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State lawmakers tackle distracted driving

The most severe penalty a driver can face in South Carolina for texting behind the wheel is a $25 fine. An epidemic of cellphone use by motorists and a worrying rise in distracted driving accidents have prompted many lawmakers in Columbia to back a bill that would sharply increase this penalty and introduce the new law of driving while under the influence of an electronic device. That bill was read on Jan. 8 and is now being scrutinized by a House committee, but lawmakers in Nevada are taking a different approach.

The penalties for distracted driving are only applied when motorists are caught, but, unlike drunk driving, distraction leaves no obvious clues for police officers. Nevada lawmakers are considering addressing this law enforcement impediment by issuing peace officers with innovative new devices. Textalyzers plug into cellphones and reveal how the devices were used during the previous few minutes.

Changing clocks for Daylight Savings may increase crash risk

Daylight Savings Time requires people in South Carolina to spring their watches forward one hour in March, costing them at least one hour of sleep that night in the process. According to the Foundation for Traffic Safety, operated by AAA, missing one or two hours of the recommended sleep time in a single period of 24 hours may as much as double the person's risk of a car accident. Typically, drivers require seven hours of sleep each night in order to drive safely.

According to the director of the Foundation for Traffic Safety, research indicates that people who have slept for less than five hours the night before have a risk of crash comparable to a person who is driving drunk. They cannot fail to get enough sleep and still be expected to safely operate a motor vehicle, he said. In a survey of drivers, 95 percent said they think drowsy driving is completely unacceptable and a serious safety threat. At the same time, almost 30 percent of respondents said they had driven so tired they had trouble keeping their eyes open in the previous month.

South Carolina man accused of causing 4-car drunk driving crash

A 45-year-old South Carolina man who police believe caused a four-car accident in Horry County on the night of Feb. 16 has been charged with felony DUI and drug possession. Two individuals suffered what news reports describe as life-threatening injuries in the crash, which took place near the intersection of 29th Avenue North and U.S. Route 17 in Myrtle Beach at approximately 8:00 p.m. Initial accounts do not reveal if any other road users were injured.

According to a Myrtle Beach Police Department report, officers at the accident scene detected the odor of alcohol on the man's breath. The man is said to have asked to speak with an attorney after refusing to submit to a breath test. After obtaining a search warrant, officers transported the man to a nearby medical facility for a blood draw.

The factors behind automobile accidents

For South Carolina residents, automobile accidents are an all-too-common occurrence. Often, when people pass an automobile accident, they wonder why it happened. Law enforcement officials are interested in the same question. They want to know who or what caused the accident as this will influence to whom they give a ticket. Insurance companies are also interested in this question because identifying who is at fault will determine which insurance company will have to pay for the accident. It can also determine who receives compensation and how much that compensation will be.

A number of automobile accidents are caused by people driving under the influence. It could be that they're under the influence of alcohol or drugs or even prescription medication. When a person is under the influence of a substance, be it legal or illegal, they do not have a clear mind. As a result, they do not make the best decisions, thereby increasing their risk of an accident.

3 tips for avoiding distracted driving

Lawmakers in South Carolina are ready to crack down on drivers who use their cell phones while behind the wheel. Some have proposed legislation that would outlaw even touching a phone outside a single touch to end a phone call. 

Even without laws, drivers need to be aware of the dangers of using a cell phone while driving. It greatly increases the driver's chances of being in a car accident, putting other people's safety at risk, as well. However, distracted driving encompasses more than texting and driving. Here are other ways you can be a safer driver. 

Robots aim to decrease grocery store injuries

Shoppers in South Carolina can encounter unexpected hazards when they go to the grocery store, especially if store owners refuse to invest in the employees or technology to ensure the shop is safe for customers. Because grocery stores are full of slippery oils, liquids and other substances that can pose a hazard of serious accidents and falls, it is important for maintenance teams to regularly examine the shop floor for potential dangers. Some stores are turning to a wheeled robot to automatically alert staff if a spill is detected anywhere on the store's premises.

The robots, being deployed in 500 stores across the country, automatically detect spills with cameras. If they find a hazard, they stop to alert employees. However, the technology is not fully automated; before a clean-up message is broadcast over the store's sound system, the images are transmitted to an outsourced call center in the Philippines for analysis. There, humans review the robot images to ensure that a spill has in fat been found. Several large chains have begun to deploy the robots, with more expected to enter stores in the future in order to prevent slip-and-fall accidents.

Researchers warn of risks of drowsy ridesharing drivers

Hailing a ridesharing service might provide convenience to people in South Carolina, but the American Academy of Sleep Medicine has issued a warning about the risks of driver fatigue. The academy cited the long and late at night hours often worked by ridesharing drivers as threats to public safety. These drivers, who work as independent contractors, also do not undergo any medical screening that might detect conditions associated with drowsy driving, like obstructive sleep apnea.

An associate professor of medicine who helped to author the academy's report said that the low pay and salary incentives from Uber or Lyft motivate drivers to put in dangerously long hours. These drivers might not realize that their exhaustion reduces their ability to drive safely.

Seatbelt use could protect against liver injuries

Some of the most severe car accident injuries that people in Myrtle Beach may experience are caused by blunt abdominal trauma. Every year, over 2 million Americans go to the emergency room as a result of injuries caused by a crash. The total cost to the health care system hovers around $1 trillion each year. This is in addition to the costs to accident victims' physical health, mental well-being and financial stability. Because the damages caused by a crash can be so severe, many people want to take all of the precautions they can to protect themselves. Researchers say that wearing a seatbelt may not prevent liver injuries entirely, but it can lower the risk of suffering severe damage.

One study examined over 50,000 people who had experienced liver damage in an auto accident. According to researchers, accident victims with severe liver injuries were two times as likely to lose their lives as those with mild to moderate liver issues. Seatbelt use is generally associated with reduced fatalities in crashes. However, they are usually linked with preventing head injuries rather than reducing the impact caused by blunt abdominal trauma.

WHO report highlights importance of road safety

There were 1.35 million traffic-related fatalities globally in 2016, according to the Global Status Report on Road Safety. This means that traffic accidents caused more deaths than HIV/AIDS. In addition, it's the No. 1 cause of death among those between the ages of 5 and 29. Since the United Nations wants to halve road deaths by 2020, advocates are taking steps to makes the roads in South Carolina and throughout the world safer.

For example, 140 countries that were part of the WHO report had a national plan to increase road safety. Furthermore, 123 countries had laws that aimed to reduce speeding, drunk driving or other risk factors for fatal accidents. However, not all countries have laws that comply with established best practices. Furthermore, some countries that do meet best practices as they relate to drunk driving laws don't set specific blood alcohol limits.

Small Business Owners Need to Protect against Slip and Falls

Slip and fall accidents often result in personal injury lawsuits brought against small businesses and their owners. Such accidents can occur indoors or outdoors and are often the result of a customer tripping over an object or slipping on a wet or damaged surface. Torn carpet, broken sidewalks and icy steps are examples of conditions that may precipitate a slip or fall.

Business owners have a duty to keep their premises safe. Otherwise, they may be held legally responsible for accidents that occur. However, not all slip and fall accidents are the fault of the business and its owners. For instance, a customer may become distracted and trip over an object that was easily avoidable.

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