Monday, January 24, 2011

National Report Highlights Forgotten Victims of Teen Driver Crashes

/PRNewswire/ -- An inaugural national research report released today from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and State Farm Insurance Companies ® shows that the impact of teen driver crashes extends far beyond teen drivers' families and friends. In 2008, more than half a million (681,000) people were involved in crashes where a teen driver was behind the wheel. More than 40,000 were injured, and nearly 30 percent of those who died in these crashes were not in cars driven by teens.

"When most people think about those affected by teen driver crashes, they think of the teens behind the wheel. We must also consider the significant impact of these crashes on other members of our communities: occupants of other vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, and other road-users," says Dennis Durbin, M.D., M.S.C.E., co-scientific director of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at CHOP, and a co-author of the report. "Whether we have a teen driver in our family or not, we should all care about this issue. This report provides a concrete way to measure the effectiveness of laws, education, and other programs in reducing teen crashes and their impact on communities."

This first annual report from State Farm and CHOP mines the most credible data from diverse federal data sources, and establishes 11 indicators to help policymakers and safety practitioners determine progress in key areas affecting teen driving safety. The report is the first to compile this information into a single resource, making it more accessible and useful to those responsible for setting policy, training, and curriculum standards. Researchers focus on four key behaviors among teen drivers that contribute to crashes or crash fatalities, that can also be tracked using federal data sources: failure to use seat belts, speeding, alcohol use, and distracted driving.

"Reducing speeding and alcohol use, increasing seat belt use, and eliminating distractions for teen drivers are the four calls-to-action we see in this report that would have great impact on reducing injuries and fatalities for all road users," says Dr. Durbin, who is also an emergency physician. "More than half of teens who were fatally injured in crashes were speeding, 40 percent had a positive blood alcohol level, more than half were not wearing seat belts, and 16 percent of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted while driving."

The report also shows that more teens die from car crashes than from cancer, homicide, and suicide combined. Teen driver and peer passenger deaths account for one-quarter (24 percent) of total teen deaths from any cause. However, the authors stress that teen fatalities are just "the tip of the iceberg." Thousands more - including friends, family members, and others on the road - suffer physical injuries, psychological trauma, and disruption to their everyday lives.

Research shows most of these tragedies are due to inexperience, and are therefore preventable. Strong Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws, which allow teens to gain experience under lower-risk conditions, are proven to be one effective measure. To further reduce the number of deaths and injuries with teens behind the wheel, public health programs and GDL and other traffic safety laws should focus on the key teen behaviors known to raise crash risk: speeding, alcohol use, distractions from peer passengers and cell phones, as well as failure to wear a seat belt.

"Since 2006, State Farm and CHOP have been working together to improve teen driver safety. Our research has provided evidence to support stronger graduated driver licensing laws and increased parental involvement in the learning to drive process," says Susan Hood, claims vice president at State Farm. "Since working with Congress to establish the first National Teen Driver Safety Week in 2007, we've seen major strides in support for teen driving programs. Safety advocacy groups, legislators, educators and teens are rallying to reduce teen car crashes and save lives. This annual report is the next step in supporting continued improvements that will help keep teen drivers safe, and those who share the road with them."

The federal government recently expanded its Healthy People 2020 initiative to include target goals related to teen driving, including a 10 percent reduction in fatality rate and a 10 percent increase in seat belt use. This report will help monitor annual progress toward these goals, as well as other important indicators of teen driving safety.

Monitoring these indicators regularly will help those who set direction in public health and safety to motivate action, measure progress and recalibrate programs as necessary to further advance the safety of everyone on the road.

The full report and more information can be found at www.TeenDriverSource.org.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New Air Cargo Carrier Increases Hartsfield-Jackson’s European Reach

Atlanta’s global trade connections are stronger today as City of Atlanta and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport officials announce the arrival of a new all-cargo carrier.

Milan, Italy-based Cargoitalia will begin scheduled service to Atlanta on February 3. The two weekly flights between Atlanta and Milan will create about 10 jobs and will have an estimated $15 million economic impact on metro Atlanta.

