A national survey comparing drivers from all 50 states ranked Illinois drivers number 22, in terms of safety. The survey used several different factors, including car accident fatalities per 100 million miles driven, to identify which drivers were the worst. Louisiana drivers ranked as the least safe in the country while the safest drivers were found in Vermont. Illinois finished with the same composite safety score as drivers from New York and Wisconsin.
Frustration is not an aid to safe driving. Along with bad weather and an increased incidence of drinking and driving, the holiday season brings out highly frustrated drivers who are more prone to car accidents. Recent studies have identified a sharp increase in car accidents in the days immediately preceding Christmas. Large numbers of people converge on shopping areas and tensions run high. Crowded parking lots and long lines can try the patience of even the safest drivers. The result is drivers who are both distracted and aggressive. It is a recipe for disaster.
In 2008, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended that all trains be equipped with video cameras to monitor track conditions, signal conditions, and train engineer actions in the event of an accident. The recommendations were made following a Metrolink train wreck in Los Angeles that claimed the lives of 25 people. The Metro-North Railroad derailment in the Bronx earlier this month has renewed interest in the safety measures. That accident led to four fatalities and 71 injuries when the engineer allowed the train to enter a 30-mph curve and more than 80 mph. Video cameras would give an insight into what occurred in the train's control cab leading up to the derailment.
The transportation industry has long been plagued by a condition known as highway hypnosis or white-line fever. Some are claiming the condition was responsible for the commuter train crash on the Metro-North Railroad in New York earlier this month. The condition involves a driver, or in this case a train engineer, who is lulled into a semi-trance state by the monotonous nature of the journey. Anyone who has driven long distances can recognize the hypnotic quality of mile after mile of basically unchanging scenery. The condition often leaves the vehicle operator with little to no memory of portions, sometimes large portions, of the journey.
The contaminated syringes that led to more than 750 cases of fungal meningitis and 60 fatalities were produced by a compounding pharmacy. Such pharmacies existed largely outside of the regulatory authority of the Food and Drug Administration. The tragic outbreak and massive recall of the contaminated products caused legislators to seek ways of monitoring these types of drug manufacturers. President Barack Obama signed the Drug Quality and Security Act last Wednesday. The bill is intended to help prevent similar problems from occurring in the future.