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Pedestrian deaths increased in 2018

Pennsylvania residents might be interested to know that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, released its latest traffic crash data on Oct. 22. The report contained both encouraging and discouraging news.

According to the NHTSA data, approximately 36,560 people lost their lives in U.S. traffic accidents in 2018, which is around 2.4% less than the total reported in 2017. In addition, 2017's total was nearly 1% less than 2016's total, and preliminary numbers suggest that 2019's total will be lower than 2018's total. That reverses an upward trend in traffic deaths that occurred in 2015 and 2016, which is a positive development.

Distractions a growing problem for drivers in U.S.

In Pennsylvania and the rest of the U.S., drivers are finding it harder than ever to break away from distractions, especially from their phones. In a survey of more than 2,000 consumers, the Travelers Companies found that nearly eight in 10 uses the phone while behind the wheel. Over 30% were in a near-miss crash because of it.

The respondents to the survey admitted to using their phone for a wide range of reasons. Forty-four percent, for instance, would type a text or email with it, 23% would access social media and 22% would record videos or take photographs. Lastly, 15% claimed to use their phones to shop online while driving. Among the owners of phones with a Do Not Disturb feature, 41% would actively choose not to turn it on.

Questions you may have after an accident on a construction site

Construction sites can be dangerous places to work. In addition to the demanding nature of physical labor, you also have to consider hazards related to moving vehicles, heavy equipment, power tools, working from heights and much more. It is not surprising that many of the men and women who work in these environments suffer injuries in work-related accidents.

If you were injured while working on a Pennsylvania construction site, you may wonder what's next for you and your family. Can you get workers' compensation? Are there other options available to you? These are only a few of the many things you may be considering as you try to get better and move forward after this traumatic event. You have the right to get answers to your questions and seek the support necessary to help you achieve a full and fair recovery.

NPH versus Alzheimer's: misdiagnosis is not uncommon

In Pennsylvania and across the United States, a condition known as normal pressure hydrocephalus, or NPH, closely mimics Alzheimer's disease and other types of conditions, including Parkinson's disease. However, unlike Alzheimer's disease, NPH is a treatable condition. It is estimated that approximately 700,000 people in the United States have NPH, yet many of these individuals have not been diagnosed correctly.

Scientists do not know what causes NPH, a condition in which an abnormal amount of cerebrospinal fluid is found in the ventricles of the patient's brain. In actuality, NPH is the grown-up version of a disease occurring among newborns called hydrocephalus. An untreated patient with NPH displays similar symptoms to a person who has Alzheimer's, including incontinence and severe memory problems. In most cases, the treatment for NPH involves inserting a shunt in the brain.

Automated safety features: benefits for drivers

General Motors has revealed the benefits of automated safety features in a study that it conducted with the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. While the study is about GM vehicles, the results should interest all drivers in Pennsylvania. Advanced driver assistance systems, despite their cost, can reduce the number of crashes, including lane-change crashes, back-up crashes and rear-end collisions.

The effectiveness of different features varies. Crashes arising from a lane departure can be reduced by 20% with lane keep assist and lane departure warning, and lane-change crashes become 26% less likely with lane change alert and blind zone alert. Rear-end crashes go down only 21% with forward collision alert but go down 46% when that system is combined with forward automatic emergency braking.

NHTSA on the epidemic of drunk driving

Pennsylvania drivers should know to never head out when drunk. Alcohol can impair one's judgment, reaction times and memory, all of which are necessary in driving. With a blood alcohol concentration of .08, the point at which one is considered legally drunk, a driver may find self-control difficult, miss dangers on the road and suffer from hearing impairment. With even a blood alcohol concentration of .02, though, one may experience drowsiness and loss of judgment.

Drunk driving leads to crashes, many of them fatal. Though the number of such fatalities has declined in the past 30 years, it remains startlingly high. From 2006 to 2017, the annual number of drunk driving fatalities has exceeded 10,000 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2017, there were 10,874 drunk driving deaths. Forty-two percent of the drivers involved in these fatal crashes were between 16 and 24 years old.

Lowering the likelihood of errors in radiology

Radiologists in Pennsylvania, as elsewhere, often suffer from long shifts and an excessive workload. When radiologists read an image, a cognitive bias may lead them to only look for those things they were trained to look for. All of these can contribute to missed diagnoses and other errors. Missed diagnoses resulting from a false-positive reading make up a startling 30% of all diagnoses involving CT scans and MRIs.

The best practices laid down by the American Journal of Roentgenology can help prevent radiology errors. They include a peer-review process that encourages diagnostic accuracy and fosters mutual respect. Feedback should, of course, remain anonymous. Continual education is another must and can be boosted by a learning management system or e-learning platform.

Is the scaffolding you are on really safe?

Nearly every Pennsylvania construction worker will spend at least some time on scaffolding during his or her career. You may trust that it is constructed properly and adheres to regulations, safety standards and requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration -- at the very least. Unfortunately, OSHA's third most common citation involves improper scaffolding.

Each year, scaffolding injuries occur approximately 4,500 times. Sadly, around 50 of the people who suffer those injuries die as a result. Understanding what OSHA expects from your employer regarding the scaffolding you rely on not to plunge to your death may help you take your safety into your own hands.

Nurses are vulnerable to making mistakes

Nurses in Pennsylvania and throughout the country take pride in doing their job without making mistakes. However, they will eventually make an error, and that error could have negative consequences for a patient. Each year, 1.5 million Americans are harmed by medication errors, and medication is generally given to a patient by a nurse. To avoid such a mistake, a nurse should confirm a patient's identity and physical characteristics before administering a drug.

Falls are also a common danger in medical facilities as there is a chance that a patient will have a hard time standing or walking on their own. Those who have just come out of surgery or are weak for any reason could be at a higher risk of falling. Nurses should make sure that anything a patient needs is accessible without having to stand or walk. They should also let patients know that nurses can help them walk to the bathroom or complete other tasks.

Better female crash dummies may improve women's vehicle safety

According to a report from City Lab, women are 73% more likely to die or be seriously injured in a car crash than men are. Pennsylvania residents should know that there are probably several factors for this. With regard to this trend, auto safety experts as far back as 2011 said that seatbelts may be partially to blame.

In a USA Today article from that year, experts said that the majority of women injured in car crashes were relatively short and had seating postures that prevented them from getting the maximum protection offered by seatbelts. Now, a study from the University of Virginia is saying that seatbelts are not the only problem: Crash test dummies are not being designed with women in mind.

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