Posted on February 4th, 2013 No comments
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Posted on January 14th, 2012 No comments
Another Winter Weather Advisory has been issued for the Louisville area Saturday. Chance for another inch of snow this afternoon. Travel advisory issued. Periods of low visibility and hazardous road conditions possible. Use caution.
Posted on January 13th, 2012 No commentsLoading ...
Posted on January 12th, 2012 No comments
A Winter Weather Advisory has been issued for the Louisville and Jefferson County area until 9:00 a.m. Friday. While accumulations are expected to be small, periods of heavy snow are expected. Temperatures are expected to drop and icy roads are likely. Wind is also expected to create blowing snow and white out conditions. Travel may be hazardous.
Posted on January 11th, 2012 No comments
A new report from the National Transportation and Safety Board recommends that all states ban the use of cell phones while driving. This includes hands-free use of cell phones, through blue tooth devices.
“According to NHTSA [National Highway Traffic Safety Administration], more than 3,000 people lost their lives last year in distraction-related accidents,” NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman said in a statement. “It is time for all of us to stand up for safety by turning off electronic devices when driving. No call, no text, no update, is worth a human life.”
While the agency does not have the power to enforce such a ban, it’s recommendations carry a huge amount of weight. Whether states are willing to enforce such a ban in today’s “anti-regulation climate” remains to be seen.
Other experts question whether the governments own studies support the claims the agency makes. Only recently, we reported on a study that called into question those statistics, believing they had been “overstated.” You can read about that report, here.
Furthermore, while an overwhelming amount of people tend to support such bans as “texting and driving”, the recommendation includes all cell phone use, including the use of hands free devices. Questions remain whether such a broad prohibition is as popular or even effective.
Would the ban of cell phone use while driving have the desired effect of preventing such distractions? It’s doubtful. Even though an overwhelming percent of Americans are in favor of “texting and driving” bans, almost half of adults and more than half of teenagers admit to reading or sending a text while driving. Making the behavior a violation of the law is no more likely to have an effect.
There is no doubt that “texting and driving” is a dangerous distraction that can lead to accidents. However, that doesn’t mean that the use of a cell phone, especially with a hands-free device, in all situations is an equally dangerous distraction. There simply is not a lot of information on just how distracting cell phone use is when compared to other distractions that are considered acceptable risks in operating a motor vehicle.
In fact, at least one study has concluded that its not the use of cell phones that cause accidents, but distracted drivers in general. CNet reported on a study back in 2010 that found distractions, not cell phones per se, were the cause of most car crashes. Experts noted that while cell phone use had exploded over the past several years, there has been no increase in the number of accidents. You can read the entire article, here.
Posted on November 14th, 2011 No comments
The Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm warning for Louisville this afternoon. Heavy rain and lightening with winds as high as 32 mph likely. If you do not have to be on the roads, stay home.
Posted on November 9th, 2011 No comments
Problems continue for Toyota. Toyota recently announced the recall of 550,000 cars for steering defects. While no injuries have been associated with the defect, Toyota has received reports as far back as 2007. The defect makes it harder to steer.
Read the full article regarding the defect recall here
Posted on November 7th, 2011 No comments
The recent release of Apple’s long awaited iPhone 4s brought with it an exciting new feature called Siri, a natural voice interface that uses artificial intelligence to interpret user commands and answer questions. Ask Siri to text a contact and the commands are completed without any physical input by the user. Elly over at Appchat has a short Youtube video demonstrating this Siri function, here.
While Siri is only available on the new iPhone 4s, there are other 3rd party voice to text apps available for other phones in both iTunes and the Android App Store. These apps allow a user to record a message and turn it into text. The user can then choose whether to email or text the message or send it as an update to Twitter or Facebook. Other 3rd party apps read text and emails aloud, allowing you to respond with voice commands. While these apps do turn voice into text and can initiate simple commands, they typically require a much larger amount of user input to function.
So, with this understanding can we say that functions like Siri and 3rd party iPhone and Android voice to text apps promote safer driving?
It’s clear that the a decrease in user input reduces the amount of time a user is distracted by his mobile phone. Voice to text apps that eliminate the need to type or read text are clearly a better alternative than actually typing or reading the text itself. However, that does not mean that these apps eliminate distractions themselves.
The US Dept. of Transportation maintains a website at distraction.gov that discusses the facts of distracted driving and the statistics on distraction’s role in car wrecks. According to distraction.gov there are actually three main types of distractions:
- Visual-taking your eyes off the road
- Manual-taking your hands off the wheel,
- Cognitive-taking your mind off what you’re doing
According to distraction.gov among other statistics:
- Texting is the most alarming distraction, because it involves all three types of distraction
- 20% of injury crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving
- The under 20 age group had the greatest proportion of distracted drivers
- Drivers who use a handheld device were four times likely to be involved in crashes serious enough to injure themselves.
