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Chevrolet Volts recalled due to prolonged idle time of gas engines.

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General Motors were forced early in March to recall the 2011, 2012, and 2013 lines of their Chevrolet Volt. The recall was issued in attempts to fix the extended electric car’s on-board software, which, in some cases, has accidentally left the gasoline engine running for extended periods of time while parked. GM plans to reprogram the engine management unit seemingly affecting the car’s gas engine. Although no car accidents of any sort have been caused due to the engine’s idleness, there have been two counts of Volt owners suffering from carbon monoxide exposure, since the car did not power down correctly after being parked into the garages. The recall will promptly affect around 64,000 volts manufactured from 2010 to 2013.

The Chevrolet Volt, like many newly made cars, can be operated without keys, as a smart keyfob allows entry into the car and starts it as well. Although, this feature allows the owner to approach the car, enter and drive without having to take the keyfob out of his or her pocket, because the Volt’s engine runs so quietly, it can cause some confusion when turning the car off. Some electric cars will eventually power off after the battery has died, but the Volt comes equipped with a range-extending engine, which will keep the car running after the car has died. Because of such features, if the car is parked in an enclosed space like a garage, carbon monoxide from the engine will quickly fill the space.

Cars operated through keyless systems, often turn off when the key cannot be detected, yet if the keys remain only a few feet away, in the room next to the garage, the car won’t turn off. The GM spokesperson who commented on the recall, stated that this ended up being the case when the two owners were injured by carbon monoxide emission. GM has yet to give a detailed account of the recall’s timeframe but has instructed dealers not to sell any 2011-2013 Volts, until the issue has been fixed. GM also notified the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the issue as standard operating procedure. Recalls seem to happen in bunches as last week, Kia announced a recall for faulty accelerators. Hopefully, the theme does not continue.

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San Francisco 49ers player Chris Borland retires due to concerns over head trauma.

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Chris Borland, 24, was just coming off an impressive rookie season with the San Francisco 49ers, and looked to be making a name for himself in the NFL. Sadly, for the 49ers, Borland announced his retirement a few weeks ago, citing the harrowing concerns of repetitive head trauma as his reason for stepping away from the game.

“I just honestly want to do what’s best for my health,” Borland told “Outside the Lines.” “From what I’ve researched and what I’ve experienced, I don’t think it’s worth the risk.”

After discussing the decision with friends and family, Borland felt that the knowledge he had gathered about the long-term effects of repetitive trauma and neurodegenerative disease, in addition to his personal experiences with head injuries, he no longer wished to play football. What makes this decision so shocking stems from Borland’s breakthrough, rookie season, and the likelihood he would have became an even more important player for the 49ers in the coming season. But, after reading about the 70 former players that have been diagnosed with progressive neurological disease after their deaths due to the nature of repetitive head trauma, and the rampant issues associated with former players, like depression and memory loss, Borland could not justify continuing with the sport.

“I feel largely the same, as sharp as I’ve ever been. For me, it’s wanting to be proactive,” Borland said. “I’m concerned that if you wait ’til you have symptoms, it’s too late. … There are a lot of unknowns. I can’t claim that X will happen. I just want to live a long, healthy life, and I don’t want to have any neurological diseases or die younger than I would otherwise.”

Borland would have earned around $500,000 this upcoming season as a player of the 49ers, but money would not sway his decision. As someone who had suffered two diagnosed concussions during his childhood, Borland felt that his health was most important to him.

“I’ve thought about what I could accomplish in football, but for me, personally, when you read about Mike Webster and Dave Duerson and Ray Easterling, you read all these stories, and to be the type of player I want to be in football, I think I’d have to take on some risks that, as a person, I don’t want to take on.”

After last season, Borland had tests conducted to monitor his neurological wellbeing, while consulting former players and physicians about his concerns. Ultimately, Borland found the decision a “simple” one to make. Although his actions will certain raise questions about the state of the NFL and will likely face a share of derision, Borland must be commended on knowing what was right for him and taking that difficult step forward.

