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airbagWe have posted in the recent past about the wide-spread knowledge on the part of Volkswagen leadership regarding its rigged diesel car emissions. VW is paying a huge price for this fraud on the global consumer. We have also posted about General Motors’ knowledge of safety issues with its faulty ignition switches resulting in serious and fatal injuries around the country and in Georgia. American car buyers and car owners are rightfully concerned about the safety of the cars they buy. This confidence is undermined when the headlines continue to be full of admissions of both wrongdoing and hiding key information and when safety is front and center to these admissions.

Now it is Takata Corporation’s turn. The airbag maker has been under scrutiny for a long while now for the injuries and deaths occurring after airbags explode with shrapnel inside them. The safety failures have resulted in the biggest recall of airbags, ever. We are learning now that Takata too has hidden information from the public. This has been determined after an audit sought by Takata and Honda. Turns out that the audit reveals that Takata engineers knew that their airbags were at times failing tests for their proper performance, but failed to do anything about it.

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attraction-731194_640Late summer amusement park fun has turned somber due to three recent incidents around the country. A young boy was fatally injured at a water park in Kansas City when he fell from an usually high slide. Three girls were injured on a ferris wheel ride in Tennessee when their car tipped, tossing the occupants onto the ground about 35 feet below. A three year old boy survived a fall out of a popular wooden roller coaster outside Pittsburgh. Our hearts go out to the family of the deceased ten-year old boy and we hope for the full recovery of the injured girls and the little boy. These accidents bring back the national discussion about amusement park safety and its regulation.

CNN and other news agencies report that the young boy who lost his life on the water slide suffered a fatal neck injury. The specific cause of the injury is not yet known. He may have sustained the injury while riding the slide or he may have fallen from the slide. The others who were riding with him were not seriously injured. The slide is said to be the highest in the country and riders can reach 70 mile per hour speeds while riding in the raft down the slide. There are height and weight requirements for the ride which if not followed, can result in serious injury and in this case, a loss of life.

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car-1209912_960_720We have posted previously about Georgia’s cautious lead up to driverless vehicles. As technology moves forward, what are the possibilities that manufacturers will be held responsible if and when something goes wrong? If you are the driver of a vehicle that is being driven by a computer, and you are seriously or fatally injured in a car crash or you injure another person who will be held responsible? In a recent tragic situation, a man lost his life when his Tesla vehicle collided with a truck. The vehicle’s Autopilot system was engaged at the time of the accident. Autopilot is found in  certain Tesla vehicles. This technology assists drivers in steering and in maintaining their lane. This is called semi-autonomous technology because the vehicle is not completely driverless. Reuters reports that it has not found any current legal actions filed against Tesla for this crash, but it seems clear that eventually there will be litigation that involves this technology.

The federal government has opened an investigation regarding the Florida fatal crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking into “the design and performance of any driving aids” that were being used when the crash occurred. If the technology is found to be unsafe, the feds could order a recall these vehicles. Some legal experts are suggesting that the Tesla vehicle itself may have gathered information that could defend its safety. Tesla does advise owners that it reserves the right to use vehicle data to defend itself in litigation. Whether the Tesla vehicle collected data that can help defend the car maker, remains to be seen.

The type of information that could help clarify the cause of an accident might be found in the car’s event data recorders (EDR’s). Car makers are looking more and more to use of high tech in their vehicles. But are these technologies safer? Or will they prove to be more dangerous that the old way of driving … with a driver who is controlling the vehicle continuously.

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iStock_000017099921XSmallTwenty years ago, we barely knew the phrase “road rage.” American drivers once were generally courteous and the normal thing to do when someone was changing lanes, getting into a parking space or passing, was to give that driver time and space. Many of us remember when basic driving “normal” did not include struggling to make simple moves on the road. The new normal includes the worry that someone might cut us off, tailgate or become enraged for our slightest move on the road. The new normal also turns out to be that more of us are becoming upset and angry behind the wheel — perhaps for good reason, as other drivers are less and less courteous. What we are noticing is actually happening. A new study tells us just how out of control Americans have become.

