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The federal administration is marking the month of October as Pedestrian Safety Month, drawing attention to the need for motorists to make more efforts to look out for pedestrians while driving.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has marked the month of October as Pedestrian Safety Month with a singular goal in mind which is to raise awareness of the need to ensure that people can walk safely without the fear of accidents and to keep the safety of pedestrians in mind when they are out at all times. The National Highway Traffic Safety administration is dedicating each week in October to different safety themes.

Week 1 is dedicated to educating the public about the fact that at some point in the day, every person is a pedestrian. Whether you are walking into your office building from the parking lot, or walking home from work, you are still a pedestrian for a certain amount of time. Accidents can occur even in parking areas when motorists fail to look out for pedestrians who may be in the area.

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Teen drivers have some of the highest accident risks. When a teenager is driving a car that is equipped with the latest safety tech, however, those accident risks reduce significantly.  

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducted a study on the effectiveness of crash avoidance technologies and other safety systems on the accident risks of teen motorists. The study found that these technologies, if mandated on all automobiles, could prevent as many as 75% of all accidents involving teen motorists. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study results show that while it is not possible to reduce teen accident rates by 100%, it is possible to significantly reduce the risks of teen motorists being involved in accidents by getting them cars that are equipped with lane departure warning systems, forward collision avoidance systems and other car safety technologies. 

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says that teen motorists have a risk of being involved in accidents that is as much as four times higher than for adult drivers. There are several reasons for those higher accident risks.  Teen motorists have fewer years of experience successfully navigating traffic and crash risks. Additionally, teen motorists are more likely to be impulsive and may lack the critical judgment and reasoning skills that are necessary to avoid accidents. Teens are also more likely to be susceptible to crashes involving drunk driving and speeding. Passengers in the car also constitute a huge distraction for a teen motorist. All these factors combined significantly increase teen motorist crash risks. 

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Motorcyclists in Georgia form a small percentage of the total number of registered motor vehicles in the state, but account for a significantly higher number of fatalities every year.  This unfortunately should not come as a surprise as a collision between a motorcycle and another vehicle usually results in serious or fatal injuries to the motorcyclist given the lack of outer vehicle protection. 

In July, the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety released new data for motorcycle accidents across the state. The data is based on traffic accident statistics in Georgia in 2019. The data finds that motorcyclists form just a small percentage of motor vehicle accidents in the state, accounting for just 1 percent of all motor vehicle crashes.  However, they form 11 percent of traffic accident deaths and 21 percent of all driver deaths. 

According to the data, the North Georgia area, which encompasses the metropolitan Atlanta region, accounts for the majority of all motorcycle crashes in Georgia. The metro Atlanta region specifically accounts for the highest share of all motorcycle accidents in the state. 

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Many accidents that occur in parking lots involve distracted motorists. The National Safety Council says that a focus on avoiding distractions in these areas as well as technology that can prevent such crashes could help reduce those accident numbers.

Parking lot accidents can involve two cars or a car and pedestrian. The latter are very common, and get a lot of attention because the pedestrians in these cases may suffer serious injuries as a result of these accidents. According to a National Safety Nonoil poll, 66 percent of motorists admit that they use their phone calls for various activities while driving in a parking lot. About 63 percent would fiddle with their GPS systems while at the wheel of a moving car, 56 percent would text at the wheel and more than half would scroll through social media on the phone or send and receive emails while driving in a parking lot. Close to half would take photos or watch videos while driving in these areas.

Motorists tend to have a false sense of complacency when they are driving through a parking lot. Speeds are lower, and there is minimal traffic in a parking lot.  The idea that nothing could possibly happen when you are driving at low speeds or backing out of your spot while distracted is very strong in many motorists’ minds. Those crash risks increase during busy shopping times, like the holiday season when traffic is even higher.  The risks are compounded by the fact that holiday shoppers are usually in a hurry to back out or get home.

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Novice or inexperienced drivers have some of the highest accident risks of all categories of motorists. Ford Motors and the Governors Highway Safety Association are teaming up to offer young drivers in Atlanta the opportunity to fine- tune their driving skills.

Ford Motor Company conducts the Ford Driving Skills for Life driving clinics across the country, and the company is bringing these programs to Atlanta soon. The clinic is focused on helping newly-licensed drivers improve their driving skills, so that they will be able to drive safely and responsibly

The clinics are designed to help young drivers who have just received their learner’s license learn skills that can significantly help reduce their risks of being involved in an accident. According to Ford, the program focuses on enhancing skills that are related to four critical areas that are responsible for causing a majority of all car accidents-speed management, space management, vehicle handling and hazard recognition.  Problems involving these four areas are responsible for approximately 60% of all car accidents that occur every year. Fine-tuning driving skills that focus on these areas can help novice drivers who do not have a lot of experience behind the wheel handle these challenges safely, understand how to stick to safe speeds, understand how to manage the space around their vehicles and recognize accident risks and manage these before it is too late.

