Kids in hot cars: A deadly combination that’s preventable

Just about every week, there’s a report of someone leaving a child unattended in a car, and those are just the incidents that are reported. In Florida, the risk of death from heatstroke is a real threat year-round, and of course, is an even greater threat in the summer.

Heatstroke is the leading cause of vehicular non-crash-related deaths for children under 14. In fact, each year, an average of 37 children died from vehicle heatstroke between 1998-2015, for a total of 661 deaths,  according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

It’s never okay to leave a child alone in a parked car, even with the  windows down or air conditioning on.  Sometimes, people do it intentionally, or children climb into an unattended vehicle to play.

Other times, while it seems like an impossible mistake to make, it happens because a parent or caregiver was distracted and forgot the child. That’s the case in more than half of the heatstroke-related car deaths.

No one is immune. Yet, this tragedy is 100 percent preventable. The agency’s heat stroke prevention campaign started Monday

Here’s what you can do to prevent such tragedies from happening:

Always Look Before You Lock
  • Always check the back seats of your vehicle before you lock it and walk away.
  • Keep a stuffed animal or other memento in your child’s car seat when it’s empty, and move it to the front seat as a visual reminder when your child is in the back seat.
  • If someone else is driving your child, or your daily routine has been altered, always check to make sure your child has arrived safely.
  • Set a reminder on your cell phone to alert you to check that you dropped your child off at daycare.
Keep in Mind a Child’s Sensitivity to Heat
  • In 10 minutes, a car’s temperature can rise over 20 degrees.
  • On an 80-degree day, temperatures inside a vehicle can reach deadly levels in 10 minutes.
  • A child dies when his/her body temperature reaches 107 degrees.
Understand the Potential Consequences of Kids in Hot Cars
  • Severe injury or death
  • Being arrested and jailed
  • A lifetime of regret

What to do if you see a child or children left unattended in a vehicle:

Don’t worry about getting involved in someone else’s business—protecting children is everyone’s business; besides, “Good Samaritan” laws offer legal protection for those who offer assistance in an emergency.

  • Don’t wait more than a few minutes for the driver to return.
  • If the child is not responsive or is in distress, immediately:
    • Call 911.
    • Get the child out of the car.
    • Spray the child with cool water (not in an ice bath).
  • If the child is responsive:
    • Stay with the child until help arrives.
    • Have someone else search for the driver or ask the facility to page them.
Warning Signs of Heatstroke
  • Red, hot, and moist or dry skin
  • No sweating
  • Strong, rapid pulse or slow, weak pulse
  • Nausea
  • Confusion or strange behavior

How much more likely are motorcyclists to die in a crash than other drivers?

Florida Highway Patrol troopers investigate a fatal crash at the northbound exit ramp to Glades Road at I-95 on Feb. 3, 2016.
Lannis Waters, Palm Beach Post staff

 

If you have shaken your head in disbelief as a motorcyclist weaves in and out of traffic on I-95, often wearing no helmet, you may have wondered just how dangerous such behaviors are.

As anyone with an ounce of common sense would guess, it’s terribly dangerous.

It’s obvious that when motorcycles crash, their riders lack the protection of an enclosed vehicle. Per mile traveled, a motorcyclist is more than 20 times more likely to die than someone traveling in a vehicle, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In fact, Florida’s roads are particularly deadly for motorcyclists.

Florida ranks first in the nation for motorcycle deaths, with 606 statewide  and 34 in Palm Beach County in 2015,  the most recent year available from the NHTSA.  That same year, 9,045 people were reported injured in motorcycle crashes in Florida.

It was the worst year ever for motorcycle crash-related fatalities in Florida,  marking a 30 percent increase from 2014.

Motorcyclists accounted for one-fifth  of motor vehicle fatalities in the state in 2015,  yet motorcycles only account for 3 percent of registered vehicles. AAA said.

Thousands of motorcyclists are in Daytona Beach  for the 76th annual Daytona Bike week that began Friday and ends this coming Sunday.  Drivers should expect an increase in traffic on Florida roadways, AAA said last week.

Florida law allows people over 21 to operate and ride a motorcycle without wearing a helmet if they are  covered by an insurance policy providing for at least $10,000 in medical benefits for injuries incurred as a result of a crash while operating or riding on a motorcycle.

“Time and time again the effectiveness of motorcycle helmets has been proven through scientific study,” said Karen Morgan, Public Policy Manager, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “AAA strongly supports a universal helmet law in Florida.”

Hospital charges for motorcyclists – treated in a hospital due to a traffic crash – totaled $675,674,964 in 2015,  according to the Florida Department of Health. The average cost for a motorcyclist involved in a traffic crash who was then admitted to the hospital was $83,676. Helmet use has been shown to significantly reduce the cost associated with motorcycle traffic crashes.

“Wearing a helmet could mean the difference between life and death,” said Josh Carrasco, spokesman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Our goal is to make sure all motorists arrive safely at their destination, including motorcyclists.”