The study was completed by a source that knows a bit about American driving. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety issued this study last week and it is stunning. Only 20 percent of drivers say they did not become angry or upset behind the wheel this past year. We are tired, frustrated and impatient with congestion. In other words, 80 percent of us did experience some level of anger or aggression on the road. This behavior is bound to cause accident or injury … and it is increasing. Extreme road rage is less common, but it is also a reality. Ramming another vehicle or exiting a vehicle to confront the “offending” driver are considered to fall into the extreme category. As Americans work long hours, confront road congestion and deal with other stresses, we are more and more impatient. Other drivers behaving badly get us more and more angry and even the calmest of us, can react to it.

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swimming-pool-100155245Summer safety reminders can help us better enjoy the summer months with friends and family. There is no more sobering reminder than pool and water safety as parents and kids spend more time around water sports and water activities. The tragic drownings we learn about every year, help remind us that we must always pay attention as kids swimming and play around water can quickly lead to drowning and injury. It is a tough statistic to think about, but the fact is that when a child drowns it is almost always within five minutes of a parent or adult or caregiver having just seen the child. That is all it takes. Five short minutes with eyes off a child near water and tragedy can occur. About 88 percent of child drownings happen within this time frame.

One of the more common ways a tragic drowning or serious injury can happen is when a kid’s clothing or hair is caught in the pool’s drain. One small tool can help avoid drownings in certain circumstances. Keeping an emergency pair of scissors near a pool, but out of reach of children can help save a life. Safety experts say that having an emergency scissors in close proximity to the pool can help bring the child back to the surface before tragedy strikes. Pool drains are a silent culprit in the mix of kids play around swimming pools. Being aware of this and ready in case of emergency is key to potentially saving a life.

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iStock_000016030629XSmallWhen parents create living spaces for their children and choose furniture, safety is part of the consideration. The last thing a parent wants is to worry that their child or children might be hurt or killed due to unsafe furniture. Once a week in America, a child loses his or her life due to tipping furniture or tipping televisions. A curious child putting weight on a piece of untethered or unanchored furniture can cause it to topple. And we know kids can unwittingly do something dangerous in seconds. In recent weeks, IKEA Group has recalled nearly 36 million chests and dressers in the United States and Canada due to child injuries or death caused by tipping dressers. These accidents ALL involve dressers that were not anchored to the wall. One of the IKEA dressers involved are in the group called MALM — this includes many versions of this dresser from small to tall. The dressers were made between 2002 to 2016 and can be identified by looking at the labeling on the inside top or side panel. IKEA is offering refunds/returns or repair kits for these dressers.

In recent years, three toddlers died in separate incidents when IKEA dressers fell on them. In all cases, the dressers were not anchored to the wall. IKEA is working with the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) on this massive recall. The CPSC has warned the public that these dressers have proven to be too dangerous when they are not anchored. Although there have now been six deaths associated with these and other dressers, this has not been an issue in other countries in which they are sold.

The recall is very expansive and includes those dressers that fail to comply with United States performance requirements. The problem with the recalled dressers is instability when not anchored. The company did offer a repair kit for the dressers after two children had already died from injuries suffered when the dressers fell on them. Sadly, even after the repair kit was announced one death and 17 injuries occurred with chests or dressers that were not anchored. Other dressers that have caused death are the GUTE 4-drawer, the RAKKE 5-drawer and the KURS 3-drawer. Parents can check the IKEA website to identify the dressers that are considered unsafe.

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Drowsy Driving Ends in Tragedy

The long summer days tend to make for longer driving days. This can become dangerous as drivers have more daylight to travel, but still need rest. With summer travel reaching its height and as we approach Independence Day weekend, we want to remind readers about driving while drowsy and the hazards this presents. Just this past week, the Associated Press reports that a Claxton, Georgia man lost his life when his co-worker likely fell asleep at the wheel. Sadly, the driver was allegedly warned to pull over and rest before continuing their deadly trip which ended in a head-on collision that killed five.