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Leto High School Student Athlete Honored with Swope, Rodante Vanguard Award

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(Tampa, FL) —The Swope, Rodante Vanguard Award Selection Board is proud to announce that Bryan Lacruz, a senior from Leto High School has received the “March Student Athlete of the Month” award. The mission of the Swope, Rodante Vanguard Award is to celebrate outstanding high school student athletes and coaches throughout Hillsborough County. Bryan was presented with the award as well as a $1,000 check to be donated to the school’s athletic department during a surprise presentation on Wednesday, April 9th at Leto High School.

Aaron Killips, Leto’s soccer coach, nominated Bryan because he is a true example of a committed and hardworking student athlete. He explained that Bryan is an exceptional leader who is looked up to by his teammates. A testament to his leadership capabilities, Bryan was selected as captain of the soccer team and has been a three year varsity starter.

In addition to athletics, Bryan is committed to making a difference in the community. He has volunteered more than 300 hours throughout high school with programs including Toys for Tots and Relay for Life and he also mentors 3rd and 4th grade Hispanic students. Despite his busy schedule, Bryan makes academics his top priority and has maintained an excellent GPA. He plans to attend the University of South Florida after graduation to major in the medical field.

“It was an absolute pleasure to help present the March Award to Bryan. This program was created to honor students who strive to make a difference and he is certainly deserving of the recognition,” says Jackie Coleman, Director of Communications for Vanguard Attorneys. “We look forward to seeing him at the End of the Year Awards Banquet.”

The third annual Swope, Rodante Vanguard End of the Year Awards Banquet is taking place on at The Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City. More than 100 student athletes, coaches, city officials and members of the Swope, Rodante Vanguard Award Committee are expected to attend the celebration. Keynote speaker and co-host of The Ron & Ian Show Ian Beckles will honor the achievements, community involvement and outstanding performances of this year’s nominated student-athletes and coaches. Banquet guests will celebrate an outstanding year over dinner and entertainment. During the event, the committee will announce the two winners of the Coach of the Year Awards, who will receive $1,000 each, and the overall student athlete winner of the Swope, Rodante Vanguard MVP Award, who will receive $500.

ABOUT THE SWOPE, RODANTE VANGUARD AWARD

Each month of the school year, The Swope, Rodante Vanguard Award Selection Committee recognizes the “Student Athlete of the Month.” The winning student receives an award recognizing his/her achievements as well as a $1,000 check that is donated to their school’s athletic department in honor of their outstanding performance. Student Athletes of the Month are also eligible to be named the overall “Student Athlete MVP” at the end of the year and receive a check that is applied towards their college tuition.

The Swope, Rodante Vanguard Award also recognizes outstanding coaches. At the end of each school year, two coaches – one male and one female coach –are recognized for their remarkable contributions, both on and off the field. Each Coach of the Year is presented with $1,000 as a way of thanking them for their commitment to making a positive impact in the community.

REQUIREMENTS FOR NOMINATED STUDENTS

  • The student athlete’s name and year (juniors and seniors only);
  • Current overall GPA (GPA of 3.0 or above);
  • Sport and athletic achievements;
  • Community involvement;
  • Any hardships overcome by the student athlete; and
  • Plans for continuing education.
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Tips for Reducing Distracted Driving Accidents

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In the US, distracted driving contributes to nearly 50% of all car accidents reported each year. It only takes a second for a distracted driver to take his/her eyes away from the road and collide with another vehicle, motorcycle, or even a pedestrian. Since some drivers are reluctant to admit fault, many traffic experts ascertain that this statistic is grossly underreported. Distracted driving accidents can often be serious and cause permanent injuries or death.

Being a safe driver can be as easy as implementing a few simple defensive driving behaviors until they become second nature. Every driver can take a few simple active steps to help reduce distracted driving accidents on the road.

