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How Dangerous Are Private Planes? General Aviation Plane Crash vs Car Accident

April 23rd, 2015 by admin

General aviation in the United States, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) includes over 220,000 aircraft that vary from balloons and amateur-built planes from kits to complex turbojets. It includes any domestic flight that is not on a commercial aircraft.

For most people, these are helicopters or small planes that seat the pilot and a passenger to a handful of people. General aviation also includes business jets, like the Cessna Citation shown in the image below.

 

 

People in the United States are dying and being seriously injured in general aviation crashes and making general aviation flight safer is one of the big goals of the FAA, which set a target in 2009 of 10% decrease in General Aviation Fatalities by 2018.  The death rate for General Aviation in this country, based upon flight hours, has not changed much however.

The number of fatalities in general aviation plane crashes has gone down in the past few years not because these aircraft are less dangerous or because pilots are flying safer, but because the economy has cut back on the amount of flight time — it’s not cheap to fly these planes, after all.

FAA Top Ten List of Reasons for a US General Aviation Plane Crash

According to the FAA, these are the top 10 reasons that small planes and general aviation craft crash and cause the deaths of their pilots and passengers:

1. Loss of Control Inflight
2. Controlled Flight Into Terrain
3. System Component Failure – Powerplant
4. Low Altitude Operations
5. Unknown or Undetermined
6. Other
7. Fuel Related
8. System Component Failure – Non-Powerplant
9. Midair Collisions
10. Windshear or Thunderstorm

Flying in Small Plane: More Dangerous Than Traveling by Car?

For those choosing to fly their Piper or Cessna instead of taking a commercial flight or driving their car to their destination, it’s important that they understand one confirmed research fact: flying a small plane is not any safer than driving a car on the interstate.

Private planes are dangerous

Flying in a small plane is not the same as flying a commercial aircraft. While the safety of U.S. commercial flight has increased in the past decade, this is not true for general aviation.

In fact, there are those that argue flying in general aviation small planes are a higher risk of death than if they were to travel by car. In a Live Science comparison of National Transportation Safety Board statistics regarding small plane fatalities and federal motor vehicle accident deaths, on a traveled-per-mile analysis, the plane is a bigger risk than the car.

Much more dangerous, in fact: their study shows that it is 19 TIMES more dangerous to travel in a small plane than it is to travel by car.

For details, read their investigation, “Why Private Planes Are Nearly as Deadly as Cars.”

Injury Claims for Plane Crashes Involving Small Planes and General Aviation

Just like car crashes, there are negligence claims to be pursued in many general aviation plane crashes. Pilot error or the mistakes of a mechanic, the failure of a engine part, or incomplete information from relied upon sources for vital facts like weather conditions can all be facts making up fault and liability in a general aviation plane crash injury claim or lawsuit.

If a company plane is involved, then the business may also share legal liability for the fatalities and serious injuries resulting from the crash. Wrongful death statutes may apply here, as well, providing statutory remedies for grieving loved ones.

Plane Crashes: Feds Issue Safety Alerts for General Aviation

April 21st, 2015 by admin

Plane crash: most people think of the big airline crashes, where hundreds of people die and black box data recorders are found in the wreckage to identify what went wrong.   However, each year there are many plane crashes where people are seriously injured or killed here in the area of Indiana and Illinois as well as the rest of the country that involve smaller aircraft.

If fact, recent accidents involving these kinds of smaller private planes and commuter aircraft, and other forms of general aviation, have led the federal government to issue national safety alerts this week.

 

The NTSB Warns About Danger Regarding General Aviation Aircraft

This week, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued 4 safety alerts, each dealing with a specific safety issue involving general aviation dangers. Both pilots and mechanics were instructed to be aware of these risks, in light of information learned by the federal accident investigation teams.

Three of the NTSB warnings are for general aviation pilots. They target skills that pilots need to fly above or around mountains; address issues of equipment needed for survival in the event of a crash; and the dangers of pilots flying aircraft when they are not familiar with that plane’s avionics. The other NTSB warning was made to general aviation mechanics regarding flight control systems and trim system problems.

Each of the four NTSB alerts include details of past plane crash accident investigations as part of the warning, providing pilots and mechanics with concrete examples of the dangers the federal agency is trying to combat in these new warnings.

 

Pilot digging Piper airplane out of the snow.