We may have some rare insight into what happened in this tragedy. Reportedly, a young man called his mom while traveling from Virginia back to his home in Georgia. He was heading home with two co-workers after a moving job. The young man called to say that he was worried about his colleague who was getting sleepy at the wheel. According to the mom, her son even passed the phone to the driver and she asked him to pull over at a rest stop before continuing to drive. Only a few minutes later, the driver crossed the median on Interstate 16 and struck another car. All three passengers in his vehicle passed away as did a woman and her step son who were hit by the sleepy driver. Although the mom’s account is not confirmed, the Georgia State Patrol is investigating the crash and its cause.

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Truck4How often have you been driving on a highway, followed too closely by a truck? Unfortunately, this is a common experience and can lead to serious or fatal injury. This is because when velocity and weight combine, the truck driver can find out very quickly that stopping short of another vehicle or object can be difficult, if not impossible. Tractor-trailers can be some of the most dangerous vehicles traveling on American roads and highways. This past week a Georgia truck accident involving two tractor-trailers demonstrated just how dangerous and quickly out of control a situation can become with these massive vehicles.

The accident in Villa Rica, Georgia involved one tractor-trailer following another tractor-trailer too closely. This is not only extremely dangerous and likely to cause serious or catastrophic injury to the truck and its driver, it is very dangerous for all other vehicles in the vicinity. The crash closed I-20 for over two hours during rush hour. Unfortunately, once the rear end collision occurred, the driver of the truck that was following too closely went out of control, struck the guard rail and ended up on its side down a hill. The truck that was hit was able to remain on the road and pull over after the impact of the crash. This FedEx truck lost some of its content due to the crash … and the truck’s axel was damaged. Not surprisingly, both drivers needed to be taken to the hospital for medical care.

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iStock_000017099921XSmallMemorial Day is coming up soon. Many families and friends will get together over the weekend for picnics and cook outs. Many Americans will also visit cemeteries to honor those fallen fighting for our country — the original and still the poignancy of this holiday. Its a good thing to remember the origins of the holiday which used to be known as Decoration Day. It began after the Civil War, but was extended to WWI and those wars that followed. Although it is a time for fun, it is also a time to visit the graves of those who have served our country and honor their places of rest by leaving flowers or a flag. If that is not possible or preferred, telling our kids about those who fought for our freedom is another way to honor their memories and their service.

The holiday has become the unofficial start of summer. It has also become the official start of the travel season. Nearly 40 million Americans will get on the roads or otherwise travel over the Memorial Day weekend. In Georgia alone, over 1 million Americans will be traveling. We thought it would be a good idea to share the information we learned about regarding the most congested times to travel and the best times to travel around the Atlanta area. According to the information collected by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Thursday, Friday and Tuesday and the worst travel days. Most the the travel times are from mid-morning to afternoon. Tuesday afternoon is statistically the most congested time of travel. The best travel days include Saturday and Sunday.

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A horrific bus crash that took place in Texas this past week has investigators looking for answers. The crash was national news due to its severity. The bus was traveling between cities headed to a casino. The driver lost control of the bus and it rolled over. Eight fatalities and over 40 injuries were sustained as a result of this tragic accident. Those sustaining fatal injuries were ejected from the bus. Only five seats in the front of the bus were equipped with safety belts. Buses are not required to have seat belts, and ejection is not an uncommon occurrence in a major bus crash. The cause of the crash is under investigation and is not yet known. Although it may not have been raining at the time of the accident, the road was wet.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has noted that the bus was equipped with anti-lock brakes, but they may not have engaged in the crash. Anti-lock brakes help vehicles avoid skidding and help the driver maintain better control. This type of brake has been required on motor coaches and other large vehicles since 1998. This particular bus had anti-lock brakes installed, but it also may have had safety violations in the past.

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