Tips to help you Play your Part in Reducing Driving Distractions

  1. Put Down the Smartphones: Refrain from using your phone for reasons like texting, talking, emailing or browsing the internet while driving. Even while using a hands-free device, limit conversations or only talk if the call is very important. Research has shown that focus on a conversation can still pull a driver’s attention away from the road. Alternately, simply turn off your phone before you drive so you won’t be tempted to use it while on the road. Always pull over to a safe place to use your phone.
  2. Avoid Losing Focus and Prevent Driver Fatigue: Get at least 8 hours of sleep every night and don’t drive if you’re sleep deprived. Work on keeping your attention on the road ahead and avoid thinking ahead or worrying about plans while driving. On long drives, make it a point to take breaks to rest your eyes.
  3. Make Passengers Part of a Buddy System: An adult passenger riding along with you can help with awareness of your surroundings and broaden your ability to watch the road. An active, responsible passenger can actually reduce the risk of a traffic accident according to the National Safety Council. It’s important to ask a passenger to help you with activities that may be distracting.
  4. Implement Better Time Management and Plan Ahead: Rushing tends to cause driver distraction, aggressive driving, and taking unnecessary risks behind the wheel. Whenever possible, leave a few minutes early so you can arrive at your destination stress-free. Get ready for work before getting in your car. Fixing your hair, applying makeup or tying a necktie are much safer when they’re done at home.
  5. Exercise Discipline over Roadside Distractions: If you happen to pass by a disabled vehicle or an accident scene, keep your eyes focused ahead. Refrain from glancing over to get a look at the scene, especially while your vehicle is in motion. The same goes for flashy roadside sign-spinners or other extraordinary tactics designed to grab the attention of passing motorists. It only takes a split second of distraction to create your own accident scene.

References:

Insurance Journal

NSC

Crutchfield

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Avoiding Motorcycle Accidents – Safety Reminders for Seasonal Riders

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Motorcycle riders can greatly reduce the odds of being in involved in a motorcycle collision by obeying traffic laws and instilling good riding habits. Defensive, attentive riding habits should always be in practice out on the road. As the summer riding season approaches, more motorcycles will be seen on the nation’s roads.

The following safety tips can help remind seasonal riders of a few simple “best practices”. Many motorcyclists store their bikes through the winter months and ride only during the warmer months of the year. As these riders prepare their motorcycles for another riding season, they can consider implementing a pre-ride action checklist in addition to some tried and true riding tactics that coincide with consistent defensive riding.

Pre-Ride Motorcycle Inspection Points

1. Helmet: Helmets deteriorate over time. Ensure your helmet is properly fitted and replace helmets once they are five years old.

2. Light Check: Verify that the turn signals, running lights, headlight, and brake lamps are all functioning. Do not ride with any burned out or otherwise non-functional bulbs/lamps.

3. Leak Check: Visually inspect seals, bolts, radiators and fuel lines for wet spots or seepage.

4. Tire Check: Ensure PSI levels meet manufacturer specifications. Check air pressure with a tire gauge, especially if the bike has been sitting for more than a few days. Slightly underinflated tires can drastically reduce a rider’s ability to brake and corner. Tires with small cracks in the sidewalls are unsafe and should be replaced immediately.

5. Maintenance Intervals: In addition to daily checks, perform the following maintenance on-time:

  • Oil changes on time
  • Check the air filter regularly for debris/damage and replace as needed
  • Adjust, clean, tighten, and replace mirrors as needed
  • Inspect and replace worn brake pads
  • Adjust and lubricate the drive chain. Inspect drive belts for cracks and signs of wear
  • Test/inspect brake cables and adjust them over time as brake pads wear. Have the brake cables re-adjusted whenever rear brake pads are installed.

Reminders for Avoiding Motorcycle Accidents

1. Leave a Safe Following Distance: Always maintain a safe following distance behind traffic. Slow down or change lanes safely if other vehicles cut in front of you. Following at a safe distance will help to provide sufficient braking distance in case of an emergency and also provides a better window for evasive maneuvering if the situation on the road ahead breaks down. A rider can steer away into narrow escape routes, often providing the best way to avoid a collision or skid.

2. Turn Safely: Slow down just before entering a turn. If you enter the turn a little too fast, gently drag the rear brake to reduce your speed safely and stabilize the bike. Keep your feet up on the pegs or boards at all times, with your knees tucked in against the gas tank. Never stick your foot out and drag it on the ground and do not turn your knee out. For tight, slow U-turns, keep your weight centered. Keep both feet on the pegs but shift slightly more weight to the outside peg. Drag the rear brake slightly through slow, tight turns to help stabilize the bike and balance out fork sensitivity.