“Our freight forwarders have been asking for more airlift capacity to Europe,” said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. “Cargoitalia is a world-class, all-cargo airline that meets this need, and I am confident it will serve our customers well in the years to come. Air cargo has a huge economic impact on Atlanta and the metropolitan area, and I am committed to growing this vital business sector.”

“Atlanta is one of the most important air cargo gateways in the U.S.A., and we consider it a must-have city in our growing network,” said Roberto Gilardoni, Cargoitalia commercial director. “The facilities [in Atlanta] are impressive, and we greatly appreciate the help and support they have shown to their newest guest airline. We have great optimism about our potential in this market.”

Cargoitalia operates a fleet of MD-11 SF all-cargo aircraft based at Milan’s Malpensa Airport. It offers service to destinations in North America, the Middle East and the Far East.

“Cargoitalia’s decision to begin air cargo service to Atlanta furthers our position as one of the world’s premier logistics hubs and centers for supply chain management,” said Bob Pertierra, vice president of supply chain development for the Metro Atlanta Chamber. “This new trade lane enables companies in Atlanta and the Southeastern United States to gain access to even more customers and markets in Italy and Europe.”

Air cargo continues to grow at Hartsfield-Jackson. According to Airport data, air cargo increased by more than 18 percent from 2009 to 2010.

Cargoitalia is the 15th all-cargo airline to serve Hartsfield-Jackson and the region. Other cargo carriers to begin operating in Atlanta recently are Asiana Airlines, which began cargo service in September 2010, and Singapore Airlines Cargo, which began scheduled service to Atlanta in September 2009.

Hartsfield-Jackson offers a geographically desirable location for cargo carriers and freight forwarders that want to expand their global networks with lower operating costs. Companies readily can connect with air, road and railway transportation systems in Atlanta.

Hartsfield-Jackson has received several awards for its cargo operations, including Air Cargo Week’s Airport of the Year (2010, 2009) and Air Cargo World magazine’s Award of Excellence for the best North American cargo operations in its category (2010, 2009).
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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Parts of I-20 East in Douglas County Expected to Stay Closed Until Thursday

According to the GA DOT, I-20 East in Douglas County at mile marker 44 is ice covered and closed. At this time, it is expected to remain closed until Thursday, January 13, 2011.

If you must travel, please take extra precautions as reducing speed and leaving at least 10 car lengths between vehicles.

Drive safely.

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Monday, January 10, 2011

Georgia DOT Crews Battle Ice and Snow Laden Roadways: Cautions Georgians to Stay Off Roadways

Since 6:00 pm on Sunday, Georgia DOT crews have been out in full force battling wintery conditions across Georgia. A shift change is underway so that our employees are fully rested to begin the next round of work.

“We have been preparing for this event since the middle of last week and our maintenance crews are working as hard as they can to clear the lanes,” said Georgia DOT Commissioner Vance C. Smith, Jr. In the first 12-hour shift, which ended at 6:00 am this morning, more than 900 Georgia DOT maintenance crews and employees have used 578 pieces of equipment to spread more than 2018 tons of salt and gravel material.

“Our biggest concern are people being stranded on the roadways, so again, we need people to stay off the roadways unless there is an emergency,” said State Maintenance Engineer, Eric Pitts. “The interstate is a very dangerous place for people to walk around so please stay off if you can.”

· The Transportation Management Center (TMC) Emergency Operations Center (EOC): Media Phone Lines – (404) 635 8093 and 8094. Karlene Barron and Jill Goldberg will alternate 12- hour shifts at the EOC. (Note - This is the Department’s statewide command center and the clearinghouse for real-time conditions; it is your best source for current status of roadways.

· Cheshire Bridge Road (Metro Atlanta) Maintenance Facility: Mark McKinnon at (404) 326-6672 and David Spear at (404) 326-6668 will alternate 12-hour shifts at this site.

· District One (Northeast Georgia) Gainesville Headquarters: Teri Pope and Rick Parham, both at (404) 274-6436, will alternate 12-hour shifts at this location.

