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LOW VACCINATION RATES POSE A SIGNIFICANT RISK FOR SCHOOL STUDENTS

Posted on Tuesday, May 30th, 2017 at 3:23 pm    

According to an investigation by USA Today, nearly 1 in 7 public and private schools have measles vaccination rates below 90%. Ninety percent is the minimum rate considered adequate to provide immunity from the measles. USA Today reports that their study, based on a 13 state sample, shows what many experts have long feared: that people opposed to vaccinations tend to live near each other, leaving some schools dangerously vulnerable. Clusters of individuals opposing vaccinations can create hot spots that are apparent by looking at state immunization rates.

The USA Today study also found that it was troubling and shocking how few states keep records of school immunization rates, in spite of repeated recommendations from the CDC for such record keeping. Some experts fear that decades after once feared diseases were largely eradicated in the USA, many parents have now grown complacent.

Experts note that the decision not to vaccinate has implications across the broader population because no vaccine is 100% effective and thus communities must rely on immunizations across a large proportion of the population to prevent the spread of communicable diseases.

Measles is particularly troublesome because it is extremely contagious. In states such as Indiana, Maine, Arkansas, Alaska and Colorado, state health officials acknowledge that they do not keep any internal records showing school immunization rates. This lack of important record keeping makes it difficult to identify hot spots where the immunization rates are below the minimum desired rate to protect the general school population.

In 2013-14, only 13 states met the federal standards for collecting data on vaccination among school children according to the CDC. Experts say that this lack of data is a growing problem and one that parents should be concerned about.

Source: An article appearing at usatoday.com on February 24, 2015 entitled Low vaccination rates at schools put students at risk by Meghan Hoyer and Steve Reilly

TEXTING AND DRIVING DON’T MIX

Posted on Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017 at 1:26 pm    

Recent statistics show that distracted driving is a factor is a factor in more than 1 million car crashes annually. Texting is the number one distracted driving activity by a long shot. People may not realize just how dangerous texting really is.

An individual texting while driving will take his eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, which results in a 23% increase in the chance of an accident. Putting this in perspective, for the average driver if you are driving at 55 miles per hour while texting, that means that you travel approximately the length of an entire football field while sending a text.

Car & Driver Magazine recently performed an experiment to determine just how dangerous texting and driving can be by comparing it to driving while intoxicated. The magazine tested how long it would take to apply the brakes and upon being given a red signal when legally impaired at a BAC of .08 when reading an email, and when sending a text. Sober drivers took an average of .54 seconds to brake. Legally intoxicated drivers needed an additional 4 feet. It required an additional 36 feet when reading an email, but it took a whopping additional 70 feet when sending a text.

In another test conducted by the Transportation Research Laboratory of London, researchers found that texters had slower response times and were more likely to drift in and out of lanes, and drove even worse than drivers who were high on marijuana.

Many argue that texting is even more dangerous than drunk driving. A statistic often cited is that in 2014, 431,000 were injured and 179 were killed due to car accidents involving distracted drivers. That same year, drunk driving was responsible for 290,000 injuries and claimed 9,967 lives. And, while the number of accidents and deaths resulting from drunk driving is declining, the number of accidents and deaths resulting from distracted driving and texting keeps climbing year after year.

One consequence of the ever-increasing numbers of accidents related to distracted driving is that NHTSA is putting more and more focus on addressing the dangers of distracted driving. You can help by setting a good example for your children by not texting or engaging in other distracting driving behavior.

Source: An article appearing at distracteddriveraccidents.com on 11/23/16 entitled “Is Texting While Driving More Dangerous Than Drunk Driving?” by Kiernan Hopkins

TIPS TO KEEP YOUR TEEN DRIVER SAFE

Posted on Thursday, May 18th, 2017 at 1:31 pm    

As parents we all worry about our sons and daughters driving, especially when they are in their teenage years. Insurance company USAA offers the following tips to help keep your teenage driver safe:

• Be a Good Role Model. Children are like sponges and they absorb everything you do, good and bad. This means as parents we need to practice good, safe driving habits at all times. And we should avoid all types of distractive driving including talking on the phone, reading or texting, changing GPS settings, etc. while driving.

