Farah & Farah August 2016 Newsletter

Posted on August 2, 2016

Hands-Free Technology is Not Risk Free

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out if you hold a phone in your hand while you’re driving and try to text a message, one letter at a time, you will be distracted.

It’s fair to say everyone who has done these activities while driving has experienced the total void of attention to driving. Fortunately, for most of us, we recover from these episodes and vow not to do that again.

That is, until the next time we do it again.

So it was welcome news when hands-free technology began to be integrated into our vehicles.  The theory was we could still multitask while behind the wheel, albeit safely.  Well those promises have not proven to be true. 

New research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety concludes there is a 27 second gap after using hands-free technology before a driver regains full attention to driving.   

The University of Utah conducted the study with AAA to look at a variety of hands-free technologies including voice-activated commands to talk or text, using a vehicle’s entertainment features to select music, and using smart phone technology like Google Now or Apple’s Siri.

Drivers lived in the Washington, D.C. area and 29 percent of 573 adults surveyed said they had used voice-activated technology while driving within the last six months.

Researchers found that what we perceive to be a ten second task actually took 27 seconds!   That means you can travel three football fields at 25 mph before you have your focus back on the road. 

Certain vehicles also had more user-friendly technology that streamlined the tasks. 

The 2015 Mazda 6 was the worst performer with a cognitive distraction rate of 4.6 out of 6. The best scoring technology was the Chevy Equinox which scored 2.4 on the distraction scale. 

By comparison, listening to the radio scores a 1.2 on the distraction scale. 

The National Safety Council finds 28% of 1.6 million car crashes every year are caused by talking on the phone or texting.   

The bottom line- if you want to make sure you don’t miss a stop light or hit a pedestrian or other vehicles, put aside the technology while you are driving, no matter what promises it makes to be free from distraction. #

Sources:  http://www.latimes.com/business/autos/la-fi-hy-aaa-distracted-driving-20151022-story.htmlhttp://abcnews.go.com/US/hands-free-tech-distract-drivers-27-seconds-study/story?id=34637995https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/study-hands-free-devices-distract-drivers-for-27seconds-after-use/2015/10/21/8fc67032-781b-11e5-a958-d889faf561dc_story.htmlhttp://www.nsc.org/learn/NSC-Initiatives/Pages/distracted-driving.aspx?var=mnd

Keep Our City Safe — School Bus Safety as We Head Back to School

August marks the month that most of our local kids head back to school so it’s a very good time to review school bus safety. 

In Duval County, busses are provided for any student who lives more than 1.5 miles from their school.  Anything less than that is considered safe to walk, although most of us can appreciate that our city was not built with foot traffic or bicyclists in mind. 

So stay alert. Put those cell phones away when you share the road with kids trying to go to or come home from school. 

“Imagine hitting and killing a child because you got a text message you just had to read right then.  No message is that important that it can’t wait,” says Eddie Farah of Farah & Farah.

Distracted driving might also distract you from the rules of the road.

When a school bus is stopping, its side stop sign and red lights will let you know it’s coming to a halt.  That means if you are going in the same direction, either behind or alongside the bus, you must stop too so children can unload or cross the street to get on the bus. 

It doesn’t matter if you are three lanes away from the bus and turning left. If you are going in the same direction, you must stop. 

Be mindful that children will be running to catch up with that bus so it is not a time to speed away even when the sign is withdrawn. 

Please be especially careful along blind streets or curves that can obscure a stopped school bus. 

In a divided highway, those traveling in the opposite direction or on the other side of a median, are not required to stop. But if you see a school bus on the other side of the street, assume children are in the area. You can bet that children will do the unexpected.

On a rainy or foggy day, reduce your speed by 10 mph. That is good advice for any time of the day.

Children need to be at their bus stop at least ten minutes before the scheduled arrival time and stay away from the street. 

If you miss your school bus, do not chase it. The bus is not authorized to stop anywhere except designated bus stops. #

Sources:  http://www.duvalschools.org/Domain/4424http://www.duvalschools.org/page/9209

Drowning in Above Ground Pools is an Unrecognized Danger

You have to wonder how much we really care about the safety of our children when you hear that the U.S. lags other countries in mandated safety requirements concerning above ground pools.

By now you have probably heard that Florida leads the nation in drowning deaths of children age five and under. Pool owners are supposed to create a barrier to access to the pool, either through a screened in area or a fence or a pool cover. This applies to private pools, public pools and municipal pools.

Little has been said about the dangers of above ground pools.  These are pools that can be erected seasonal or temporarily. They generally cost much less than an in-ground pool which makes them attractive to many consumers.

But the same safety considerations enacted by law apply to above ground pools.

Enacted by the Legislature, the Preston de Ibern/McKenzie Merriman Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act (Florida Statute 515.21;  515.29;  515.37;  515.27) is intended to protect children from above ground pool dangers.

It requires that whether above ground or in-ground, the pool be equipped with a pool barrier whether a safety cover, exit alarms on all doors and windows that provide access to the pool and self-latching doors with the release no lower than 54 inches from the floor.    

There cannot be any permanent structure that allows for climbing into the pool which may include the pump and equipment, which is often placed alongside the pool.  In that case, the above ground pool must have a barrier fence or one of the other pool safety features to keep children out. 

Any barrier on the ground needs to be at least 48 inches high to stop access by little ones to the pool. If the pool is above ground that might meet the mandate of a barrier but there must be no ladder that provides access to the water. 

The industry has known for 20 years that A-frame ladders left in place have been the unintended entry method into above ground pools.  The A-frame ladders are typically sold in the U.S. with an above ground pool along with instructions the ladder should be removed when the pool is not in use. Because they are heavy and clumsy, the ladder is often left in place. 

And that’s the problem with U.S. regulations.  Two manufacturers produce about 90 percent of the above ground pools sold around the world.  The industry knows an alternative ladder design can save lives. But the U.S. does not require an alternative design. France does. So does Australia and Canada.

A flip up ladder swings up to about five feet in the air making accessibility difficult.   Another design, required in France, requires that the steps to the ladder be removed so the ladder cannot be used.

Do Europeans and Canadians care more about their children’s safety than Americans?  Certainly a slight increase in the cost of an above ground pool would be tolerated by consumers to save even one American child’s life.

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