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The federal administration has released the final traffic accident fatality data for the year 2020, and the results are even worse than we expected. The administration confirms that the number of traffic accident deaths in 2020 was not just high, but also actually the highest on record in 15 years.

According to the data by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 38,824 traffic accident fatalities in 2020. This was a significant 6.8% increase in the number of traffic accident deaths recorded in 2019.  In 2019, there were a total of 36,355 traffic accident fatalities recorded by the federal administration.

However, there was a significant decrease in the number of overall accidents and injuries in 2019. In fact, there was a staggering 22% decrease in accidents since 2019. Interestingly enough, the number of people injured in accidents actually dropped by approximately 17% in 2020, compared to the previous year.

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Despite efforts to the contrary, larger vehicles including SUV’s continue to be in strong demand by drivers.  Pedestrians may be in danger from all vehicles on the road, but may be at an especially higher risk of being struck by larger vehicles like SUVs and minivans compared to passenger cars.

That information comes from a new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The organization studied the risk to pedestrians from a number of different types of vehicles, and found that larger vehicles have a higher rate of being involved in pedestrian collisions, compared to smaller cars.  Not only are larger trucks more prone to hitting pedestrians, but these accidents are also much more likely to result in severe injuries.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety looked at accidents involving single vehicles at several locations, including intersections. The study found that the rate of fatal injuries in an accident by a left -turning vehicle was much higher in the case of SUVs with a rate that was twice as high compared to head-on accidents. The risk was also three times higher for vans and minivans.  This risk of hitting a pedestrian while making a left turn was the highest in the case of pickup trucks with a rate that was 4 times higher.

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Car accidents are one of the leading causes of serious injury and even death every year.  Safer vehicles play a key part in helping prevent a large number of fatal accidents every year.  The federal administration is considering upgrades to its rating system for new vehicles so customers can make safer and informed decisions about the vehicles they drive.

Statistics show that more than 3,000 people die on American roadways every month.  Many of these deaths occur in accidents that are preventable through better vehicle design.   Safer auto design used to be a key element in safety efforts a few years ago which is why we had important safety legislation like laws strengthening roof strength in order to prevent the kind of serious injuries that result from rollover accidents.  That lead to a cut in the number of fatal rollover accidents recorded every year. However, there doesn’t seem to have been as much legislative focus on vehicle safety design or changes to the existing system that make it possible for customers to buy safe cars in recent years.  This could also probably explain, at least in part, the increasing number of traffic accident fatalities recently. According to new statistics released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, those numbers increased to record highs this year.  The agency is currently planning an update to its star rating system for new vehicles.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s five star rating system known as the New Car Assessment Program will be upgraded to better reflect the various new technologies that are now included in automobiles to prevent accidents. In particular, the plan is to include four new safety technologies including blind spot prevention and intervention, lane departure warning systems and pedestrian accident-avoidance technologies in new vehicles.  The plan also includes more updates to the current testing procedures for new vehicles as well as stronger criteria for driver assisted safety systems.

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A traumatic brain injury can be caused in car accidents, motorcycle and bicycle accidents, and slip and fall accidents. A fall from a height, for instance, is significantly likely to result in an injury to the brain.  Traumatic brain injuries can have long-term consequences that can significantly impair quality of life. The long-term impact of the injury may make it difficult for a person who has suffered the injury to go back to work and earn a living at the level that he was earning before he suffered the accident.

Persons who have suffered a traumatic brain injury may have a risk of stroke that is much higher than previously believed.  These findings came from a recent study which found that military veterans who have suffered a brain injury have a higher stroke risk.

The results of the study were presented recently at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention, Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Conference. Researchers looked at data involving veterans who had suffered a brain injury between October 2002 and September 2019 from the Veteran’s Health Administration database. The stroke risk of these people was compared with another group of people who had not suffered a traumatic brain injury.

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An accident with a tractor trailer truck most often ends up causing catastrophic if not fatal injuries.  Driver fatigue is a major factor in the thousands of trucking accidents that occur in and around Georgia as well as around the country ever year.  To combat this, it is crucial that truckers get a chance to rest and get refreshed during their workday, and trucking groups are now calling for rest facilities to be expanded.

President Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure package allocates millions of dollars for transportation spending.  Trucking groups as well as driver advocates are calling on the administration to use some of that money and invest it in the expansion of truck stops for drivers. Truck drivers often drive long distances that they are expected to travel all alone. That can increase the risk of fatigue and tiredness. Besides, truck drivers are mandated to drive only for a fixed number of hours before they are required to rest. The problem is that appropriate rest facilities are hard to find. You can hardly park a massive 80,000- pound tractor trailer by the side of the road. Designated truck stops have not just parking facilities where truckers can park their vehicles for a few hours while they sleep, but also offer food, refreshments and other facilities.

The American Trucking Associations and the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association are calling on Transportation head Pete Buttigieg to allocate funds for the expansion of these facilities around the country. They claim that as many as 98 percent of truck drivers find it hard to find a good truck stop or rest area for them to rest before they commence driving.  They say they spend almost an hour away or more trying to find safe spots, instead of resting.

