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  • Rail Industry Representatives Request Guidance

    Posted Apr 23rd, 2014 By in Car Safety, safety With | Comments Off

    On Tuesday, representatives for the rail industry explained to investigators with the federal government they need government guidance on how to improve the safety of tank cars carrying crude oil and ethanol across the US. They want to avoid getting penalized for improvements that don’t meet federal requirements. The US Transportation Department is currently creating new requirements for tankers. Thousands of tank cars were built with end caps, insulating jackets, along with other safety requirements that are more strict than current requirements in the US. The changes were adopted voluntarily in October of 2011, and by the end of next year, rail officials expect 55,000 of the CPC-1232 tank cars to go into service by the end of next year. Many aren’t sure how the tank cars will be treated, however. In testimony before the National Transportation Safety Board, the vice chairman for the Railway Supply Institute Committee for Tank Cars said they improved their cars to the new standard, although they aren’t certain about the final design as of now. The trade group represents tank car manufacturers and suppliers and they refuse to make any more improvements without a discussion among US and Canadian regulators concerning the final regulations. The industry is concerned any new changes by the government will make their updates and any investments obsolete.

    During the first couple days of a hearing by the NTSB, new tank car designs were criticized. The hearing analyzed the increasing ethanol and oil cargoes across the country’s train tracks which are heading to ports, refineries along with other facilities. Railroads are increasing where oil pipelines don’t exist in order to transport crude oil from North Dakota and Alberta to coastal refineries, totaling approximately 400,000 carloads in 2013 from 9,500 in 2008. The increase in oil-carrying trains increased criticism by state officials because they were concerned about accidents in their regions. Four agencies in New York will deliver a report to the Governor concerning the state’s ability to handle oil spills from barges, ships, and trains. A safety board chairwoman said 16 rail accidents since 2006 involve tankers which were loaded with oil and ethanol. The chairwoman said it is important that rain industry regulators make sure they are safely transported. Legacy train cars are prone to breaking during accidents, for example. Regulations currently govern wall thickness, but investigators say there are other vulnerable areas that could lead to fires if compromised, according to news reports.

  • AAA Program Helps Improve Elderly Motorist Safety

    Posted Apr 23rd, 2014 By in Car Safety, safety With | Comments Off

    When looking for a vehicle as an elderly driver, it is important to get the right fit. AAA created an event in order to assist older drivers with finding safer vehicles. The event is hosted along with professionals from CarFit. CarFit provides a checklist for older drivers to use in order to make sure their vehicle will keep them safe. The event will also introduce traffic safety resources to motorists in order for them to receive information that supports their safe driving habits. The corporate public affairs manager for AAA said changes in flexibility, strength, vision, range of motion, as well as size and height mean older drivers are often less comfortable and have reduced control while driving. The program will help provide elderly drivers with the information and resources they need in order to remain safe. Each driver checkup lasts 20 minutes and drivers can sign up through AAA. Professionals will take each driver through a 12-point checklist, and participants are positioned properly in the driver’s seat so they can easily reach the pedals. Experts will make sure drivers know how to adjust mirrors, and an occupational therapist will discuss with drivers how to maintain their driving health. Each senior’s individual needs will be assessed, and other information will be provided on nutrition, exercise, and other community resources.

    Free preventative maintenance inspections will also be conducted free of charge. Elderly drivers should make their safety a priority, stated experts. More traffic, longer commuting distances, and bigger cars that drive faster make driving more difficult than ever before. Elderly drivers should take necessary steps to lower their stress by making safety a priority while behind the wheel. AAA also provides assessments in order to evaluate physical, mental, and visual conditions that could influence a driver’s safety. Results are completely confidential. The communications director for the Council on Aging also says conversations with elderly drivers about giving up their keys can be very difficult. AAA provides an online tool which identifies driving risks, and provides options to help drivers look for features that compensate for certain physical conditions. The Roadwise Review can be completed in 30-45 minutes and help identify steps in order to reduce driving risks in several areas, such as leg strength, neck flexibility, memory, visualizing missing details, and general mobility. Tools and assessments are available at seniordriving.aaa.com, according to news reports.