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Read the Full Small Plane Warnings from the NTSB:

Mechanics: Prevent Misrigging Mistakes
• Pilots: Perform Advanced Preflight After Maintenance
• Understanding Flight Experience
• Mastering Mountain Flying

Excerpt from NTSB’s Mastering Mountain Flying Alert:

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The problems / dangers:

  • Pilots with limited or no training in mountain flying can be surprised about their aircraft’s different performance at high density altitude, often leading to serious or fatal accidents.
  • Wind and other weather phenomena interacting with mountainous terrain often lead unsuspecting pilots into situations that are beyond their capabilities.
  • Should a crash occur, a pilot who survives the crash but does not have emergency or survival gear immediately accessible may not survive the harsh environment until rescuers are able to reach the location.

Related small plane accidents where people died or were severely injured:

The NTSB has investigated numerous accidents in which limited or no training resulted in accidents in mountainous terrain.

1.  A pilot and two passengers of a Piper Cherokee 235 were fatally injured when trying to follow an interstate highway over a high mountain pass. Employees of the fixed base operator (FBO) at the departure airport reported that the pilot had asked about routes across the mountains. Based on the conditions at the time of the accident, the airplane’s climb rate would have been reduced by more than 90 percent. It is likely that, as the pilot attempted to cross over the mountainous terrain near the pass, he raised the airplane’s nose to the point that he exceeded the airplane’s critical angle of attack. With the airplane’s decreased performance, this led to an aerodynamic stall and loss of control. (CEN14FA328)

2.  A private pilot and three passengers of a Mooney M20E were fatally injured during takeoff in gusty wind conditions from an airport located at an elevation of 8,380 feet. The pilot had no prior experience flying out of the accident airport and limited experience flying in mountainous terrain. Witnesses reported that the pilot seemed confident about his ability to fly the airplane and he was not concerned with the wind conditions. As the airplane departed, the reported wind was 33 knots, gusting to 47 knots. Later review of weather data showed mountain wave activity in the area. After the airplane lifted from the runway, it crabbed into the wind, and then rose and fell repeatedly as its wings rocked, before coming to rest inverted. (CEN13FA183)

3.  The pilot and two passengers of a Cessna U206G were fatally injured and two passengers sustained serious injuries when the airplane collided with mountainous terrain. The pilot was transporting the passengers to a remote back country airstrip. As the airplane proceeded on the flight, ridgetops on both sides of the valley became obscured with an overcast cloud layer at 7,000 feet, and ragged clouds with mist were probably present beneath the overcast. Local pilots reported that in these types of weather conditions, numerous drainages can be similar in appearance. Radar data showed that the airplane was well short of the position reported by the pilot. Because of this, the pilot misidentified the drainage he intended to reach and instead turned into a drainage that ended in a box canyon. After impact, all communication, survival, and foul-weather gear aboard the airplane were destroyed in a postimpact fire. Although the pilot’s logbook indicated that the pilot had 2,723 hours total flight time, it showed minimal back country or mountain flying experience. (SEA04GA192)

Liable for Drunk Driving Accidents in Indiana and Illinois: Social Party Hosts, Bars, Restaurants

April 16th, 2015 by admin

In any motor vehicle accident where a drunk driver has caused the crash, whether he or she is driving a car, pickup, minivan, or SUV, or if they are driving a work vehicle like a delivery van, bus, or big rig semi truck, that drunk driver will face both criminal charges (DUI, manslaughter, etc.) as well as civil personal injury claims for damages sustained by the victims of the wreck. If it’s a work vehicle that the drunk driver was using at the time of the crash, then his or her employer may also be liable for injury claims.

However, in both Indiana and Illinois, there are laws in place that may extend the responsibility to others, as well, if a drunk driver gets behind the wheel and is involved in a motor vehicle accident that seriously injures or kills someone. These laws are called “dram shop laws” and they extend legal liability for the actions of an intoxicated person to those who provided the alcohol to that drunk driver.

Read them here:

Dram Shop: Bars, Restaurants, Stores Selling Alcoholic Beverages to Drunk Drivers

In both Indiana and Illinois, those in profit making enterprises that include the sale of alcoholic beverages have a responsiblity to the public. They cannot sell or serve alcohol to someone that is obviously drunk or who is under the legal age limit for drinking an alcoholic beverage. If they do, and there is a drunk driving collision, then they can be held liable for the damages sustained by the accident victims.

Vendors of alcoholic beverages in Indiana and Illinois are liable for intoxicating beverages sold to intoxicated adults and intoxicated minors.

