerous or in “poor” condition by experts. At least 374 bridges in the state are “structurally deficient.” Additionally, more than 2, 000 miles of roads across Georgia are categorized as “poor.”  These roads and bridges will benefit from the funding and receive necessary repairs from pot holes, to crumbling pavement and unstable foundations.

Close to 9 billion dollars in funding will be directed to defective highways and roads in the state. An additional $225 million will be allocated for conducting repairs to bridges. Roads in the metro Atlanta region are likely to benefit from repairs as a result of the funding. Mass transit in Georgia will also benefit as a result of the funds. The bill includes more than 1.4 billion dollars to be spent over the next five years on public transport systems in Georgia.  Efforts to expand public transportation have long been attempted in the Atlanta area.  The additional funding may help get overdue improvements finally implemented.   Expansion of mass transit and public transport services will ease congestion in the metro Atlanta region and other areas, and make the roads safer for all commuters to use. Mass transit is safer and more convenient than driving for many Atlanta residents, and expansion will definitely be welcome

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Nursing homes that have lower rankings by federal agencies have been much more likely to have resident deaths related to Covid-19.

According to the director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, nursing homes ranked low by the agency’s nursing home ranking tool have seen higher numbers of Covid-19 deaths, compared to nursing homes that were ranked higher by the ranking tool.

This information provides valuable input for families who are looking for nursing homes for their loved ones in a post -pandemic world. By now, it’s clear that many nursing homes were ill-equipped to handle the patient care challenges resulting from the pandemic. Understaffing is a chronic problem in nursing homes across the country, and has already been blamed for the explosion of cases in nursing homes.

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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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A group of lawmakers has introduced a bill that addresses a pressing need of commercial truckers. The bill, which includes funding for expansion of parking areas, has been welcomed by the trucking industry in Georgia and drivers, especially during the recent times.

Access to safe parking areas is a serious safety issue in the trucking industry. According to federal trucking safety regulations, truck drivers are required to stop driving after a certain number of hours and rest. During these periods of rest, they must park their trucks in safe spaces and get the required minimum rest time before they can begin driving again.

Unfortunately, lack of access to safe parking has been a serious safety issue in the trucking sector. When a driver cannot find a safe and convenient place for him to park his truck, he is more likely to continue driving even beyond the maximum number of hours set by the federal administration. This can have serious consequences because a truck driver who is tired and fatigued, is much more likely to fall asleep at the wheel of the truck. Accidents involving drowsy or tired truckers are not uncommon. In fact, trucker fatigue is a major factor in truck accidents in Georgia and around the country.

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There is no debate the events surrounding COVID-19 are unlike any that this country, and the globe for that matter, has experienced.  The impacts of this disease on our communities will include a once unthinkable number of illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths.

Although efforts have been made to trace the source of the disease in local areas in order to notify others that may have come in contact with or been exposed to someone with the disease, many of these efforts that not been entirely successful, hence the widespread contagiousness of the disease.

One source that has been known early on in the COVID-19 outbreak are the cruise ships that had passengers with confirmed cases on board.  Recent numbers have indicated that as many as 700 people became infected with COVID-19 on cruise ships.  A number of these passengers went on to die from the illness.  As news of the outbreaks and quarantined passengers broke, some of the cruise lines, including Princess Cruises, took preemptive measures and cancelled any future cruises.

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The recent times have been unprecedented in our country.  Preparations from medical to supply chain are being made across the country to meet the needs and demands of the Covid-19 pandemic.

To aid in delivering goods and supplies, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has decided to relax some of the Hours–of–Service regulations that truck drivers are required to adhere to, in order to meet the increased shipping needs caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Hand sanitizers, alcohol wipes, masks and other medical essentials are all in short supply in many states across the country. Panic buying, which has been seen across the country since it became clear that the Covid-19 virus outbreak would be more serious than we believed, has meant many empty shelves at supermarkets and stores across the country. People are running short of basic essentials, including even food items in many areas.

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The year’s busiest motorcycling season is just around the corner, and the Georgia Department of Transportation is taking steps to ensure that residents of the metro Atlanta region and around the state stay safe on the streets.

The Georgia Department of Transportation recently reminded Atlanta residents about its motorcycle safety training courses for residents. The announcement was made via an official press release which states that the agency is offering special programs for beginner riders, as well experienced riders who could use a refresher course for their skills.

One course is especially designed for beginner riders. The program will target not just motorcyclists, but also persons riding mopeds and scooters. The program called the BasicRider course is especially suitable for persons who are new to riding on two wheels, one of the most risky forms of traveling on the roads. Motorcycling is a thrilling activity, but it’s also one of the most dangerous and risky. Beginner motorcyclists who take to the streets on their brand new set of wheels, without having undergone a basic rider safety training program are at a higher risk of being involved in a serious or potentially fatal accident.  The BasicRider program aims to equip novice or amateur riders with the skills and training they need to safely navigate Atlanta’s busy streets. The BasicRider program also includes free motorcycles and helmets provided to students.

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There is no doubt that the metro-Atlanta area is growing by leaps and bounds.  With that growth comes increased traffic, congestion, and unfortunately motor vehicle accidents.   Some of these accidents can be deadly, especially when a pedestrian is involved.

DeKalb County is the second most dangerous county for pedestrians in Georgia, second only to Fulton County. In fact, between 2014 and 2016, there were a total of 67 pedestrian accident fatalities in DeKalb County. Pedestrian deaths, during this period of time, accounted for around one- third of all traffic accident fatalities in the county.

Alarmed by these statistics, officials at DeKalb County have decided to take firm and strategic action to reduce the number of pedestrians killed in traffic accidents, and make the county roads safer for all. DeKalb County Health Board officials are discussing ways to reduce these fatalities with Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety officials, as well as representatives from the DeKalb County Police Department and other concerned pedestrian safety advocates.

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