Articles Posted in Travel Risks

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.

caddytweet-223x300As pandemic-curtailed traffic returns to greater normality, motorists, bikers, and pedestrians may need to pay increased attention to two novel means of transportation taking to the roads: monster-sized SUVs and zippy high-tech scooters.

Even as officials in the nation’s capital approved, as expected, new rules on e-scooters, Andrew Hawkins, a reviewer at the Verge news and information site, deserves credit for raising safety concerns about a rising slice of the U.S. auto market: the over-sized Sport Utility Vehicle.

In case you missed it, SUVs have become the nation’s vehicular obsession, particularly in the kid-filled suburbs, with experts estimating they made up a large part — 47.4% — of auto sales in 2019.

dcstreet-300x199Officials in the nation’s capital have approved a broad-based plan to crack down on the dangers that motorized vehicles pose to pedestrians, cyclists, other drivers, and whole neighborhoods.

The District of Columbia City Council acted in response to spiking fatalities and injuries — harms that have increased not only locally but nationwide, as the Washington Post reported, noting this has been “a troubling national trend that became even more pronounced this spring and summer during the pandemic shutdowns. People were driving less, but [road] crashes were more deadly.”

Even as DC Mayor Muriel E. Bowser has pushed her “Vision Zero” road safety plan, the newspaper reported:

covidtestlinesmiamiwsj-300x219How big and bad is the now-unchecked Covid-19 pandemic and the damage it is inflicting on this country?

The United States persists as the novel coronavirus epicenter, blowing past previous record numbers of infections to more than 4.5 million. The disease has edged toward claiming the lives of roughly 155,000 Americans. Imagine if the equivalent, the population of Alexandria, Va., died in just a few months.

July went in the books as the cruelest month, thus far, with Covid-19 infections doubling over June’s tallies, deaths surging, and the coronavirus surging or parking at a high and lethal plateau in most parts of the country,

covidcasesus4july-300x154The nation shudders into the second half of 2020, months deep into an unchecked Covid-19 pandemic that has infected 2.8 million Americans and killed roughly 130,000 of us.

America has become the coronavirus’s outbreak epicenter, its would-be travelers shunned by leading nations around the world as too risky to allow without quarantines or outright bans.

Five states set new infection records, and 40 of the 50 states report worrisome spikes in detected coronavirus cases (see New York Times graphic, above, of newly reported U.S. Covid-19 cases).

dcfireems-300x145At least three recent deaths  in the DC area offer a grim reminder about the summer’s heat and the risks of drowning. With the Covid-19 pandemic changing the easy and relaxed availability of public and supervised pools and other cool water recreation spots, will this be a harbinger of needless tragedies?

Here’s hoping not.

But authorities have issued stern warnings already about swimming in the Potomac River, where they caution that the currents run stronger and the waters can be chillier than casual enthusiasts may expect. It is illegal to swim in the Anacostia and Potomac, primarily due to pollution concerns. As the DCist news site reported, though:

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