Articles Posted in Travel Risks

trafficsigns-171x300When it comes to serious traffic and road safety problems in the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area, to quote the late, brilliant cartoonist Walt Kelly of Pogo fame: We have met the enemy and he is us. We are the reckless, speeding, and law-defying motorists not only from the District but, yes, big numbers of bad-behaving folks from Maryland and Virginia.

As 2021 drew to a close, D.C. officials expressed their exasperation at the limits of their efforts to enforce laws to safeguard motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists in the nation’s capital, especially with a giant legal block to doing so: cooperation and help among Virginia, Maryland, and the District to enforce traffic laws and citations, also known as reciprocity.

The Washington Post, in two separate news articles, quoted District officials’ frustration over this significant and growing problem:

anxietygal-300x200Not all grievous injuries are apparent to the eye, as anyone who has experienced catastrophic illness or injury can attest. And now we’re learning a lot more about the hidden costs — mental, emotional, social, and spiritual — inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Reporters Emily Baumgartner and Russ Mitchell of the Los Angeles Times surfaced intriguing points of view on what has now become normalized but widely aberrant behaviors in the age of Covid. They did so, as they dug into the reasons for the unacceptable increase in road fatalities at a time when the public, overall, drove less and many people had open byways. The deadly toll that took in 2020 was expected to, but did not, reverse in 2021.

It got worse — and the reasons why need urgent attention, sources told the newspaper, which reported:

needles-300x152With studies showing that as many as half of patients infected with the coronavirus suffer physical and psychological problems for six months or more after they thought they first recovered, wise people may want to take every precaution they can against the disease.

They may wish to heed new federal recommendations calling for vaccine boosters, now approved for all Americans 18 and older and strongly encouraged for those older than 50.

The building data on “long Covid” is disconcerting, the Washington Post reported, noting:

dcautowreck2-300x191The nation keeps zooming toward a tragic and preventable fatality measure: Our roads are staying as deadly as they became during the coronavirus pandemic, and 2021 is racing to be one of the most lethal vehicular years in a decade.

As the Washington Post reported of data on the year’s first quarter from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

“The first quarter of 2021 was the deadliest start of a year on the nation’s roads in over a decade, with car crashes killing an estimated 8,730 people from January to March, according to a new estimate from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The numbers indicate that a surge in road deaths that began with the coronavirus pandemic has continued into this year, although they offer some early glimmer of hope that unusually high fatality rates might be beginning to come down. NHTSA said the ongoing high death rate appears to have been caused by drivers continuing to take risks by speeding, getting behind the wheel after drinking or using drugs, and not wearing seat belts. To coincide with the new estimates, NHTSA … released an updated version of a guide to improving highway safety, largely focusing on encouraging more-conscientious behavior on the roads and deterring risk-taking.”

summerfun-221x300In these uncertain times, the start of summer — marked unofficially by the just-passed, long Memorial Day weekend — may have caught more than a few of us by surprise. Seasonal health and safety precautions, however, should be well considered and carefully carried out, especially by parents.

All of us, for example, must step up our safeguards against damages caused by exposure to the sun, reported Jane Brody, the longtime health and wellness columnist for the New York Times. She noted that she, like many people, talked a good game about avoiding peak burn times of the day and slathering on sunscreen. She didn’t always follow through, though she has recommitted to doing so for a reason, she wrote:

“I hereby pledge to do better this yearalbeit late in the game. A new report from a dermatology team at Kaiser Permanente health care centers in California has prompted me to reform. The team, headed by the epidemiologist Lisa Herrinton in Oakland, followed nearly half a million patients seen at the centers for up to 10 years. Half had already developed one or more actinic keratosis, a precancerous rough, scaly skin lesion caused by years of unprotected sun exposure. As you might expect, these lesions most often form on the face, ears, back of the hands, forearms, scalp and neck and are — or should be — routinely removed when found by dermatologists to prevent progression to cancer. The lesions are markers of sun damage and can serve as an early warning system for people at risk of developing cancer somewhere on sun-exposed skin. While the hazard is greatest for people with light skin, blue eyes, freckles, or red hair, having a dark complexion is not a free pass. Tanning, not just burning, is a form of sun damage.”

carpeddeathssoar-300x166Although Americans drove far fewer miles in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the pedestrian death rate skyrocketed nationally, with blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans dying in disproportionate numbers when struck by motorists.

