Drivers who use cell phones are high-risk drivers, even without devices

By now, we all are aware of the dangers of texting or using other electronic devices while you are behind the wheel. In 2010, more than 1.2 million accidents involved drivers who were talking on their phones or texting. In response, many states have enacted laws banning the use of cell phones by drivers. Last month, Ohio became the 39th state to ban texting while driving.

However, a recent study shows that banning the use of cell phones while driving may not necessarily have the expected effect. That’s because researchers found that people who use cell phones while driving are more likely to be high-risk drivers, even when you remove cell phones from the equation.

The study, conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s New England University Transportation Center, looked at the behavior of 108 Greater Boston drivers. About half of the drivers admitted frequent phone use when driving and the rest said they rarely used their phones behind the wheel.

For each person, the researchers compared answers on a questionnaire with data collected from on-board sensors during a 40-minute test drive.

The frequent callers tended to:

–          Drive faster

–          Change lanes more often

–          Spend more time in the far-left lane

–          Accelerate rapidly

–          Slam on their brakes

The results suggest that the driver’s personality may be the real risk. “They are subtle clues indicative of more aggressive driving,” said study leader Bryan Reimer, a human factors engineer at MIT.

“Legislating the technology alone is not going to solve the problem,” Reimer said. “We need to look more at the behavior of the individual.”

This may explain why cell phone bans have not resulted in lower accident numbers. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, two separate studies found no reduction in crashes due to hand-held cell phone or texting bans, based on insurance claim rates in states with and without the laws.

Whether or not the bans are showing a definitive reduction in crashes, legislators need to continue looking at ways to adapt laws to keep up with technology and keep all drivers safe on the roads. As Massachusetts Sen. Mark Motigny said, “You can’t really legislate against irresponsibility or stupidity, but you can at least take away one of the distractions.”

As always, the ultimate responsibility lies with each individual driver. Slowing down and driving defensively are always the best ways to reduce accidents and save lives.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, contact the Ohio auto accident attorneys of Elk & Elk today. Call 1-800-ELK-OHIO or fill out our online evaluation form.

 

FDA warns OTC muscle pain relievers can cause chemical burns

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is alerting the public that certain muscle pain relievers designed to be rubbed into the skin – like Bengay and Icy Hot – can in rare cases cause  serious chemical burns.

The over-the-counter products are applied to the skin for relief of mild muscle and joint pains. Most of these products contain menthol, methyl salicylate or capsaicin. When applied to the skin, the products create a local sensation of warmth or coolness. They shouldn’t cause pain or skin damage.

But FDA regulators say they have received reports of skin injuries ranging from first- to third-degree chemical burns caused by the products. Some of burns have required hospitalization, according to a notice posted on the FDA’s website.

Based on the FDA’s analysis of reported cases, the majority of second- and third-degree burns occurred with the use of products containing menthol as the single active ingredient, and products containing both menthol and methyl salicylate with a concentration of ingredients that was greater than 3 percent menthol and 10 percent methyl salicylate.

Present FDA guidelines do not require these products to have warnings on their labels about burns to the skin.

The FDA is asking consumers to discontinue use of these pain relief products if any sign of skin injury, including pain, swelling or blistering, appears and requests that physicians instruct patients on the appropriate use of the cream, ointment, patch or gel pain relievers that contain any of the aforementioned ingredients.

When using OTC topical muscle and joint pain relievers, the FDA recommends that you not bandage the area tightly and that you not apply local heat (heating pads, lamps, hot water in bags or bottles) to the area because doing so can increase the risk of serious burns.

The FDA also says you should not apply these pain relievers to wounds or damaged, broken or irritated skin.

The drug recall attorneys of Elk & Elk have almost 50 years’ experience helping clients who have been injured by defective drugs or medical devices. Call 1-800-ELK-OHIO today or fill out our online consultation form to see how we can help you.

 

Telemarketing company accused of misleading donors

Akron-based InfoCision, a telemarketing company that solicits donations for charities such as the American Cancer Society, is accused of keeping most of the money raised and lying to the public about it.

An article in the October issue of Bloomberg Markets Magazine details the allegations against the company. According to the article, InfoCision instructs its employees to say that at least 70 percent of the money they raise for the American Cancer Society and American Diabetes Association will go toward charity. But these charities, which approved the telemarketing scripts, in actuality had already agreed to give InfoCision more than half of the money raised.

But the truth is even worse than that, the article claims. InfoCision kept all the donation money that it raised on behalf of the American Cancer Society in 2010, according to Bloomberg Markets. The article reports that in fiscal 2010, InfoCision raised $5.3 million for the ACS. None of that money went to cancer research or to help cancer patients, according to the society’s filings with the IRS and the State of Maine.

InfoCision also kept 78 percent of the donation money that it collected last year in its nationwide neighbor-to-neighbor program on behalf of the American Diabetes Association.

This is not the first time the company has faced close scrutiny. In April, InfoCision agreed to pay $75,000 and change its calling practices to ward off action by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

DeWine said the company failed to make required disclosures to consumers when it made solicitation calls on behalf of its nonprofit clients.

DeWine’s office concluded InfoCision violated state law on “multiple occasions” in four ways:

  • Failing to identify InfoCision as a paid solicitor when it called consumers to seek donations for its clients
  • Misleading consumers who asked about how much of the funds raised would go to the charity it represented
  • Misleading consumers that callers were volunteers or employees of a charity
  • Failing to file timely financial reports to the state about the results of its fundraising drives.

The attorneys of Elk & Elk are investigating a potential claim against telemarketing companies who misrepresent that they are working for charities. Or, who misrepresent the percentage of your donation which actually goes to the charity.

If you were contacted by a telemarketer and gave to a charity, please call us now at 1-800-ELK-OHIO or fill out our online evaluation form.

Button batteries a danger to small children

Tiny, button-sized batteries are a danger parents with small children may or not be aware of. In response to increasing reports of small children swallowing such batteries and getting seriously injured, Energizer and other battery makers are taking steps to prevent such incidents.

The popular lithium batteries are used in everything from watches and hearing aids to remote controls and toys.

According to a recent report from the federal Consumer Products Safety Commission and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 40,000 kids were treated in emergency rooms for injuries related to swallowing batteries between 1997 and 2010. The coin-size, button batteries can cause choking, internal burns and, sometimes, death. Continue reading “Button batteries a danger to small children”

Euclid focus of insurance company’s motorcycle safety efforts

One Cleveland suburb has become part of a nationwide effort to increase motorcycle safety. Allstate Insurance has posted signs reading “Watch for Motorcycles” at one intersection in Euclid as part of the company’s ONE (Once is Never Enough) program.

The Ohio personal injury lawyers of Elk & Elk believe that motorcycle safety is an important issue. To read more about the signs and Allstate’s program, click here.