Holidays lead to an increase in traffic volume. The ice and snow that accompany winters in Illinois lead to treacherous driving conditions and car accidents. The Illinois Department of Transportation is working with Illinois State Police and Illinois Tollway to put forth a safety campaign to help drivers deal with the dangers of winter driving. The campaign is called "Ice and Snow - Take it Slow." It emphasizes several measures drivers can take to reduce accidents and protect their loved ones during cold weather months.
On November 26, 2012, Illinois State Trooper Kyle Deatherage was doing his job. He was in the process of conducting a traffic stop when he was struck and killed by a passing vehicle. In remembrance of this tragic accident, Illinois law enforcement personnel are conducting 24 consecutive hours of patrols seeking impaired drivers. The program, known as Operation Kyle, kicks off a larger program of enhanced patrolling that is intended to cover the holiday season. From today until the New Year, Illinois State Troopers as well as local officers and sheriffs will be focusing increased efforts on stopping drivers who are suspected of distracted driving, seatbelt violations, speeding or driving under the influence.
A 1968 accident involving a drunk driver and a tour bus claimed the lives of 19 victims and prompted calls for seat belts on the commercial vehicles. The National Transportation Safety Board has repeatedly asked the government to pass measures to protect bus passengers in the 45 years that have followed that accident. The NTSB even cited government inaction in its report following a Utah bus accident in which a rollover killed 9 people and injured 43 others. Most recently, regulations mandating the inclusion of seat belts on new buses were to be completed in September. Those regulations are still being reviewed by the White House Office of Management and Budget.
Sleep apnea is a condition that often leads to fatigue and is associated with several health problems. The Federal Aviation Administration has released an order that will lead to sleep apnea testing among many pilots and air traffic control personnel. The measure was likely taken in response to several incidents involving pilots and air traffic controllers sleeping on the job. The policy calls for sleep apnea testing for workers who have a body mass index of 40 or higher and a neck circumference of at least 17 inches. According to the FAA federal air surgeon, sleep apnea is extremely common among people who meet those criteria.
State Farm released its yearly report on distracted driving this week. The report compiles information about dangerous driving behaviors that may contribute to serious car accidents. The report identified a growing tendency among drivers to use cell phones to access the internet while behind the wheel. The increase may be related to a sharp increase in the percentage of older drivers who own cell phones. Smart phones are now the norm for drivers in every age group under 65.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is the government agency responsible for overseeing the safety of truck and bus companies. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, failures by those regulators have led to multiple fatal bus crashes in recent months. NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman released a statement last week, discussing the findings of an investigation into FMCSA actions. The investigation raised questions about the effectiveness of the FMCSA in ensuring that carriers are following established safety guidelines.
Patient safety may take a back seat to the realities of the health care culture in the United States. Preventable medical errors have been identified as the third leading cause of death in the country, according to a study conducted by Patient Safety America. The study estimated that medical mistakes may kill as many as 440,000 people every year. Addressing these mistakes has been complicated by the reluctance of hospitals, doctors and other medical providers to be open about errors and to report them when they do occur. Not only are doctors and nurses unwilling to report their own mistakes, they may feel pressure to hide the mistakes of their fellow health care professionals.
Alcohol and drugs are frequent contributing factors to a wide variety of motor vehicle accidents. Substance abuse is a concern of the trucking industry where a single truck accident can claim multiple lives and cause tremendous damage. A review of several studies conducted concerning substance abuse and truck drivers has revealed a concerning pattern. Younger, less experienced drivers who are being paid less than older drivers are more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol on the job. An impaired truck driver is an enormous threat to pedestrians and others on the road.
The cost of health care in the United States is unprecedented on a global scale. Among the most commonly cited reasons for the expense of health care here is the cost of medical malpractice insurance. Politicians and many in the medical industry like to point the finger at medical malpractice claims and insurance necessary to protect against them as the reason care is so expensive here. The numbers do not support this argument.