Anything that takes your eyes, hands or mind off the task of driving is considered a distraction. The higher the level of distraction, like text messaging, the better the likelihood that the distraction will play a role in a serious injury causing crash.
Any app or function that reduces or eliminates distractions clearly promotes safer driving. Among all the voice to text apps and functions, Siri would appear to hold the most promise. However, while Siri and other 3rd party voice to text apps may reduce the amount of visual and manual distraction involved in sending a text message, they do not entirely eliminate all the distractions that can contribute to a car wreck. The more a user is required to look at his device or physically input information into his device, the more visual, manual, and cognitive distraction that occurs. The more distractions, the bigger the risk of an injury causing wreck.
Remember the safest way to drive is to avoid all distractions, including using your cell phone, whether or not you use Siri or other third party apps. Do not under any circumstances manually text message someone while driving since this act is the most distracting, most dangerous and likely illegal.
Posted on November 2nd, 2011 No comments
US News just reported on findings by the American Journal of Public Health that revealed that women who wore seatbelts were more likely then men who wore seatbelts to be injured in car wrecks. The report only looked at cars from 1998 to 2008, so newer cars may not provide the same results.
According to the report women were 47% m0re likely to be injured then men. However, men were still more likely to die in a crash. The reason? Experts believe that women’s smaller size makes them more vulnerable due to their seating position and interaction with the safety restraints.
While newer safety technology may or may not reduce these findings, the fact remains that both men and women will continue to be injured in car wrecks. The fact that cars are safer, doesn’t eliminate all injuries. That’s because the dynamics of car wrecks still involve an intolerable amount of stress to the human body. The human body simply is not designed to undergo impacts such as those in car wrecks.
Cars are a relatively recent industrial phenomenon. The fact that cars have drastically improved in both design and safety does not remove the fact that a collision causes significant stress and force to the human body. While seatbelts, headrests, and airbags have reduced the chance of the human body impacting hard stationary object in cars, they have not reduced the force at which the human body travels before it hits the restraint.
Safety features are a good thing and they continue to reduce the likelihood that someone in a car wreck will be seriously injured or killed. However, that does not necessarily mean that they prevent all injuries. Don’t be surprised if studies continue to show that injuries and deaths continue to occur in car wrecks no matter what safety features are involved. Unfortunately, for women who are generally smaller then men, their size and muscle build may make them more likely to be injured in a car wreck, even while wearing a seatbelt.
Posted on September 12th, 2011 No comments
USA Today posts an article on data compiled by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) pursuant to the recently passed health care law, showing the denial rates for health insurance. Using this data a Government Accountability Office study of 459 insurers published earlier this year found an average of 19% of applicants nationally were denied coverage. The study showed a wide range of denial rates. A quarter of insurers had denial rates of 15% or below and a quarter had rates of 40% or higher.
The article noted that a House Energy and Commerce Committee investigation into four large for-profit insurers last year found that the denial rates have steadily increased from 11.9% in 2007 to 15.3% in 2009. The companies reviewed were Aetna, Humana, UnitedHealthcare and WellPoint.
The article quotes Kentucky resident Amanda Hite who says she felt “really healthy” when she applied recently for health insurance. But Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield denied her, because she had seen a chiropractor a few months earlier for a sore back and later had visited an emergency room because of back pain. Hite’s case isn’t unusual. Many of the plans offered by Anthem Blue Cross in Kentucky reject about one in five applicants, according to data provided by insurers to the HHS. Rival insurers in the state have even higher denial rates: Humana rejects 26% to 39% of applications in Kentucky, while UnitedHealthcare denies 38% to 43%.
This is yet another example of how insurance companies seek to avoid risk. Health insurance companies only want to insure healthy people who don’t use their benefits. Car insurance companies only want to insure people who don’t get into accidents. The difference? Well, most states require insurance companies to offer minimum car insurance, while also requiring all drivers to have this minimum insurance. Health insurance companies for the most part were not so obligated. However, the recent Health Care Law bans health insurance companies from denying coverage for health reasons starting in 2014.
Insurance companies are in the risk business. The more risk a person has, the more premiums that person will pay to offset the risk the insurance company takes on by insuring that person. Mandatory insurance requirements favor consumers, because they inherently spread the risk among a larger group of people, while denying insurance companies the luxury of cherry picking only those consumers who carry the lowest risk.