· District Two (East Central Georgia) Tennille Headquarters: Cissy McNure at (478) 232-3331 will be available as needed.

· District Three (West Central Georgia) Thomaston Headquarters: Kimberly Larson at (706) 741-3439 will be available as needed.

· Districts Four (Southeast Georgia) and Five (South Georgia): Craig Solomon at (229) 309-9706 in Tifton D4 Headquarters will be available as needed.

· District Six (Northwest Georgia) Cartersville Headquarters: Mohamed Arafa at (770) 359-9523 will be available.

Georgia DOT urges travelers to call 511 for updated information about this or any other construction project on interstates and state routes. Georgia 511 is a free phone service that provides real-time traffic and travel information statewide, such as traffic conditions, incidents, lane closures, and delays due to inclement weather. Callers also can transfer to operators to request assistance or report incidents 24 hours a day, seven days a week. More information is available at www.511ga.org.

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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

CDC Study Finds Seat Belt Use Up to 85 Percent Nationally

Almost 6 out of 7 U.S. drivers surveyed report that they always wear a seat belt when driving or riding in a motor vehicle, according to a study released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Seat belt use has become the national norm in most states, though rates of self-reported seat belt use vary widely from state to state, with a high of 94 percent (Oregon) and a low of 59 percent (North Dakota).

Still, every 14 seconds, an adult in the United States is treated in an emergency department for crash-related injuries.

"A simple step that most drivers and passengers in the United States already take—buckling their seat belts—cuts in half the chance of being seriously injured or killed in a crash," said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH. "Yet, about 1 in 7 adults do not wear a seat belt on every trip. If everyone in the vehicle buckled up every time, we could further reduce one of the leading causes of death."

The study was in Vital Signs, a section of CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

The study found that states with primary seat belt enforcement laws, where police officers can pull cars over and issue tickets solely because drivers and passengers are unbelted, have higher rates of seat belt use than states with secondary enforcement laws, which only allow officers to issue tickets to drivers who have been pulled over for violating another law. States with primary enforcement laws had an overall seat belt use rate of 88 percent, whereas states with secondary enforcement laws had an overall seat belt use rate of 79 percent. The national average for seat belt use is 85 percent.

If the secondary law states had achieved 88 percent belt use in 2008, it would have resulted in an additional 7.3 million adults buckling up.

Though 1 in 3 U.S. adults lived in states with secondary enforcement laws in 2008, residents of these states accounted for 49 percent of the unbelted drivers and passengers on U.S. roads. Nineteen states do not have primary enforcement seat belt laws.

"As seatbelt use increases and more states pass primary enforcement laws, we are seeing crash-related injuries decline," said Linda Degutis, Dr. PH, MSN, director of CDC's Injury Center. "This indicates that primary enforcement laws, paired with vigorous enforcement programs, get more people to wear seat belts. We know that buckling up can make a life-saving difference."

For the study, CDC researchers analyzed two national sources: 2009 National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-All Injury Program data on non-fatal injuries treated in emergency departments nationwide and 2008 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data on self-reported risk behaviors.

To help increase seat belt use and protect more people on the road, CDC supports:

Primary enforcement seat belt laws that cover all drivers and passengers of appropriate age and size, regardless of whether they are sitting in the front or back seat of the vehicle.
According to previous research by CDC and others, everyone is encouraged to take the following steps:

Use a seat belt on every trip, no matter how short.
Encourage everyone in the car to buckle up, including those in the back seat.
Make sure children are properly buckled up in a seat belt, booster seat, or car seat, whichever is age- and size-appropriate.
Have all children ages 12 and under sit in the back seat.
CDC is also releasing "Policy Impact: Seat Belts," one in a series of briefs highlighting key public health issues, and important science-based policy actions that can be taken to address them. Through this new publication, CDC supports state-based efforts to strengthen seat belt policies and prevent crash-related injuries and deaths. (www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/seatbeltbrief)

CDC's Injury Center works to protect the safety of everyone on the roads, every day. For more information about seat belts and motor vehicle safety, please visit www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety and www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns.

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