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AS CONCERNS RISE AND PARTICIPATION DECLINES, HIGH SCHOOLS CUT FOOTBALL

Posted on Wednesday, October 28th, 2015 at 3:17 pm    

In a recent article appearing in The New York Times, the Times reports on a number of high schools that have dropped high school football this year as a result of declining student participation and growing concerns about the sport’s safety. One example cited by the article was Maplewood Richmond Heights High School located in suburban St. Louis which disbanded the high school football team in June, even though it had reached the state championship game only five years ago. In reaching this decision, the School Board cited multiple significant injuries suffered by high school players in the prior year including a broken ankle, a torn anterior cruciate ligament and a significant head injury.

Ridgefield Memorial High School in New Jersey scrapped its varsity football program because only thirteen students tried out for the team this year.

According to the Times article, three high school football players have died this season as a direct result of injuries sustained in a game. Last year, the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research reported that five players died as a direct result of injuries sustained in a game.

Although many high schools and youth leagues have followed the NFL’s lead and reduced contact in practice, most serious injuries occur in a game. And, the Times noted that safety standards vary widely among schools and programs. Many schools still do not require trainers and emergency workers be present at games and many coaches are unable to recognize the symptoms of a concussion.

The Times notes that while there are no precise specifics on how many schools have shut down their football programs because of safety concerns, statistics do reveal that participation in high school football nationwide has been declining as the public becomes more and more aware of concussions and other dangers posed by tackle football.

Terry O’Neil, the founder of Practice Like Pros, a group that advocates safer football techniques, notes that while professional and college football programs have many player protections in place including equipment, practice formats, drills, regimens, etc., many high schools still have no such programs in place.

Source: An article appearing at nytimes.com on September 28, 2015 entitled As Worries Rise and Players Flee, a Missouri School Board Cuts Football by Ken Belson

SOME 2015 GM MODELS ADDED TO TAKATA AIRBAG RECALL

Posted on Tuesday, October 27th, 2015 at 1:51 pm    

General Motors recently announced that it is adding several hundred 2015 model vehicles to the massive Takata airbag defect recall.

According to an article recently appearing in the USA Today, Takata notified GM of a failed airbag test in early October, 2015. Accordingly, GM announced that it is recalling a small number of 2015 models including 2015 Buick LaCrosse, Cadillac XTS, Chevrolet Camaro, Equinox, Malibu and GMC Terrain vehicles. All of these vehicles have front seat-mounted side impact air bags that may rupture when deployed leading to potentially serious injuries or even death according to NHTSA. GM stated that notification to the owners of the affected vehicles will begin on Monday, October 19, 2015.

Vehicle owners may obtain additional information regarding their respective vehicles by contacting Buick at 1-800-521-7300, Chevrolet at 1-800-222-1020, Cadillac at 1-800-458-8006 or GMC at 1-800-462-8782.

While this recall only involves a small number of vehicles, it should be noted that unlike prior recalls, the airbags involved in this recall are side impact airbags and not front airbags.

Source: An article appearing at usatoday.com entitled GM adds some 2015 models to massive air bag recall by Mike Snider on October 18, 2015.

CAR COMPANIES USING TECHNOLOGY TO HELP PARENTS MONITOR TEENS’ DRIVING HABITS

Posted on Thursday, October 22nd, 2015 at 2:15 pm    

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Driving, U.S. teen drivers are three times more likely per mile to die in a car crash than drivers who are 20 or older. In response to this rather grim statistic, car companies and technology companies are developing systems to help parents monitor their teen drivers’ driving habits.

One of the more sophisticated and interesting systems is a new system being offered by General Motors later this year on some of its 2016 Chevrolet Malibus. This system provides a report card visible to the parents on the vehicles’ touch screen when they enter a personal identification number (PIN). And, according to the USA Today article reporting on this system, the data collected is not sent to GM, but rather the data is stored in the vehicle itself.

Some of the features of Chevy’s new system include:

• Audio alerts and dashboard notices when the teen driver is exceeding a speed limit preset by the teen’s parents.
• Compiles data on how many times the teen driver has exceeded the preset limits, cause the vehicle’s collision alert system to activate, how far the teen has traveled, and how many times the vehicle’s traction control system was engaged.
• Disables the vehicle’s audio system when the driver and front passenger have failed to buckle their seatbelts.

This system is currently only being offered as an option upgrade to premium trim levels. Chevy plans to make the system a standard feature on all of its vehicles in the future.