Preliminary data from the first half of last year shows that roughly the same number of pedestrian deaths occurred — 3,000 or so. But those fatalities happened when the nation recorded a more than 16% decline in vehicle miles traveled.

And the deaths in 2020 continued an ugly, decade-long trend in which pedestrian killings increased 46%, compared with a 5% increase in the same period for other vehicular fatalities. The Governors Highway Safety Association reported the sobering data and observed this:

airliftwatertexasfreeze-300x227The climate change deniers can holler their heads off. But for all too many people from coast-to-coast, Mother Nature’s fury is tragically clear — as is the importance of not only future thinking but also emergency planning, by individuals and institutions.

This includes knowing common sense steps to safeguard one’s self and loved ones, in unusual circumstance, from misuse and abuse of ordinary products that also may have their own shortcomings, defects, or dangers.

Huge hurrahs, of course, are in order for the overworked, overstressed, and valiant doctors, nurses, and other health workers who — even while battling the over load of the coronavirus pandemic — have kept up medical services in hard hit areas of Texas and elsewhere during a brutal winter storm and its harsh freeze. The nightmarish conditions afflicted not only big hospitals but also those who provide desperately needed at-home care to the vulnerable.

autowreck-300x178Congressional investigations may be coming none too soon on revelations about predatory billing by big hospitals and hospital chains against patients for costly care they received after they were hurt in vehicle wrecks.

The New York Times reported that its investigations showed that patients, especially the poor and vulnerable, too often have gotten ripped off on treatments that their health insurance could have covered when they were involved in car crashes. Instead, hospitals and hospital chains seek to maximize profits — and purportedly to protect themselves against financial losses — by making legal claims against wreck victims and their finances.

The claims, permitted under centuries-old practices, are called liens. They are a legal “claim on an asset, such as a home or a settlement payment, to make sure someone repays a debt,” the New York Times reported.

carwrecked-300x200Motorists who didn’t make new year resolutions should sign on to some lifesaving, commonsense vows: They can pledge to slow down, focus on task more, and to halt the record road carnage that happened in 2020.

In the year just ended, Americans drove fewer miles than they had in recent years due to public health restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic and the virus-caused economic collapse. But drivers logged destructive results when they hit the road, the Wall Street Journal reported, noting:

“Historically, economic downturns have led to fewer vehicle miles traveled as well as lower rates of motor-vehicle deaths, but last year took a different turn. Nationally, vehicle miles traveled dropped an unprecedented 264.2 billion miles over the first half of 2020, a decline of 17% compared with the first half of 2019, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In the same period, the agency estimated the number of fatalities shrank 2%, falling to 16,650 from 16,988 the previous year. But the rate of fatalities grew 18%, rising to 1.25 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, up from 1.06. In other words, an inordinate number of people died given how many fewer miles they traveled. It was the highest motor-vehicle fatality rate for that span of time in a dozen years.”

doginservice-300x200Um, no, federal regulators have decided: The nation’s skies no longer will be a sort of bad airborne set for a pop psychology version of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Instead, owners of  so-called emotional support animals must keep their menagerie off commercial flights.

The federal Transportation Department has issued new rules halting what had become, in pre-coronavirus times, a flashpoint between airlines, their crews, and a preponderance of passengers. They were in growing conflicts with owners of critters they claimed they could not be without.

Airlines complained that they were barraged by not just a few, legitimate requests to board bona fide, trained service dogs  (as shown in AKC photo, above) but also by hundreds of thousands of demands for what effectively were pets to be flown in the human spaces for free. The companies successfully turned away reptiles, ferrets, rodents, spiders — and even in one case a performance artist’s sizable peacock.

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