The Department of Transportation, in conjunction with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, has decided to ban the use of hand-held cell-phones for commercial vehicle drivers. The ban is the latest effort to reduce serious truck accidents caused by distracted driving. In 2010, the DOT passed a rule banning text messaging by bus and truck drivers. This measure is more controversial, as the benefits of hands-free devices are not clear.
The Eddie Bauer Sling & Hip Carrier is the subject of a wrongful death lawsuit filed last week in Cook County Court. The plaintiffs believe that the defective product caused their newborn daughter to suffocate while her father carried her. The family has named the retailer that sold the sling, as well as the manufacturers of the product in the suit. By holding these businesses accountable for the tragic result of the dangerous product, they may be able to protect others from similar harm.
With all the attention paid to cell phone use and the rise in distracted driving, it is important to keep sight of a problem that has been around since cars were invented-driver fatigue. After several high profile truck accidents cited sleep apnea as playing a role in the accident, some industry groups took notice. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration made a recommendation in 2008 that all truck drivers undergo screening for sleep apnea. Despite that recommendation, the Department of Transportation had taken no action to require truck drivers to be tested for sleep apnea or for sufferers to be treated before they can resume driving.
When the first snow falls, it can seem as if every driver around you has never driven in winter conditions before. The drivers who spent all summer risking serious motor vehicle accidents by tailgating, speeding and driving distractedly do not seem to realize that the danger has heightened. Some drivers behave as if their SUVs are unaffected by ice. Others drive act as if they are surrounded by land mines, ready to explode if they make the slightest movement. The increased congestion and reduced control inevitably lead to collisions, injuries and fatalities.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, under pressure from consumer safety groups and the Teamsters union, may suggest rule changes for how truck drivers operate. Advocates for the changes contend that any losses suffered by the trucking industry will be gained in reduced truck accidents. Opponents counter by suggesting that the new rules force truckers to drive during the hours of the day where more cars are on the road. They say that restricting early morning hours will put more truckers on the roads during rush hour, when collisions are most likely to occur. The latest draft of the proposal is currently being reviewed by the White House Office of Management and Budget.
The cancer causing agent formaldehyde can be found in an unlikely product, Johnson & Johnson's baby shampoo. Johnson & Johnson has promised to remove the preservative responsible for releasing the carcinogen, though no plan has been announced for how to deal with the contaminated products still on the shelves. Consumer groups are calling the decision a victory, though they have called for a specific timeline by which J & J will commit to ending the use of the offending preservative.
The Center for Construction Research and Training has released a study showing elevated risks of illness and injury for construction workers. Three out of four construction workers suffer a disabling injury over the course of a 45 year career. The chances of suffering a fatal injury are 1 in 200. These numbers are significantly higher than those of the average worker. In addition to suffering from a high rate of accidents, construction workers were also found to suffer high rates of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. That condition is associated with long-term exposure to smoke, fumes and pollution of the type that is common in the construction field.