Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Annual Accident Costs Equal $500 for Every Licensed American Motorist

In 2005, costs from fatal and injurious accidents cost the US economy $99 billion, or $500 for every licensed motorist in the country. That information comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency’s division of unintentional injury prevention analyzed accident and cost data for the year 2005. The costs include medical expenses and days off work from injuries. In fact, according to the CDC, when you factor in insurance increases and taxes, the estimate is likely to cross $200 billion.

Approximately 31% of the $99 billion incurred as a result of accidents in 2005, was a result of motor vehicle accidents, with costs touching $70 billion. The cost of fatal and injurious motorcycle accidents was $12 billion dollars, and for pedestrian and bicyclists, the cost was $10 billion and $5 billion respectively.

Teenagers made up just 14% of the American population, but accounted for 28% of all fatal and nonfatal motor vehicle injuries, and 31 percent of the total accident-related costs. Motorcyclists accounted for 12% of the costs, although they were involved in just 6% of the fatal and nonfatal injuries. That is because motorcyclists are more likely to suffer from serious injuries like brain injuries and spinal cord injuries that require extended hospitalization and higher expenses.

The CDC has no magic formula that it recommends to prevent fatal and nonfatal injury accidents and minimize those staggering cost estimates. The agency recommends what every California auto accident lawyer already knows. The risk of fatal accidents can be prevented simply by:

• enacting stronger graduated drivers license (GDL) policies for teen motorists
• enhancing car safety seat education and awareness for parents and caregivers
• making helmets mandatory for motorcyclists and bicyclists
• enacting primary seat belt laws and enforcing these
• having more numbers of DUI checkpoints to keep drunk drivers off the roads

Monday, 30 August 2010

FAA Fines American Airlines Record $24 Million for Unsafe Flights

This week, the Federal Aviation Administration told American Airlines it means business by imposing a penalty of $24.2 million on the carrier for making thousands of unsafe flights. It is the largest fine in US aviation history, and American Airlines has already opposed it. The airline has confirmed that it will fight the penalty, and the company has a 30-day period in which to do so.

The fine comes as part of the FAA's efforts to get tough on airlines that ignore maintenance issues. Much of the criticisms that California plane crash lawyers have levied against the FAA have involved the agency's failure to crack down harder on erring airlines. The penalty follows American Airlines’ alleged failure to comply with an agency order called an Airworthiness Directive. This particular order was issued back in 2006, and required all airlines to conduct an inspection of some wire bundles in the wheel wells of McDonnell Douglas MD-80 planes. According to the directive, the wires could chafe, and this could spark a fire or trigger an explosion because of the wires’ proximity to the fuel tanks.

The airworthiness directive set a deadline of 2008 for compliance. Soon after the deadline, the FAA found that American Airlines had failed to comply with the directive. Violations were found in at least 10 MD 80 planes during inspections conducted at the airline's maintenance center in Tulsa and at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. In April 2008, FAA ordered American Airlines to ground its entire MD 80 fleet. About 300 planes were affected, and more than 3,000 American flights were grounded.

American Airlines disputes the agency's findings. The company says it has taken steps to ensure that its fleet of MD-80 planes meets all federal technical specifications.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Would Hen Vaccine Have Prevented Tainted Egg Salmonella Scandal?

More than 10 years ago, Great Britain began a program to vaccinate hens against salmonella to deal with frequent food poisoning outbreaks. The results have been breathtaking. In 1997, there were more than 40,700 salmonella poisoning outbreaks in England and Wales. Vaccination programs were begun the following year, and in 2009, there were just 581 salmonella cases. That was a drop of 96% from before the vaccination program. By any standards, the hen vaccination program in that country has been outstandingly successful.

That proves to California salmonella poisoning class action lawyers that such hen vaccination programs could minimize salmonella poisoning risks in the US too. Unfortunately, the federal administration has not been convinced. In July this year, when new egg safety rules went into effect, the vaccination program was nowhere in sight. According to the Food and Drug Administration, there was no strong evidence to prove that vaccinating hens against salmonella could prevent salmonella poisoning, and therefore, there was no need to mandate vaccinations. This is in spite of the ridiculously low cost of vaccinations, less than a penny per hen.

