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Toms River New Jersey Personal Injury Law Blog

New research comes in time for Distracted Driving Awareness Month

New Jersey drivers should know that every day in this country, 9 people die and 100 are injured in distracted driving crashes. These crashes often involve the use of phones and in-vehicle tech, such as dashboard touchscreens. It makes sense, then, that the National Safety Council has designated April to be Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Some new research on this concerning trend has come in time for April 2019.

The Risk Institute at The Ohio State University has conducted several studies, one of which was about the encouragement of good driver behavior with incentives like insurance discounts. Researchers found that drivers who are confident tend to engage in more distracting or unsafe behaviors behind the wheel.

Fatal truck crashes rise, groups push for safety tech mandate

Federal data shows that more and more people are dying in large truck crashes in New Jersey and across the U.S. In 2017, a total of 4,102 people died in such accidents, marking a 28 percent increase from 2009. Rear-end collisions are among the most common types of accidents between large trucks and passenger vehicles, and they can also be among the most devastating.

This is why truck safety groups are advocating for a federal guideline that would require all heavy trucks to have forward collision warning and mitigation technology. The National Transportation Safety Board has made such a recommendation on at least 10 occasions since the 1990s to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, but the latter has yet to propose any regulations. This has led to criticism of the NHTSA.

Tesla surpasses all competitors combined in OSHA violations

From 2014 to 2018, Tesla's auto production facility in Fremont, California, was issued a total of 54 OSHA violations: three times more than all the top 10 auto plants in the U.S. combined. During those five years, Nissan was issued the second-highest number of violations, which was five. Following it are Toyota and Ford with four violations each. This trend may be important for those in New Jersey who are anticipating Tesla's self-driving cars.

Tesla's OSHA violations made up 75 percent of all the violations among the top 10 despite the fact that, overall, Tesla ranks seventh in terms of estimated production capacity. The Tesla CEO states that production line tweaks could allow the Fremont facility to start producing 7,000 vehicles a week. The next goal would be 10,000 vehicles a week.

Study links use of prescription opioids to car accidents

The widespread use of prescription opioids has been called an epidemic, and people in New Jersey could be at increased risk when drivers abuse these drugs. A study that looked at data about fatal two-car accidents found a relationship between opioid use and motor vehicle crashes. Researchers identified which drivers were considered responsible for causing accidents and if they had prescription opioids in their bodies. Among people labeled crash initiators, they had almost twice the likelihood of testing positive for opioids compared to drivers who were not responsible for crashes.

According to the study, opioids were associated with about 2 percent of fatal two-car wrecks in 1993. By 2016, this number had grown to 7.1 percent. The data sample for the study included 1,467 drivers who showed the presence of opioids in their systems. Hydrocodone was the most prevalent, showing up in 32 percent of these drivers. Morphine appeared in the systems of 27 percent of the positive-tested drivers, and oxycodone had been used by 19 percent.

Dog bites and the risk of infection

Adults and children in New Jersey have the basic right to expect to be in public without being subjected to attacks from dogs. Still, there are times when dangerous or vicious dogs attack people and inflict potentially serious injuries from bites. What's particularly problematic about a dog bite is the risk of infection. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that infections result from about 10 to 15 percent of dog bites.

The reason why dog bites often become infected is that they often happen in places where it's more difficult for the body to fight infection, such as hands and fingers. Various species of bacteria can multiply after a bite occurs and produce symptoms that may include fluid or pus coming from the wound, tenderness or red streaks around the bite, muscle weakness, fatigue, limited use of the affected hand or limb, and/or fever. Puncture wounds from bites may develop into tetanus, a serious bacterial disease that affects the nervous system.

Spinal cord injuries are often caused by car crashes and falls

Spinal cord injuries can be life altering. Damage to your spinal cord can physically affect your ability to feel or control some parts of your body. It can also affect you mentally, emotionally and socially.

Motor vehicle accidents and falls are two of the most common causes of spinal cord injuries in the United States. However, other common causes include acts of violence, recreation accidents, alcohol use and diseases.

Cold poses a threat to workplace safety

Winter weather can pose serious health concerns for workers in New Jersey, especially those with outdoor jobs. Cold weather is often accompanied by ice, snow, cold winds and other conditions that can pose a serious risk to workplace safety. While many people know that working in the heat can lead to heat exhaustion, working in the cold can also lead to hazardous stress on the body. Cold stress includes all of the potential effects of very low temperatures, including numbness, frostbite and hypothermia. Damp air and contact with cold water can exacerbate these symptoms.

It's important that workers understand that shivering can be a symptom of serious cold stress. As the body's temperature decreases, blood may flow away from fingers and toes, leaving exposed skin especially at risk for frostbite. Severe hypothermia can also develop with continued cold exposure, leading to brain damage and other serious injuries. Some workers are at greater risk than others, especially those who may be ill or less physically fit. Employees in agriculture, construction, food processing and fishing may be at the greatest risk for cold-related workplace injuries.

Drowsiness a danger among ridesharing drivers

Some ridesharing drivers in New Jersey and across the U.S. are endangering both themselves and others through sleep deprivation. This is because many of them overwork themselves to meet certain salary incentives. Most ridesharing drivers are independent contractors, which means they are never screened for medical conditions such as obstructive sleep apnea.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine issued a position statement back in April 2018 that brought attention to this public safety risk. It called for collaborative efforts between ridesharing companies, government officials, law enforcement officers and medical experts to reduce the number of fatigue-related crashes.

Scaffold accidents frequently injure construction workers

Many construction workers in New Jersey routinely work on scaffolds. The safe use of these platforms depend on well-maintained equipment, competent people installing equipment and fall prevention practices. Many worksites, however, fail to observe best practices, and collapses and falls injure and kill many workers. In 2016, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued 3,900 citations for improper scaffolding practices, making them the third most common category of safety violation.

Every year, scaffold accidents cost employers roughly $90 million because of lost productivity. About 4,500 construction workers experience scaffold accidents each year, and several dozen die. The Bureau of Labor Statistics attributes the bulk of these incidents to falls and substandard platforms.

Traffic accidents one of world's leading causes of death

Traffic accidents are a major concern to people in New Jersey and around the world. Indeed, World Health Organization statistics indicate that motor vehicle accidents are the eighth most common cause of death on a global level. In 2016, deaths related to traffic reached 1.35 million in 2016, moving ahead of tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS as a major public health and safety risk. The figures were released as part of the WHO's 2018 Global Status Report on Road Safety. The report's foreword noted that roadway safety often does not receive sufficient attention as a global issue.

The United Nations set a goal to cut traffic deaths in half between 2016 and 2020, but despite some progress, the world is not on track to achieve that milestone, according to the report. Indeed, for children and youth between the ages of 5 and 29, traffic accidents are now the number one cause of global deaths. The report did note that while the number of fatalities due to motor vehicle accidents has continued to rise, the rate of death has stabilized in relation to the world population. The rate of traffic deaths has remained at around 18 per 100,000 people for 15 years.

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