Ford has been offering a similar, but more limited system, as a standard feature on all of its consumer vehicles since 2013. While the Ford “MyKey” system does not offer a report card, it does allow parents to activate vehicle warnings to notify a teen driver when they are driving too fast, fail to buckle up, and it will block calls on a paired smartphone.

A new technology start-up called Urgent.ly is offering an app which, among other things, will alert parents when the teen’s mobile device detects an accident. Other technology companies are offering GPS-enabled devices which plug into the dashboard of the vehicle and monitor teen driving. A review of such devices by Consumer Report is available at consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2014/07/how-to-track-your-teen-driver/index.htm.

All of these systems are designed to help teens develop safe driving habits. Hopefully this technology will work and result in a significant reduction in the number of teen drivers killed in car crashes every year.

Source: An article appearing at USAtoday.com entitled Cars get tech to monitor teen driving habits appearing on September 6, 2015.

MORE AIR BAG ISSUES FOR FIAT CHRYSLER

Posted on Tuesday, October 20th, 2015 at 1:33 pm    

According to a recent article appearing in the Detroit News, Fiat Chrysler recently announced that it will be recalling 322,000 cars since the side air bag can accidently deploy if the vehicle doors are slammed or kicked with excessive force. The recall covers model years 2011 through 2014 Dodge Chargers and includes 284,000 vehicles in the United States.

This recall comes on top of a recent similar recall involving almost three-quarters of a million Ram pick-up trucks years 2013 – 2015.

Fiat Chrysler stated the problem is very rare and that it knows of only 5 potentially related incidents resulting in only minor injuries related to the issue and is unaware of any crashes related to the defect. Fiat Chrysler says that until the vehicle is checked to use caution and not slam the doors shut. Fiat Chrysler believes the problem is caused by an overly sensitive front door pressure threshold setting.

Additionally, NHTSA announced that it is investigating 2.8 million radios built by Harman Kardon International for possible hacking concerns following Fiat Chrysler’s announcement to recall 1.4 million vehicles after a Wired report revealed that two hackers could take control of a 2014 Jeep Cherokee.

Source: An article entitled Fiat Chrysler recalling 322,000 Dodge cars for air bags appearing at www.detroitnews.com on August 1, 2015.

SAFETY TIPS FOR KEEPING WARM IN WINTER

Posted on Friday, October 16th, 2015 at 1:39 pm    

It’s probably no surprise that winter is peak season for home fires. However, it may surprise you to know that cooking is actually the leading cause of cold weather fires and unattended cooking is the No. 1 culprit. The second major cause of winter season fires is fires caused by heating equipment. A recent article in the LNP offered these safety tips for insuring a safe and warm winter season:

1. COOKING:
If frying foods, do not leave it unattended. See our blog article entitled Keeping Your Kitchen Burn-Free posted 2/13/15. Also, don’t use your oven for heating.

2. CHIMNEY:
If you have a wood burning fireplace, have your chimney professionally cleaned at least once a year.

3. SPACE HEATERS:
Keep clear of walls, furniture, drapes and other flammable materials. Also, avoid using extension cords or overloading the outlet in which the heater is connected.

4. CANDLES:
Never leave candles burning unattended.

5. WATER HEATERS:
Never pile stuff near a water heater.

6. FURNACE:
Change filters regularly.

7. DRYER:
Empty your lint filter after every use.

Also, keep in mind the importance of carbon monoxide alarms. If you have a home heated by gas, oil or coal, it is important to install carbon monoxide alarms. . . even if your house is new. If your heating system wasn’t correctly installed, you could have a carbon monoxide problem. Don’t forget to check your carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms monthly.

Finally, be prepared in case of fire and have a plan for exiting or escaping from your home.

Source: An article entitled Staying warm without getting burned by Stephen Kopfinger
appearing in the LNP on Sunday, March 1, 2015

CAR SEAT MANUFACTURER RECARO RECALLS THOUSANDS OF CAR SEATS

Posted on Wednesday, October 14th, 2015 at 2:17 pm    

According to an article recently appearing in the New York Times, Recaro agreed to recall approximately 173,000 of its car seats. This recall comes after more than 18 months of resistance by Recaro. Testing by NHTSA revealed that a center strap which helps keep the top of the child’s car seat secure could break during a crash and allow the top of the seat to fly forward. Federal regulators concluded this was a violation of federal safety standards and mandated a recall. Initially, Recaro resisted saying that this did not pose a serious safety problem. Finally, in September, after regulators rejected Recaro’s assertions that this defect did not pose a serious safety issue, Recaro announced a recall.