Social Host Liability: People Hosting Parties and Events Where Alcohol is Available to Guests

Similarly, if someone hosts a retirement dinner, wedding reception, graduation celebration, birthday party, or any other festive occasion where alcoholic beverages are served to guests, then that host or hostess also undertakes a legal responsibility regarding those guests. If there is a drunk driving accident where the inebriated guest driver causes a collision with victims who are seriously injured or killed, then that host or hostess may share legal liability for the injuries and damages sustained by those accident victims.

The laws of Illinois and Indiana are not the same for social hosts who served alcoholic beverages to the drunk driver.

1. Illinois

There is NO social host liability for social hosts who serve drinks to adults and only limited liability to those who serve alcohol to minors in Illinois.

Illinois law provides:

Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 740, §58/1 et seq.

(a) Any person at least 18 years of age who willfully supplies alcoholic liquor or illegal drugs to a person under 18 years of age and causes the impairment of such person shall be liable for death or injuries to persons or property caused by the impairment of such person.

(b) A person, or the surviving spouse and next of kin of any person, who is injured, in person or property, by an impaired person under the age of 18, and a person under age 18 who is injured in person or property by an impairment that was caused by alcoholic liquor or illegal drugs that were willfully supplied by a person over 18 years of age, has a right of action in his or her own name, jointly and severally, for damages (including reasonable attorney’s fees and expenses) against any person: (i) who, by willfully selling, giving, or delivering alcoholic liquor or illegal drugs, causes or contributes to the impairment of the person under the age of 18; or (ii) who, by willfully permitting consumption of alcoholic liquor or illegal drugs on non-residential premises owned or controlled by the person over the age of 18, causes or contributes to the impairment of the person under the age of 18.

2. Indiana

However, in Indiana it’s a different story. In Indiana, social hosts who serve alcoholic beverages to either group can be held accountable for any drunk driving accident that follows if certain circumstances exist.

Indiana law provides:

IC 7.1-5-10-15.5

Person furnishing alcoholic beverage; civil liability for damages; “furnish” defined
Sec. 15.5. (a) As used in this section, “furnish” includes barter, deliver, sell, exchange, provide, or give away.
(b) A person who furnishes an alcoholic beverage to a person is not liable in a civil action for damages caused by the impairment or intoxication of the person who was furnished the alcoholic beverage unless:
(1) the person furnishing the alcoholic beverage had actual knowledge that the person to whom the alcoholic beverage was furnished was visibly intoxicated at the time the alcoholic beverage was furnished; and
(2) the intoxication of the person to whom the alcoholic beverage was furnished was a proximate cause of the death, injury, or damage alleged in the complaint.
(c) If a person who is at least twenty-one (21) years of age suffers injury or death proximately caused by the person’s voluntary intoxication, the:
(1) person;
(2) person’s dependents;
(3) person’s personal representative; or
(4) person’s heirs;
may not assert a claim for damages for personal injury or death against a person who furnished an alcoholic beverage that contributed to the person’s intoxication, unless subsections (b)(1) and (b)(2) apply.
As added by P.L.80-1986, SEC.1. Amended by P.L.76-1996, SEC.1.

Illinois and Indiana Continued Fight Against Drunk Driving Crashes with Ignition Interlocks

April 14th, 2015 by admin

Ignition interlock devices are hardwired into the car’s ignition, and the car will not start unless the person setting in the driver’s seat blows into the gizmo, allowing it to test their breath for alcohol.

Anyone driving the car must breath into the device, it does not differentiate between drivers. So, for example, if your teenager has to use an ignition interlock device on his truck and you have to drive it one day, then you’ll have to breathe into the gizmo before his truck will start.

Illinois Drunk Driver Ignition Interlock Devices: Pending Legislation

Right now, there is legislation pending in the Illinois House of Representatives that, if passed, will make drivers with 2 or more drunk driving convictions on their record to put a gizmo on their cars or trucks that does not allow them to start the car unless the gizmo confirms they are sober (by checking their blood alcohol level through a breath test).

Indiana Drunk Driver Ignition Interlock Devices: Push for Amendment to Current Law

In Indiana, a similar law is being promoted by Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD).

Right now, there is an Indiana statute regarding these “ignition interlock devices” requiring them to be used in Indiana starting in 2015. However, the law as currently written has been criticized as failing to meet its goal and instead maybe even making things easier for DUI convicted drivers.

