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According to the National Transportation Safety Board, speeding motorists pose a serious problem on our roads. Between 2005 and 2016, speeding-related accidents killed more than 132,500 people.  In Georgia, the annual number of deaths caused by speeding drivers in 2008 to 2017 averaged from 1200 to over 1500 each year.  Until authorities and communities address the very real risks and dangers posed by speeding, no real progress can be made in reducing the number of accident fatalities in the United States.

There are two ways in which speeding increases the risk of fatalities.  First, a speeding motorist is less likely to be able to respond in time to prevent an accident.  Second, the kinds of injuries that occur in a speeding-related accident are very often fatal, due to the very severe impact caused by the speeding vehicle involved. In fact, the National Transportation Safety Board statistics show that speeding-related fatalities accounted for approximately one-third of all traffic deaths. That number was close to the number of people who died in drunk driving accidents during that same period. However, while a lot of attention and activism is directed towards drunk driving, speeding generally does not get as much focus as an accident causing factor.

The National Transportation Safety Board identifies the recent trend in communities to raise speed limits as one of the reasons why speeding continues to claim so many lives every year.  It is a no-brainer that higher speed limits only encourage drivers to drive even faster.  In 2015, the maximum speed limit on Georgia highways was raised from 65 mph to 70 mph.  Georgia is also one of the few states that has anti-speed trap laws.

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Statistics show that seatbelt usage rates for adults riding in the backseat of a car are much lower than for those in the front seat.  Unfortunately, far too many adult passengers believe that buckling up when they are riding in the backseat is not always necessary.

According to a recent survey by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 4 out of 5 backseat passengers believe that seatbelts are unnecessary on short trips or while riding in a taxi. Backseat passengers have a false sense of security and believe that they are safer when they are seated in the back seat and therefore don’t need to wear a seatbelt.  Unfortunately, these statistics hold true in the Atlanta area as well.

Obviously, that logic is flawed.  Every person in a passenger vehicle is at risk of injuries in an accident, regardless of where they are sitting in a car. Riding in the backseat can be just as safe as riding in the front seat, unless you’re not wearing a seatbelt. A few decades ago, when auto safety technologies were not as cutting-edge as they are now, front seat passengers had a much higher risk of dying in an accident. However, since the introduction of advanced airbag systems and other safety technologies, safety for front seat passengers and drivers has increased dramatically.

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Georgia recently passed the Hands-Free Law that prohibits all motorists from driving with a handheld electronic device.  However, most would be surprised to know that an astonishing number of parents admit to setting poor driving examples for their children by using cell phones and communication devices while driving.

According to the results of a study which was published in the journal Pediatrics recently, about 50 percent of parents admitted to regularly talking on their cell phones while driving with their children. About 1 in 3 admitted to texting while driving, and 1 in 7 admitted to using social media while driving. The children in these cases were between 10 and 14 years of age – impressionable minds that absorb their parents’ examples and behavior.

What’s worse, but not too surprising, is that these parents were also likely to engage in other equally harmful driving practices, whether their children were in the car or not, such as failure to wear seatbelts or driving under the influence of alcohol.  About 14.5 percent of the parents included in the study failed to place their child in child safety systems while driving. The study also found a direct link between the rates of driving under the influence of alcohol and irresponsible cell phone practices at the wheel.

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The recently passed Georgia Hands-Free Law is intended to reduce the number of distracted-driver related traffic accidents.  But did you know that using hands-free, voice-activated technology to operate your cell phone while driving actually poses its own set of dangers?  A new study finds that the more complex the task you are performing using voice-activated technology, the greater the distraction level and danger to you.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recently conducted a study of the various types of voice-activated technologies that are now present and built-in in so many automobiles these days. These new technologies allow motorists to perform a variety of tasks without moving their hands away from the steering wheel or their eyes from the road. Motorists may use these technologies for reading and dictating text messages, sending and reading e-mails, and even posting on Facebook and other forms of social media. However, as the research suggests, the technology is not entirely foolproof.

The researchers at the AAA Foundation found that the more complicated and complex the task, the greater the distraction level. Advanced commands, like those used for sending e-mails or posting on Facebook, seemed to pose a much higher and more dangerous level of distraction to motorists, compared to tasks that were less mentally challenging.  Most motorists do not consider driving while using voice-activated technology to be a major risk. However, if you find yourself looking at your cell phone to spell check an email, the lack of visual attention to the road, even for a few seconds, could cause a serious accident.

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Vehicle safety technology and crash prevention systems not only save motorist lives, but they also help prevent fatal motorcycle accidents.  As the roads in Atlanta get more and more crowded, the number of motorcycles to passenger vehicles will also continue to rise which will only increase the risk of serious accidents and injuries if both motorists are not fully alert and paying attention to their surroundings.

According to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, more than 8,000 motorcycle accidents every year could be prevented if more passenger vehicles came equipped with lane maintenance systems, front collision prevention systems, and other devices that are designed to identify motorcycles in their path.

