Edwards & Kautz
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Paducah Legal Issues Blog

ZF points out safety benefits of external airbags

New safety data from the ZF Group may encourage other car parts manufacturers to consider working on external airbag technology. ZF finds that external airbags could, in the case of a side collision, reduce the severity of occupants' injuries by as much as 40 percent. Drivers in Kentucky should know, however, that it will be a while before these are introduced to public; the technology is far from perfect.

There are concerns, for instance, that the predictive systems linked to the airbags will not detect a crash in time. Airbags may not deploy in the split second before the crash, or they may even deploy at unnecessary times. To address these concerns, ZF is pointing to rapid advances in lidar, radar, ultrasonics and camera technology.

Why is texting while driving so dangerous?

When people think of distracted driving, the first thing that often comes to mind is texting while driving. Texting behind the wheel is illegal in Kentucky, but many drivers still feel confident enough that they can get away with it.

However, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) reported that distractions, like texting, led to over 50,000 traffic accidents in 2016 alone. Most people understand that there is a risk, but why is it so dangerous?

OSHA issues reminder about retail worker safety during holidays

When it comes to workplace injuries in Kentucky, common tasks like stocking shelves, packing boxes and selling merchandise can all lead to job site accidents. Given the intense surge in holiday shoppers, the risks associated with retail jobs increases substantially. That's why the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently released a statement reminding employers of their duties to protect retail employees.

The effects of a heavy holiday schedule can extend beyond simply being hurt in a work accident. Long hours may be great for a retail worker's pocketbook, but they can also lead to unintended consequences like a lack of sleep or workplace stress. In fact, studies show that increased stress can cause an employee to be less aware at work. This can lead to more workplace injuries.

Parking lot safety

When we think of motor vehicle accidents, those happening on the roadways typically come to mind. But surprisingly, parking lots see their share of crashes and accidents, especially during the holiday season. The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that around 50,000 crashes happen annually in parking lots causing 500 deaths and 60,000 injuries. Many go unreported, so this number may even be higher.

Unfortunately, the number of parking lot crashes increases this time of year when we see additional mall traffic and drivers more distracted with lengthy to-do lists. The number of accidents in parking lots spikes on Black Friday and continues to be high through the holiday season.

Keeping employees safe during outdoor winter work

Winter in Kentucky brings with it several challenges for outdoor workers, including cold and windy conditions, icy surfaces and the possibility of snow cave-ins. At its Winter Weather resource site, OSHA lays out some of the precautions that employers must take to keep their employees safe. The following is a brief outline.

One of the most hazardous jobs that a worker can undertake during the winter is rooftop snow removal. While OSHA has no specific guidelines for this, the organization provides guidelines on the use of fall protection systems, ladders and aerial lifts, any of which could be applied to rooftop snow removal. Hazard training is essential for specific tasks like snow removal, working at high elevations and driving in snow.

Temporary workers fill important roles

Temporary workers, also known as seasonal workers, contingent workers, contract workers or consultants, provide many Kentucky businesses with great flexibility with their staffing requirements. Not only do temps provide extra assistance during busy periods of the year, hiring a worker for a limited term allows the employer to evaluate the individual and determine if he or she may have the potential to be a permanent employee. However, until a permanent job offer is made and accepted, the temp is somewhat of a hybrid worker who completes a work shift at the business but is actually employed by the temporary agency.

The relationship between the business and the staffing agency is essential to protecting the temp worker's rights under federal and state law. For instance, OSHA suggests businesses and agencies take a joint responsibility approach in ensuring the temp's right to a safe working environment. This was done to avoid problems in the past where certain employers used temps to sidestep compliance with OSHA requirements and agencies feigned ignorance of all potential workplace hazards.

Study provides data on crash risk among drowsy drivers

Drowsy driving is almost always the result of a lack of sleep. While seven to nine hours of sleeping time is recommended, a U.S. Department of Transportation survey shows that one in three adult drivers in the nation sleeps fewer than seven hours. Drivers in Kentucky should know that drowsiness is to blame for an estimated 7 percent of all motor vehicle accidents. This amounts to about 330,000 crashes a year.

The less sleep one gets, the greater the chances of a car crash. According to a recent study published in the SLEEP journal, those who sleep six, five or four hours raise their risk for a crash 1.3, 1.9 and 2.9 times, respectively. The risk goes up 15.1 times among those who sleep fewer than four hours.

Misdiagnosis common in Parkinson's cases

When people in Kentucky experience trembling in their hands or shaking when they walk, they may jump to the conclusion that they have Parkinson's disease, the progressive neurological disorder. These symptoms are characteristic of Parkinson's, and family doctors may be likely to diagnose the disorder based on a description of these symptoms. However, without a neurologist's expert opinion, people could be facing an incorrect diagnosis. There are a number of other conditions whose symptoms can mimic those of Parkinson's, but the treatment required is significantly different.

Some experts estimate that Parkinson's disease is misdiagnosed in up to 30 percent of cases, putting patients' health at risk if they do not receive a correct diagnosis and proper early treatment. One of the most common disorders to resemble Parkinson's is essential tremor. This movement disorder leads to uncontrollable shaking in the hands, neck, head, voice box and other areas for brief periods. Doctors note that essential tremor is more likely to be visible during activity, like eating or writing, while Parkinson's disease is more likely to become apparent when a person is at rest.

Tesla claims Autopilot reduces car crashes

Many people in Kentucky are interested in the potential of autonomous driving technology to cut down on the number of car accidents. One example of semi-autonomous technology currently installed in cars is Tesla's Autopilot system. The automaker issued a voluntary Vehicle Safety Report saying that drivers who use Autopilot are less likely to be involved in a crash than Tesla drivers who turn off Autopilot and far less likely to have an accident than the general driving population.

Tesla calculated its statistics between July and September 2018. The company said that drivers using Autopilot had one accident or related incident per 3.34 million miles in which drivers operated a car with Autopilot. For drivers with Autopilot technology turned off, the company reported one car accident per 1.92 million miles driven. In comparison, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration noted that drivers in general have one crash per 492,000 miles. There are a number of factors that can contribute to the differential, including driver demographics, car types, time of day, weather and other factors.

A driver’s role in preventing motorcycle accidents

Accidents involving motorcycles often result in devastating and life-changing injuries or death. The unfortunate reality is that most motorcycle accidents involve another vehicle and often the driver of the larger vehicle is ultimately responsible for the collision.

While motorcyclists need to take precautions and watch out for their own safety, other motorists can make an enormous impact when it comes to the safety of motorcyclists on Kentucky’s roads. Motorcyclists are at a much higher risk of injury or death than other motorists, which means every person in every type of vehicle has a role to play in reducing the amount and devastation of motorcycle accidents.

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Edwards & Kautz

Edwards & Kautz
222 Walter Jetton Blvd
Paducah, KY 42003

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