The New York Times claims that this failure to vaccinate hens is at least part of the reason why the Food and Drug Administration is currently in the middle of the largest ever egg recall - currently over half a million eggs. The 550 million eggs came from two Iowa farms, and the resulting salmonellosis food poisoning epidemic has spread nationwide.

The Food and Drug Administration says that its egg safety rules only went into effect on July 9, and that if these rules had gone into effect earlier, then the outbreak could possibly have been prevented. However, critics are not buying that argument. The fact that the safety rules don't include a vaccination program provides a tiny door for salmonellosis to creep through. The FDA's new egg safety rules include testing of eggs, and strict cleanliness standards for hen houses. But without salmonella vaccination, there will continue to be chances that a hen will develop the disease, and will spread the infection to the developing egg.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Thank Safer Planes for Zero Fatalities in AIRES Plane Crash

The media has been quick to thank the Almighty for the fact that there was just one fatality after a devastating AIRES plane crash in the Colombian island of San Andes, calling it a miracle. However, it might have been less divine creatures, including aviation engineers and scientists who might have been responsible for the fact that the Boeing 737-700 split into three pieces while attempting to land on runway, but no passenger was killed on impact.

The only fatality that occurred after this accident was a 72-year-old woman who suffered a heart attack after the crash. Considering the devastation of the tragedy with the plane completed destroyed and in three separate pieces, it's easy to see why people would consider this a miracle. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the fact that there were no multiple fatalities or injuries was the result of the efforts of aviation engineers and scientists over the years.

Back in the 80s, a plane crash like this would have resulted in almost all the passengers being killed. However, since the 80s, the Federal Aviation Administration has required stricter standards on airplane jets. These have included plane seats that can resist impact upon a crash, enhanced emergency lighting, enhanced fire protection systems and accessible exits. Earlier, an accident like this would typically have resulted in a massive fire, or the plane careening off the runway and hitting a natural or man-made object, contributing to multiple fatalities. None of that happened here, and that has been largely due to the stress on more safety devices in place to prevent fires, explosions and disintegration aircraft on the runway.

The fact that all passengers survived intact is laudable, but not rare. In fact in recent years, many plane crashes that have involved low altitude crash landings, have not resulted in multiple fatalities or injuries. California aviation lawyers will have the efforts of our engineers and scientists to thank for this, and not any Almighty powers.

Proposal to Mandate Speed Limiters on Trucks Gain Traction

Installing speed limiters on trucks is an idea whose time is long overdue. Las Vegas truck accident lawyers are excited at the fact that there has been progress made towards mandating these limiters on all trucks. What has galvanized the movement by trucking safety groups to have the limiters installed on all trucks, has been the fact that the Obama administration has moved forward on a proposal to increase fuel efficiency of trucks and reduce greenhouse gases.

In 2006, the American Trucking Associations, and Road Safer America each petitioned the federal administration to require speed limiters on all commercial trucks with a gross weight of more than 26,000 pounds. These devices would set speed limits on the trucks at 62 mph. In May this year, President Obama, directed his administration to move forward on drafting a double-edged policy to aim at increasing trucking efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Speed limiters would take care of both of these. For every 1 mph reduction in speed limits of trucks, there is a 1% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Lower speed limits are also the easiest way to increase fuel efficiency. It's easy now to see why Las Vegas truck accident lawyers are so excited about the possibilities ahead.

High speeds are a major contributing factor to trucking accidents in Nevada and around the country. An 18-wheeler traveling at a speed of 75 mph takes approximately 1/3 longer to stop after applying the brakes, compared to a truck traveling at 65 mph. That's not the only reason why we need limitations on the speed of these trucks. Accidents involving large commercial trucks traveling at high speeds and passenger vehicles, are invariably catastrophic, high-impact accidents that end in serious injuries and deaths.

Unfortunately, almost 4 years since both trucking safety groups and the trucking industry petitioned the federal administration for these limiters, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is still waiting to act on these proposals.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Keep Your Child Safe in a Drop-side Crib

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is moving quickly towards a complete ban on the manufacture, installation and sale of drop-side cribs in the United States. Crib recall lawyers around the country have been supportive of such a ban, which would also impact hotels, motels and day care centers, preventing them from installing drop-side cribs in their facilities.

However, we know for a fact that there are millions of parents in the country who continue to use drop-side cribs. These cribs are extremely convenient, and many parents would like to continue to use these until a better option comes along. So how can these parents keep their children safe in a drop-side cribs?

