Fixing Distracted Driving with System Safety Designs

In 1983 only 13 percent of the public regularly used seat belts. Advertising and education campaigns were undertaken and 26 years later, that number increased to approximately 85 percent. That’s more than 25 years to make a usage change of 72 percent. In the meantime, people were injured and died.

If we continue the same path and rely upon changing human behavior through campaigns for distracted driving, we can expect the same results, a long wait for a significant change. In the meantime, more than nine people a day will continue to die due to distracted driving, a number that increased from eight just two years ago. Or, society can demand, politicians can legislate, and automakers can undertake using system safety design.

Technology has existed since the early 2000s that will block cell phone signals from the driver’s seat area of vehicles. If installed in vehicles, it could greatly reduce the risks from distracted technology usage in vehicles.

Some might argue that hands free technology is enough if drivers utilize it, but it’s not. It still leads to inattention blindness, drivers missing important items such as stop signs and pedestrians. The human brain cannot process all the information coming into it when attempting to multitask. It has four attention capabilities:

  1. Sustained attention: ability to concentrate on an activity for a prolonged period without being distracted (e.g., reading a book)
  2. Selective attention: ability to select from various factors or stimuli and focus on only one (e.g., talking to one person at a noisy party)
  3. Alternating attention: ability to shift between tasks and cognitive areas of the brain (e.g., reading a recipe and then following the instructions)
  4. Divided attention: attempting to process two or more demands at the same time require the use of the same cognitive areas of the brain (e.g., on the phone and driving)

Divided attention is what happens when humans attempt to multi task. It creates inattention blindness leading to injury and death for many. Yet, according to AAA:

  • 2 in 3 drivers talk on their cell phones while driving
  • 1 in 3 drivers admit to typing and sending a text while driving
  • 2 in 5 drivers admit to reading a text or email while driving

Sixty-seven percent of those surveyed by the National Safety Council felt at risk because of other drivers’ distractions due to technology. But, back to human behavior, only 25 percent of those same people said their own technology use put others at risk.

Just because we’ve done something one way before doesn’t mean we always have to do it that way. This time it’s time to change our reliance on changing human behavior. Instead, let’s rely on system safety design.

Listen in as Kevin King talks more about distracted driving and system safety design.

Want to hear more talks from Peter and Kevin King? Tune into WCIS 1010 AM Columbus, IN the first and third Friday of every month for People’s Law Talk.

Learn more about distracted technology from us and other great sources.

From the Law Dogs:

Trusted Resources:


Childcare Safety: The Unanswered Questions

Eleven million children in the US regularly attend some form of non-relative childcare. While much is studied about early childhood education and social development in these settings, there are very little answers about the safety of daycares.

There is no national standard reporting system for injuries and fatalities across childcare facilities. In addition, there are very few national standards. Most daycare regulation is controlled at a state level and, even there, the lack of information continues. With no uniform standards or reporting system its difficult to find safety information.

One of the few reports available aggregated many reports and found from 1985-2003 there were more than 1300 fatalities of children in childcare, with 130 in home-based care. Injury rates were higher. So how do we address the safety issues when we don’t know what they are? How do we develop better systems to protect our children?

Listen in as Kevin King discusses the issue of child daycare safety, various types of childcare and how they’re regulated, how to evaluate the safety of childcare play areas, as well as more progressive models of childcare we can look to for inspiration.

Want to hear more talks from Peter and Kevin King? Tune into WCIS 1010 AM Columbus, IN the first and third Friday of every month for People’s Law Talk.

*In Indiana parents can find and review reports of childcare facility state inspections from the Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) online.


President’s Day: Celebrating Presidential Pups

Today is President’s Day, a holiday to celebrate our presidents’ contributions to our society. As we look back on past presidents, we thought it would fun, and insightful, to look back at presidential pups as well. 