  • The Case for Banning Right-Turns-on-Red in Heavy Foot Traffic

    Posted Apr 23rd, 2014 By in Car Safety, safety With | Comments Off

    Over one-third of pedestrian and car wrecks in Minnesota happened between 2007-2011 due to a driver’s failure to yield. 300 people are harmed every year due to driver error, as well. A woman was killed in Minneapolis while walking in a crosswalk when she was hit by a truck taking a right turn on a red. Currently, regulations in Minneapolis state that drivers can take a right turn at a red light so long as they give the right-of-way to pedestrians and other traffic according to law. As of now, specific information on right-turn on red crosswalk injuries isn’t available, and research shows right-turn-on-red safety issues aren’t updated. There were 1,166 collisions involving people on foot and bicyclists in Minnesota and Illinois from 1985-1998, shows a 2002 research study, which equates to only .04% of all collisions during that time. This statistic is similar to information from a 1995 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report. The number of wrecks caused by right-turn-on-red crashes are relatively low, and data shows pedestrians and bicyclists are disproportionately represented. Around 20% of all right-turn-on-red wrecks involve a bicyclist or pedestrian. Around 6% of all crashes involve pedestrians and bicycles. Most of these wrecks involve a driver looking left for a gap and hitting a pedestrian or bicyclist coming from the right, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

    The original explanation for the right-turn-on-red involved the US federal government encouraging jurisdictions to allow right turns in order to save fuel during the energy crisis of the 1970′s. The Federal Highway Administration estimates that right turns on red lights save 1-4.6 seconds for every driver at a red light. Turning right on a red saves fuel for drivers, but the DOT also points out the best way to save fuel is by driving less. 65% of trips under a mile in the US are made by car. Improving the experience of being a pedestrian and bicyclist may result in large fuel savings. Mayors and council members are also urged to ban right turns on red in areas with heavier foot traffic in order to reduce risk. This would lead to pedestrians using more areas and saving fuel consumption. The City of Minneapolis has a safety measure in place for heavier foot traffic which says nobody can ride a bike on the sidewalk in these areas. Many believe right-turns-on-red should also be banned in these areas, according to news reports.

  • Advocates Push for Standard Certification of Personal Trainers

    Posted Apr 22nd, 2014 By in Personal Injury, safety With | Comments Off

    It is becoming more common for Americans to hire a personal trainer in order to improve their fitness. However, there aren’t any states in the US which have laws currently which mandate a license or certification for personal trainers, which makes a consumer responsible for hiring a qualified professional. Due to the wide range of services provided by these professionals, there isn’t one way to certify all personal trainers. The Coalition for the Registration of Exercise Professionals recently attempted to change this by certifying organizations, however. They want to make sure that all exercise professionals are recognized as health providers so they can access safe physical activity, stated the president of the board of directors. Many professionals have an organization that provides certification for competency in health and fitness. Many organizations provide these certificates, however this new method can help many organizations work together to determine whether a certain trainer is eligible. They also established a registry of exercise professionals including seven different organizations that are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies. NCAA establishes accreditation standards and evaluates compliance, as well as provides a resource on quality certification to attempt to sustain health and safety.

    They haven’t passed a competency-based exam, so the best pathway forward is to provide credentials based on similar standards. Before the creation of this group, there wasn’t a place available for customers to find certified trainers. To be certified by ACE, a trainer must study for 12-16 weeks, become CPR certified, pass a competency exam which is passed by around 65% of those who take the test, and decision-making skills will be tested by those who are involved in the program. Many think these standards will pave the way towards a healthier and safer exercise industry. Many believe there are unprofessional personal trainers who exist and by creating these common certifications, they can start to raise the standards and separate those who are qualified from those who aren’t. Washington DC also passed legislation earlier this year which requires personal trainers to register. The law will go into effect later this year in many states including New Jersey, Texas, California, and Maryland. Consumers are urged to make sure personal trainers have certain traits before hiring them. They must be certified in CPR, have enough referrals from other clients, have enough experience, and they should assess their customer’s abilities before beginning a personal training session, according to news reports. Read more about this on the HHR Law website.

