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Why the roads are becoming more deadly

People in Connecticut may be concerned about their risk when they get behind the wheel, especially as National Safety Council statistics indicate that fatal car accidents are on the rise. In 2016, the latest year for which figures are available, 40,200 people lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents, a 6 percent increase over the previous year. The prior year experienced a 7 percent increase from the year before. Just taking 2015 and 2016 into account, accident-related deaths jumped by 13 percent, the largest increase in half a century.

There are many factors that may contribute to the increase in deadly car crashes. Some people point to the dangers of technology, especially the use of smartphones behind the wheel. When people text or surf the internet while driving, they have an increased risk of causing a serious crash. Distracted driving is certainly one major risk on the roads, but it is not the only one. Laws prohibit texting while driving as well as speeding, drunk driving or even operating a vehicle without a wearing seat belt. However, many of these laws are enforced only sparsely, and the consequences can be deadly. Around 33 percent of fatal crashes involve at least one driver under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.

7 tips for safe winter driving

Driving takes a bit more thought and preparation in the winter. Don't let the snow and ice put you in the ditch -- or, worse yet, in a serious accident. You can take steps to keep yourself and your family safe this year.

With that in mind, here are seven tips all drivers need to consider before they head out to drive in the snow. Whether it's a daily commute, a trip to the store or a long road trip, there is always room for safety.

What to know about eye protection at work

According to PreventBlindness.org, approximately 2,000 people incur eye injuries on the job each day. One in 10 of these result in lost time from work. In addition, 10 to 20 percent of all work-related injuries in Connecticut and the rest of the U.S. result in temporary or permanent vision loss. Employers are encouraged to find durable, comfortable and fitting eyewear for their employees.

When testing for a good fit, employers should take into account their employees' facial features, eyesight and personal preferences. Younger workers especially may have their own preference when it comes to color and style. Employers should make sure that eyeglasses are tested by a reputable, independent third-party lab and meet the ANSI Z87+ standard for high impact. High-quality eyewear shows employees that their employer cares for their safety.

Workplace safety for employees

Workplace safety should be a concern of every worker in Connecticut. Having a safe working environment is a shared responsibility that depends on both management and workers communicating about and following safety standards.

One tip for remaining safe in the workplace is to be aware of the unique hazards of a workplace or job. Once the hazards are known, workers will be able to avoid possible dangerous areas and situations. It is also necessary to always be on guard around machinery.

GHSA confronts lack of results from speeding reduction efforts

Many drivers in Connecticut, as elsewhere, believe that speeding is culturally acceptable and do not mind engaging in it themselves. By doing so, however, they increase their risk for a crash, especially a fatal one. Pedestrians and bicyclists are often the victims of speeding crashes. If they only slightly decreased their speed, they could lower both their crash risk and the severity of any crashes that do occur.

This lack of a safety culture among drivers is one of the things that the Governors Highway Safety Association wishes to address. In April 2019, it will convene a forum with various stakeholders in the development of a speeding reduction program. The GHSA's State Highway Safety Offices are in a unique position to implement such a program in addition to any other educational or law enforcement efforts.

How truck drivers may reduce shoulder injury

Some truck drivers in Connecticut may be in danger of shoulder injuries when they are raising or lifting trailers. However, researchers from North Carolina State University and the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries have looked at driver technique and concluded that positioning may significantly reduce the likelihood of damage. The study appeared in the journal "Applied Ergonomics."

Researchers worked with 12 male truck drivers and measured the activity in 16 muscles as well as the range of scapular motion. There is greater resistance in raising a trailer, and researchers found that truckers are safest from injury while standing parallel to it. This is called sagittal cranking, and it takes some of the stress off the shoulder by using the trucker's full body strength.

IIHS says more drivers are using phones in riskier ways

Distracted driving is a widespread issue in Connecticut as elsewhere. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently looked into two observational surveys from 2014 and 2018, finding that the rate of distracted driving has not changed considerably. However, it did find that the ways in which drivers are distracting themselves have changed.

The two surveys observed drivers in four Northern Virginia communities as they approached or stopped at red lights. In the 2018 survey, drivers were 57 percent more likely to use their phones for activities other than talking, such as texting and surfing the web. Researchers stress that any phone use is dangerous. When talking, drivers' eyes tend to focus on the center of the road, but their mind drifts. When operating the phone, their eyes are off the road entirely.

Woman seriously injured in Connecticut box truck crash

On Jan. 15, a woman was seriously hurt in a motor vehicle accident involving a box truck in Connecticut. The crash occurred at around 10:30 a.m. in Winchester.

According to the Winchester Police Department, the driver of the box truck, a 48-year-old Ansonia man, was traveling east on Norfolk Road when he suddenly veered off the road to the right, striking and severing a utility pole. The truck then continued down the shoulder of the road and flipped onto its left side. Following the collision, the driver and two passengers, ages 24 and 25, had to be cut from the vehicle by rescue crews.

Drowsy driving an issue for ride-sharing

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, there are approximately 328,000 annual car accidents that involve drowsy driving. That figure includes 6,400 crashes that cause fatalities and 109,000 that cause injuries to the people involved. Drowsy driving is among the most prominent risks on Connecticut roads, especially when it comes to the ride-sharing industry. Drivers who work for companies like Uber or Lyft are generally independent contractors, which means they make their own schedules. Some ride-share drivers are working too much and driving drowsy.

Uber has instituted a requirement that its drivers must go offline for at least six consecutive hours after 12 hours of drive time. Lyft similarly restricts drivers, requiring a break of six hours following 14 hours of drive time. However, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine has called these limits insufficient given that many ride-share drivers work other jobs or drive for multiple companies.

Workplace fatalities were down in 2017

The numbers are in, and they spell good news for Connecticut workers. After years of steady increases, the number of work-related fatalities fell nationwide in 2017. However, the 2017 numbers were still noticeably higher than the 14-year low set in 2009.

According to data collected by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were a total of 5,147 fatal work injuries reported during 2017. That number fell from 2016, but it's still noticeably higher than the 4,551 fatalities recorded in 2009.

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