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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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With  summer fast approaching and thousands of children  and families cooling off in swimming pools across the country, it is important for Atlanta pool owners to understand their risks of premises liability when a drowning  occurs on their premises.

Most drownings involving children occur in swimming pools.  According  to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children between the age of 1 and 4 are more likely to die from drowning than any other factor. For children between the age of 5 and 14,  drowning is the second most likely cause of unintentional death, after auto accidents. Every year,  there are 4,000 fatal drowning accidents recorded in the United States, and as many as double that number of non -fatal drowning accidents.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Georgia has a drowning death rate that is approximately 1.37 for every 100,000 population.

Most  of these accidents occur in residential and commercial swimming pools. Even if a drowning does not result in death, it can result in severe or even catastrophic personal injury.  The loss of oxygen supply to the brain can result in brain damage and other consequences that can contribute to  long- term or   lifelong disability of a child or adult. Close to half of all drowning accidents that do not result in a death will result in hospitalization of the victim.  A drowning is much more likely to result in death or long term injury compared to other  unintentional injuries.

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Across the metro Atlanta region, many employees have been heading back to work after a year of working from home.  Even more are expected to return to work after Labor Day weekend.  Many employees, however, are also still continuing to work from home, and this has led to interesting fluctuations in traffic patterns which could impact car accident patterns as well.

In large metro areas, like the metro Atlanta region, that typically have had predictable rush-hour traffic patterns, rush hour in the “new normal” is significantly different from Feb 2020.  And with large numbers of employees still working from home, rush hour may not immediately return to pre-2020 levels. Other cities that see heavy rush-hour traffic are seeing similar changes in patterns.

In fact, in many of these cities, there is significantly lower traffic being recorded between 6:00 AM and 8:00 AM. Such declines in early morning traffic are being seen across the country. There has also been a drop in commuter traffic after 8:00 AM, but the drop is not as significant as the drop in the early morning hours.  This indicates that even commuters who are going to work now are choosing to delay their commute. This is in sharp contrast to pre-2020 levels when traffic during the 8 AM to 10 AM commuter shift was markedly lower than the earlier shift.

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Yet another study confirms the significant role that ride sharing apps like Uber can play in helping reduce injuries from drunk driving accidents in areas like the metro Atlanta region. The study finds that these apps help lower injury risks, and that the drop is even more significant in the case of younger drivers.

The results of the study were published recently in the JAMA Surgery journal, and explored the role of rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft in reducing injuries caused by accidents, specifically accidents involving impaired drivers.  The advent of services like Uber has been a boon for intoxicated persons looking for a ride home that is safe, responsible cheap and convenient. Before Uber, drivers would actually have to designate sober motorists to take them home, or even worse drive themselves in an intoxicated condition. However, these apps make it easier for intoxicated motorists or their friends to ride home safely.  The hope is that more people will use ride sharing apps during the upcoming Fourth of July weekend to prevent a spike in drunk driving related accidents.

The study focused on drunk driving accident rates after 2014 when Uber was introduced in the country, and compared those with accident-related injuries from before that time. They found that after ride sharing apps like Uber became available, accident injuries over the weekends in the area studied dropped by as much as 24%.  The drop was the steepest – as much as 40% – in the under-thirty category. This is the group that is most likely to use ride sharing apps.

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The month of May marked the beginning of national bicycle safety month.  Thanks to a greater focus on helmet usage and other factors, there has been a significant reduction in the number of American children suffering serious head injuries in bicycle accidents.  However, adults continue to be at risk of suffering head injuries in these accidents, with injury rates in this section of the population barely budging.

According to a new study by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, there was a significant drop of close to 50% in bicycle-related head injuries in children between 2009 and 2018. The researchers credit a number of factors for this significant drop in injuries in this section of the population.  The most important factor has been the increased usage of bicycle helmets.  Awareness campaigns that have pushed for the use of helmets in children have led to a greater awareness of the risk of bicycle-related head injuries in this section of the population. These injuries can be especially dangerous in little ones.  Several cities, including those in Georgia, have also significantly invested in the construction of bicycle lanes that have ensured that children and adults are not exposed to motorists and the risks of accidents involving cars.

