DEATHS FROM LARGE TRUCK CRASHES INCREASE FOURTH YEAR IN A ROW

The number of people who were killed in large-truck crashes increased for the fourth straight year, bucking a trend of overall improvement in U.S. highway safety. Fatalities rose to 3,964 people in 2013, which includes truckers, pedestrians and the occupants of vehicles that collided with the big rigs, the U.S. Transportation Department stated last month in its annual traffic-injury report That’s up 0.5 percent from 2012, even though highway deaths involving all types of vehicles fell 3.1 percent to 32,719.

Regulators said new federal standards requiring stability-control technology to prevent rollovers, and future rules that may require stronger underride guards on the backs of semi-trailer can help reverse the trend. David Friedman, the Deputy Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, told the media:

We do know tired truckers are a risk on our roads. Any effort to reduce the number of people who are tired or drowsy on the road can have an impact.

Interestingly, the report was issued just a week after Congress suspended part of it set of regulations intended to ensure truckers get adequate rest. Lawmakers targeted a portion of the rule closing a loophole that kept some drivers from working 82 hours over eight days. That provision won’t be enforced for at least a year as regulators conduct research to see if it had an unintended effect of forcing more trucks onto the road during rush hours. Federal regulators will monitor whether the new policy affects the fatality count. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx stated:

The hours-of service rule is a critically important rule. Critical pieces of it have now been changed.

While the overall state of highway safety may be improving, and hopefully it is, there are far too many deaths and serious injuries occurring each month. Besides the decline in all kinds of traffic deaths in 2013, the year tied an all-time record for the lowest fatality rate-1.1 people were killed for every 100 million vehicle-miles traveled.

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More than 20% of Fatal Crashes Involve Tired Drivers

Truck driver fatigue is a major problem. Research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety (AAA) shows that more than one in five fatal crashes involve driver fatigue. These results seem to confirm what safety experts have long suspected: the prevalence of drowsy driving is much greater than official statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) currently indicate.

AAA has urged drivers to recognize warning signs of driver fatigue and take action to avoid tragedy. President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, Peter Kissinger. gave this timely warning:

This new research further confirms that drowsy driving is a serious traffic safety problem. Unfortunately, drivers often underestimate this risk and overestimate their ability to combat drowsiness behind the wheel.

The report also found that tired driving crashes, a mainstay in recent headlines, are not without consequence. One third of crashes involving a drowsy driver result in injuries and more than 6,000 fatigue-related crashes each year result in at least one death.

Previous research from the AAA Foundation showed that young adult drivers, ages 19-24, are the most likely to admit to driving while drowsy, with 33 percent reporting doing so in the last month. By contrast, the oldest drivers (ages 75+) and the youngest (ages 16-18) were the least likely to report the same offense. Kissinger also said:

Despite the fact that 95 percent of Americans deem it ‘unacceptable’ to drive when they are so tired that they have a hard time keeping their eyes open, more than 28 percent admit to doing so in the last month. Like other impairments. driving while drowsy is not without risk. AAA urges drivers to understand the warning signs of drowsy driving. These warning signs are:

• The inability to recall the last few miles traveled;
• Having disconnected or wandering thoughts;
• Having difficulty focusing or keeping your eyes open;
• Feeling as though your head is very heavy;
• Drifting out of your driving lane, perhaps driving on the rumble strips;
• Yawning repeatedly;
• Accidentally tailgating other vehicles; and
• Missing traffic signs.

When faced with fatigue, AAA recommends that drivers find a safe place to pull over if experiencing any of the drowsy driving symptoms. To remain alert and be safer behind the wheel, AAA suggests:

• Get plenty of sleep (at least seven hours) especially the night before a long drive;
• Drive at times when you are normally awake;
• Schedule a break every two hours or ever) 100 miles;
• Avoid heavy foods;
• Travel with an alert passenger and take turns driving;
• Avoid medications that cause drowsiness or other impairment; and
• Consult with a sleep specialist or other medical professional if you have trouble getting enough rest or are chronically fatigued.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s Prevalence of Motor Vehicle Crashes Involving Drowsy Drivers report is based on the analysis of a representative sample of 14,268 crashes that occurred in years 2009-2013 in which at least one vehicle was towed from the scene. AAA highlighted the risks of drowsy driving in support of the National Sleep Foundation’s Drowsy Driving Prevention Week®, which was November 2-9. For more information about fatigued driving, visit the National Sleep Foundation’s drowsy driving website at www.DrowsyDriving.org.

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c) (3) not-for¬profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 200 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them, and minimize injuries when they do occur. Visit www.aaafoundation.org for more information on this and other research.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

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Ford Recalls 13,500 Lincoln MKC Vehicles

CNN’s Money (1/7, Isidore) reports online that Ford has issued a recall on roughly “13,500 2015 Lincoln MKC because drivers are shutting the vehicle off by mistake.” According to the article, Ford said that motorists are mistakenly touching the vehicle’s “push-button ignition button while the car is driving.” The report notes that one vehicle owner “wrote to federal safety regulators” that a passenger had “mistakenly pushed the on-off button and that the car came to a sudden halt.

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US seizes $18 million from accounts of compounding pharmacy.

