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Gastonia Injury Law Blog

Car entertainment systems can be dangerously distracting

Many of the new vehicles on sale in North Carolina showrooms feature complex entertainment and information systems, but a study from the University of Utah conducted on behalf of the American Automobile Association suggests that this kind of sophisticated technology can be dangerously distracting to drivers. The researchers used 2017 model year vehicles and 30 such systems for their study, and they found that all of the systems made demands on drivers that could lead to accidents.

Some of the latest entertainment and information systems are capable of making phone calls and sending text messages, and more than a third of the technology studied made demands that the researchers considered very high. The researchers passed judgment on each system after noting how long individuals took to complete basic tasks such as changing the radio station, inputting an address into the navigation system and sending a text message.

Fall protection and trench safety top priorities for OSHA

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration continues to focus on fall protection and trench safety. These two categories represent important issues for construction workers in North Carolina and elsewhere because falls and trench collapses cause severe injuries that can often be fatal.

The safety agency has identified falls as a primary cause of fatalities on construction sites. In 2015, 350 of the 937 reported deaths at those workplaces occurred because of people falling. Safety inspectors use fines to punish and potentially correct employers with lax attitudes about worker safety. Repeat offenses especially raise the likelihood of fines. The multiple violations of fall-protection rules committed by one roofing contractor resulted in a fine in excess of $1.5 million. OSHA also stepped up its monitoring of the contractor by placing it within the Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

The hazards of misusing forklifts for lifting people

North Carolina employees who believe there are hazards in their workplaces or that practices in their workplaces violate OSHA standards can contact the agency and make a confidential report. For example, warehouse workers should not use forklifts and pallets to be lifted to high shelves. One worker was killed when he slipped from a pallet being used in this way and fell 7 feet to a concrete floor. The man was hospitalized and later died.

An investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that using the forklift and pallets to lift workers was common in the man's workplace even though it was contrary to the instructions of the forklift manufacturer. According to OSHA, the employer should have prohibited this and provided adequate training for both forklift drivers and people working around the forklift.

3 apps to prevent distracted driving

The rate at which car accidents occur has been steadily increasing for the past several years. An article in The Charlotte Observer states that the total number of traffic deaths increased 19 percent between 2014 and 2015. 

There are many possible explanations for why more people are involved in motor vehicle accidents, and one of them is distracted driving. A common excuse for why drivers become distracted while driving is they are looking at their smartphones. Taking your eyes off the road for even a couple seconds can result in an accident if something unexpected occurs. A great course of action is to download an app that locks your phone when you are moving. Here are some great ones to implement. 

How time and place impact accident risk

While it's impossible to truly predict a car accident, time of day and location play a significant role. North Carolina drivers can minimize their chance of being in an accident by being aware of risks and mitigating them.

According to statistics, many accidents happen just 25 miles from a driver's home. There are a variety of reasons for this, and many of them can be mitigated by the driver. The statistics do get a bump simply because more driving happens within this close range than anywhere else. It is also true that motorists tend to be more relaxed when driving close to home. They may let their guard down because the route and obstacles are so familiar. An accident happens because they weren't alert to the unexpected. Drivers are also less likely to wear a seat belt when driving a very short distance. Serious injuries or death can occur in an accident even at low speeds when seat belts aren't being used.

The prevalence of texting and driving

What do North Carolina motorists think about the dangers of texting and driving? If they are like the respondents of a Progressive Insurance study, they believe that they are the exception to the rule. An online study was conducted in August that was taken by around 1,000 people at or over the age of 18. The consensus was that distracted driving was dangerous and should be illegal. However, approximately a third of these motorists thought that they were able to text and drive safely.

In addition to texting, distracted driving involves anything that takes a driver's focus away from the road. More than 90 percent of those surveyed thought this behavior should be illegal. It seems that people feel confident in their own abilities but not the abilities of others to safely text while driving a vehicle.

Accident avoidance technology can cut crash rate

Drivers and passengers on North Carolina roadways could find increased safety with the use of collision avoidance technology. Lane departure warning systems and blind spot alerts can significantly cut the number of vehicle accidents and resulting injuries, according to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Researchers analyzed over 5,000 accidents that took place in 2015, focusing specifically on the types of auto crashes that these technologies are made to prevent. They also examined what happened in vehicles that had the systems installed. For vehicles with warning systems installed, the rate of one-car, sideswipe and head-on collisions was cut by 11 percent.

Could you be suffering from traumatic brain injury?

If you sustained an impact to the head, traumatic brain injury numbers among the possible consequences. Car accidents are one of the leading causes of TBI, as are falls.

The blow to your head does not have to cause a penetrating wound to do serious and lasting damage to the brain. This kind of injury can continue to affect your health, ability to work and everyday functioning for many years.

Construction workers at greatest risk for struck-by accidents

North Carolina construction workers are undoubtedly aware of the safety hazards of their industry. One of the dangers is of struck-by incidents, which are accidents in which a worker is struck by an object, equipment or a vehicle. A report says that the construction industry has more struck-by deaths than any other industry in the United States and twice as much risk of struck-by accidents.

According to the report from the Center for Construction Research and Training, there were more than 800 construction worker deaths caused by struck-by incidents from 2011 to 2015. A little over half of those were caused by object or equipment strikes, and the rest were struck-by vehicle accidents. Workers at or over the age of 65 who were involved in struck-by incidents had a higher rate of fatality than younger workers. The risk of struck-by incidents that are not fatal is nearly twice as high in construction as in all other industries combined.

Water pipe repair method could cause chemical exposure

Workers in North Carolina who deal with pipe repair may be concerned about potential threats to their health after a study revealed the potential for chemical exposure on the job. One of the most common procedures used to repair plastic water and sewer pipes, cured-in-place pipe repair, can emit plumes of organic compounds and vapors when cured with steam.

The pipe repair method requires workers to insert a fabric tube impregnated with plastic resins into a damaged or broken pipe. Once the tube is in place, an ultra-hot substance like boiling water, UV light or pressurized steam is passed through the tube. This "cures" the tube, producing a new, solid and unbroken plastic pipe. Because of the relative ease and efficiency of this method, it has become popular across the country when dealing with damaged water and sewer pipes.