• Encourage Practice. Be sure your teen son or daughter gets plenty of practice driving to improve their skills. It takes time to learn how to drive well.

• Consider a Tracking Program. Such systems use GPS as devices to track your teen’s driving habits such as braking, acceleration, speed, etc. Reviewing such information with your teen can open up opportunity to discuss safe driving habits.

• Schedule Coaching Time. Help ease your teen into driving by offering more hours behind the wheel with a parent or driving coach.

• Talk About Safety Early. Sessions about safety should start long before your child begins driving. Even elementary age school children are ready to hear the message that phones are not safe to use while driving.

• Teach Your Teen to be a Cautious Passenger. Teach your children not to ride with friends who text, talk on the phone or otherwise engage in unsafe driving habits.

Source: Article appearing at usaa.com entitled Tips to Help Keep Your Teenage Driver Safe.

HOW CAN YOU TELL IF YOU ARE A GOOD DRIVER?

Posted on Tuesday, May 16th, 2017 at 1:36 pm    

Most of us think that we are good drivers. However, experts say it’s not how we feel about our driving skills that matters. And surveys suggest that most of us consistently overrate our driving acumen.

Walter Meyer, a veteran traffic safety consultant, says that “If people are flipping you off and honking at you and flashing their brights at you all the time, you are doing something wrong. Are you driving too slow in the left lane for no reason? Are you failing to signal or take your turn? Yes, there are jerks who will honk at you or give you the finger for no reason, but if it’s happening to you on a regular basis, then you are the problem.”

Joe Giammona, the CEO of The Driver Training Group, adds that “A good driver actually makes the road safe for the bad drivers out there.”

It turns out that there are a variety of objective ways to evaluate your road skills.

One way is to use an app. Highway Hero is an app developed by Liberty Mutual Insurance Company to evaluate your driving skills. The app tracks and scores your driving behavior based on acceleration, hard braking, hard cornering, speeding and phone usage while driving.

Liberty Mutual reported that at first glance the results have been encouraging. Overall, the average Highway Hero score among users is 84 out of 100, which equates to a good driver. One of the biggest problem areas revealed by the Highway Hero is phone usage while driving. Yes, people who knew that they were being evaluated and that using the phone while driving would result in a lower score, still used their phone while driving. Another app that gives even more detail is called Automatic and is available at https:.//www.automatic.com/.

While most drivers can be rehabilitated, if bad driving habits are a result of a physical problem such as deteriorating eyesight, it may be time to give up the keys. If you are over fifty, you may wish to consider a driver refresher course which can help you address any bad habits that you have developed over the years.

According usatoday.com, the three riskiest driving behaviors are:

1. Drinking and driving. Most traffic related deaths are caused by drunk drivers.

2. Driving while tired.

3. Speeding. Research has shown that speeding increased the risk of an accident. Yet, a full 35% of
drivers admit to driving fast.

Although not mentioned in the USA Today article, another very risky driving behavior is distracted driving. As I’ve noted in several of my recent blog articles, NHISA believes that this is a significant factor contributing to a jump in the number of highway fatalities in the past 2 years.

Source: An article appearing at usatoday.com entitled Are you a good driver? Well, you probably think you are by Christopher Elliott published on March 26, 2017.

IF YOU ARE OVER 50, CONSIDER TAKNG A DRIVER REFRESHER COURSE

Posted on Thursday, May 11th, 2017 at 5:15 pm    

According to the AARP, if you are over 50, even the most experienced drivers can benefit
from brushing up on their driving skills.

A refresher course such as the one offered by AARP will help you learn the current rules of the road, defensive driving techniques and help you operate your vehicle more safely in an increasingly challenging driving environment. Courses also help you learn how to manage and accommodate common age-related changes in vision, hearing and reaction time.