  • Employers Urged to Create Safety Policies Against Distracted Driving

    Posted Apr 22nd, 2014 By in Car Safety, Distracted Driving With | Comments Off

    Distractions are expanding at a faster rate than ever due to the addition of many new technologies. If a driver takes just a moment to look down at their phone, they could be driving long distances along the freeway completely blind. Many workers find themselves pressured to stay in contact, especially. From 2004-2013, the number of car wrecks in New Jersey increased from 42% to 53%. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently established a website in order to improve awareness of the issue. More than two in three motorists admit to talking on their cell phone while behind the wheel, according to the AAA Foundation 2014 Traffic Safety Culture Index. One in four motorists also admit to emailing while behind the wheel. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute reported that the average text message takes a drivers off the road for 4.6 seconds on average, which is equal to driving an entire football field at 55mph blindfolded. Only 27% of employers who took a survey by the Travelers Insurance Company said they had a formal policy and enforced their distracted driving ban. Helping employees avoid distraction starts with management’s commitment to safety, said the second vice president of Travelers Risk Control. It’s important the employees set expectations and tell their employees to respond after driving. Employee safety should be a priority, especially since the average injury claim for employee auto accidents is $69,206, which is twice the average non-motor vehicle claim.

    A four-step program would help better protect employees from distracted driving. It includes creating a written policy stating the employer’s standards on distracted driving. The policy should apply to everybody across the company. Safety policies must be communicated with employees, and they should acknowledge they read and understand the message. Regular messages should be send in order to reinforce safety efforts. Managers and office staff must always lead by example. Allow employees to know they’re on the road, and managers should define safe driving practices and expectations for everybody in the business. They should also take necessary to steps to promote safety throughout the company, among employees who drive for any purpose, and promote the behavior of those who follow this behavior, according to news reports.

  • New York Residents Push for Repeal of Scaffold Law

    Posted Apr 22nd, 2014 By in Personal Injury Lawyer, safety With | Comments Off

    Reformers believe the Scaffold Law in New York fails to promote worksite safety, according to newly released data. They say the law increases construction costs unnecessarily for buildings such as public schools, apartments, and bridges. The liability insurance market for builders could stop the whole construction industry and devastate the economy, many believe. On the other side, the opposition states that reformers would like to take away the laws, causing many to get hurt and not receive enough compensation for their work. The statue was implemented in the 19th century and makes building owners completely liable for fatalities and injuries as a result of falls at constructions sites, without consideration for who is actually at-fault. During cases when a worker is mostly responsible for their own accident, they may still sue the owner and collect all of the damages due to ignoring the rules or failed safety equipment, or they may have shown up to work intoxicated. Judge Robert Smith wrote for the Court of Appeals in 2012 the scaffold law “imposes liability even on contractors and owners who had nothing to do with the plaintiff’s accident. This includes where the violation of the statute lead to injury, and any fault by the plaintiff contributing to injury isn’t relevant.

    Absolute liability may be applied to cases that involve gravity, such as when a worker falls after standing on an overturned paint bucket, or if they were hit by a piece of pipe leaning against a wall while working. Insurance companies charge more in New York in order to cover the risk of litigation. Some companies won’t do business in the state due to this risk. New York’s School Construction Authority needed to provide $240 million for liability coverage in 2014, up from $100 million the prior year. If the law prevented injuries and saved lives, many think all these extra costs would be worth it, however a new study shows workplaces covered by the Scaffold Law experience 5.5 more accidents per 1,000 employees. The outcome of a “natural experiment” in Illinois lead to another big state with high-rise construction repealing its version of the law. In Illinois, accident rates have decreased since then. Illinois record was worse than New York prior to the repeal. Worksites are becoming more safe, data shows. This leads many to believe New York should also repeal the law, according to news reports.