Many presidents throughout our history have owned dogs, many of whom have made an impact on who was elected and how they served in the white house. For example, it was one of George Washington’s dogs that eventually helped lead to him being selected commander and chief of the continental army. And Herbert Hoover’s dog, King Tut, helped him break the ice on the campaign trail, helping him ultimately win his election. Both Franklin Roosevelt and Richard Nixon focused on their dogs during  presidential and vice presidential (respectively) speeches where they ultimately saw victory as well.

While fulfilling his presidential duty, James Garfield named his Newfoundland Veto to send a message to congress. President George H. W. Bush also utilized his dog to send a message, but less politically focused. His dog, Millie, had a book written about her life and Barbara Bush dictated it. More than $900,000 in royalties from the book were donated to support literacy. 

Learn more about the history of presidential pups and how they shaped our past presidents, their campaigns, and their work in the white house. Listen in as Kevin King discusses a number of presidential dogs from the Washington administration through the Obama administration. 

Want to hear more talks from Peter and Kevin King? Tune into WCIS 1010 AM Columbus, IN the first and third Friday of every month for People’s Law Talk.


Seventeen Minutes for Knowledge: Furniture Tip Over

By the time you’re done reading this post and listening to the audio, another child will sustain an injury from furniture, television, or appliance tip over. It happens every 17 minutes. This results in 25,500 injuries per year, with a death almost every two weeks.

This happens frequently because there are no mandatory furniture design standards manufacturers must meet. When a small child climbs a 30-inch-tall dresser with a drawer out, the center of gravity and stability can change. Some manufacturers do follow a voluntary standard that states dressers that are 30 inches or more must be able to maintain stability with 50 pounds hanging off an open drawer, but consumers have no easy way of knowing which furniture was held to this standard. This lack of standards isn’t for lack of trying. In 2016 The STURDY Act (The Stop Tip-Overs of Unstable, Risky Dressers on Youth Act) was introduce to Congress but was never passed.

As the work continues to mandate standards for designing safety into products like furniture, the onus of safety is put on the consumer. Parents are, unrealistically, expected to watch their children around furniture 100 percent of the time. Consumers are also expected to alter their furniture at home by anchoring it.

While it’s not acceptable to put the burden to reduce safety risks and hazards on consumers, anchoring furniture and buying furniture that could withstand the not yet passed STURDY standards are good steps to take while we wait for safety design standards to catch up. You can find great tips on furniture tip over prevention and proper anchoring techniques from the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Consumer Reports has also released a report on which furniture already available meets the STURDY standards.

Review those resources while you listen to Kevin King expand on furniture tip over, the staggering injury statistics behind the hazard, and where safety standards need to go.

Want to hear more talks from Peter and Kevin King? Tune into WCIS 1010 AM Columbus, IN the first and third Friday of every month for People’s Law Talk.


Santa’s Safety Updates: Trouble in Toyland 33rd Annual Survey Results

Your favorite son, daughter, niece, nephew, neighbor’s cousin, or other kid in your life has made a list, written to Santa, and proclaimed their wants out loud to anyone who will listen. So now it’s time for shopping. What will you buy? What they want? What you think looks like fun? We can’t tell you outright what to buy, but those playing Santa should be aware of the results of the Trouble in Toyland 33rd Annual Survey of Toy Safety Results.

This report is chalk full of important toy safety information for anyone doing toy shopping. Published annually by the Public Interest Research Group, this report reviews the toys on the market and their safety as it pertains to children. With more than 251,000 toy related injuries reported at hospitals in 2017 alone, the report holds important information for anyone who shops for children. It looks for toy safety issues such as as toxic chemicals, choking hazards, smart toys, excessive noise producers, and overheating batteries and chargers.