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Driving at night or in inclement weather in a car with poor visibility due to headlights can be very dangerous and a recipe for a car accident.  However, for decades, federal laws have prevented high beam and low beam lights in a car from being operated at the same time. That comes to an end soon as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration scraps the old standard, thereby allowing adaptive headlights to become common in automobiles.

While most other types of car components and tech, including seat belts, have adapted and evolved over the years, headlight tech has remained the same. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 108 determined that both high beam and low beam lights could not be operated together. That prevented the widespread adoption of technology like adaptive headlights which are found in other countries that do not have such restrictions.

The technology consists of dozens of cameras that can provide different types of lighting depending on the road conditions and can direct the flow of the lighting with precision. That means that high beam and low beam lights can be deployed simultaneously to extend visibility in all directions without blinding other drivers.

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Drunk driving accidents can result in serious, if not fatal, injuries and have devastating consequences on all those involved. When states lower the maximum blood alcohol concentration level that a motorist can be driving with in his system, it can lead to an overall reduction in the number of people driving under the influence of alcohol, and consequently, the number of car crashes involving such intoxicated drivers.

In Georgia, as with most other states in the country, the maximum blood alcohol concentration limit for motorists is .08 %.  If a motorist is driving with a blood alcohol concentration above .08%, he can be arrested for driving under the influence. Some states have been experimenting with lower blood alcohol concentration limits in an effort to understand whether this can further help reduce the incidence of intoxicated driving. Early results of those experiments are now out. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration specifically focused on a single state that happens to be the only state in the United States that has successfully experimented with lower blood alcohol concentration levels.

Utah happens to be the only state in the country that has a blood alcohol concentration limit of .05 %. In 2019, that state lowered the blood alcohol concentration limit to.05 % from the previous .08%. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in its estimate found that as a result, the number of fatal accidents dropped by 19.8% in that state.  There was a significant drop of 18.3% in the fatality rate. In 2019, the state recorded 225 fatal accidents in spite of an increase in the vehicle miles travelled compared to the previous year. That was a drop from the 259 fatal accidents that had been recorded in 2016.

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The Governors Highway Safety Association says that pedestrian accident fatalities increased significantly in 2020 and the months after. Seven states, including the state of Georgia, contributed to more than 50% of those pedestrian accident deaths.

Previous data has shown that the number of motor vehicle crash–related deaths across the country overall has increased since 2020, and pedestrian accident fatalities seem to have constituted a significant percentage of the total. In 2020, according to data by the Governors Highway Safety Association, a total of 6,700 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents across the country. That was a statistically significant increase of 5% over the 6,412 pedestrians who were killed in accidents in 2019.

The pedestrian accident fatality rate in 2020 actually rose to 21% in spite of the fact that there were fewer vehicles on the road as a result of the pandemic. The fact that there were fewer vehicles on the road does not seem to have had any kind of negative impact on the number of accidents on our roads, and this is a matter of huge concern.

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is projecting a significant 12% increase in the number of people killed in traffic accidents in the first nine months of last year. According to the projected estimates by the federal agency, a total of 31,720 people were killed in traffic accidents between January and September of 2021. That makes it an increase of 12 percent from the same period of time the previous year.

But the news gets worse.  This increase marks the highest number of deaths in traffic accidents in the first nine months of any year since 2006. That means that fatalities during the first nine months of 2021 are projected to be the highest in more than 15 years. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also estimates that the number of vehicle miles travelled in the first nine months of 2021 also increased by close to 2 percent compared to the same period of time the previous year.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration divided the country into several regions with Georgia falling in Region 4. This region accounted for a 14% increase in fatalities in the first nine months of last year. Georgia’s performance mirrors the national average, and the state recorded a 12.2 percent increase in traffic accident deaths in 2021 compared to the previous year. In 2020, 1,185 deaths had been recorded in traffic accidents in the first nine months of the year, and that number has increased to 1,330 deaths in 2021. Increases were seen in 38 states, while in 10 states the numbers actually decreased, and in two states, there was no change in the numbers between 2020 and 2021.

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Spinal cord injury patients who are already struggling with reduced movement and mobility may also be hampered by feelings of depression.  According to a new study that was published recently in Spinal Cord journal, the chronic pain that spinal cord injury patients suffer is a major factor in the depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions that they often experience.

A spinal cord injury occurs whenever there has been a sudden jolt or blow to the spinal cord. This blow could occur as a result of slip and fall accidents, car accidents, gunshot wounds, violence and other factors.

In the study, researchers analyzed insurance claims of more than 9,000 persons who had suffered spinal cord injury, and compared these with insurance claims of more than a million people who had suffered no spinal cord injury.  The analysis found that in the general population that had not suffered a spinal cord injury, mental health conditions like depression were seen in approximately 31% of the population.  When it came to spinal cord injury patients, the rate of suffering depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions was as much as 59 percent.

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