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A new report ranks Georgia roadways and highways at number 14 in the country  based on their condition.

Every year, the Reason Foundation releases its annual report which measures and ranks all fifty states based on the condition of highways across the state, including the condition of its pavements, traffic congestion, condition of bridges and traffic fatality rates. The report also measures the cost effectiveness of the state’s spending on its highways and bridges.

The report places our state at first place in urban arterial pavement condition, which are roadways that have four to eight lanes. Georgia placed third for the condition of rural arterial roads, roads that have two to four lanes.  Overall, Georgia seems to fare much better, compared to most of our other southern neighbors. The state is ranked at number 28 in overall fatalities.  Georgia was ranked at number 23 in the condition of its rural interstate pavements. Traffic congestion is another important marker for traffic safety, and the state was ranked at number 34 on this marker. The state was ranked at number 7 on structurally deficient bridges.

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At least half a dozen traffic safety rules that directly impact motorist safety continue to remain backlogged, while motorists remain at risk of injuries. According to a report, a number of traffic safety laws, including those that would require back seat passengers to wear seat belts and trucks to come with speed limiters, continue to remain backlogged.

The back seat seatbelt law continues to remain pending in spite of a law passed in 2012 that required the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to direct automakers to install devices in their cars that would warn the driver if a rear seat passenger was not wearing a seatbelt. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was given a period of three years to act, but the agency has failed to do so.

This back seat law is just one of several traffic safety laws whose implementation has been delayed, placing motorists at risk of injuries in accidents. The Associated Press conducted a review of several such rule-making actions that have been delayed under the last three federal administrations.  The review found that at least 13 such traffic safety rules are several years overdue. These rules have long crossed the deadlines that were set down for their execution.

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released fatality rates for the first 3 months of 2021, and the picture is not good. The statistics represent an increase in fatalities during the first quarter of this year, compared to the same period of time in 2020.

When it comes to highway deaths, there seems to be no end to the bad news. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration noted a total of 8,730 traffic accident fatalities during January, February and March 2021. This is an increase over the 7,900 fatalities that the agency projected for the first three months of 2020. This also means a 10.5% increase over the numbers last year.

That is a staggering increase, and the data presents a sobering picture for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration which says that these fatality numbers are projected to have increased in spite of the fact that there was a decline in the number of vehicle miles travelled this quarter. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recorded significant increases in traffic fatality numbers across all of its regions. Georgia falls in Region 4 which recorded an 18% increase in the number of traffic fatalities recorded in the first quarter of 2021.

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Predicting the amount of brain damage that has resulted from a traumatic brain injury continues to be challenging for physicians.  A new study finds that measuring a certain type of brain protein and its count in the blood could help determine the extent of the damage that has occurred.

Thousands of Americans suffer a traumatic brain injury every year.  A traumatic brain injury occurs when a person suffers a blow or jolt to the head. A blow like this could occur when a person has been in a car accident or motorcycle or bicycle accident. A brain injury can also occur in a fall accident, especially in a situation where a person has suffered a fall from a height. A traumatic brain injury can also occur in a workplace accident, like one involving a blow to the head from falling debris or equipment. In all these cases, there is trauma to the head, which could translate to damage to the brain. 

Although there are many procedures that can help detect the extent of the injury that has occurred, determining the exact extent of brain damage can be challenging for doctors. It’s hard to overstate the importance of determining brain damage severity as quickly as possible. When such a determination has been made, treatment can begin quickly, and the chances of recovery are greater. 

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Seatbelts are easily one of the front line defenses and driver or passenger in a vehicle can use to protect themselves in a car accident.  Automakers are taking the initiative to encourage more motorists to wear seatbelts while driving in order to reduce the risk of injuries in accidents.

General Motors is one automaker that is introducing new features that encourage motorists to buckle up. The system is based on an older concept at the automaker, and features a technology that does not allow motorists to drive immediately after switching on the ignition. While the car will start, gears will not activate for twenty seconds after. This gives the motorist and passengers time to buckle up.

The company’s Chevrolet division had introduced a system like this in 2015. Those systems are estimated to have resulted in a 16 percent increase in seatbelt use in motorists driving these vehicles.  The 2020 models come with systems that encourage motorists to buckle up before driving. These are available on the Chevrolet Caribou, Colorado and Traverse models. In 2022, the systems will be available on the Chevrolet and GMC pickup trucks as well.

