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Auto accidents involving first responders, including firefighters and other emergency workers, killed at least 50 such workers in 2022.  The Governors Highway Safety Association and other groups are ramping up efforts to educate drivers about the need to take care when they see emergency responders at an auto accident site.

Most states have move – over laws in place to protect emergency workers at car accident sites, and Georgia is no different.  In  Georgia, the law requires motorists to move over one lane when they see emergency vehicles with flashing lights ahead.  If  moving over one lane is not possible, then motorists are required to at least slow down.  They  must also be prepared to stop when they reach the auto accident site.  What is not acceptable is for a motorist to travel at his normal speed without slowing down or changing lanes,  thereby placing emergency first responders at risk of personal injuries.

Under Georgia law, emergency first responders include  firefighters, police officers, EMS workers,  Department of Transportation workers and others who might be attending to an emergency on the road.  These  emergency first responders place their lives and safety at risk when they rush to the scene of an auto accident and offer life -saving help and care to passengers.

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Your chances of suffering a serious head or spinal injury increase while performing a number of routine activities in winter. Slip and fall accidents are some of the more hazardous accidents in snowy or icy conditions like the kind that  parts of Georgia have experienced in recent weeks.

Experts are warning about a higher risk of suffering head and spinal injuries, fractures and musculoskeletal injuries during the winter season.    Some of the more common causes of these types of injuries during winter are slip and fall accidents.  A fall can occur when a person slips on an icy patch on the ground. Often, these patches are invisible to the naked eye because of black ice. Sudden falls can mean serious personal injuries including spinal injuries.  Head  injuries are also common in such slip and fall accidents, and more serious head injuries can even result in brain trauma.  Apart from these types of personal injuries, there is always the risk of fractures.  Winter sports also present a risk of brain and spinal injuries during winter.

Experts recommend being extra cautious when you walk outside in snowy or icy conditions.  Wear  appropriate footwear and adopt a wide stance when you walk.  Take  small steps while walking  and make sure that you use your arms properly for balance.  Avoid walking fast,  and avoid walking in low visibility conditions, if possible.

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Car accident or motorcycle accident victims who suffer from a brain injury may also be at risk of suffering from sleep apnea, which, in turn, can impact cognitive function after their personal injury.

The results of a new study that was published this month found that traumatic brain injury patients who also suffer from obstructive sleep apnea may suffer cognitive deficits that are much more severe than in those patients who do not suffer from sleep apnea.  Researchers focused on a small sample of 60 participants who had suffered a traumatic brain injury. All patients had been treated at a rehabilitation hospital and underwent a polysomnography test about a month after they were discharged.

The researchers found that almost 75%  of the patients suffered from obstructive sleep apnea in the month after they were discharged from the hospital. About 27 patients suffered from moderate-to-severe sleep apnea.  and about 19 suffered from mild symptoms of sleep apnea. The researchers administered the Brief Test of Adult Cognition by Telephone to assess the patient’s performance on parameters like language, memory, attention and reasoning.  They found that patients who suffered from obstructive sleep apnea after the personal injury had greater cognitive deficits on the test.  Surprisingly, it was the patients who suffered from mild symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea who had worse outcomes in memory and executive function.

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Even as the number of car accidents linked to driving under the influence of alcohol continue to stabilize, federal and Georgia traffic safety agencies are looking ahead at a new threat –  auto accidents caused by people driving under the influence of drugs.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently released the results of a new study which finds an increase in the number of car accidents linked to motorists driving under the influence of drugs, especially cannabis.  The results of the study were released just in time for the launch of the federal agency’s annual holiday traffic safety enforcement campaign which specifically focuses on cracking down on motorists driving under the influence of alcohol.

The study focused on a total of 7,279 car accident victims, and found that close to 56% of these had one or more drugs in their system at the time of the accident.  The most commonly ingested intoxicants in these auto accidents were cannabinoids with marijuana accounting for close to a quarter of all the car accident victims in the study.  More than 23 % of the car accident victims had alcohol in their system at the time of the accident, while 10% were driving under the influence of stimulants.  More than 9% were driving under the influence of opioids, while close to 20% of the car accident victims were driving with more than one drug in their system.

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Georgia needs to focus even harder on the safety of rear seat passengers, and enact stronger GDL or Graduated Driver Licensing laws to help prevent more deaths in auto accidents every year.

That information comes from a new report by Advocates for Auto and Highway Safety.  Every year, the organization releases its annual roadmap for auto and highway safety for the coming year.  The 2023 edition of the roadmap was released recently, and states were given separate ratings based on the advancements that they have made in achieving the previous roadmaps’ objectives.  States marked Green are denoted to having made significant progress on enacting laws that are designed to help prevent wrongful deaths in car accidents and other types of auto accidents, while those that have been marked Red have failed to make any progress that can help reduce preventable deaths in accidents every year.  Georgia received a Yellow rating, which recognizes that the state has taken some steps to prevent fatal accidents,  but could be doing more to minimize the number of preventable wrongful deaths in auto accidents every year.

According to the report, over a 10-year period, Georgia saw a total of 14,530 traffic accident facilities.  In 2021, there were a total of 1,806 deaths recorded in auto accidents according to the report. The report also calculates that the annual cost of auto accidents in Georgia is close to 14 billion dollars.

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State transportation agencies are often very slow to act on safety initiatives that would help minimize the number of auto accidents involving pedestrians,  especially when these initiatives would also mean slowing down traffic. That attitude which also exists in Georgia means that pedestrian safety is compromised, contributing to high numbers of pedestrian accidents.

