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March 2012 Archives

Safety Over Sales in Curbing Distracted Driving

The Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board called out the makers of electronic products that contribute to distracted driving for putting sales figures over the safety of their consumers. In December, the NTSB called for a complete ban on cell phone use while driving in an effort to reduce car accidents caused by distracted driving. The focus on technology producers follows an announcement by Intel Corp. that it will be devoting significant resources to furthering its "vehicle infotainment" line of technology products. The issue is among several being discussed at the distracted-driving forum in Washington D.C.

Study Shows Sleep Deprivation a Problem in Transportation Industries

The National Sleep Foundation released the results for the 2012 Sleep in America poll this month. The results may be alarming for safety advocates and those looking to reduce aviation accidents and other transportation industry mistakes. Of the 202 pilots who responded, roughly one in five acknowledged that they made a serious error while working because they were tired. Roughly 25 percent admitted that sleepiness has a negative impact on their work at least once every week. The problem seems to extend beyond the total sleep time available to pilots and others in the transportation industry.

Illinois Highway Construction Worker Killed by Semi Truck

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, every year approximately 100 construction workers are killed in roadway work zones around the nation. On Tuesday morning, a semi truck failed to merge into the left lane quickly enough and chose to drive around a Department of Transportation arrow truck by going onto the right shoulder. He struck and killed a 55-year-old Highland man who was at work repairing the shoulder on I-39. The fatal construction accident is a grim reminder of the hazards faced by the workers who build and maintain Illinois' roads.

FAA Makes Changes to Improve Information Gathering

In an effort to encourage air traffic controllers and employees in charge of maintaining radar installations and other airport systems to speak up when mistakes occur, the Federal Aviation Administration has made several changes. The FAA says it will reduce aviation accidents and make air travel safer for everyone by expanding a non-punitive reporting system currently in place only for air traffic controllers. By focusing on gathering the information, and not on punishing an employee for making a mistake, the FAA says it will generate more information and be in a better position to discover dangers before they impact passengers and crew.

Study Discusses Openness and Honesty in Physicians

A new study in Health Affairs has compiled the survey results of more than 1,800 physicians concerning how forthright they are with their patients. After a serious medical error or other form of medical malpractice, victims may not be informed of the truth by their doctors. The study is contrasted with a 2010 telephone survey that showed that nearly 80 percent of Americans trust their doctors fully, while only 8 percent indicated that they did not.

Hit-and-Run Accident Leads to Criminal Charges

A correctional officer was killed and three others were seriously injured when a pickup truck struck them during a jog last week. The fatal accident happened around 7 p.m. Tuesday evening. After striking the officers, the driver of the truck left the scene without stopping. He turned himself into authorities and is facing four felony charges of failing to stop after an accident. He may face further criminal charges once the investigation into the incident is complete.

FAA Proposes New Regulations Regarding Pilots

The Federal Aviation Administration has proposed the first increase in flight hours required to become a co-pilot for a commercial air carrier since 1973. The previous increase raised the minimum from 200 to 250. The latest proposal raises the 250 hour threshold to 1,500 hours, which would match the requirements for pilots. The new threshold was made necessary by a safety law passed after a Buffalo, New York, aviation accident killed 50 people in February 2009. That crash created significant pressure to review the safety measures taken at regional airlines, as well as the hiring, training and working conditions of pilots.

A Forum on Attentive Driving

The competition for a driver's attention used to be between driving, the radio and other passengers. That competition now includes cell phones, GPS devices, iPods and other personal electronic devices. The increase in serious car and truck accidents caused by distracted driving has caused the National Transportation Safety Board to hold a forum designed to cover the issue. "Attentive Driving: Countermeasures for Distraction" is scheduled for March 27 and will cover a wide range of issues connected to driver inattention.

Pharmacy Mistake Switches Breast Cancer Meds and Fluoride Tablets

Countless children are prescribed chewable fluoride tablets to help prevent tooth decay every year. A product mix-up at a pharmacy in New Jersey led to several children receiving the drug Tamoxifen, a breast cancer treatment, rather than the fluoride pills they had been prescribed. The error may have affected up to 50 families over nearly three months' time. CVS Caremark acknowledged the mistake, but has not explained how such a mistake could occur or why it went undetected for so long. Fortunately, at least one pharmaceutical expert is on record saying that it is unlikely that the ingestion of Tamoxifen would cause adverse health effects in the children who accidentally took the drug.

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