Why? The current Indiana law provides for a special driving permit for the driver who has been convicted of driving drunk.

The special permit is given at the discretion of the judge as an alternative to the driver being suspended from driving. The suspension can be stayed by the judge and the special driving permit issued — allowing the convicted driver to keep on driving on Indiana roads. Under the special driving permit, the convicted person can still drive but they are restricted until a certain date from driving anywhere they want. These permits limit them to driving to and from work, to and from school, etc. They don’t have to use the gizmo.

The new law, being promoted by MADD, would require all drivers convicted of DUI to have these ignition interlock devices on their vehicles. If the new law is passed, Indiana will not only join Illinois but 23 other states that already force drivers with drunk driving convictions to have one of these breath-test gizmos on their cars, trucks, SUVs, etc.

What About Interstate Commercial Truck Drivers?

Drunk driving is a major cause of accidents and serious injuries in all sorts of traffic accidents here in our part of the country. It’s not just people driving their family cars or SUVs; it’s commercial truck drivers and bus drivers and other workers who are driving under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicants.

These ignition devices are a good preventative measure but will they be used by truckers and other commercial drivers too? Good question.

10 Surprising Facts About Distracted Driving in Indiana and Illinois

April 9th, 2015 by admin

During this week where Indiana and Illinois police are going to be actively targeting teen drivers and young adults behind the wheel for distracted driving violations (see our previous post for details), and in conjunction with April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month, here are 10 facts about driving while distracted that might be surprising.

10 Surprising Facts About Distracted Driving in Illinois and Indiana

Hey, Hoosiers and Illinoisans, did you know:

1. Distracted Driving is more than texting or talking on a cell phone. It can also involve things like:

  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a navigation system
  • Watching a video
  • Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player.

2. 27% of those drivers that die in accidents caused by distracted driving are in their 20s.

 

3. Even though it’s only 5 SECONDS on average that you take your eyes off the road while texting, it’s the speed you’re driving that counts: do it while you’re going 55 mph and you’ve had your eyes off the road and out of control of your car for the length of a football field.

 

4. It’s NOT TRUE that headsets are safer than holding your phone in your hand while you talk and drive.

 

5. 20% of teenagers admit that they still have long text conversations while driving (several text messages back and forth).

 

6. Texting while driving is considered to be very dangerous because it requires the driver not only to look away from the road but to also use his or her hands as well as their thought processes on something other than driving their vehicle (texting involves manual, visual, and cognitive distraction).

 

7. The federal government cannot pass laws that ban distracted driving, that is up to each state to decide.

 

8. In Indiana, there is a ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for drivers under the age of 18 and a ban on texting for all drivers.

 

9, In Illinois, there is a ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for drivers under the age of 19 and a ban on texting for all drivers. No driver is allowed handheld cell phone use.

 

10. In Illinois, bus drivers are banned from driving buses and using a cell phone (handheld or hands-free). Illinois also bans the use of any cellphones by drivers in a school zone or a highway construction zone. Indiana does not have laws like this regarding bus drivers, school zones, or construction zones.

 

Be careful out there, everyone!

April Is Distracted Driving Awareness Month: Will You Get A Ticket Next Week?

April 7th, 2015 by admin

This month is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and here in Indiana and Illinois, that means more this year than media campaigns designed to educate people about the dangers of driving while distracted. This year, the Distracted Driving Campaign is targeting teenagers and young drivers and the police are getting involved.

Teens Are Ticket Target: April 10 – April 15, 2015

Beginning this Friday, April 10, 2015, through next Wednesday, April 15, 2015, drivers should expect to see a heightened law enforcement presence on our roads as officers are actively going to be monitoring drivers for young adults and teen drivers who are texting or using their phones while driving.

The Department of Transportation is coordinating this effort, and DOT Secretary Foxx has announced this year’s efforts are happening under the banner of “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.”

So, if you, your friends, or your children are going to be driving on the Indiana or Illinois roads next Friday through Wednesday, don’t be surprised if you get some police focus if you are a teen driver or a young adult behind the wheel.

Why Are Police Targeting Young Drivers in the April 2015 Distracted Driving Campaign?

The police are looking at you in the hopes that this National Distracted Driving Campaign will educate people and save lives.

“Distracted driving kills, there is no excuse for it, and it must stop,” said Secretary Foxx. “Across the country, we’re putting distracted drivers on notice: U Drive. U Text. U Pay. Texting and driving will at least cost you the price of a ticket but it could very well cost you your life or someone else’s.”

