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February 2016 Archives

Is Hands-Free Technology Creating Additional Risks for Drivers and Passengers?

 pDriverAndInstructor_10355204_s-300x200.jpg Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of auto accidents. In fact, the risks of distracted driving are so significant that many states, including Illinois, have implemented bans on the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. As a result, many auto makers are installing hands-free technology in their vehicles. But according to a new study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, hands free technology poses a number of hidden risks to dangers and passengers alike. In a press release issued in October 2015, AAA reported that "potentially unsafe mental distractions can persist for as long as 27 seconds after dialing, changing music or sending a text using voice commands," raising new concerns regarding the use of phones and vehicle information systems while driving. At the 25 mph speed limit used in the study, drivers traveled the length of nearly three football fields during those 27 seconds, and even when using the least distracting systems, drivers still remained impaired for more than 15 seconds after completing a task. "The lasting effects of mental distraction pose a hidden and pervasive danger that would likely come as a surprise to most drivers," said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, in a press release. "The results indicate that motorists could miss stop signs, pedestrians and other vehicles while the mind is readjusting to the task of driving." The AAA Foundation's most recent findings are its third phase of its comprehensive investigation into cognitive distraction, and show that "new hands-free technologies can mentally distract drivers even if their eyes are on the road and their hands are on the wheel." The study looked at the residual effects of mental distraction by comparing new hands-free technologies installed in ten 2015 vehicles and three different types of smartphones. The study found that all systems increased mental distraction to potentially unsafe levels. "The massive increase in voice-activated technologies in cars and phones represents a growing safety problem for drivers," said Marshall Doney, AAA's President and CEO. "We are concerned that these new systems may invite driver distraction, even as overwhelming scientific evidence concludes that hands-free is not risk free." The bottom line: the only way to prevent distracted driving is to remove distractions, hands-free or otherwise.   Contact a Car Accident Lawyer At Steinberg, Goodman & Kalish, our Chicago auto accident lawyers are dedicated to helping the victims of auto accidents caused by distracted driving to obtain full and fair financial recovery. If you were injured or a loved one died as a result of distracted driving, do not hesitate to contact our (312) 445-9084 to schedule a free consultation with one of our Chicago car accident lawyers.     Steinberg Goodman & Kalish (www.sgklawyers.com) is dedicated to protecting victims and their families. We handle medical malpractice, product liability, personal injury, wrongful death, auto accidents, professional negligence, birth trauma, and railroad law matters. Contact us at (888) 325-7299 or (312) 445-9084.

What Parents Need to Know about Lead Poisoning

 Baby-stethescope-Dollarphotoclub_60051772-300x200.jpg  In light of the recent firestorm surrounding the lead-tainted drinking water in Flint, Michigan, many parents are wondering about how to keep their children - and themselves - safe from lead poisoning. Lead poisoning can affect anyone, in any location, and its impact is dire. Lead poisoning can impact IQ, ability to pay attention, and academic performance, among a number of other complications. What's more, the effects of lead exposure cannot be reversed. Accordingly, it is important to prevent lead exposure in the first place. Children under the age of 6 years old are most at risk of lead poisoning because they are growing rapidly and because they tend to put their hands or other objects into their mouths. Lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust are the most hazardous sources of lead for U.S. children. Lead-based paints were banned for use in housing in 1978, but all houses built before 1978 are likely to contain some lead-based paint and the deterioration of lead-based paint can result in exposure. According to the CDC, approximately 24 million homes have deteriorated lead paint and elevated levels of lead-contaminated house dust, and more than 4 million of these dwellings are homes to one or more young children. If you currently live, or have lived, in a house or apartment built before 1978, your children should be tested for lead exposure. A reference level of 5 micrograms per deciliter is used to identify children with blood lead levels that are much higher than most children. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) offers the following safety information to parents:

Are You at Risk of the Zika Virus?

 Mom-and-Toddler-Dollarphotoclub_68561129-300x200.jpg  The World Health Organization (WHO) recently designated the Zika virus and its suspected complications as a public health emergency of international concern. The WHO has only taken such an action three times before, signaling the severity of the outbreak. According to the Washington Post, declaring the virus a public health emergency "paves the way for the mobilization of more funding and manpower to fight the mosquito-born pathogen spreading 'explosively' through the Americas." The Zika virus was first identified more than 50 years ago, and though it has been popping up in various parts since then, until now individuals have only suffered mild symptoms, such as a rash or body aches. Recently, however, the number of brain-damaged newborns associated with the virus has been increasing, causing health officials to become concerned about Zika's impact on fetal development. The WHO estimates the virus could infect up to 4 million people by the end of 2016. In light of its severity, many people are wondering who is at risk of contracting the virus. Although most people living in the U.S. aren't at risk of contracting the Zika virus, according to an article on CNN, people living in or traveling to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Caribbean or Pacific territories, and Central and South America are at risk of coming in contact with the Zika virus. In these areas, women who are pregnant should protect themselves from mosquito bites by using repellants, permethrin-coated clothing, long sleeves and pants, and by staying indoors (ideally in places with air conditioning) as much as is practical. Additionally, in January, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a travel advisory urging pregnant women to avoid travel to areas where the virus is actively spreading, with that advisory expanded to now include more than two dozen countries and territories in Central America, South America and the Caribbean. The CDC reports that there have already been cases reported in the U.S., including a woman in Hawaii who delivered an infant with microcephaly after being infected with the virus in Brazil last year. Additional reported cases are expected as travelers return to the U.S. from Zika-infected areas of the world. Some experts think precautions should be taken even further. In fact, Lawrence Gostin, a public health and law expert at Georgetown University, told the Washington Post, the WHO should have issued a travel alert for pregnant women visiting Zika-affected countries and that the organization's "failure to do so puts it at odds with the CDC's travel warning to pregnant women." Gostin advises women to avoid going to affected areas if they are pregnant. Because the countries most affected typically have younger populations, more women of childbearing age could be affected by the virus and its potential harm. What's more, some of the countries infected have the world's higher birth rates, which means that more brain-damaged newborns could be born as a result of the infection. The Chicago injury lawyers at Steinberg, Goodman & Kalish are committing to staying abreast of this changing medical crisis and will provide updates as necessary. If you have any questions, contact our office at (312) 445-9084 to schedule a free consultation with one of our Chicago accident lawyers.     Steinberg Goodman & Kalish (www.sgklawyers.com) is dedicated to protecting victims and their families. We handle medical malpractice, product liability, personal injury, wrongful death, auto accidents, professional negligence, birth trauma, and railroad law matters. Contact us at (888) 325-7299 or (312) 445-9084.