Top Counties for Motorcycle Crash Deaths:

Rank County Deaths
1 Miami-Dade 67
2 Hillsborough 48
3 Broward 42
4 Palm Beach 34
5 Pinellas 27
6 (tied) Lee 26
6 (tied) Orange 26
8 Duval 23
9 (tied) Brevard 22
9 (tied) Pasco 22
11 (tied) Polk 21
11 (tied) Volusia 21

AAA encourages drivers and motorcyclists not to drive impaired and to follow these safety tips:

Safety Tips for Motorists:

  • Respect motorcycle riders. Motorcycles are vehicles too and have the same privileges as an automobile. Be sure to give them ample room.
  • Look and Listen. Even if a motorcycle is loud, you may not hear it. Actively look for motorcycles in traffic.
  • Leave room. Leave plenty of room between your vehicle and motorcyclists. Uneven terrain, wet roads, and heavy traffic often require a motorcycle rider to react and maneuver differently than automobiles.
  • Be aware. Take extra caution when making a left-hand turn, because most automobile-versus-motorcycle crashes occur during left-hand turns.
  • Don’t drive distracted. A driver who takes their eyes off the road for two seconds doubles their risk of getting into a crash.

Safety Tips for Motorcyclists:

  • Wear safety gear. Helmets that meet DOT compliance standards, eye wear, closed-toe footwear and protective clothing reduce your risk of injury or death in a crash. Remember, the only thing between you and the ground is your protective gear.
  • Be visible. Keep headlights, marker and tail lights on at dusk and dark, or rainy weather. Wear bright clothing or put reflective strips on your bike to be more visible to other motorists. Avoid being in the blind spots of cars and trucks by following three to four seconds behind the vehicle in front of you.
  • Use sound judgment. Avoid weaving between lanes while riding. Be sure to use your signals and stick to the speed limit.
  • Get proper training. Completing a motorcycle safety course can not only make you a better rider, but save you money on your motorcycle insurance.

Are motorcyclists more likely to die in a crash than people driving vehicles?

Motorcycle crash-related deaths in Florida rose 30 percent in 2015.

 

If you have shaken your head in disbelief as a motorcyclist weaves in and out of traffic on I-95, often wearing no helmet, you may have wondered just how dangerous such behavior is.

As anyone with an ounce of common sense would guess, it’s terribly dangerous.

It’s obvious that when motorcycles crash, their riders lack the protection of an enclosed vehicle. Per mile traveled, a motorcyclist is more than 20 times more likely to die than someone traveling in a vehicle, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In fact, Florida’s roads are particularly deadly for motorcyclists.

Florida ranks first in the nation for motorcycle deaths, with 606 statewide  and 34 in Palm Beach County in 2015,  the most recent year available from the NHTSA.  That same year, 9,045 people were reported injured in motorcycle crashes in Florida.

It was the worst year ever for motorcycle crash-related fatalities in Florida,  marking a 30 percent increase from 2014.

Motorcyclists accounted for one-fifth  of motor vehicle fatalities in the state in 2015,  yet motorcycles only account for 3 percent of registered vehicles. AAA said.

Thousands of motorcyclists are in Daytona Beach  for the 76th annual Daytona Bike week that began Friday and ends this coming Sunday.  Drivers should expect an increase in traffic on Florida roadways, AAA said last week.

Florida law allows people over 21 to operate and ride a motorcycle without wearing a helmet if they are  covered by an insurance policy providing for at least $10,000 in medical benefits for injuries incurred as a result of a crash while operating or riding on a motorcycle.

“Time and time again the effectiveness of motorcycle helmets has been proven through scientific study,” said Karen Morgan, Public Policy Manager, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “AAA strongly supports a universal helmet law in Florida.”

Hospital charges for motorcyclists – treated in a hospital due to a traffic crash – totaled $675,674,964 in 2015,  according to the Florida Department of Health. The average cost for a motorcyclist involved in a traffic crash who was then admitted to the hospital was $83,676. Helmet use has been shown to significantly reduce the cost associated with motorcycle traffic crashes.

“Wearing a helmet could mean the difference between life and death,” said Josh Carrasco, spokesman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Our goal is to make sure all motorists arrive safely at their destination, including motorcyclists.”

Top Counties for Motorcycle Crash Deaths:

Rank County Deaths
1 Miami-Dade 67
2 Hillsborough 48
3 Broward 42
4 Palm Beach 34
5 Pinellas 27
6 (tied) Lee 26
6 (tied) Orange 26
8 Duval 23
9 (tied) Brevard 22
9 (tied) Pasco 22
11 (tied) Polk 21
11 (tied) Volusia 21

 

AAA encourages drivers and motorcyclists not to drive impaired and to follow these safety tips:

Safety Tips for Motorists:

  • Respect motorcycle riders. Motorcycles are vehicles too and have the same privileges as an automobile. Be sure to give them ample room.
  • Look and Listen. Even if a motorcycle is loud, you may not hear it. Actively look for motorcycles in traffic.
  • Leave room. Leave plenty of room between your vehicle and motorcyclists. Uneven terrain, wet roads, and heavy traffic often require a motorcycle rider to react and maneuver differently than automobiles.
  • Be aware. Take extra caution when making a left-hand turn, because most automobile-versus-motorcycle crashes occur during left-hand turns.
  • Don’t drive distracted. A driver who takes their eyes off the road for two seconds doubles their risk of getting into a crash.