From the NHTSA 2013 research, we know that distracted driving is particularly dangerous for young adults and teenage drivers:

  • 10 percent of fatal crashes with drivers 15-19 involved distracted driving
  • 18 percent of accidents where someone was hurt involved distracted driving
  • 16 of all motor vehicle traffic crashes were reported as having a driver distracted at the time of the crash.
  • Drivers 15 to 19 years old is the largest age group of drivers who were distracted at the time of the crash.

For more on the dangers of Distracted Driving, check out our earlier posts which include:

 

More and More Traffic Cameras in Indiana and Illinois: Does It Mean More Car Accidents?

April 2nd, 2015 by admin

All over the country, law enforcement has quietly had cameras placed alongside traffic lights which have been set up by private companies who contract with the local jurisdiction to assist law enforcement in catching drivers who are running red lights at an intersection.

Running a red traffic light is against the law and results in Indiana, for example, results in a fine of $100 or more (depending upon the county) as well as 6 points against your license.

Red Light Cameras

These red light cameras are gizmos that automatically take a photograph of a driver who runs a red light without the need for a police officer to be involved. They are overseen and maintained by private companies who not only take the photographs with their cameras but in many locations, also take on the job of sending out the traffic ticket to the driver who has been captured by their red light camera device.

In many parts of the nation, this has not gone without challenge. In Florida, for example, these red light camera tickets issued by a private third-party company have been dismissed in the courts. Judges there have ruled that only government entities can issues traffic tickets: if the private company set a red light ticket, then the Florida courts have ruled them to be void and the drivers don’t have to pay for them.

 

Maps for Red Light Traffic Cameras in Indiana and Illinois

These Red Light Cameras are all over the State of Illinois, too, by the way. To check out the current location of red light cameras, as well as other traffic cams, there are online maps of their locations:

Red Light Cameras in Indiana;
Red Light Cameras in Illinois.

Red Light Cameras Cause Traffic Accidents

It has been shown that red light cameras, instead of increasing traffic safety, actually cause MORE traffic accidents. The Washington Post, for example, has been following this story for several years, finding that red light cameras can be tied to accidents that involve:

  • Total number of accidents at intersections where red light cameras were installed DOUBLED;
  • Serious personal injury and fatal traffic accidents jumped up 81%; and
  • T-bone (right-angle or broadside) accidents increased 30%.

Pending Traffic Camera Legislation in Indiana: Speed Cameras in Construction Areas and School Zones

Now, the state legislature is considering another installing more traffic cameras for traffic control, where video cameras would be placed in construction areas and school zones to capture drivers who are driving too fast or who are doing other bad things like illegally passing a school bus.

These have already been in place in the State of Illinois since 2006.

Called “speed cameras” because they capture drivers who are driving over the speed limit, they work similarly to those cameras set up at intersections to capture drivers who run red lights. Once again, speed camera proponents argue that these devices work to make everyone safer on the roads.

Speed Cameras in Indiana and Illinois

Speed cameras are already in place in other parts of Indiana and Illinois roadways; these new traffic cameras, if approved by state lawmakers, would target the specific areas of construction and school zones.

Map of Indiana Speed Cameras  (green tabs);
Map of Illinois Speed Cameras  (green tabs).

House Bill 1404

The proposed legislation is House Bill 1404 and you can follow it online as it proceeds through the Indiana House of Representatives.

Are Speed Cameras Making Roads Safer? Many Say No.

The argument by those concerned about these traffic cameras is that they are NOT a means to increase traffic safety and that safety is not the real reason these cameras are being installed all over the place.  Instead, critics argue that the traffic cameras are really just a revenue source for communities and that speed cameras are simply creating more “speed traps.”

Additionally, they point to studies which show that speed cameras did not cause traffic to move at slower speeds and instead not only had drivers moving at the same or higher speeds than before the gadgets were in place, but that accidents increased after the cameras were installed.

 

Companies For Profit Not People: Graco is One More Example of Why Plaintiffs Injury Lawyers Are Here

March 31st, 2015 by admin

Personal injury attorneys or “plaintiff’s lawyers” represent people who have been hurt through no fault of their own in some kind of accident or incident where they’ve suffered serious injuries to their bodies and minds — or sadly, where they’ve died as a result (in which case, we help their families and loved ones seek justice).

