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School Bus Safety Tips

Posted on Friday, October 31st, 2014 at 7:12 pm    

The Pennsylvania State Police issued the following school bus safety tips on their website:

Students:

– Never walk close to the front or sides of the bus. The bus driver may not be able to see you.

– When crossing the street to get onto the bus, always look left, then right, then left again.

– If you drop something near the bus, don’t pick it up until you tell the bus driver. Otherwise, they may not see you.

– Wait until the bus stops, the door opens and the driver says it is okay to board before stepping onto the bus.

– Never speak to strangers at the bus stop and never get into the car with a stranger.

– Always go straight home and tell your parents if a stranger tries to talk to you or pick you up.

Motorists:

– Yellow flashing lights on the bus indicate the bus is getting ready to stop and load or unload. Slow down and get ready to stop.

– Red flashing lights and a stop signal arm indicate that the bus has stopped and that children are getting on or off. You must stop your vehicle at least 10 feet before reaching the school bus. You may not proceed until the flashing red signal lights are no longer activated.

– You can be fined $250 for each violation when improperly meeting or overtaking a school bus. Additionally, a conviction will result in a 60-day driver’s license suspension and assessment of 5 points on the operator’s driving record.

– Please obey all posted speed limits; especially in school zones, where the penalties for speeding are enhanced.

If you have children in school we encourage you to review the Student Safety Tips with your children. You can find these safety tips at www.psp.pa.gov.

HOW SAFE ARE HAYRIDES?

Posted on Tuesday, October 28th, 2014 at 2:18 pm    

Taking a hayride in the fall is a common activity in Lancaster County. Probably most of us have at one time or another taken a hayride with family and friends on a local farm or nursery in the fall season.

Most of us would think of this as a harmless, safe fall activity.

However, citing a recent tragic accident involving a hayride in Maine, reporter Tom Knapp of the Lancaster Newspapers raised the question of just how safe hayrides really are. According to Mr. Knapp’s article appearing in the October 20, 2014 edition of the LNP, on October 13, 2014 a hayride tragedy in Maine resulted in more than 20 people being injured and a teenager being killed when mechanical problems caused a Jeep towing a hay wagon to careen down a hill and crash into a tree.

Mr. Knapp notes that like Maine, Pennsylvania does not regulate hayrides. In fact, Mr. Knapp reports that the only state regulating hayrides is Rhode Island.

While safety guidelines have been developed by the Penn State Agriculture Safety and Health, they are just guidelines and not law. And even though some hayride operators support regulations for hayrides, such regulations do not appear on the horizon. In fact, writer Knapp notes that while the Department of Agriculture – Bureau of Ride and Measurement Standards oversees amusement attractions, hayrides are not under its jurisdiction.

This leaves us wondering what the answer is to the question raised by writer Tom Knapp of just how safe hayrides really are.

Source: Hayride havoc: Are regulations needed? by Tom Knapp appearing in the LNP on October 20, 2014.

COLLISION PREVENTION SYSTEMS TO BE STANDARD ON ALL TOYOTAS BY 2017

Posted on Tuesday, October 21st, 2014 at 2:07 pm    

According to an AP article by Tom Krisher, Toyota recently stated at a safety briefing that it intends to have collision prevention systems on all of its U.S. model cars by 2017. Although the details were not reported, based on Mr. Kirsher’s article, it is likely that the safety system planned by Toyota will include the radar-activated cruise control system currently available as an option on Lexus models.

At that safety briefing, Toyota also reported that it is developing cameras that monitor the eyes of the driver for focus on the road and the position of the driver’s hands to make sure they are on the steering wheel. The car would issue a warning if the driver’s eyes drift off of the road or his hands come off of the steering wheel.

While Toyota sees a gradual shift towards cars doing most of the driving work, the Toyota executives believe the industry is at least a decade away from making a car that can drive itself due to technological limitations and legal issues.

Toyota’s safety technology officer, Seigo Kuzumaki, stated at that briefing that “Toyota will not be developing a driverless car”, noting that humans will still be needed to handle situations that can’t be anticipated by a computer.

Source: Toyota: No Plans to Make Driverless Cars by Tom Krisher (AP Auto Writer) appearing in the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era on Friday, September 5, 2014.

NUMBER OF DEATH CLAIMS FILED FOR GM PAYOUT REACHES 125

Posted on Tuesday, October 14th, 2014 at 8:05 pm    

According to a recent New York Times article, the number of death claims filed with Attorney Kenneth Feinberg who is handling GM’s program to compensate victims of defective ignition switches reached 125 as of August 1 of this year. Per the article, Kenneth Feinberg has found 19 death claims eligible to receive payment thus far. The remaining death claims are either still under review or awaiting additional evidence.

In addition to the death claims filed, Mr. Feinberg has received 58 claims for so called category 1 injuries. These are injuries resulting in quadriplegic, paraplegic, double amputation, permanent brain damage or pervasive burns. Mr. Feinberg has also received 252 claims for less serious injuries that required hospitalization or outpatient treatment within 48 hours of the accident.

Since the fund will continue to accept claims until the end of the year, it seems certain that the number of claims and deaths associated with GM’s defective ignition switch will continue to rise.

These numbers underscore the human tragedy resulting from GM’s defective ignition switches.

Source: Number of Victims Eligible for G.M. Payoffs Reaches 19 by Hillary Stout appearing in The New York Times on September 15, 2014.

HOW RELIABLE IS N.H.T. S. A.’s STAR RATINGS PROGRAM?

Posted on Tuesday, October 7th, 2014 at 5:33 pm    

Most of us are familiar with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s five star safety ratings used by NHTSA in evaluating automobiles for safety. Under this ratings program, which dates back to 1978, NHTSA awards up to five stars for new cars based upon various safety measures. A five star rating being the highest rating given by the agency.

A recent investigation conducted by the New York Times, called into question the reliability of the agency rating system. In an article appearing in the September 14,2014 edition, the Times noted that for models from 2001 to 2010, 87% of the safety ratings awarded by the agency were 4 or 5 stars.

The Times reported that, apparently in response to criticism, in 2011 NHTSA introduced new standards to make it harder to score high and added an overall safety rating. Nevertheless, according to the Times article, for models from 2011 to the present, 92% of the overall safety ratings were 4 or 5 star ratings.

Jack Gillis, a former NHTSA official who was involved in the early efforts to develop the ratings program at NHTSA and who now publishes an independent rating, says of the government’s 5-star rating program “It is a waste of valuable government resources”.

One can only wonder how reliable the five star rating is given that in February of 2014, Chevrolet boasted that its 2014 models had more 5-star overall safety ratings than any other brand, yet the very next day GM began recalling millions of its vehicles for deadly ignition defects. And by August of 2014, six of the eight 5-star Chevrolet models had been recalled for a variety of safety issues which included defects in airbags, brakes, and steering. Five of the models have been recalled multiple times.

This suggests that when searching for a safe, new vehicle, you should not just rely upon the safety ratings by NHTSA, but also look at the safety ratings/analysis of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety which placed more emphasis on real world experience, and look at the recall history of the vehicle being considered.

Source: Regulator Slow to Response to Deadly Vehicle Defects by Hillary Stout, Danielle Ivory and Rebecca R. Ruiz published in the September 14, 2014 issue of The New York Times.