3. Check the Mirrors Often: Get into the habit of checking your rear-view mirrors every five to seven seconds as well as each time you disengage the throttle and/or prepare to brake. Watch out for vehicles following too closely or those coming up quickly behind you. If you concerned about a distracted or aggressive motorist behind you, change lanes or turn off the main roadway and let him/her pass.

4. Look with your Head around Turns: As you come through a turn or a curve, keep your head and eyes up and look through the corner as far ahead as possible. If you cannot see three to four seconds ahead, reduce your speed until you can. Proceed through any blind turns/corners very slowly with extreme caution – ready to brake in an instant.

5. Match Speed with Sight Distance: If you cannot see ahead, reduce speed. Fog, rain, and twilight conditions often reduce visibility. Lower speeds provide a rider with more reaction time. Curved mountain and forest roads often provide exhilarating scenery and challenging maneuvers, but are also areas known for very limited sightlines. Reduce your speed on these roads to be better prepared for deer, potholes, stones or tree limbs that could lie around any corner.

References:

Discovery News

About (.com)

WV DOT

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Dog Bites & Dog Owner Liability

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In the state of Florida, dog owners are responsible for their dogs’ behavior and can be held liable if their dog injures another person. With respect to personal injury lawsuits, dog bite accidents sometimes occur within the home or on the owner’s property. However, owners can also be held responsible for dog bites that occur in public areas.

Dog Bites and Dog Owner Liability – Florida Law

In Florida, the current dog bite statute places direct liability on dog owners for any bite resulting in injury to another human being. Section 767.07 of this statute includes the following language:

“The owner of any dog that bites any person while such person is on or in a public place, or lawfully on or in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, is liable for damages suffered by persons bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owners’ knowledge of such viciousness.”

Dog owners are responsible for their dog’s behavior no matter the location. The majority of dog bite cases occur in the owner’s home or in the home of a neighbor or friend. However, if a dog is frightened or acts aggressively and bites out in public, either on the street or at a park, the owner can still be held liable for any injuries that result. Section 767.04 of Florida statutes governs dog owner’s liability for anyone who is bitten in public, away from the owner’s property:

“The owner of any dog that bites any person while such person is on or in a public place, or lawfully on or in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, is liable for damages suffered by persons bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owners’ knowledge of such viciousness. However, any negligence on the part of the person bitten that is a proximate cause of the biting incident reduces the liability of the owner of the dog by the percentage that the bitten person’s negligence contributed to the biting incident.”

If a dog is antagonized or the person bitten acts inappropriately, the law will take the person’s behavior into account and the dog owner might not be held responsible in such cases.

Common Dog Bite Cases

With regard to personal injury claims, dog bites involve any perceived attack or aggressive behavior exhibited by a dog resulting in physical injury to any adult or child. The vast majority of dog attacks consist of small bites or nips and are non-vicious. In these cases, a dog may be at play or becomes momentarily startled, but the dog does not intend to cause any harm by mouthing or nipping. However, intentional bites may occur if a dog feels truly threatened, is protecting its puppies, or is intentionally provoked or agitated.

Extensive animal behavior studies have shown that keeping a dog chained up or confined for long periods of time produces stress and anxiety and can lead to a much higher probability of agitation – which results in biting and other aggressive behavior. Such cases of dog attacks and bites also involve dogs who are not spayed or neutered. More commonly, less serious dog bite cases involve a child and a neighborhood dog. A child may play too roughly or startle the dog and get bitten as a result. Most cases are not severe, but some larger breeds can cause considerable physical damage with just one reactive bite or nip.

References:

CDC

American Humane Society

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Animal Attack – Dog Bite Statistics

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Last year, State Farm compiled a report ranking the top ten states in the US based on personal injury claims involving dog bite cases leading up to 2013. In the year prior, State Farm reported a total of 123 dog bite claims and payouts near $7.1 million in the state of Florida. These figures placed at number 8 out of all states in the US. California topped the dog bite claims list at number one, followed by Illinois and Texas. The full top-ten list can be seen below. In total, State Farm paid out just over $108 million in dog bite claims in 2012.