  • Playground Safety Week Announced

    Posted Apr 22nd, 2014 By in Child Safety, safety With | Comments Off

    Playground Safety Week takes place this week, from April 21-25, and reminds parents to constantly supervise their children while they play on the playground. The Safe Kids coordinator at the American Family Children’s Hospital said that lack of supervision is linked with 45% of playground-related injuries. More than 270,000 children are treated each year in emergency rooms due to sustaining injuries on the playground. 75% of injuries are the result of falls which lead to broken bones, internal injuries, and concussions. However, a majority of deaths are the result of strangulation. As long as there is continuous, active supervision, a playground visit can be an enjoyable visit where children can learn and explore, along with get exercise. Parents and caretakers should review these basic playground tips for staying safe while in the playground. Safe Kids created the list in order to remind parents they can enjoy the park if they keep in mind these tips for safety.

    Firstly, they advise keeping constant supervision while children are in the playground. Children often want their parents to watch them while they climb, jump, or swing, so they’ll probably inform you before they engage in a new activity on the playground. Children should be taken to playgrounds that include surfaces that absorb shock, such as synthetic turf sand, pea gravel, wood chips, or mulch. If a child falls, the landing will be more cushioned compared with asphalt, concrete, grass, or dirt surfaces. Always remember to dress as necessary for the playground. This means take off all necklaces, scarves, purses, or anything with drawstrings that can get caught on equipment and pose a strangulation hazard. Helmets can also be dangerous while on the playground, so use these just for riding a bike. Remember to teach children that dangerous activities include shoving or crowding while on the playground. Older children should be encouraged to help watch for younger kids, but remember that little kids will play differently compared with big children. A separate play area should be used for children under 5 which includes equipment that is intended for their size. If a child uses equipment that is too big for them, or plays with children much larger than them, there is a heightened risk of injury for them. Make sure to keep children safe by keeping an eye on them at all times so they can enjoy the experience of playing, according to news reports.

  • Experts Urge Reducing Codeine Prescriptions for Children

    Posted Apr 21st, 2014 By in Child Safety, safety With | Comments Off

    Many are more concerned about the safety of medications for children which contain codeine. A new study revealed there has been just a small decline in the number of hospital emergency department prescriptions for these drugs in the last decade. A pediatrician and lead author of the study published in “Pediatrics” said there is an increasing amount of evidence which shows children metabolize codeine differently, and a small number of them have a higher risk of a potentially fatal side effect. 1 in 3 children metabolize codeine in a way that results in no effects at all if it is used as a pain reliever or to reduce the severity of a cough or cold. In many children, it may not be necessary to take this medication. The study also shows that hundreds of children are still prescribed codeine each year, despite evidence which shows it is ineffective and risky. Many of them take the medication in order to treat pain from an injury or for a cough or cold. Data from the National Hospital and Ambulatory Medical Care Survey involved information from 890,028,628 emergency room visits for patients between 3-17 years-old from 2001-2010. They determined that 577,270 prescriptions were made in 2010 for codeine, a decrease from 644,394 in 2001. Codeine was also prescribed in 2.9% of all hospital visits in 2010, representing a decrease from 3.7% of visits in 2001.

    Children ages 8-12 and 13-17 were more likely to be prescribed codeine compared with younger children aged 3-7. There was no change in prescribing rates for older children, and the percentage of prescriptions for the youngest age group decreased from 3.8% to 3.0% during the study, which lasted for 10 years. Guidelines created by the American Academy of Pediatrics included warnings about the potential dangers of codeine and lack of documented effectiveness in children with coughs and upper respiratory infections. A warning was issued against the use of codeine by the Food and Drug Administration after pediatric tonsillectomy as the result of obstructive sleep apnea. Authorities reported the deaths of three children after using the narcotic to treat pain after surgeries. Two physicians pointed out as part of the study the treatment is no longer useful, and they urge pediatric clinicians to stop prescribing codeine due to the high number of adverse effects. These include constipation, allergies, vomiting, and nausea. Officials believe prescriptions for codeine among children should not only be reduced in emergency rooms, but prescriptions for children should be reduced in other hospital settings including urgent care clinics and primary care clinics, according to news reports.

