Can We Prevent School Shootings?

Can We Prevent School Shootings?

The March 2018 shooting at southern Maryland’s Great Mills High School has spurred action among Maryland legislators. In early April 2018 they passed legislation that would improve safety in our state’s schools. The bills provide either school resource officers or police coverage for the Maryland public high schools that don’t have any. In all, local jurisdictions gain $10 million for this purpose. The bills also require lockable classrooms and age-appropriate drills for dealing with active threats in our public schools. State Senator Steve Waugh, R-St. Mary’s, whose district includes the Great Mills High School, noted, “We have really done something very important for the state.” The Great Mills Confrontation A male student used a handgun to shoot a 16-year-old female he knew on March 20, 2018. An armed deputy joined in. By the time it was all over, the girl had suffered critical injuries, a 14-year-old boy was injured, and the 17-year-old shooter had sustained fatal wounds. The Maryland attack came hard on the heels of the February Parkland, Florida, tragedy, when 14 students and three adults died. The school superintendent for St. Mary’s County and for Great Mills High, J. Scott Smith, spoke out after the shooting, saying, “If[…..]

Who’s Responsible for the Duck Boat Disaster?

Who’s Responsible for the Duck Boat Disaster?

On July 19, 2018, a tour boat known as a “duck boat” capsized during a storm on Table Rock Lake near Branson, Missouri. Among the two crew members and 29 passengers on board, a total of 17 died—16 passengers and one from the crew. One woman lost nine of her family members in the tragedy. The sinking near Branson is far from the first duck boat fatalities in the U.S. Over the past 20 years, almost 40 people have died in duck boat accidents, either on the road or in the water (a duck boat can navigate both). Thirteen people died when a duck boat sank on a lake near Hot Springs, Arkansas, in May, 1999. What is a Duck Boat? Duck boats come from the military. During World War II and the Korean War, the U.S. military used DUKW (duck) boats to move goods and troops over both land and water. The boats are amphibious, meaning they can move smoothly from land to water and vice versa. The boats were never intended to have a long life span, and yet a number of them are still in use as commercial tourist transportation. It has been determined that the duck[…..]

Liability and Ridesharing Collisions: When Are Uber and Lyft Responsible?

Liability and Ridesharing Collisions: When Are Uber and Lyft Responsible?

These days, most of us know what “ridesharing” is: taking an Uber or Lyft car. Some of us even have Uber or Lyft accounts and use them regularly. These services can be a boon when it’s difficult to locate a traditional taxi, or when we want to save a little money. But what happens when there’s an accident, and the ridesharing driver appears to be guilty of negligent behavior? We hope that the following information, presented in a concise Q & A format, will help guide you should you suffer injuries in a ridesharing  collision that’s not your fault. Why Do Ridesharing Accidents Occur? Crashes involving ridesharing drivers are the same as any other accident, with similar causes: speeding, driving under the influence, failing to yield the right of way, distraction, and fatigue. But the last two reasons deserve special focus. Fatigue among ridesharing drivers has been spotlighted in a number of articles, because sometimes drivers drive long hours—sometimes as many as 19 hours in a row—to make money. Bonus structures, especially with Uber, are often responsible for pushing drivers to keep going. Distraction is a special problem for ridesharing drivers, because both Uber and Lyft require drivers to pay[…..]

Why Do Motor Vehicle Accidents Happen?

Why Do Motor Vehicle Accidents Happen?

We may think we know the reasons that crashes occur: speeding, drunk driving, and cell phone distraction would probably top many of our lists. But these reasons may not be the real reasons, and not knowing exactly what is causing crashes is hindering our efforts to prevent further deaths and injuries. With 40,000 persons dying in motor vehicle collisions every year across the U.S., and with serious injuries numbering into the millions—4.6 million, to be exact—we have a lot of lives we need to keep safe from harm. So what is the true problem? The National Safety Council (NSC) calls the problem incomplete crash data. Why is Crash Data Incomplete? Did you know that accident report forms are different in all 50 states, and that some states ask more questions or provide more fields than others? It is the lack of questions and fields that leads to incomplete data. A police officer might list running a stop sign as the reason for a crash, but the real reason could be distraction due to the driver’s reaching for a buzzing cell phone on the passenger seat. Or, the real reason could have been fatigue, because the driver fell asleep and never[…..]

If You Own a Kia or Hyundai, Read This

If You Own a Kia or Hyundai, Read This

Certain Kias and Hyundais from model years 2011 through 2014 are vulnerable to spontaneous fires. Vehicles affected include the Kia Sorento SUV and Kia Optima sedan, as well as the Hyundai Santa Fe SUV and Hyundai Sonata sedan. While the fires have not been associated with any crashes, it’s estimated that six persons have suffered injuries from the fires. Petition Submitted to NHTSA The Center for Auto Safety (CAS) has petitioned Deputy Administrator Heidi King of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) because of the fires. The petition, submitted June 11, 2018, noted that the NHTSA has on file 120 complaints of fires where no crash occurred, as well as 229 filed complaints that mention melted wires, smoke, and odors indicating something was burning. When the number of Hyundai and Kia reports was compared with other competing makes and models, the CAS discovered only 22 reports on file that mentioned fires without collisions for all other competing vehicles. The Hyundai Sonata had the most complaints at 47, with 10 for the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport. Sixty-three fires were reported to the NHTSA for the two Kia models. Dangerous Fires The CAS petition mentioned several fires, including the following ones:[…..]