Top 10 States for State Farm Dog Bite Claims in 2012

  1. California
  2. Illinois
  3. Texas
  4. Ohio
  5. Pennsylvania
  6. Michigan
  7. Indiana
  8. Florida
  9. Georgia
  10. New York

Dog Bite Statistics

State Farm says its date indicates there are more than 4.7 million dog bites in the US every year. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) estimates the American dog population was approximately 70 million at the end of 2011, down from roughly 72 million in 2006. However, the number of dog bite incidents hasn’t decreased at all.

  • Dog bite claims cost the insurance industry over $1 billion in payouts each year
  • In Florida, approximately 500 dog bites require hospitalization every year
  • 25 percent of fatal dog attacks involved chained dogs
  • Nearly 60 percent of the 4.7 million dog bites reported each year involve young children
  • 50 percent of dog attacks involved children ages 11 and below
  • 65 percent of bites among children occur to the head and neck
  • 70 percent of all dog-bite fatalities occur among children ages 10 and under
  • 70 percent of dog bite incidents occur on the dog owner’s property or in the home, where most victims knew the dog
  • 82 percent of dog bites treated via emergency room visits involve children ages 14 and below
  • 92 percent of fatal dog attacks involved male dogs, of which 94 percent were not neutered
  • Bite rates are dramatically higher among children ages 5 to 9 years old
  • Only 0.0002 percent (less than 0.00001 percent of the total US population) of all dog bites/attacks are fatal
  • Unsupervised newborns were 370 times more likely than an adult to be killed by a dog

Safety Tips to Help Children Avoid Dog Bites

The US Center for Disease Control and Injury Prevention recommends that parents teach children basic safety habits for encountering dogs. Safety tips should be reviewed and reinforced on a regular basis:

  • Never approach an unfamiliar or stray dog
  • Remain motionless if approached by an unfamiliar dog and look away from the dog
  • If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and lie still
  • Do not play with a dog unless accompanied by a supervising adult
  • Be calm – always talk in a quiet voice or whisper and do not shout
  • Do not pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first
  • If bitten, immediately report the bite to an adult

References:

CDC

American Humane Society

WCTV

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Florida’s Premises Liability and Dram Shop Laws – Why Allowing Underage Drinking in Your Home is a Bad Idea

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In the state of Florida, all private and commercial property owners are subject to certain liability provisions defined by state premises law. All residents of Florida bear the burden of general responsibility for the safety of any person who sets foot into their home or onto their property.

Premises law applies especially to cases of underage drinking. In certain cases, some parents may allow their teenage children and their children’s friends to consume alcohol in their home under their supervision. Some parents may feel this approach is sensible, as they can supervise and moderate the drinking if need be. However, factors of premises liability, dram shop laws, and potential child endangerment laws could apply.

Premises Liability, Other Laws and Underage Drinking

Premises liability, with respect to any underage drinking on private property, could result in repercussions similar to those of Florida Dram Shop laws. With respect to homeowners and private property owners, premises liability laws would designate a parent’s child’s friend as a “licensee.” Premises law protects licensees as such:

Licensees: This term applies to any guests who set foot on private property or those who enter a private residence. Friends of the homeowner or friends of teenage children, whether invited or uninvited, who are on the homeowner’s property for social, non-business purposes are considered licensees. A property owner bears the duty to repair any unsafe conditions as well as an obligation to warn visitors of known dangers. If a homeowner permits an unlawful activity, such as underage drinking, he/she can be held liable for any injuries the guest suffers as well as any injuries the guest may cause as a result of alcohol impairment.

Even if a parent attempts to supervise and moderate underage drinkers in their home, and even if they expressly forbid any of the teens to leave the premises, the homeowner is still in violation of state law and is likely to be held responsible for any injuries that result. In an intoxicated teenager slips or trips and suffers a traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injury, the injured teen’s parents are well within their rights to pursue a civil lawsuit against the homeowner.

The homeowner could be held financially responsible for the costs of the teen’s medical care plus large amounts for maintenance and lost earning potential in any case where the injury is permanent or debilitating. Furthermore, one of your guests could sneak off or choose to drive – despite any ground rules you’ve set. If they are involved in a drunk driving accident or kill someone in the process, the serving homeowner could be held financially responsible. In addition, the homeowner might face criminal charges of serving alcohol to minors. Even with constant supervision, the risks associated with permitting underage drinking are not worthwhile – particularly in the modern era of torts and large settlements.