Many of these crash avoidance systems are currently available on several models of cars, SUVs and pickups.  There are different types of these systems available, but they generally work using devices like cameras and sensors to look out for motorcycles in the environment, and to intervene if the driver fails to take action to prevent an accident.

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It is no secret that pedestrian fatality numbers in the state are on the rise. According to the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, in 2017 alone 1,454 pedestrians died in accidents across the Georgia.

As the number of pedestrian accidents in Georgia continues to increase every year at least one community is taking firm steps to reduce those deadly statistics. The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety recently lauded the community of Macon for the steps that the city is taking to reduce pedestrian fatalities. The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety recently announced a grant of $20,785 to the city of Macon and its On the Move campaign.

The city of Macon has seen more than its share of pedestrian accident fatalities, and it was recently ranked second in Georgia in the number of pedestrian fatalities per capita. In response to those alarming statistics, the city’s administrators have put their heads together to announce a new initiative. The Macon Commissioner recently announced the Macon-Bibb Pedestrian Safety Review Board to analyze pedestrian accident fatalities across the community. The Board recently announced the Cross the Walk campaign. The campaign is designed to inform and educate people about safe and responsible ways of crossing the street.

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Climate change has been in the news for years now regarding its effects on weather related tragedies.  From eroding coastlines, rising poverty levels and soaring temperatures -climate change is blamed for an entire range of global disasters. Every region on the globe, including Georgia, has seen dramatic shifts in its weather.  However, could these changes in weather also be linked to increasing highway accident fatality numbers?

It appears that they could. Traffic safety experts have been trying to understand why road accident fatality numbers have been increasing since 2015, after several decades of a downward trend in fatality numbers. Earlier, safety experts focused on increasing rates of cell phone use by motorists as the leading factor causing this increase. However, they were later able to debunk that theory because there was no increase in smartphone use during the period of time that they studied.  They then changed their focus to another possible factor-the weather.

Temperature increases are likely to be at least partly the reason why we are seeing an increase in the number of people dying in traffic accidents. Warmer weather simply means more people out on the road. People drive, walk, bicycle and ride their motorcycles more in warmer weather, than in wet or snowy weather. The experts found in their analysis that pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists –   people who are much more likely to be out walking, riding or bicycling during warmer weather – accounted for a large percentage of traffic accident fatality fatalities during the study period.

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According to the most recent statistics, more than 100 million Americans suffer from diabetes or have pre-diabetes.   In Georgia, almost 1.2 million people suffer from diabetes, and an estimated 241,000 have diabetes but don’t even know it.

Suffering from diabetes can place a driver at risk for certain symptoms that can increase their chances of being in an accident.  A person who suffers from diabetes may suffer from sudden low levels of blood sugar that can cause symptoms such as disorientation and confusion. This could trigger a potentially devastating medical emergency at the wheel.

Clearly, there are many motorists in who are driving under the ever-present risk of having a medical emergency at the wheel.   Persons who suffer from diabetes may continue to drive, but it is important for them to understand if their symptoms are so severe that it could impact their safety and increase their accident risk. No one suggests that diabetics avoid driving. However, as with several other medical conditions, it is important for you to know if your symptoms are so severe that they could possibly cause you to black out or become disoriented.

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In a 2017 report from Leapfrog Group,  Georgia hospitals were listed near the bottom of the list at 40 out of 49 when it comes to patient safety.   On the bright side, 14 Georgia hospitals were rated “A, ” and none of Georgia hospitals received an “F” rating.

The Leapfrog rankings are based on hospital performance in the prevention of medical errors, injuries and infections. As part of the report, grades were assigned to more than 2,600 hospitals across the country. Grades were assigned from “A” to “F,” and approximately 1/3rd of the hospitals were graded as “A.” Leapfrog also handed out more than 660 “B” grades, 964 “C” grades and 159 “D” grades.  15 hospitals were rated “F. “

According to Leapfrog, errors, accidents, infections and injuries are some of the leading causes of injuries and fatalities in American hospitals, and patients deserve to know how the hospitals in their neighborhoods performed on important patient safety parameters.

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Medical errors are one the leading causes of death in the United States, and accounts for about 250,000 deaths per year.  That number is almost half the population of the City of Atlanta.   In fact, it is estimated that about one third of the people admitted to a hospital will fall victim to a medical error.

Stressed-out doctors are at a great risk of making errors in the emergency room where even the smallest error can translate into a fatal mistake. Managing stress effectively is critical to reducing these risks.

A new study by the BMJ Open finds that the risk of errors increases with the stress level of doctors in the emergency room. In the study, researchers obtained blood and saliva samples of 20 residents working in an emergency room. They analyzed the samples which were obtained both before and after the emergency room shifts to understand the stress levels of the doctors. They also questioned the doctors about the number of patients they treated, the number of errors made, and the number of “near-miss” incidents they experienced. A “near-miss” incident was defined as an act of omission that could possibly cause harm to patients.