42716In an effort to keep consumers constantly informed about the safety of the vehicles they drive, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (“IIHS”) puts several models of popular cars, trucks, and vans through a series of simulated collisions every year and then ranks the vehicles based upon their performances. A vehicle’s ability to withstand an impact, its design related to the passenger compartment, and suspected injuries to occupants inside are just some of the areas reviewed during IIHS testing.

Recently, IIHS released data from several large pickup trucks that underwent a small overlap front crash test. The small overlap front crash test involves a vehicle striking a fixed object in a head-on manner but with the object off-center from the vehicle. It is designed to simulate a situation where a car leaves the road and strikes a pole or a tree or the event where a second vehicle crosses a center line and collides head-on with a first car in a striking or glancing blow.

Unfortunately, the results of the testing are something less than positive.

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42616Technology is pervasive in our daily lives. From the alarm clock that rings in the morning to the GPS device that gets you to your destination, to a cell phone that keeps you connected to the world and the tablet that lets you work on the go, it is hard to avoid technology. While these devices have led to a great convenience for the masses, they also present many drawbacks, and among them are safety concerns. Increasingly, motorists are using their cell phones behind the wheel and it had led to an increase in distracted driving car accidents in Chicago and across the nation.

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, a time for drivers of all ages to reflect on their personal conduct while operating a motor vehicle and to encourage others to do the same.

Sponsored in part by the National Safety Council, Distracted Driving Awareness Month places an emphasis on all distracting behaviors among drivers, though a primary focus is the use of a cell phone. Many motorists fail to realize that a conversation itself is the distracting portion of cell phone use and therefore a phone should not be used except in the case of an emergency, even if the cell phone is hands-free. Cell phones should never be used for texting, emailing, or surfing the internet while driving as all these functions require a driver’s attention to be diverted from traffic in front of her and onto the cell phone, leading to an increased risk for a collision.

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42216Many drivers on Chicago roadways today remember a time when the speed limits across the country were much lower than they are now. In the 1970s and 1980s, most states chose to keep their maximum speed limits to 55 miles per hour or under due to the threat of financial penalties from the federal government but that all changed when the National Maximum Speed Limit law was repealed in 1995. Following that move, many states increased their speed limits quickly and by January of 2013, only the nation’s capital had a 55 mph maximum.

Originally, the speed limit law was intended to help conserve gasoline but as an added bonus, officials quickly noted that the number of fatalities on American roadways decreased substantially. At present, approximately 50 percent of all collisions are believed to have excessive speed as a factor, and many of those car accidents produce injuries and/or deaths among the drivers and passengers involved.

By studying data since the repeal of the National Maximum Speed Limit law, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety concluded that increased speed limits in the last two decades are the cause of 33,000 traffic deaths in the United States.

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42116Chicago residents who are experiencing a medical problem often present to a hospital, physician’s office, or surgical center, trusting that those who work in these facilities will be responsible with patient care and will focus on safety. Yet new data released by the Food and Drug Administration suggests that patient safety may have been lacking in numerous medical facilities across the nation that used certain types of gastrointestinal scopes to diagnose illnesses.

The FDA reviewed procedures known as endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, commonly referred to as ERCP. It involves running a surgical scope down a patient’s esophagus for either diagnosis or treatment purposes of problems related to the digestive tract. The scopes themselves are called duodenoscopes and they are manufactured by several different companies and used in countless medical facilities across the nation.

The FDA’s research concluded that at many as 350 patients in at least 41 medical facilities were exposed to tainted duodenoscopes between January 1, 2010 and October 31, 2015.

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41816Often, when it comes to driving, motorists will express an understanding of safety-related issues and will state that certain dangerous behaviors should be avoided at all costs. Yet those same motorists will admit to engaging in the dangerous behaviors themselves, leading to a “do as I say, not as I do” situation.

This seems to be particularly true of drowsy driving, an activity described as operating a motor vehicle while being impaired by a lack of sleep. It can stem from a worker who does not get enough time to rest, a parent of a new baby, or even someone who must be on-the-go often to provide for their families. In Chicago, many incidents of drowsy driving arise from the fact that the city’s expressways and interstates are so congested that drivers face long commutes, limiting the amount of time they rest each night.

No matter why someone is tired, the fact that they have not slept enough puts themselves and others in danger of a car accident, and data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests that more than 6,000 deaths are caused by drowsy driving annually.

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41316(2)When the Illinois Department of Transportation announced proposed plans to widen the Eisenhower Expressway, the greater Chicago community had a range of reactions. Some were elated that additional lanes were being planned to increase capacity on one of the most congested areas in Illinois. Others were exasperated at the thought of a multi-year construction project that would certainly worsen the conditions of the expressway during the period of time when road work is active.

Now, IDOT is releasing some additional information about upgrades and changes it plans to make to surface roads in Chicago before work begins on widening I-290.

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41116(2)Baby powder has been a staple in millions of American households for decades. Some use it as its name suggests – to powder a baby during a diaper change – but others find it helpful as a deodorant, shampoo, or a freshener. Often, baby powder is comprised of talc, which is why is can be called talcum powder in some instances, though some baby powder may be made of corn starch.

Though its use remains high, recent concerns over the safety of baby powder have many questioning whether it is smart to use the product liberally. Health concerns about inhaling the talc component of baby powder have been known for some time with possible long term harm including aspiration pneumonia or granuloma but recent legal action has focused on a link between the use of baby powder and an increased incident of ovarian cancer.

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4916Recently, the national spotlight has been focused on lead levels in the public water systems in several cities, drawing attention to issues related to water procurement, treatment, and distribution in areas that have older plumbing. The problem has been confounded by the fact that many cities with an established footprint have pipes that predate the 1970s and therefore may contain lead or be lined with lead. As water continually rushes through these pipes, lead can leach into the water and contaminate it, making all water in a receiving household unsafe.

In 2016, it is surprising many people that lead poisoning is still a problem in the nation, and unfortunately, Chicago continues to experience many incidents of lead poisoning and contamination annually. According to the City of Chicago, approximately 1,000 of the city’s children are diagnosed with lead poisoning every year.

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crane-1549933Any type of employee can be hurt in a workplace accident in Chicago, but some are more likely than others to suffer from harm. Among them, those who work in construction or near a construction site are particularly likely to be involved in incidents that cause injuries and damages to the workers themselves. Construction zones present a mix of activities and often a fast-paced environment, leading to incidents where mistakes or errors may result. If a worker is operating heavy machinery and uses poor judgment, that worker may injure herself and others on the site and those injuries may have a profound effect on those involved, their loved ones, and their friends.

Under the laws in Illinois, it is the duty of every employer – regardless of what industry is at issue – to provide a safe work environment, or as safe as possible if the job is one with inherent risk. This can mean things like properly training and certifying employees, having safety seminars, following local guidelines and OSHA regulations, and simply making sure that employees are not forced to risk themselves while they work. Failing to do so may make a job site unnecessarily risky and may be against the law.

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4416(2)When Chicago’s bike share program, Divvy, first debuted, it was met with a lot of fanfare. Media was present in the heart of downtown to interview riders and even to test out the program for themselves, enjoying or at least investigating a new form of transportation for those who live in or work in the city. Many were skeptical about the benefits of this program, though, expecting low ridership and a great inconvenience to motorists who drive on the Loop’s crowded streets. Others proclaimed that increasing bicycle ridership certainly would mean more deaths in bicycle accidents in Illinois.

Now, a new report has released potentially startling statistics about bike shares, including the fact that not a single bike share rider has been killed in an accident in the United States since these programs began.

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