Dram Shop Laws and Serving Minors

Florida’s dram shop laws do not apply specifically to homeowners and are mainly intended to govern the business practices of bars and restaurants that serve alcohol to customers. A “dram shop” law or statute is a term associated with liability for injuries caused by drunk drivers. Florida’s dram shop law, statute 768.125, reads as follows:

“…a person who willfully and unlawfully sells or furnishes alcoholic beverages to a person who is not of lawful drinking age or who knowingly serves a person habitually addicted to the use of any or all alcoholic beverages may become liable for injury or damage caused by or resulting from the intoxication of such minor or person.”

Florida’s dram shop law has specific terms with regard to underage alcohol consumption. If the driver is under the lawful drinking age (21 in FL), serving establishments bear the burden of responsibility in verifying legal drinking age in all customers as well as denying service if they suspect use of a fraudulent or otherwise questionable ID. If an underage driver is served alcohol, then leaves the establishment and causes an accident, any party injured in that accident can pursue a legitimate claim against the establishment under current Florida dram shop law.

In this case, a local bar owner might consider serving their son or daughter’s friends – even if they are underage. If a bartender or owner of an establishment serves alcohol to underage patrons, he/she can be held responsible for any damage or injuries the patrons cause after leaving the establishment. Taking the risk of serving minors, just because they are under your direct supervision, is simply not worth the potential liability risk.

References:

The Florida Senate (Negligence Statute)

Find Law (.com)

Online Sunshine – 2012 Florida Statutes

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Pedestrian Accident Statistics – Studies Show Pedestrian Fatality Rates are Higher in Cities and Urban Areas

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Pedestrian accident fatalities occur primarily in urban areas, according to historical data.

Vehicle factors also are important. In pedestrian accidents, the most serious physical trauma responsible for disabling injuries and death comes from pedestrians impacting vehicle bumpers, hoods, or the windshield areas of automobiles. In addition to traffic solutions innovations such as warning devices and medians, engineers are working to make vehicle exteriors safer and less lethal in an effort to decrease the dangers posed to pedestrians.

According to the most recent statistics, 73 percent of pedestrian deaths in 2012 occurred in urban areas, up from 59 percent in 1975. Fifty-eight percent of pedestrian deaths in 2012 occurred on major roads other than interstates and freeways. In the year 2012, 4,743 pedestrian fatalities were recorded by the CDC. Of that total, 3,483 (nearly 73 percent) occurred in urban areas within city limits. Each year before that, the proportions have remained generally consistent, with a notable majority of pedestrian fatalities occurring in or close to populated cities.

Experts say the higher density of automobile traffic, coupled with the feasibility of pedestrian travel within urban areas and compounded by growing distractions (smartphone use) among both pedestrians and drivers, has sustained the high proportion of deaths in urban areas.

Additional Pedestrian Accident Statistics

By comparison, the largest proportion of pedestrian fatalities in rural areas occurs on roads with a speed limit of 55mph or greater. This may be attributed to deaths occurring on interstates and state highways, areas designated for high-speed vehicle travel and roads lacking sidewalks, not intended for pedestrian travel. Many states post signs banning pedestrians and bicyclists from interstate roadways.

Throughout the past several years, Florida has ranked consistently as one of the top states in the US with the most annual pedestrian fatalities. Florida’s largest cities – Tampa, Orlando, Miami, and Jacksonville – have the highest pedestrian fatality rates in the US. Teens between the ages of 15 and 19 are the most at-risk group for pedestrian accidents. Youth living in urban areas face an elevated, relatively proportionate risk of fatal pedestrian accidents on city streets.