These courses also help you learn:

• How to minimize the effects of dangerous blind spots
• How to maintain the proper following distance behind another car
• The safest way to change lanes and make turns at busy intersections
• Proper use of safety belts, airbags, antilock brakes and other new technology found in today’s cars
• How to monitor your own and others’ driving skills and capabilities
• The effect that medications can have on driving
• The importance of eliminating distractions such as using a cell phone, smoking, or eating while driving

You can register on line to take a course by going to aarpdriversafety.org

Source: An article entitled Why Take a Driver Safety Course? posted on the AARP website at www.aarp.org in November 2013.

TIPS FOR SAFE DRIVING IN DANGEROUS WEATHER

Posted on Tuesday, May 9th, 2017 at 1:38 pm    

The United States Department of Homeland Security offers these safety tips to help avoid dangerous problems created by dangerous weather:

• Plan long trips carefully and check the weather forecast before heading out. If bad weather is forecast, drive only if absolutely necessary.

• Check or have a mechanic check the following items on your car:

1. Antifreeze levels
2. Battery and ignition systems
3. Brakes
4. Exhaust system
5. Fuel and air filters
6. Heater and defroster
7. Lights and flashing hazard lights
8. Oil
9. Thermostat
10. Windshield wiper equipment

You or your mechanic should be sure that all of these systems are in good working order before heading out, particularly in bad or potentially dangerous weather.

Additional things to keep in mind, according to the Department of Homeland Security:

• Keep your gas tank full

• Never drive through a flooded area. Even as little as 6” of water can cause a vehicle to lose control and possibly stall. In a foot of water, many cars will float.

• Beware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Floodwaters may have weakened the roadway and could cause a collapse under the weight of a car.

• If a power line falls on your car, you are at risk of electrical shock and should remain in your car until a trained person removes the wire.

• Winter weather requires that tires with adequate tread for winter weather driving, and you should make sure that your tires are the type suited for winter driving conditions and not designed solely for summertime driving.

Source: www.ready.gov/car

LOOK TWICE-SAVE A LIFE

Posted on Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017 at 8:14 pm    

With the surprisingly warm weather in February, you may have already noticed quite a few motorcycles out on our highways recently. May is officially Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Month. I suspect this probably because in May the days become consistently warmer and more and more motorcycles are on the road.

Unfortunately, after a few months of colder weather, most motorists are not yet used to seeing motorcycles on the road again.

And, unfortunately, according to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, motorcycles fatalities have risen on an average of 10% per year over the last 20 years. NHTSA states that, per vehicle mile travelled, motorcyclists are 26 times more likely than a passenger car occupant to die in a traffic crash. A significant percent of motorcycle fatalities involve a crash with a car, truck or other vehicle turning left in front of them. Approximately 33% of motorcycle crashes are intersection-related. And, because motorcycles are relatively small compared to other vehicles on the highway, it is easy for drivers of automobiles to misjudge the speed of a motorcycle.

Here are several tips offered by NHTSA on how to best “Share the Road” with motorcyclers:

• Remember a motorcyclist has the same rights and privileges as any other motor vehicle on the highway.
• Always allow the motorcyclist a full lane width. Never try to share the lane with a motorcyclist. A motorcycle needs the full lane to maneuver safely.
• Because motorcycles are small and can be difficult to see, it can make it much more difficult to judge the speed and distance of an approaching motorcycle.
• A motorcycle can easily be hidden in a vehicle’s blind spot or missed in a quick look due to its smaller size. Therefore, always make a visual check for motorcycles by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic and at intersections.
• Don’t be fooled by a flashing turn signal on a motorcycle. Most motorcycles do not have self-cancelling signals and sometimes riders will forget to turn them off. Be sure the motorcycle is going to turn before you proceed.
• Road conditions that may be a minor annoyance for most motorists can pose a major hazard to a motorcyclist. Consequently, motorcyclists may need to change speeds or adjust positions within a lane suddenly in order to react to road or traffic conditions, such a potholes, gravel, wet pavement, etc.

Soon you will be seeing signs courtesy of ABATE springing up throughout our area, reading “LOOK TWICE – SAVE A LIFE – MOTORCYCLES ARE EVERYWHERE”. Good advice for motorists everywhere for the coming season.

Source: An article appearing at ruralsafetycenter.org on 02/22/17 entitled “May Is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month”.