Personal Injury Lawyers Fight for Justice When Companies Choose Profits Over People

These personal injury cases involve all sorts of accidents, as seen in our list of practice areas. There are car accidents, and wrecks involving big rig semi trucks. People hurt on the job in electrocutions, or construction site falls, or in chemical burns. Kids hurt in sporting events like concussions while playing soccer or football. You get the idea.

However, in the past week there was a news story that provides a clear example of why personal injury law exists and why people get hurt in this country far too often. This week, it was announced that a manufacturer of child safety seats was being ordered to pay $10,000,000 in fines for putting dangerous products into the American marketplace.  (Read the NHTSA consent order online.)

That’s right.

Car seats that parents use to protect their kids from harm, made and marketed by Graco, not only have been shown dangerous but it’s been shown that Graco knew this and put them out there anyway.

Putting profits over people is something that we see all the time in representing victims of accidents — but Graco’s attitude toward the safety of small children here — infants — provides a very clear example of why personal injury law exists in this country.

Because companies like Graco choose profits over people — and their victims must fight for justice when bad things happen as a result.

 

Here is the March 20, 2015, federal government news release regarding the $10 Million Penalty Levied against Graco Children’s Products:

U.S Transportation Secretary Foxx Announces $10 Million Civil Penalty Against Child Car Seat Manufacturer

WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced that Graco Children’s Products has been fined $10 million after the company failed to provide timely notification of a defect in more than 4 million car seats. Graco must pay a fine of $3 million immediately to the Federal Government and an additional $7 million is due in five years unless they spend at least the same amount on new steps to improve child safety.

The penalties close an investigation launched last year by the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) into whether the company failed its obligations, under the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, to begin what ended up as the largest ever recall of child seats. The seats had buckles that could stick or become stuck in a latched position, potentially placing child occupants at risk in an emergency.

“Parents need to know that the seats they trust to protect their children are safe, and that when there’s a problem, the manufacturer will meet its obligations to fix the defect quickly,” Secretary Foxx said. “Today’s action reinforces that responsibility in a way that will make our kids safer for decades to come.”

Graco will create a plan and procedures for addressing certain targeted performance requirements, which may include methods to increase effectiveness of consumer product registration of car seats, which allows parents to be notified of defects, identifying potential safety trends affecting car seats industry wide and launching a child safety awareness campaign. According to NHTSA, on average, only 40 percent of people who have recalled car seats get them fixed. That’s in comparison to an average of 75 percent of people who have recalled light vehicles, for which registration is required by law.

The company also must provide certification from an independent, third-party that it has met its cost obligations; if Graco fails to meet those obligations, it must pay the balance of the $10 million civil penalty.

“Today’s action uses NHTSA’s enforcement authority to not only hold a manufacturer accountable, but to keep our kids safe,” said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. “It’s another example of our commitment to use every tool available to save lives on our highways, and to use those tools in an innovative and more effective way.”

The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act states that once a manufacturer knows or should reasonably know that an item of motor vehicle equipment, such as a car seat, contains a safety related defect, the manufacturer has a maximum of five business days to notify the agency. Once it notifies NHTSA of a defect, it is required to launch a recall.

Under the consent order issued today, Graco admits that it did not provide the required defect notice. Under pressure from NHTSA, Graco recalled more than 4 million convertible and booster seats with defective buckles in February 2014, and nearly an additional 2 million rear facing infant seats in June. NHTSA launched an investigation into the timeliness of Graco’s decision making and reporting of a defect in those recalls in December.

With this consent order, Graco is required to pay a $3 million civil penalty, and to commit at least $7 million to meet targeted performance obligations, over the next five years. Those obligations may include:

  • Improving its assessment and identification of potential safety defects.
  • Creating a scientifically tested program to increase effectiveness of child seat registration programs.
  • Revising its procedures for addressing consumer safety complaints and speed the recall of defective products.
  • Launching a campaign to disseminate safety messages to parents and caregivers by producing media products to incorporate in child safety campaigns.

Concussions Are Serious Danger for Girls’ Soccer: 2nd Only to Football in Student Head Injury Risk

March 26th, 2015 by admin

Ask most folk around our area about concussions, and you’ll probably hear talk about the NFL Concussion Settlement or maybe parents worried about whether or not their kids should play school football. However, what many may not realize is that in the realm of school sports, the danger of serious and life-long brain damage is very high for girls’ soccer.