  • Pedestrian accidents are the second leading cause of death in the US for ages 5 to 14
  • Between 2004 and 2011, 116 pedestrians were hit by vehicles while wearing headphones or ear buds; more than a third of those injured or killed were younger than age 18
  • There were a total of 4,432 pedestrian fatalities in 2011, the 14-and-younger age group accounted for 230 (5 percent) of those fatalities
  • An average of 61 children are struck by automobiles in the US every day
  • 39 percent of child pedestrians died as a result of being hit in intersections in 2010 and 56 percent were killed in other locations on the road
  • 14-and-younger age group accounted for 16 percent of the pedestrian fatalities
  • African Americans suffer a pedestrian death rate of 2.39 per 100,000 people — more than 70 percent higher than the rate for non-Hispanic whites (1.38)
  • Hispanics ages 65 and older have a fatality rate twice that of African Americans, and 173 percent higher than for non-Hispanic whites

Solutions for Increasing Pedestrian Safety

Engineering measures that separate vehicles and pedestrians such as sidewalks, refuge islands, overpasses and underpasses, and barriers can reduce the problem. Increased illumination and improved signal timing at intersections can also be effective. Since traffic speeds affect the risk and severity of pedestrian crashes, reducing speeds can lower pedestrian deaths.

There are several types of medians, also known as center islands, refuge islands, pedestrian islands, or median slow points and if designed and applied appropriately, they have been proven to help improve pedestrian safety in the following ways:

  • In some cities, medians have reduced pedestrian accidents by 46 percent and motor vehicle crashes by up to 39 percent.
  • Medians provided pedestrians with a safe place to stop at the mid-point of the roadway to focus on one direction of traffic at a time before crossing the remaining distance.
  • Medians enhance the visibility of pedestrian crossings, particularly at areas without traffic signals or marked crosswalks.
  • They can help reduce the average speeds of vehicles approaching pedestrian crossings.
  • Medians can be used for access management for vehicles (allowing only right-in/right-out turning movements).
  • Medians provide additional space for supplemental warning signage on multi-lane roadways.

Raised medians should be considered in curbed sections of multi-lane roadways in urban and suburban areas, particularly in areas where there are mixtures of significant pedestrian and vehicle traffic (more than 12,000 Average Daily Traffic (ADT)) and intermediate or high travel speeds. Adding medians while increasing safe crossing awareness can help reverse the growing trend of pedestrian accidents and curb the issue of high pedestrian fatalities in urban areas.

References:

US News

CDC

US DOT FHWA

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Understanding Premises Liability

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In the state of Florida, all private and commercial property owners are subject to certain liability provisions defined by state premises law. They are responsible for the general safety of any person who enters their property, whether it is a home, retail location or office. If someone is injured on a commercial property, damages could be apportioned to business lessees and the property owner.

Private and commercial property owners are responsible for the varying levels of safety for anyone who enters their property according to three different classifications of visitors:

I. Business Invitees: For businesses and stores, any person entering the premises for purposes related to that business is considered a business invitees. Repairmen and utility workers fall under this classification with regard to a private residence. A homeowner bears the duty to inspect for dangerous conditions that could cause injury to business invitees.

II. Licensees: This term applies to guests who enter the property of a private residence. Friends or family members who are on the homeowner’s property for social purposes are considered licensees. A person visiting a family member at his/her place of employment could also be considered a licensee in the event he/she is hurt and files a personal injury claim. A property owner bears the duty to repair any unsafe conditions as well as an obligation to warn visitors of known dangers.

III. Trespassers: A person without permission to be on privately owned land still has a few basic rights. Property owners may not set up booby traps capable of deadly force to deter trespassers. If a property owner discovers a trespasser, he/she does bear the duty to warn him/her of any known dangers otherwise undetectable through ordinary observation

Exceptions for Children

Florida state law provides special protection to children on the basis that they are not able to decipher between right and wrong. This exception is called the attractive nuisance doctrine. This doctrine applies specifically to homeowners who have swimming pools, trampolines, old appliances or cars on their property.

These conditions might entice young children. So homeowners are responsible for removing or otherwise locking and securing these items. Locks, perimeter fences, and secured gates are acceptable means in most cases. If a child is injured or killed after falling into an unfenced swimming pool, that property owner could be held liable for damages.

Regardless of the visitor’s classification or age, property owners should always inspect and repair any known hazards to prevent an injury from occurring.

References:

The Florida Senate

Find Law (.com)

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