The car seats involved in the recall are the Recaro Performance Ride seats manufactured between January 15, 2013 and June 9, 2015 and the Recaro ProRide manufactured between April 9, 2010 and June 9, 2015.

More information regarding the details of the recall are available on N.H.T.S.A.’s website and on Recaro’s website.

Source: An article appearing at nytimes.com entitled After Battling Safety Agency, Recaro Changes Course on Car Seat Recall by Christopher Jensen on September 20, 2015.

AUTONATION STOPS SALES OF RECALLED VEHICLES

Posted on Thursday, October 8th, 2015 at 2:05 pm    

AutoNation, the country’s largest automobile retailer, stated that it will no longer sell any new or used vehicle subject to a recall that has not been completed. In making this announcement, Mike Jackson, the CEO of AutoNation, stated “There’s no way to expect that customers would or should know of every safety recall on every vehicle they might purchase, so we will ensure that our vehicles have all recalls completed.” The announcement was hailed by Senator Blumenthal of Connecticut who has co-authored a bill to prevent used-car dealers from selling cars under recall. AutoNation operates 293 dealer franchises across the country.

In making the announcement, AutoNation noted that the decision will add additional costs because they will need to retain more vehicles in inventory while the recall-related repairs are completed. AutoNation also noted that this policy applies to the entire inventory, not just vehicles on the retail sales floor and includes vehicles which AutoNation is selling at wholesale at used vehicle auctions or other similar markets.

AutoNation’s CEO Mike Jackson added that we are making it “. . . our responsibility as a retailer to identify those vehicles and remove them from the market until their safety issues have been addressed.”

The Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety called AutoNation’s announcement a “historic commitment to safety.”

Source: An article appearing at usatoday.com on September 8, 2015 entitled AutoNation halts sales of recalled vehicles by Greg Gardner and Chris Woodyard.

NHTSA WIDENS INVESTIGATION OF TAKATA SIDE AIR BAGS

Posted on Tuesday, October 6th, 2015 at 2:14 pm    

As we noted in a recent blog article, NHTSA is looking into potentially defective Takata side air bags as a result of a crash involving a 2015 Volkswagen Tiguan. NHTSA recently noted that it has received responses to the questions it posed to Volkswagen and Takata concerning the incident involving the Tiguan.

More recently, General Motors has confirmed that it recently had an overseas recall involving the issue of defective side air bags manufactured by Takata. The recall in May involved 334 Chevrolet Malibus destined for sale in Singapore, South Korea and the Middle East.

Like the driver and passenger air bags being manufactured by Takata, if the inflator on the side air bags malfunctions it can similarly spew shrapnel at the occupant. However, the side air bags that are being investigated by NHTSA involve new and almost new vehicles. At this point no new recall has been ordered by NHTSA, but its investigation continues.

According to an article appearing in the USA Today, NHTSA has revised downward the number of motor vehicles involved in the current Takata air bag recall to approximately 23.4 million vehicles. The original estimate was more than 33 million. However, the article notes that approximately some 19.2 million vehicles have air bags inflators that have not yet been repaired.

Source: An article appearing at usatoday.com entitled Federal regulators widen probe of Takata side air bags by Chris Woodyard.

PA IS #1 IN COLLISIONS WITH DEER

Posted on Friday, October 2nd, 2015 at 2:17 pm    

As we enter fall, it is time to be on high alert for deer on our roadways. According to a recent article appearing in LNP News, motorists are most likely to encounter deer crossing a road at dusk and dawn and particularly during October, November and December during deer mating season. And Pennsylvania ranks #1 in the nation in automobile collisions with white-tailed deer. State Farm, the nation’s largest automobile insurer, reported 126,275 deer related collisions in Pennsylvania from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015.

According to the LNP News article, in Pennsylvania your chances of striking a deer are 1 in 70, making it the fourth highest ranked state on a per capita basis. The top five states on a per capita basis are West Virginia, Montana, Iowa, Pennsylvania and South Dakota.

State Farm offers the following tips to help avoid hitting a deer on the highways.

• Use your high beam lights at night when possible.
• Avoid swerving when you see a deer. It is better to hit the deer because swerving increases the chances of overturning your vehicle or swerving into oncoming traffic.
• Just slow down and take time to enjoy the drive.

Unfortunately, according to State Farm, a collision with deer can raise your insurance premiums. Incidentally, the state with the lowest odds for hitting a deer is Hawaii where the chances of striking a deer are 1 in 8,765.

Source: Article by Ad Crable entitled Pennsylvania tops nation in deer collisions appearing in LNP on September 17, 2015.