However, those same safety interventions do not have seem to have had any effect on the number of head injuries in adults.  During the same period of time, the rate of traumatic brain injury involving bicycle accidents among adults dropped by less than 5.5%. This in spite of the fact that there was an increase in bicycle accident-related fatalities among adults during the study. In fact, in 2018, the number of bicycle accident fatalities involving adults in the United States was the highest in over two decades. According to the researchers, the drop in bicycle head injuries involving children has been as much as 9 times greater than those involving adults.

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A boating safety law that would require that recreational boaters use a kill switch link went into effect on April 1.

The kill switch law is a new federal law that requires operators of recreational vessels to wear a link to the kill switch.  Any recreational vessel that is less than 26 feet in length must be equipped with an engine switch-off lock link. Basically, the lock allows the operator to switch off the engine during an emergency, such as if the operator of the boat falls overboard.

When a boat operator falls overboard, he is likely to suffer serious or even fatal injuries, as the driverless boat may continue to circle around which could result in the victim being struck by the boat propellers. Injuries sustained in an accident like this are usually catastrophic or even fatal.

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The year 2020 is likely to be known not just as the year of the pandemic, but, unfortunately, also the year of record pedestrian accident deaths.  Those fatality numbers touched record highs during the first six months of 2020, in spite of the fact that fewer people were driving during this period of time.

According to the statistics released by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, while there were fewer vehicle miles driven during the first 6 months of 2020 due to the pandemic, there was an increase in the incidence of dangerous driving behaviors such as speeding and distracted driving. The Governor’s Highway Safety Association points to these factors as possible causes of the significant increase in pedestrian accident deaths during this time.

According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, which released a report titled Spotlight on Highway Safety, there was a 20% increase in pedestrian accident deaths, compared to a 5% increase in all other car accident fatalities, in the country from January to June 2020.

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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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It may be surprising to know that as many as half of all child passengers in the United States are travelling in car seats and booster seats that are incorrectly installed or not suitable for the child’s age or weight specifications. Yet, many parents continue to remain unaware that they may be placing their child at risk of serious injuries in an accident.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is sponsoring Child Passenger Safety Week between September 15 and September 21 this year. The aim of the campaign is to make sure that parents know the importance of securing their child in the correct car seat for his age or weight, as well as making sure that the car seat is properly secured and installed. Parents should also remember to get their child’s car seat registered with the manufacturer.

One of the most important things to remember is to make sure that the car seat is installed correctly. You can get your car seat checked by a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician to ensure that it is correctly installed. Find a car safety seat inspection technician near you by using this tool. Remember, an incorrectly installed car seat is at risk of coming loose or collapsing in an accident, causing serious injuries to the child.

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A brain injury is one of the most devastating injuries a person can suffer in an accident.  Brain injuries are not only debilitating to the victim, but they can have a tremendous impact on the victim’s family as well.

Car accidents as well as slip, or trip, and fall accidents are two of the most common causes of brain injuries.  And as serious as brain injuries are, they are also, surprisingly, one of the most difficult and complicated injuries to diagnose and treat.   According to the International Brain Injury Association, approximately 1.5 million people sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI) every year.  Of these, 75% are classified as mild TBI.  Unfortunately, a mild TBI is often unnoticed or misdiagnosed because many victims do not have visible symptoms that most people associate with a brain injury.  Because of this, the mild TBI has been called a “silent epidemic.” However, the term “mild” can be misleading as these injuries can still have long-term and devastating complications on a victim’s life.

Many times a person may have been involved in a slip and fall or a car accident and, although he or she may not think they sustained serious injuries, could very well be overlooking some classic symptoms of a brain injury or mild TBI.   Symptoms of a brain injury or mild TBI include (1) any period of loss of consciousness, even if just for a few seconds, (2) any loss of memory immediately before or after the accident, (3) any altered state of mind such as confusion or disorientation at the time of the accident, (4) any neurological problems including speech, vision or hearing, (5) headache, nausea or vomiting, and (5) fatigue, sleepiness or dizziness.

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