This year some highlights of the report including warnings about:

  1. Slime toys: Many of these toys contain boron, a compound used in manufacturing and cleaning chemicals. In the EU 300 parts per million (ppm) is acceptable in consumer level items but there is no labeling or warning here in the US and some slime toys have as much as 4700 ppm. When ingested this can lead to nausea and vomiting along with other physical side effects.
  2. Internet connected toys: Some internet connected toys are leaving children vulnerable with offloading of information. The Dash for Kids Robot and the Amazon Fire HD Kids Edition have both been found conveying information to third parties. 
  3. E-Scooters: New e-scooters can go up to 10-15 miles per hour and have smaller wheels than traditional scooters. They’ve lead to a considerable number of collisions and injuries as there is no set design criteria and very few ordinances and regulations regarding their usage.
  4. Hoverboards: We’ve discussed this one before due to their batteries but they’re still an issue. Since 2015 2.5 million hoverboards have been sold. Many are in use by children 12-15 years old, a large segment of those toy related hospital reported injuries. Beyond the battery issues, these kids are suffering from head injuries and fractures. 

Listen in as Kevin King discusses this report, toy safety issues pertaining to children, and a few toy safety issues pertaining to parents as well.

Want to hear more talks from Peter and Kevin King? Tune into WCIS 1010 AM Columbus, IN the first and third Friday of every month for People’s Law Talk.

There are additional great resources for toy and children safety:

WISPIRG, Trouble in Toyland

The Mozilla Foundation, Privacy Not Included, https://foundation.mozilla.org/en/ privacynotincluded, (accessed on 11 December 2018).

The Mozilla Foundation, Privacy Not Included: Dash the Robot, https://foundation. mozilla.org/en/privacynotincluded/products/ dash-the-robot/, (accessed on 11 December 2018).

The Mozilla Foundation, Privacy Not Included: Amazon Fire HD Kids Edition, https://foundation.mozilla.org/en/privacynotincluded/products/amazon-fire-hd-kids-edition/, (accessed on 11 December 2018).

Center for Digital Democracy, Protecting Children’s Online Privacy: A Parent’s Guide to the new stronger kids’ privacy rules for digital media (COPPA), https://www.democraticmedia.org/content/protecting-childrens-online-privacy-parents-guide-new-stronger-kids-privacy-rules-digital, (accessed on 11 December 2018).


Cooking Safety 101

Planning that perfect Thanksgiving meal and coordinating the large amount of dishes to complete can be a hassle. But, no matter how much work is going on, it’s important to stay vigilant and always be aware of what’s going on in the kitchen. There are a number of safety hazards to be aware of from cooking fires to food contamination.

Cooking fires

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Thanksgiving day has the most house fires of the year by far, about four times higher than the daily average. Historically, there have been an average of 1800 house fires each Thanksgiving, compared to 500 on an average day, 860 the day before Thanksgiving, and  840 on Christmas. It’s important to understand how quickly a fire can spread, the leading causes of cooking fires, and how to quickly extinguish a fire in the event of an emergency. Check out this infographic to be in the know.

Turkey fryer fires

In addition to all of this information, let’s review the safety (or lack of safety) of turkey fryers. Underwriter Laboratories (UL – trusted source that tests and certifies safe products) has still not found a single turkey fryer that they are willing to approve. There are zero regulations to how they’re built, many have a lack of stability, and the general design for turkey frying leads to frequent fires. Watch this video from the National Fire Prevention Association to see for yourself the safety hazards posed by turkey fryers.

Food contamination

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A third safety hazard to be aware of this Thanksgiving is food contamination. Since November 2017 the CDC has reported 165 persons affected by salmonella in 25 states. With 63 people being hospitalized and a reason recall of ground turkey due to contamination, it’s important to know how to keep your food safe. Follow these tips for your turkey preparation.

Learn more about creating a safe and happy Thanksgiving, listen in to People’s Law Talk as Kevin King discusses all of these safety points in depth.

Want to hear more talks from Peter and Kevin King? Tune into WCIS 1010 AM Columbus, IN the first and third Friday of every month for People’s Law Talk.

There are many other great resources for understanding kitchen safety this Thanksgiving:

National Fire Prevention Association

CDC

Ridge Fire Company. (2003). “Product safety tips – Gas fired turkey fryers.” Available from: http://ridgefirecompany.com/downloads/UL_publiceducators_turkeyfryers-eng_200307.pdf