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According to new data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seatbelt use rates declined in 2020. Federal authorities are concerned that these low rates could continue through 2021 as well.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that there were 38,680 deaths in traffic accidents recorded across the country in 2020. Almost fifty percent of them involved motorists or passengers who were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident.  Seatbelt use was found generally lower in rural as compared to urban areas.  The lack of seatbelt use in rural areas also meant a higher percentage of serious accidents or deaths from car accidents.

2020 was an extremely unusual year in terms of traffic safety. Traffic volumes dropped significantly, especially between March and July, typically some of the busiest as well as some of the riskier months of the year. However, even as traffic volumes dropped and transportation safety authorities believed that accident rates would also correspondingly drop, the very opposite happened. The emptier streets only led to an increase in dangerous driving behaviors, including speeding and drunk driving.

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An overwhelming majority of Georgia nursing homes have not been inspected since 2020. According to a report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, the state currently ranks at the bottom of the heap when it comes to conducting inspection surveys of nursing facilities.

Across the country, most states were unable to inspect nursing homes to ensure that these were in compliance with safety and hygiene protocols last year.  Unfortunately, this has resulted in backlogs across the country.  However, the situation is dire in Georgia. In our state, the backlog has meant that most nursing homes have not been subjected to inspections. In fact, nearly 93% nursing home facility have not been subjected to inspections in 16 months. Only one other state fares worse than Georgia in this regard.

Typically, nursing homes are subjected to inspections at least once every 15 months, and these inspections are conducted through survey teams that are sent into the nursing facilities. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is asking states to resume the process of inspections and re-certifications of facilities without further delay.

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Even with the passing of recent laws such as the Hands-free law banning cell phone use while driving, Georgia could still do more to help prevent car accidents and protect motorists and passengers when they are involved in crashes according to national road safety advocates.

Advocates for Auto and Highway Safety is an alliance of groups that are invested in traffic and highway safety, including enforcement representatives, media personnel, public health advocates and insurance companies, all united in a common mission to reduce the rates of accidents that injure and kill so many every year. The group releases an annual road map for individual states to use as a set of guidelines to reduce the risk of accidents and save more lives ever year. This year too, the coalition has released the 2021 roadmap for traffic safety, and the report has recommendations for Georgia to implement as well. The coalition is dedicated to the reduction of accident and injury risks, and the road map is drafted with a view to helping keep all users of our roads safer.

The roadmap for Georgia kicks off with a call to instate primary enforcement of rear seat belt laws in Georgia. Currently, primary enforcement only applies to front seat passengers. The road map also addresses the protection of child passengers in traffic accidents by calling for a law requiring all children below the age of two to be restrained in rear-facing car seats. Too often, children below this age are moved to forward-facing seats or booster seats at great risk to their safety.

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A brain injury is one of the most devastating injuries a person can sustain.  Findings from new research could have an impact on doctors’ recommendations for life support for patients with TBI.  This means that persons with a serious brain injury may have much better long-term outcomes than previously expected.

A traumatic brain injury occurs as a result of trauma or a blow or jolt to the head. These injuries can occur in any number of ways, but the most common causes of traumatic brain injury are car and auto accidents, motorcycle accidents, falls, and assaults or violence.

The results of the new study focusing on brain injury were published in July in the journal Neurology. The researchers focused on 484 patients who suffered from moderate to severe traumatic brain injury. The researchers tracked the patients over a year, and found that over this time period, close to 25 percent of the patients recovered to a much greater extent than expected. For example, among patients who were in a vegetative state after the injury, as many as one in 4 were able to perform simply orientation tasks like recognizing themselves as well as identifying the date and their location with 12 months after the injury.

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The massive $1 trillion infrastructure bill that is set to pass has good news for American motorists and traffic safety advocates.  It contains language that could signify the administration’s intention to reduce the accident risks caused by impaired drivers.

Driver detection technologies that currently exist as part of driverless cars also help reduce the risks from drivers impaired by alcohol or drugs. In the quest for the fully automated vehicle, automakers have invested heavily in technology that can easily override a driver and prevent an accident. These systems could also be very useful if integrated in current automobiles, and the administration seems to focusing in this direction.

The provision would require the Department of Transportation to develop a technology standard within a period of three years. It would then give automakers a period of two years to develop and integrate these safety tech systems. The provision could require automakers to integrate technology in their automobiles that could detect if drivers have consumed alcohol. The system could prevent the driver from starting the car if the alcohol count is too high, or could place other restrictions on the motorist, thereby restricting his ability to drive and cause harm to himself and others. Another approach could be having technology like lane departure warning systems that could self correct if the car veers off its lane.  Eye tracking technology is also in various stages of development at some companies.  Volvo has also invested in drunk driving detection technology in the driverless vehicles that it is developing.

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