The AP (1/7) reports from Boston that Federal authorities have seized more than $18 million “from the owners of a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy at the center of a 2012 meningitis outbreak that killed 64 people nationwide.” US Attorney Carmen Ortiz said the funds “were seized from 13 different financial institutions as a result of seizure warrants unsealed Tuesday.” The AP notes that about $16.8 million “was frozen in accounts connected to husband-and-wife Douglas and Carla Conigliaro of Dedham.” Carla Conigliaro “was a majority shareholder at the now-shuttered New England Compounding Center in Framingham,” and the Conigliaros “have been charged with transferring assets following the outbreak, which was traced to tainted steroid injections made by the company.”
The Boston Globe (1/7, Andersen, 1.78M) reports that Thomas Sobol, “a lawyer representing victims of the outbreak, lauded the government for the asset seizures. ‘Our position from square one has been that the first priority of any recovery from the Cadden and Conigliaro families should [be] the victims of the NECC tragedy,’ Sobol wrote in an e-mail. ‘Every indication seems to show that the Department of Justice, under the leadership of US attorney Ortiz, shares this goal. Since it appears this development adds to the funds already set aside, this is an excellent development. Well done, DOJ.’” The Globe notes that Christina DiIorio-Sterling, a spokeswoman for Ortiz, “said in an e-mail that it is premature to discuss the future of the funds. ‘The government has restrained the funds pending litigation,’ she wrote in an e-mail. ‘Until the litigation is complete, we cannot say with certainty how the funds will be disseminated,’ DiIorio-Sterling wrote.”

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Auto Recalls May Rise in 2015 According to NHTSA Chief

Bloomberg News (1/7, Plungis, 1.94M) reports NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind told reporters this week that “public attention on auto-safety defects likely means” that recalls this year in the US will surpass the record last year of over 60 million vehicles. According to the article, Rosekind said that improving the way the NHTSA “tracks potential defects and automakers recall cars will be a top priority.” Rosekind also stated that regulators have to make sure safety problems are addressed, the report notes.
Reuters (1/7, Rucker, Klayman) quotes Rosekind as saying, “I would expect that we will actually see an increase in recalls” in 2015. He added, “This is one of those cases where more recalls could actually mean the system is working better.”
Detroit News (1/7, Shepardson, 504K) reports Rosekind said he plans to “seek new authority and additional positions” for the NHTSA, “because it’s underfunded and there’s room for improvement.” Rosekind is quoted as saying, “There is no question that this is an agency that is under-resourced.” However, the article notes that Rosekind declined to comment on “how many additional people he needs.” Meanwhile, Automotive News (1/7, Beene, 181K) reports Rosekind said that improving the agency’s “vehicle defect analysis and recall system” is a top priority. According to the article, Rosekind said the NHTSA is “evaluating its entire recall infrastructure to find improvements.”

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Woman from Georgia Sues Mega Bus Over Crash

Georgia woman files suit in Indiana Megabus crash

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Atlanta Bound Mega Bus Sidelined By Police

Atlanta-bound Megabus ordered off the road – Atlanta Business Chronicle

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FDA Warns Pharmaceutical Company About Drugs Manufactured in China

FDA Warns Chinese Ingredients Maker About ‘Basic’ Manufacturing Problems – Pharmalot – WSJ

The Wall Street Journal (1/6, Silverman, 5.62M) “Pharmalot” blog reports that the FDA recently issued a warning letter to Novacyl Wuxi Pharmaceutical facility, a Chinese active pharmaceutical ingredients supplier, in response to manufacturing violations, including an inspection that revealed changes were made to an impurities test sands documentation or justification. The agency also pointed to other issues that called into question the quality of the manufacturer’s ingredients, including an incident in which Novacyl failed to establish lab controls to avoid erroneous data collection and recording. The warning comes amid heightened efforts from the agency to expedite the visa approval process for more US inspectors in China. Fierce Pharma Manufacturing (1/6, Staton, 139) also reports on the warning.

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GM Recalls More Vehicles Because of Faulty Ignition Switch

GM Issues Three New Recalls, Cites Ignition Systems Fox Business

The AP (1/4) reports on General Motors’ new vehicle recall for “92,221 full-size trucks and SUVs for a defect in ignition lock systems that can cause safety problems in hot conditions,” covering North American vehicles from some 2011-2012 and 2007-2014 models “repaired with defective parts.” The recall affects Chevrolet Silverado, Avalanche, Tahoe, and Suburban vehicles, as well as GMC Sierra, Yukon, and Yukon XL models, and Cadillac Escalade, Escalade ESV, and Escalade EXT versions.
WHBQ-TV Memphis, TN (1/3, 86K) reported online that GM does not believe there have been any crashes or injuries from the problems. These latest recalls have to do with “faulty ignition” switches that can “move out of the start positions and could cause the vehicle to stall and prevent airbags from deploying.”
Reuters (1/2, Geier) reports that General Motors begin 2015 with yet more safety recalls, this time three centering on the ignition devices in several SUVs. The article mentioned DOT’s fining of General Motors for $35 million.

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Safety Advice From Consumer Reports Regarding Hospitals

Survive Your Hospital Stay _ Hospital Ratings – Consumer Reports

An estimated 440,000 people die each year after suffering a medical error in the hospital.

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