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For decades, motorcyclists  have been the most vulnerable users of our highways.  While the risk of serious personal injuries in a motorcycle accident continue to remain high, new personal injury prevention technology gives motorcyclists a much stronger fighting chance against catastrophic or fatal injuries in an motorcycle accident.

Auto Week recently reported on two specific technologies that are causing a great deal of excitement among motorcyclists. The first is an inflatable airbag for motorcyclists.  Motorcyclists  have long had access to inflatable wearable airbags that help cushion the  torso, protecting it from serious personal injuries in the event of a motorcycle accident. Older versions of motorcycle airbags have been around for a while now.  These  versions involve a tether that is connected to the motorcycle, and the airbag inflate when the motorcycle is separated from the rider.  Newer  versions come with sensors that detect when a motorcycle is in danger of being ejected from his vehicle and inflate automatically to protect him. The speed on some of these sensor -driven air bags is impressive with some airbags inflating in less than 25 milliseconds. Whatever the type or style of the airbags you choose to wear, they can protect you against serious personal injuries to your torso, shoulder and clavicle.

Another major technology advancement in motorcycle safety is the new generation redesign  of the motorcycle helmet.  Generally,  every motorcyclist should wear a helmet while riding.  The  typical motorcycle helmet is designed to absorb impact in the event of an accident, absorbing shock and protecting the person’s skull and brain from impact.  However,  this protection only exists when the accident is straightforward and there is a direct impact on the helmet.  In  those cases in which there is an angle to the impact –  and this accounts for a  significant number of motorcycle accidents –  the helmet may not completely mitigate the risk of a brain injury.  Enter the MIPS  helmet  which comes with an internal shield inside the helmet that gives way upon impact, allowing the outer layer of the helmet to angle, thereby potentially lessening the impact of a traumatic brain injury.

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Trucks with a heavier weight limit could soon be coming to Georgia after a bill that allows an increase on weight limits on trucks was recently passed by a state committee.

Trucking  safety experts have been warning about the  dangers involved in permitting heavier trucks on Georgia highways. Such trucks take more time to stop in case of an emergency thereby increasing the risk of a truck accident.  One  bill that would raise the existing weight limits on trucks to 90,000  pounds from the current 80,000 pounds is beginning to gain traction.  The  bill was recently approved by the House Transportation Committee.

Georgia currently has a limit of 80,000 pounds for commercial trucks except trucks that are used for logging.  During  the pandemic, however, those limits were temporarily increased to support the increase in freight and trucking activity.  Trucks  during the pandemic were required to carry heavier loads in order to ensure that Georgia residents were not at risk of shortages of medical supplies, foods and other essentials across the state. The order that allowed increased weight limits on trucks is set to expire soon.

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A new campaign by the federal administration sees transportation officials joining hands with major businesses as well as non profit organizations with a singular goal in mind – to reduce the number of people killed in auto accidents every year.

The  burgeoning number of people being killed in car accidents in Georgia and around the United States every year has raised alarm in transportation safety circles.  Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has made it one of his administration’s top priorities to reduce the number of deaths that occur in auto accidents every year.  Auto accident wrongful death numbers continue to rise with the number of fatalities in pedestrian and bicycle accidents spiking at an especially alarming rate.

In response, the  Department of Transportation has launched a new campaign called “Call to Action” with  the goal of reducing these fatality statistics.   The  campaign has called on parties from all walks of society from non profits and traffic safety organizations to businesses and automakers to join hands with the federal administration to achieve this target.

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Passengers  have a big role to play in helping reduce a motorist’s risk of being involved in a car accident.   Passengers who speak up when the driver of their car is driving at excessive speeds or texting while driving can reduce their risk of being involved in a possibly serious auto accident.

That  message is being put out to passengers by two traffic safety organizations called We Save Lives and the National Road  Safety Foundation.  Both  of these organizations launched the National Passenger Safety Week initiative last year, and this year, the special commemoration was marked between January 22 and January 29.

According to these two groups,  it is important for passengers to understand that they play a  huge role in their own safety, even if they are not the ones behind the wheel.  Statistics show that passengers have enough incentive to speak up when they see the driver of their car engaging in dangerous driving behaviors.  According  to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, as many as a quarter of all car accident wrongful deaths in the United States every year are passengers.

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A new study by an insurance company ranks Georgia as one of five states that together account for more than 40% of all auto accident wrongful deaths in the country.

In the first three quarters of 2022, a total of 31,785 car accident fatalities were recorded on American roads.  As many as 37% of these deaths, however, occurred in only 5 states.  One of those states is Georgia.

There is no denying the fact that Georgia has a serious problem with traffic safety. During the first 9 months of 2022, a total of 1,353 auto accident wrongful deaths were recorded in the state of Georgia.  That  was a 3.8% increase from the same period of time in 2021.

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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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