  • Transportation Chairman Supports Child Safety Seats on Planes

    Posted Apr 21st, 2014 By in Car Safety, Child Safety With | Comments Off

    The National Transportation Safety Board chairman, who is soon leaving her position, said one of her greatest regrets is not mandating child safety seats on planes for younger children. While making a farewell speech at the National Press Club, after 10 years on the board, she mentioned the different results for two children on board a flight that crashed in Iowa in 1989. 185 people were killed, and 111 survived the wreck. Two different parents were told to place the infant on the floor cushioned with blankets just before the wreck. When the plane crashed at 240mph and caught fire, the parents weren’t able to locate the children. One passenger heard an infant crying and carried them out of the plane, while another mother was stopped from going back inside the plane to look for their 22-month-old son. The chairman lobbied for 25 years to require child safety seats for children on airplanes, however the mandate was never adopted by the Federal Aviation Administration. She was shocked to see child car seat rules never become implemented, compared with state laws that require child safety seats inside vehicles. Car seats are just as important inside the airplane as inside the car, she stated.

    The chairman will leave to lead the National Safety Council, and she said she looks forward to advocating for many safety issues. Transportation is becoming more safe, and she mentioned many improvements made in air travel since the Iowa plan crash. These regulations helped reduce the number of fatalities involved with the crash of Asiana Airlines flight 214 in San Francisco in July of 2013. Many people have failed in the past to warn pilots they are too close to the ground, and new technology helps prevent this from happening. She believes there are still many improvements which can be made for vehicles. Manufacturers have automated brakes and cruise control, however she said they should be installed on all cars, not just the more expensive models. An increasing number of people travel on motorcoaches every year, compared with airplanes. However, regulators and the industry should filter out some companies with bad records in order to lower the number of wrecks. As for railroad systems, she said the NTSB announced a two-day hearing on Tuesday and Wednesday in order to review rail safety because more oil is shipped through trains, which aren’t designed to carry this dangerous material. She said they need to be prepared by improving trains, according to news reports.

  • Traffic Management System Developed in Three States

    Posted Apr 21st, 2014 By in Car Safety, safety With | Comments Off

    A $1.7 million project is underway by the states of New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont to complete a northern New England traffic network of information for travelers. The system would also be used by public safety and highway officials in order to respond to traffic wrecks and changing weather. The Executive Council and governor recently authorized contract talks with other states to finally consider a regional compact which would be put into operation next month, and the system would be introduced online within the next 18 months. This would be just the beginning of the process, and the data hub would allow Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts to join later, if they’re allowed. Third-party vendors, including websites and television states would be able to access information to develop mobile applications for use by commuters. State transportation officials agree to pooling resources in this case. The cost for the system in New Hampshire would be around $530,000, and the state would use federal funding. The system would be web and Cloud based. Citizens of northern New England would be able to search for information on traffic wrecks, construction, traffic, and adjusting weather while cross borders. Information will go into the system that can be transferred to travelers through roadside message boards and the Internet. It would also allow managers to respond to various situations that arise on the highway.

    This would help with response to incidents, and they could provide information for response planning. A motorist call-in component would be ruled out since there is potential for sending mixed messages to motorists, said the official who oversees the Transportation Management Center for the state. They’re concerned about distracted driving. Officials are developing the new system earlier, and they are still in the first stages of development. The program was presented to the governor and Executive Council through a memo recently by the New Hampshire Transportation Commissioner. In the presentation, they said the initiative will eventually provide awareness to drivers throughout different traffic management systems in Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire. It will provide traveler information including construction, weather, traffic collisions, and travel times to the public in their state as well as across the other states involved in the system. AAA Northern New England supported the system, saying it is great to see different agencies coming together to update their highway safety and maintain operations for motorists in order to provide important information, according to news reports.

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