The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends the following safety tips:

  • Most drop-side cribs come as an self-assembly model. Many crib-related fatalities are related to improper assembly of the crib. Parents must follow all the manufacturer’s instructions carefully during assembly of the crib. If you have questions during assembly, contact the manufacturer.
  • Check your crib every time you use it. Whenever you change the sheets, check to see if all the screws and bolts are tight enough. Make sure that the drop-side of the crib is right on track.
  • Many parents have a drop-side crib, but don't use the drop-side very often. Even if you don't use the drop-side, make sure that you check it often. Most drop-side crib-related injuries occur because of the frequent use of the side, which results in wear and tear. However, it is advisable that you stay on the safe side, and continue to check that the drop-side is on track even if you don't use it often.
  • Shake the crib, and check if it wobbles or seems unsteady. If it does, check if all the screws and bolts are tight enough. Sometimes, a wobbly crib could be the result of unstable wood joints.
  • If the drop-side has become loose, don't simply push the crib up against a wall, and assume that your baby will be safe. Contact the company for details on what to do, or discard the crib altogether.
  • Never perform repairs of a drop-side crib at home. Never use tape or wire or to attach a loose side to the crib.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

All Too Common Rear End Car Accidents - Insurance Claims

Today there was a multi-car rear end pile up on the 405, and the TV coverage showed an image of cars smashed bumper-to-bumper, 5 cars lined up in the fast lane. Rear end collisions probably happen on the 405 a few times a day, but I doubt to the extent shown. The picture at the left is not the accident that I was on TV, but is a good smaller-scale example.

Some rear end collision statistics I found on http://www.superbumper.com
  • 29.7% of all accidents are rear end collisions.
  • 94% of all rear end collisions occur on straight roads.
  • Rear end collisions account for 38% of all the dollars paid for automobile insurance claims.

I didn't find the exact source of the data above, but the numbers seem reasonable. Especially with the many distractions drivers allow - cell phones, texting, and more (a recent study suggests increased car accidents by men in the summer due to being distracted by women wearing less clothing than during the other seasons). Personally, I know that rear end accidents are over 50% of the incidents among friend and family members that I asked.

Hit and run incidents, often due to uninsured motorists, is also related to such common accidents. Many people think that if a motorists without insurance hits their car, damages will not paid for - however, most drivers carry some form of insurance to cover un-insured or under-insured motorists. In these cases, often speaking with Encino Car Accident Lawyer or a Ventura Car Accident Lawyer (or whatever city you may be looking for) about rear end accidents or insurance issues. Both  sites have dedicated pages about rear-end collisions, insurance, and even hit-and-run accidents.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Federal Administration Rule to Prevent Workplace Discrimination against Disabled

Last week, the country commemorated the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The federal legislation marked the anniversary by announcing a series of steps to give the disabled better access to employment, and to remove some of the traditional barriers that have prevented them from becoming a sizable part of the workforce.

President Obama has signed a new executive order under which federal agencies have been ordered to step up their efforts to hire disabled workers over the next few years. Agencies must hire 100,000 disabled employees. This is not exactly a new program. Ten years ago, President Bill Clinton had signed such an order, but the steps were not implemented. The administration now seeks to change that state of affairs.

The Office of Personnel Management must consult with the Labor Department, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Office of Management and Budget to develop strategies for the recruitment and hiring of disabled workers. The strategy must be decided within a period of 60 days. Managers at government agencies must be trained in employing these workers. President Obama also announced that the Justice Department has written rules to ban discrimination against disabled workers by private businesses and government agencies. That's not all. Beginning in 2012, there'll be new standards for production and design that will be more disabled friendly, in order to encourage employment of the disabled. The design standards will extend to doors, windows, bathrooms and elevators.

Implementing these rules will be a huge challenge, as the Clinton administration found out. However, with the 20th anniversary of the ADA, California disability rights lawyers believe the time is right and the mood is perfect for changes that will accommodate more numbers of disabled workers in the American workforce. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, workers with certain disabilities constitute less than 1% of the workforce. These workers include those with some degree of mental retardation, blindness, deafness and paralysis. We need not just more anti-discrimination policies, but also more proactive action to accommodate these people in our workforce.