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Covington Personal Injury Law Blog

NTSB Makes Annual Recommendations on Safety Improvements

Each year, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issues its Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements with the hopes of influencing national transportation policy. These recommendations cover a variety of transportation safety issues that affect drivers in Kentucky and nationwide. The recently released 2019-2020 Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements includes 10 items, six of which relate to the trucking industry.

The truck accident related issues covered by the recommendations include a focus on eliminating distracted and drunken driving. They also cover suggestions to decrease the rate of high-speed accidents and increase the use of collision avoidance systems.

Report: Big Rig Fatalities Are On The Rise

Federal vehicle crash data analyzed by safety group Road Safe America show an unsettling trend in Kentucky and across the United States: a sharp increase in tractor-trailer related fatal accidents since 2009.

According to the data, nearly 36,000 Americans died as a result of large truck accidents from 2009 through 2017. These numbers are especially discouraging given that the total number of miles driven by professional truck drivers dropped from 2009 to 2016. In other words, the public roadways are more dangerous than before despite the fact that fewer trucks are on the road.

Driving distracted can put others at risk

Despite widespread attention paid to the dangers of distracted driving, one study indicates that it continues to be a significant threat on Kentucky roads. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released a report comparing results of surveys in 2014 and 2018 that questioned drivers about their distracted behaviors behind the wheel. While overall rates of distracted driving remained relatively stable between the two years, more dangerous forms of distraction became increasingly common in that time period.

In some ways, the changes in distracted driving patterns mirrored overall trends in communication. For example, drivers were less likely to hold a cellphone while having a voice call behind the wheel. On the other hand, they were 57 percent more likely to text, send emails or use the internet while driving on a mobile device. While it poses an increased risk of car accidents to drive while talking on a handheld phone, as drivers' attention tends to drift to the center of the road, driving while texting can have more severe consequences. The hand manipulation of a phone that accompanies texting and surfing can take drivers' eyes away from the road and hands from the wheel. Studies indicate that it can elevate the risk of a fatal crash by two-thirds.

Fetal distress: Your doctor must be prepared to diagnose and act

Unless you have an educational and/or professional background in the field of obstetrics and gynecology, you may have little to no understanding of how to recognize signs of fetal distress during pregnancy, labor and delivery. This is why most mothers depend greatly on their doctors to monitor their conditions and to not only recognize signs of trouble but to be ready to take swift action as needed, to keep them and their babies safe.

Even if you've given birth in the past, there's no guarantee your current pregnancy will unfold the same as before. You may gain more or less weight this time, or develop an adverse health condition, such as gestational diabetes or high blood pressure. Your doctor is obligated to discuss signs of potential trouble with you and to be able to act under stress to make split-second decisions, if needed, to order a C-section or other procedures, if you or your child are in distress.

Beware of reckless drivers on Kentucky highways

Like most good drivers in Kentucky, you do your best to adhere to traffic regulations, to keep up with maintenance on your car and to make responsible choices regarding issues, such as alcohol consumption before operating a motor vehicle. The problem is that you have no way of knowing if drivers who share your roadways are doing the same.

There are reckless drivers on most highways. An uneventful commute to work can turn tragic if a nearby driver disregards safety rules or state traffic laws. Even if you notice a potential problem in the way a particular driver is maneuvering his or her vehicle, you may not have enough time to safely react to avoid a collision. An accident can't be undone; therefore, if it happens to you, the main priority is to obtain the support you need to achieve as full a recovery as possible.

Study may help decrease brain injury deaths

A new research project out of the Department of Computer Science at the Discovery Analytics Center plans to use machine learning techniques to find ways that may reduce deaths from traumatic brain injuries. The four-year study will use computational models to predict both short- and long-term prognoses and even offer specific treatment options for certain patients. Traumatic brain injury is one of the biggest causes of death for people aged 44 and under in Kentucky and the rest of the U.S.

The main goal of this project is to help prevent brain damage issues by predicting what might happen, such as increased intracranial pressure or metabolic derangement. Innovative computational algorithms will be used to detect patterns in medical records where no two brain injuries are exactly alike. Information used in the algorithms will include bedside data and data obtained from remote telemedicine.

Uber and Lyft try to combat tired driving

Tired drivers could be a safety hazard for those who use ride-sharing services like Lyft or Uber. They can also be a danger to others on Kentucky roads. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, there are 328,000 crashes each year that are caused by drowsy drivers. Of those crashes, 109,000 cause injury while 6,400 result in someone dying. There are several reasons why Uber or Lyft drivers operate while drowsy.

First, they may believe that sleep isn't important or is simply overrated. They may also believe that they need to work longer hours because they aren't paid much per trip. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine believes that changing driver attitudes will take a multifaceted approach. It will take government officials, medical professionals and the ride-sharing companies coming together to make it safer for drivers and passengers alike.

Study shows many medication errors related to EHR use

Electronic health records are tied to numerous cases of medication errors, especially in the field of pediatric medicine. This is the conclusion of a study recently published in Health Affairs. Kentucky readers may be interested to learn that researchers analyzed 9,000 patient safety reports filed with three health care institutions from 2012 to 2017, and they found that more than half of the errors recorded involved both EHR and medication errors.

In all, 36 percent of the reports involved an error with EHR usability. Researchers estimate that 18.8 percent may have led to patient harm. While 84.5 percent of the errors related to dosage, especially overdoses, 3.5 percent were due to missed dosages and other examples of improper timing.

Surgical errors more likely when doctors under stress

When people in Kentucky go to the hospital, they hope that their surgeon is having a good day. According to a Columbia University study, surgeons going through life stresses are much more likely to make surgical errors in the operating room. This not only applied to significant life problems; the results also held up when the source of stress was trivial and passing. Indeed, the researchers said that negative thoughts and loud voices in the operating room may be sufficient to trigger a notable level of stress, thus raising the risk of serious medical errors.

The study used special "smart shirts" worn by surgeons under their clothing while conducting surgery. The shirt measured heart rate, electrical impulses and other physical changes that could indicate heightened levels of stress. Other researchers documented mistakes made during surgery, including minor or insignificant errors with no effect on patient recovery. This analysis discovered that the risk of surgical errors could rise by up to 66 percent at the same time that stress signs were detected by the special shirt. When looking for the sources of stress involved, distractions in the hospital were significant factors. These included equipment alarms, side conversations and people leaving and entering the operating room.

Dealing with the family home during divorce

When couples in Kentucky consider divorce, handling the division of real estate can be one of the more complex aspects of property separation. It's always difficult to divide assets during a divorce, and real estate can't be neatly split in half. Many separating couples choose to sell the home, pay off any remaining mortgage and divide the proceeds to invest into new accommodations. However, some individuals develop a strong emotional tie to the marital home, especially if children are involved.

Soon-to-be exes may choose to keep the home after a divorce. However, there are some challenges that can accompany this option. In many cases, refinancing the mortgage into one person's name can be challenging, and it may be difficult for that person to make the payments on only one income. If the house is already owned outright, on the other hand, the value of the home could be accounted for with the value of other assets in property division. It is important in this case to obtain an accurate valuation of the property to ensure that the asset division is fair and equitable. Furthermore, it's vital to remove the spouse who is not remaining in the home from the deed of the property during the refinancing and transfer process.

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