The Pew Trust has a new report out on how state transportation agencies often stonewall initiatives that could help make it safer and easier for pedestrians and bicyclists to use our roads. The report makes mention of neglect by transportation safety agencies across the country, including in Georgia.  In some cases, local agencies had called for improvements in areas that were pedestrian accident magnets only to find that the state agencies that had the final say in making these areas safer, simply ignored these calls. The result of such inaction has been an increase in pedestrian accidents across the country.

It is no secret that pedestrian accident wrongful deaths have been increasing steadily over the past decade.  In Georgia too, the number of people being killed in car accidents involving pedestrians has continued to rise year after year. One problem is that the current infrastructure exists to serve the needs of motorists.  According to the report, state transportation agencies prefer to prioritize the speedy movement of traffic rather than the rights of pedestrians and bicyclists.  Therefore, you have city streets that often resemble highways, and these roads are often used at high speeds by motorists who ignore the risk to pedestrians, bicyclists and other vulnerable users who may be using these roads. The report also finds that when city streets look like highways,  motorists are much more likely to drive at unsafe speeds, placing pedestrians and other vulnerable users of these roads at risk.  The researchers at Pew Trust recommend making these roadways narrower and adding sidewalks in order to reduce speeding.

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Falling asleep behind the wheel is much more common than we think, and it is probably for this reason that most people have plenty of suggestions to offer to prevent car accidents caused by sleepiness.  However, many of these techniques simply do not work, and in some cases, may actually make the sleepiness worse and increase your risk of being involved in a car accident.

The Cleveland Clinic has, for decades, studied sleep deprivation and its special effects on a person’s ability to drive safely. Sleep experts at the Cleveland Clinic say that there are several myths and misconceptions when it comes to staying awake while driving.  Most motorists believe that snacking while driving, rolling down the car window and slapping or punching yourself can keep sleep at bay.  Not only do these techniques not work effectively, but they can also actually increase sleepiness, thereby exacerbating your risk of being involved in a car accident.

Take snacking, for instance.  If you are snacking on chips or other high carb foods while driving and you have already started feeling sleepy, the snacking is only going to make the drowsiness worse. Once these foods metabolize and are eliminated from your bloodstream, you are immediately going to feel even more sleepy.  Slapping and pinching yourself while driving only causes you physical pain, and does little to stimulate the part of the brain that needs to wake up in order for you to feel alert and fresh.

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Some of the more common injuries that occur in slip and fall accidents during winter are hand and wrist injuries, especially those that occur when a person puts out his hand to break the fall.

This winter, orthopedic surgeons are warning people about the dangers of hand and wrist injuries in fall accidents. These personal injuries can occur during any time of the year, but are especially more common during winter.  There is a medical term for these injuries. They are called FOOSH Injuries or “fall onto an outstretched hand.”  During a fall, a person is very likely to put his hand out to break the fall, placing a lot of pressure on the hand and wrist instead upon impact.  The pressure placed on the joints of the hand, wrist and elbow in these accidents can be severe enough to result in fractures or broken bones.

FOOSH injuries that occur during a slip and fall accident can include Boxer’s fractures that involve a shattering of the small bones of the hand, fractures of the forearm and fractures of the shoulder. While Boxer’s fractures are frequently seen among wrestlers and boxers, they are also quite common among persons who have suffered a fall.  Shoulder fractures are also common in such types of accidents.

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Record  numbers of motorists are expected to throng Georgia highways this Thanksgiving, and  traffic enforcement agencies are warning of a higher risk of auto accidents. This is true with all holidays, but especially with holidays that result in extended days off for many workers. All holidays of this nature see a spike in the number of car accidents and, unfortunately, wrongful deaths.

This year, authorities are gearing up for a significant increase in the number of motorists on Georgia’s roads and highways.  Across the metro Atlanta region and beyond, families will be traveling to meet up with friends and relatives as they celebrate the holiday under more normal circumstances.  Over the past three years, roadway travel over the Thanksgiving holiday dropped significantly.   This year, however, the story is markedly different. Authorities believe that there is likely to be an increase of approximately 26,000 motorists on Georgia roads over the Thanksgiving holiday compared to the same period of time last year.

Not only is Thanksgiving a time when people typically travel, but this year the crowds are expected to be even more intense since this is the first holiday since the pandemic that conditions are expected to be relatively normal. Georgians, in general, are traveling much more than they were during the pandemic, and vehicle miles traveled have increased significantly.

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More than 300,000 auto accidents every year can be linked to fatigued drivers who fall asleep at the wheel, and more than 6000 of these crashes end in deaths. The first step to preventing this auto accidents is to make drivers aware of the risk of driving while fatigued.

That data comes from the Governors Highway Safety Association which estimates that 328,000 car accidents every year can be linked to drowsy driving.  Out of these, more than 191,000 result in serious personal injuries while 6,400 crashes result in wrongful deaths. The Governors Highway Safety Association also estimates that the total cost of these auto accidents, not including property damage, amounts to more than 109 billion dollars each year.

About 10 to 20 percent of all care accidents and truck accidents in the United States can be linked to driving under the influence of tiredness or fatigue.  The actual number could be even higher because it’s hard to tell if a driver was dozing off or fell asleep at the wheel after an accident.  Unlike with alcohol – related car accidents in which it is possible to identify and determine if the person was drunk at the time of the accident, there are no tests that can identify if a person dozed off in the seconds before a car crash.  All data points to the probability that drowsy driving is much more common than estimated.

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