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Effective on July 1, motorists must adhere to a new law that aims at keeping bicyclists safer and preventing accidents involving these vulnerable road users.

If you are a motorist in the metro Atlanta region, you must know of the new 3-feet law that recently went into effect. The law specifically requires motorists to maintain a minimum distance between their car and a bicyclist riding next to them. The law requires that motorists maintain a minimum of 3 feet in distance between their car and the bicycle next to their vehicle.  Keeping a greater distance between a cyclist and a motor vehicle can help prevent unnecessary accidents on the roads.

Drivers under the new law are required to move over onto the next lane while passing a bicyclist if it is safe to do so. If this is not possible, the law requires motorists to drop speeds to 10 mph below the speed limit when they are around a bicyclist, or at least 25 mph. Maintaining 3 feet of distance around the bicyclist all the time is key.

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Certain categories of road users have always been at a higher risk of being seriously injured or killed in traffic accidents. Such disparities in accident risks among communities seem to have expanded over the past year.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, an analysis of traffic accident fatality data shows that minority communities like African Americans and indigenous communities have a much higher risk of suffering fatal injuries in accidents, compared to white Americans.

The Governors Highway Safety Association report tracked accident fatality data from between 2015 and 2019, and found that African Americans, indigenous peoples, and people of color constitute a disproportionate percentage of fatality rates in accidents. The report was titled Analysis of Traffic Fatalities by Race and Ethnicity, and is believed to be the first such report of this type in several years.

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Slip and/or fall accidents can cause serious injuries and result in long-term disability to a person’s life.  Spinal injuries are often the result of fall accidents.  A fall does not have to occur from an elevation for the person to suffer a spinal injury. Even a fall from a low height, like a few stairs, can result in an injury that is serious enough to result in lifelong consequences.

Reduced bowel function is just one of the many consequences of a spinal injury. New studies find that physical interventions that include walking with the help of exoskeleton devices can actually enhance bowel function in these patients.

An exoskeleton is an external device, that is worn by a spinal injury patient who has limited mobility as a result of his injury. The device works like a scaffolding of sorts to hold the patient up. It can help the person walk and stand independently without support. Exoskeleton devices have been found to be of great help to spinal injury patients who are suffering from some degree of paralysis and cannot walk or stand without support.

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As nursing homes continue to accept new residents into their facilities, it is important that staff members get vaccinated against Covid-19 in order to prevent the kind of outbreaks that devastated these facilities this past year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that all staff members of long-term nursing care facilities be vaccinated to keep themselves and staff safe.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is trying to ensure that all long-term care facilities across Georgia and across the country have access to these vaccines. It is imperative that these vaccines be provided to long term care facility staff members, because the pandemic has not resulted in a break in admissions of new patients. After some long-term care facilities stopped taking admissions in the middle of the pandemic, many have now opened up admissions for new residents. These long-term care facilities look after senior Georgians who may be unable to live independently. Most of these persons live with chronic health conditions and may be medically fragile, and therefore, may be prime candidates for the kind of Covid infections, and even the kind of breakthrough infections post-vaccination, that are being seen.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that it is imperative that all nursing facility residents be protected by healthcare personnel who have been completely vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reiterates that it is important that infection control strategies continue to remain in place even after all staff members have been vaccinated.  This is to minimize the risk of breakthrough infections, or infections that can set in even after both doses of the vaccine have been administered.

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We are just four months into 2021, and it is very likely that Georgia will see the same or even higher numbers of motorcycle accident deaths compared to last year. According to Georgia transportation authorities, there has been a spike in motorcycle accident deaths in some counties in the state, including the Macon and Bibb County areas.

Macon saw as many as 5 motorcycle accident deaths in a span of less than 3 weeks recently. This number was more than the average number per year for the area in the past six years.  This is even as the year’s peak motorcycling season has not even begun. When you consider that most pandemic-related restrictions in Georgia have now been lifted, it is easy to see the concern that the final tally this year will be greater than in 2020 during peak pandemic times.

Georgia transportation safety authorities blame the spike in motorcycle accident deaths on a higher number of motorists and motorcyclists on our roads. Now that the warmer weather is here, even more people will be on the motorcycles.  The use of motorcycling as a means of transportation has become even more popular further adding to their presence on the roads.

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