Summer Travel and Safety Tips

Summer Travel and Safety Tips

The majority of people who take vacations do so during the summer—that’s about 59 percent of us. Regardless of how you plan to vacation this summer or where you’re going, avoiding injury and staying safe should be one of your biggest concerns. We have some ideas that can help you do so. Safety While on the Road Do you plan to travel by car? Keep in mind that drivers tend to do 10 percent more distracted driving during the summer and spend 15 minutes of every hour in a distracted state. Here’s how to limit distraction: Know where you’re going, so you don’t have to consult maps. Keep in mind that GPS and paper maps may not be accurate. Especially don’t follow GPS blindly. Leave your phone alone, or give it to a passenger to monitor if you must have it on. Don’t multitask. Driving is Job One. Secure children and pets so they don’t distract you, and bring along items to keep the kids entertained. Carry an emergency kit and supplies should you become stranded, including water, protein bars, and other snacks. Use the “teddy bear system” to prevent leaving kids in hot cars because you were distracted. Keep[…..]

First Death from Exploding Vape Pen Is Official

On May 5, 2018, a man in St. Petersburg, Florida, was discovered in a blazing bedroom with burns on 80 percent of his body. But apparently what killed him weren’t his burns, but his vape pen blowing up while he was using it. After an autopsy, the medical examiner listed the cause of death as projectile wounds to the man’s cranium from two pieces of the vape pen driven into his head by the force of the explosion. The type of vape pen the man was using is known as a “mechanical mod.” His model carried the Smok-E Mountain Mech Works logo; the company is based in the Philippines. Mechanical mods differ from other vape pens and have their own set of problems. Smok-E believes the explosion is due either to the atomizer or to the use of a cloned battery (a non-authentic knockoff battery that is often of inferior quality and safety). Smok-E insists that their product does not explode. What Makes Mechanical Mods Distinctive? Mechanical mods are simpler than other vape pens because they are nothing but devices that deliver power directly to the atomizer. The atomizer supplies the fumes that users inhale; the entire vape pen is[…..]

Fatal Pedestrian Crashes and SUVs

SUV Accidents

Increasingly, pedestrians are being killed by SUVs instead of by passenger cars such as sedans and hatchbacks. In the last decade, the rate of pedestrian deaths in SUV collisions has shot up 81 percent, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The IIHS also noted in their 2018 study that high-horsepower vehicles, like SUVs and light trucks, are more likely to be involved in fatal pedestrian collisions. In the decade previous to 2009, pedestrian deaths had been dropping. What could be causing such a steep rise in the pedestrian death rate, and why are SUVs implicated? Contributing Factors Pedestrian fatalities have climbed to nearly 6,000 a year, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, roughly a 50 percent increase since 2009. Pedestrian deaths for 2016 reached heights they had not seen since 1990. Some of the factors contributing to the higher rate of pedestrian deaths and SUVs include: Automotive design. SUVs are designed differently than passenger cars. They have a blunter front end, and their increased height means pedestrians are struck higher on their body, not on their legs. This fact reduces the possibility that a pedestrian can roll off a vehicle and reduce their[…..]

New Focus for Talcum Powder Cases

Talcum Powder

Two recent court cases involving Johnson & Johnson’s (J & J) baby powder have resulted in the awarding of damages to plaintiffs suffering from mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that generally affects certain cells lining the lungs and abdomen. The cancer is often caused by asbestos exposure and rarely appears without cause. During May 2018, jurors in California state court awarded a 68-year-old woman compensatory damages of $21.7 million for asbestos-related mesothelioma that she claims resulted from extremely heavy usage (two bottles a month) of J & J’s powder over decades. Earlier, in April 2018, New Jersey jurors in the company’s corporate hometown of New Brunswick found J & J liable for $117 million in damages. A 56-year-old man claimed that his asbestos-related mesothelioma was due to daily usage of the company’s talcum powder products since his birth in 1972. These two cases are game-changers when it comes to the dangers of talcum powder and cancer risk. Previous cases have focused on ovarian cancer and have not involved claims of asbestos in Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powders. What is Mesothelioma? The cancer known as mesothelioma usually results from workplace exposure to asbestos that occurs over many years. The most[…..]

What Are the Odds?

When something unusual occurs, we may wonder out loud, “What are the odds?” As it turns out, when it comes to how people die, we can determine what the odds are of certain types of death for an entire population. We don’t mean to be morbid, but the truth is, everyone dies eventually. Perhaps you’re afraid of dying in an airplane crash or from a terrorist attack, or maybe because of a lightning strike. According to the CDC, about 2.6 million people died during 2014 in the U.S. That’s about 824 persons per 100,000 in the population. Remember that these odds are enormous generalizations across all ages and health conditions. For example, you do not necessarily have high odds of dying from cancer if you don’t have certain genetic or lifestyle risk factors—or if you die young from an accident. (Most cancers happen to us when we live a long time.) What We Aren’t Worrying About There are many causes of death, and some of them don’t worry us as much as they probably should. What kills a large number of us is disease and addiction. Judging from the way some of us treat our bodies, we probably aren’t worried[…..]