Safety Tips for Motorcyclists:

  • Wear safety gear. Helmets that meet DOT compliance standards, eye wear, closed-toe footwear and protective clothing reduce your risk of injury or death in a crash. Remember, the only thing between you and the ground is your protective gear.
  • Be visible. Keep headlights, marker and tail lights on at dusk and dark, or rainy weather. Wear bright clothing or put reflective strips on your bike to be more visible to other motorists. Avoid being in the blind spots of cars and trucks by following three to four seconds behind the vehicle in front of you.
  • Use sound judgment. Avoid weaving between lanes while riding. Be sure to use your signals and stick to the speed limit.
  • Get proper training. Completing a motorcycle safety course can not only make you a better rider, but save you money on your motorcycle insurance.

 

This app will help you find a ride if you’re too drunk to drive

Too tipsy to get behind the wheel? The SaferRide app can help with that.

Released before the holiday season in 2014, the app was designed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to get more impaired drivers off the road.

» RELATED: Mother’s powerful story will make you think twice about driving impaired

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Last year in Florida, crashes where alcohol was a confirmed factor were down more than 2 percent from the previous year — but deaths in crashes where alcohol was a confirmed factor were up nearly 11 percent, from 459 in 2014 to 508 last year. Crashes where drugs were a confirmed factor were up almost 19 percent, with fatalities rising a shocking 28 percent, from 219 in 2014 to 281 last year. The SaferRide app could help keep some of those impaired drivers from sitting the driver’s seat in the first place.

Think of it as Uber for drunk people — and, yes, we know drunk people also can use Uber. But SaferRide lets users pre-program in a friend or loved one’s information to make a quick call for a ride. It also can connect people to taxi services, and the app uses GPS to help pinpoint a user’s location, because we all know sometimes when you have too much Champagne on New Year’s Eve you can quickly forget if you’re on Clematis Street in downtown West Palm Beach or A1A in Miami Beach.

And it’s exceedingly simple to navigate. Upon opening the app, a user is greeted by a screen that says, “Let’s get you home,” followed by three buttons: “Get taxi,” “Call friend” and “Where am I?”

Click here to get the app for Android / Click here to get it for iPhone

Keyless car deaths: Signs of further rule delays concern advocates

keyless buttonRumblings that federal rules might be delayed again on keyless car deaths left advocates warning it opens the door to more tragedy.

Palm Beach County leads the nation in deaths from carbon-monoxide poisoning associated with keyless vehicle ignition systems, accounting for seven of 21 U.S. deaths since 2009 by one nonprofit group’s count, The Palm Beach Post reported.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration declined to address the timing through a spokesman, but a government source who asked not to be identified said further delay to an unspecified date is likely. Rules originally expected last year had already been pushed back to this month.

“Any delay in issuing a rule on keyless ignitions to prevent vehicles from continuing to run if the exiting driver doesn’t shut off the engine will only result in more people dying from carbon monoxide exposure,” said Clarence Ditlow. He is executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based consumer advocacy group Center for Auto Safety.

Warnings or automatic engine shut-off systems could help prevent deaths that result when drivers do not realize a car is still running in a garage attached to a house, apartment or town home, advocates say.

At issue is what the government should require car makers to do. Some manufacturers have introduced safeguards on their own, but millions of vehicles remain without them. There have also been calls to increase driver awareness and encourage precautions consumers can take such as carbon monoxide monitors in homes and garages.

Agency officials referred consumers to this webpage with frequently asked questions:

http://www.safercar.gov/keyless

Hal 9000 is the driver on your driverless car, agency rules

driverless carRiddle me this: Is there a driver of a driverless car? It may sound like a philosophical puzzle, like asking what is the sound of one hand clapping.

Yet it might be a big question for the future.

And a federal agency has an answer: Yes, there’s a driver. It’s the computer system.

At least, that’s what the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration told Chris Urmson, director of Google’s Self-Driving Car Project.

Google was concerned because of a lot of safety regulations on cars have been written with the assumption they would have human drivers, a steering wheel and a brake pedal on the left front, and so on. Future cars might not all work that way.

“We are taking great care to embrace innovations that can boost safety and improve efficiency on our roadways,” explained U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a statement Wednesday. “Our interpretation that the self-driving computer system of a car could, in fact, be a driver is significant. But the burden remains on self-driving car manufacturers to prove that their vehicles meet rigorous federal safety standards.”

If any of this makes you squeamish, don’t say anything around fictional spaceship computer Hal  from 2001: A Space Odyssey.  He can read lips, you know.

As Hal put it,  “I know that you and Frank were planning to disconnect me, and I’m afraid that’s something I cannot allow to happen.”