Friday, 31 May 2013

Feds Issue Guidelines to Limit Distracted Driving


The Department of Transportation recently released voluntary guidelines that call on automakers to restrict motorists’ use of distracting technology in automobiles.  However, the Department of Transportation guidelines are entirely voluntary, and the agency has stopped short of requiring these measures which California personal injury lawyers find very disappointing. 
According to the Department of Transportation guidelines, the federal agency is recommending the establishment of special criteria for technologies that require motorists to take their hands off the steering wheel and eyes off the road to use devices.  The guidelines also include a recommendation that car manufacturers limit the time the a driver can take his eyes off the road to perform a task to just 2 seconds at a time, and 12 seconds in all.
The guidelines also recommend that automakers disable several distracting operations unless the vehicle is in stop or park mode.  These include manual texting, typing text messages, browsing on the Internet, video phoning or video conferencing, displaying text messages, and displaying content from WebPages and social media.
What is encouraging about the guidelines is that they take into consideration the fact that many people are using in-car technology not just to make or receive calls on their cell phones, but also to surf the Internet, make restaurant reservations, update their Facebook pages and Twitter statuses, make video calls and perform other Internet-based activities.  The guidelines however would only apply to built-in devices, like navigational devices that are fitted on the dashboard. 
The guidelines were based on a recent study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that found that using handheld phones and other communication devices increase accident risks by as much as 3 times.

Repeated Brain Injuries Increases Risk of Suicide

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Suicide rates across the United States have increased significantly.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more Americans now commit suicide than die in motor vehicle accidents.  A new study finds that repeated brain injuries are linked to an increased risk of suicide.
Scientists at the National Center conducted the study for American Studies at the University of Utah.  The analysis has found that veterans who suffered repeated brain injuries are much more likely to commit suicide.  What California brain injury lawyers find even more disturbing is that the risk of such suicidal thoughts spikes not only during the short term after the brain injury, but also remains high throughout the veteran’s life.
According to the researchers, this is the very first time that studies have been able to confirm that multiple brain injuries have a link to a spike in suicide rates.  Earlier, studies suggested that there was a link, but this study seems to confirm the link.
The researchers studied 151 patients who had suffered a brain injury during a six-month period in 2009.  All of the soldiers sustained brain injuries during combat duty in Iraq.  One in five soldiers suffered more than one brain injury, and among these, more than 21% reported suicidal thoughts or preoccupation with suicide. 
In those soldiers who had suffered just one brain injury, 6.9% reported similar suicidal thoughts.  When the veterans had no brain injuries, there were absolutely no reports of suicidal thoughts and fantasies.
These findings should be interesting not just to the US Department of Defense which is struggling to control the skyrocketing rates of suicide among veterans returning from combat, but also to the National Football League which is also battling the health effects from repeated concussions, or hits to the head.

Monday, 20 May 2013

4 in 10 Teens Admits to Texting While Driving


As many as four out of every 10 American high school students admit to texting while driving, even though there's evidence that shows that such behaviors increase their risk of being involved in a car accident.
The data that was analyzed by scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention involved 7,800 American high school students who had just received a driver’s license. These drivers were surveyed about their driving habits, and were specifically asked whether they had texted while driving at any point during the past month. About 43% of the respondents in the survey admitted that they had.
Male teenagers were found to be much more likely to text while driving, compared to female teenagers. As many as 46% of the male teenagers responding to the survey admitted to having texted over the past month, compared to 20% of female teenagers. Teenagers were also much more likely to text with an increase in age. Teenagers above the age of 18 were found to be much more likely to text with rates as high as 52%. Among the below-15 age group, the rate was just 26%.
Reading or sending text messages while driving is one of the most dangerous practices for high-risk, inexperienced teenage drivers. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to any Phoenix car accident lawyer that teenagers who text while driving were found to be much more likely to engage in other kinds of risky behaviors. These teenagers were found to be much more likely to engage in unprotected sex, and also much more likely to use indoor tanning devices. They were also much more likely to drive under the influence of alcohol.