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Feds Must Keep Non-Compliant Trucking Companies off the Road

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Truck drivers who drive beyond the maximum permissible work hours, may be at risk of fatigue, and this is significantly increases their risk of being involved in a potentially devastating truck accident. The federal administration must do more to take companies that allow, and even encourage, drivers to violate Hours of Service rules in this manner, off the road.

That advice came from outgoing National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah Hersman. According to Hersman, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration must do more to ensure that companies that do not comply with the Hours of Service regulations, are penalized, and even shut down if they continue to violate the rules. The outgoing NTSB head expressed her frustration, that in far too many cases, trucking and bus companies were being forced off the road only after their violations resulted in a serious accident, and not before.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration must increase oversight over companies that have violated Hours of Service rules, placing them under a stringent process of monitoring to ensure that they don't break the rules. Companies that violate rules must be penalized heavily to ensure compliance. Unfortunately, all of this remains on paper, and in practice, far too many commercial motor carriers are allowed to continue breaking rules placing them as well as motorists on the road at serious risk of being injured in an accident.

Driver fatigue is a major contributor to trucking accidents, and is widely believed to be a highly underestimated factor in tractor-trailer and semi rig accidents in the United States. That's because a driver who dozes off at the wheel causing an accident, is highly unlikely to admit that he dozed off which makes accurate recordkeeping more difficult. The actual number of accidents related to driver fatigue may be much higher than the official statistics show.

Drowning Fatalities down, but Concerns Still Remain

Thursday, April 10, 2014

According to new federal data released just in time for the summer swimming season, the numbers of drowning fatalities across the country are down, except in some categories. According to the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, overall drowning fatality rates have dropped by 9%. However, when it came to the 45-84 age category, fatalities actually increased by 9.7%.

Overall, the highest risk of fatality still involved children below the age of five, and adults above the age of 85. These are some of the most vulnerable categories when it comes to drowning fatalities, and the statistics in these categories are not encouraging. The findings involve data from between 1999 and 2010. During this period of time, there were more than 46,000 fatalities across the country from unintentional drowning, including people killed in boating accidents.

Over this period of time, the biggest increase in fatalities involved people between the age of 45 and 84. The category of people between the age of five and 19 was found to be the least likely to die in a drowning accident, probably because these persons in most cases had already learned how to swim. The risk seems to be the highest in children below the age of four, and the researchers believe that this is either due to lack of supervision, or due to lack of swimming skills. As the summer swimming season begins, parents must be on high alert.

The analysis does throw up some interesting facts. For instance, the researchers knew that they would find a much higher risk of fatalities over weekends, but they were not expecting the level of increased risk. The number of fatalities was roughly 40% higher on weekends, compared to weekdays. Females were much more likely to drown in a tub, pool or natural location, with an equal amount of risk in all these locations. However, males were much more likely to drown in a natural water setting, like a lake or pond.

Fact: Motorcycle Helmets Save Lives

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

In California, the number of people being killed in motorcycle accidents dropped substantially in the years after mandatory motorcycle helmet laws were introduced in the State. The decline was as substantial as 40%. Unfortunately, in spite of the fact that motorcycle helmet laws save lives, many states around the country are actually considering repealing their helmet laws.

According to an infographic that was published recently in the New York Times, motorcycle fatalities seem to increase substantially in the months after the repeal of motorcycle helmet laws without any exception. The infographic specifically focused on Texas and Arkansas, which decided to repeal their motorcycle helmet laws in 1997. As soon as those laws were repealed, the state saw a substantial increase in the numbers of people being killed in motorcycle accidents. The laws were repealed as a result of pressure from motorcycle advocacy groups.

Several other states have also followed suit. For instance, Florida recently changed its laws to require that only riders below 21 wear helmets while riding. The number of fatalities in that state has increased since that change. Many of those new fatalities involved motorcyclists who were not wearing helmets at the time of the accident.

Similar changes occurred in Pennsylvania in 2003 and Michigan in 2012. Currently, there are 19 states in the United States that have universal helmet laws, and of these, at least eight are considering laws that will change the requirement that all motorcyclists wear helmets.

According to a study conducted by the University California-Los Angeles, motorcycle fatalities in the state of California actually dropped by 40.3% from 1991 to 1993. The state transited from the lack of a motorcycle helmet law to implementation of helmet laws for all riders during this time. It was estimated that 239 deaths were prevented as a result of the law.


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