Danger of Concussion in All Youth Sports

It’s a growing controversy — the balancing of the positives that kids get from playing school sports against the growing awareness of the risks associated with head injuries in youth sports. There are some that argue against any sporting activities for minors in view of the research findings connecting even minor injuries to the head and neck and longstanding permanent harm to the child. For more on this argument, check out the opinion piece in USA Today by Ken Reed, “Game over for concussion debate.

Girls Soccer: Serious Danger of Brain Injury

Soccer does not get the focus that football does in much of this discussion. Nevertheless, girls’ soccer poses a very big danger for its players of permanent harm from head injuries incurred while playing the sport.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have published “Sarah’s Story” documenting how one female teenager’s life was changed after she suffered a concussion on the soccer field.

From Sarah:

“For me, recovering from the concussion was harder than recovering from other injuries I’ve had. When I got a concussion, I expected to sit out some games, but I never realized that it would actually hurt to think.”

Luckily, Sarah had a full recovery from her head injuries — but it took several months for her to succeed in regaining her health.

Meanwhile, research has shown that others may not be so lucky. In female students playing soccer, there is a known tendency to shake off any feelings of harm after a head injury and continue playing the game. This can lead to the female soccer player being hit a second time during the same event, particularly if they are playing through while experiencing dizziness or problems concentrating.

That second blow can mean a more serious head injury and a higher risk of permanent damage. This even as a name, it’s called “second-impact syndrome.”

Study Shows Rising Risk of Girls Soccer Concussion Injury

Research reveals that only football trumps soccer in the game that sends the most students to the emergency room for treatment. And students playing soccer have female soccer players 40% more likely to have a concussion from playing soccer than male soccer players.

Studies have shown that girls’ soccer is the number two concussion rate in the United States today.

Which means that parents, students, coaches, and others monitoring these female athletes need to know what the symptoms of concussion are – and to get these girls off the field if they exhibit any symptoms of head injury.

There’s a duty to these kids here to keep them safe.

Tires Cause Crashes: Air Pressure and Under-Inflated Tires are Dangerous

March 24th, 2015 by admin

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a new federal agency rule regarding Tire Pressure Warnings — which apparently took awhile to get passed and published.

An earlier version of the federal rule was challenged in a federal lawsuit and overturned.  After going back to the rulemaking table, the federal safety agency issued a new rule that will require systems that monitor the amount of air pressure in tires.

These new Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS) alert the driver when the air pressure in one of their tires gets below a certain amount and is considered to be dangerously low in the amount of air in the tire.

These monitoring systems should be very helpful to many of us who drive cars, SUVs, minivans, and the like because drivers may walk around their vehicles and eyeball the tires, even give them a good kick or two, and still not be aware that the air pressure is too low and they have a dangerous situation to address.

Right now, these TPMS systems are only required to work on tires that come with the vehicle when it is sold and not on replacement tires.

Dangers of Under-Inflated Tires

Why is this important? It’s good because the public needs to know about the real risks of driving a vehicle without enough air in the tires. Simple enough to fix, and all to easy to procrastinate in checking the tires to make sure there’s enough air pressure in them.

 

Under-inflated tire results in tire worn down to cords.

 

From the NHTSA rule:

Under-inflation affects many different types of crashes. These include crashes which result from:

1. an increase in stopping distance,
2. flat tires and blowouts,
3. skidding and/or a loss of control of the vehicle in a curve, like an off-ramp maneuver coming off of a highway at high speed, or simply taking a curve at high speed,
4. skidding and/or loss of control of the vehicle in a lane change maneuver,
5. hydroplaning on a wet surface, which can affect both stopping distance and skidding and/or loss of control, or
6. overloading the vehicle.

The agency has quantified the effects of under-inflation in a crash involving skidding and loss of control, flat tires and blowouts, and the reduction in stopping distance. However, it cannot quantify the effects of under-inflation on hydroplaning and overloading the vehicles. The primary reason that the agency cant quantify these benefits is the lack of crash data indicating tire pressure and how large of a problem these conditions represent by themselves, or how often they are contributing factors to a crash. The agency has just starting collecting tire pressure in its crash data investigations.

Get Your Tires Check for Free at Discount Tire

There are some chains and service stations that will check your tire’s air pressure for free. For example, the Discount Tire chain in Indiana and Illinois offers free Air Checks — just drive in, they will check the air in your tires, no cost and you don’t have to exit your vehicle.  (Not a paid advertisement here — just that this is a great service, nice to share it.)