Is Your Child’s Car Seat a Death Trap?

Picking a car seat can be one of the most important decisions parents can make for their children. This is a matter not to be taken lightly, as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that car accidents are the number one cause of death for children under the age of 12.

The trust a parent places in the car seat they select comes from the expectation that it is going protect their child if they’re in a car accident. Unfortunately, car seats are not always failproof.

Last February, car seat manufacturer Graco was forced by NHTSA to recall 4.9 million toddler seats because the harness buckles became easily jammed if food or drinks were spilled on them, making it difficult to remove the child from the seat. In some cases, parents had to cut the straps to remove their children from the defective seats.

Last month, Graco ended a five-month battle with NHTSA, agreeing to recall an additional 1.9 million infant car seats for the same issue. When combined with the earlier toddler car seat recall, the total Graco recall makes it the largest recall of car seats in American history.

What can parents do to make sure their children are safe in their car seats? They can start by registering their child’s car seat to ensure they receive email updates and recall notifications about their child’s car seat. This is especially important because manufacturers are required by law to inform consumers of any potential safety issues with their products.

Parents should also become familiar with the many resources available to them about car seat safety. NHTSA has set up a website at to teach parents how to buy the right car seat for their child depending on their age and size; how to install a car seat; car seat ratings; and car seat registration and recalls.

Locally, Safe Kids Pima County and participating fire stations will help parents properly install their child’s car seat. Call 520-324-2783 for locations and to make an appointment.

Spending a few minutes learning about the products that you trust to protect your loved ones can make the difference between life and death if you find yourself involved in a car accident.

Do the Elderly Need to be Protected From Their Doctors?

Patients often make the mistake of believing they can place their full confidence and trust in the skill and knowledge of their medical providers, many times not realizing that neglect or medical malpractice can be fairly common, especially among the elderly.

A study published online last May in the medical journal Injury Prevention found that one in five Medicare patients suffered an injury from medical treatment not related to their underlying condition. The study drew attention to outpatient care, citing that most of the malpractice happened in doctors’ offices, clinics, surgery centers and nursing homes, with one-third occurring in hospitals.

Researchers noted that the more delicate the health of the patient, the more likely it was that he or she would experience a medical injury during treatment. They found that elderly patients were often more vulnerable to being given the wrong medications or receiving treatments that could induce allergic reactions or additional complications, adding to their previously existing underlying illnesses or problems.

The study also drew attention to complications that go hand-in-hand with medical malpractice–death rates are estimated to double when additional injuries occur with the elderly, along with increased health care costs due to extended and comprehensive follow-up treatment.

The focus of this study is to recognize the cause of unnecessary medical injuries that elderly patients are experiencing. It is also a wake-up call for members of the health care profession on the need to be educated in geriatric medicine, and understand that the elderly, because they are more vulnerable than healthy young adults, need a greater degree of care and protection when receiving medical treatment.

Trucking Accidents: a Thing of the Past?

Commercial truck drivers are often being pushed to their physical limits and beyond to meet competitive and highly demanding schedules on the road. A few months ago we saw the devastating consequences when a tired tractor-trailer driver tragically injured comedian Tracy Morgan and killed another passenger when he fell asleep at the wheel.

When it comes to the safety of you or your loved ones, a newly proposed law may make tired truckers and trucking accidents a thing of the past.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced in March a new proposal that would mandate electronic logging devices (ELDs) in commercial vehicles.

Electronic logging devices will make it harder for drivers and trucking companies to distort hours spent on the road, which is currently kept by paper logs in most trucks and is even referred to by some as “comic books” because they can be easily falsified.

ELDs will integrate with commercial vehicle engines to determine speed, motion, miles and hours driven. ELDs will also be tamper-proof and will allow local law enforcement officials to link with commercial vehicles to determine the operation of these vehicles.

The American Trucking Association is at the forefront of welcoming the newly mandated changes in commercial transportation and believes it will greatly improve the safety of the public and the drivers as the logging of driving time can no longer be falsified. Large numbers of companies have already made the switch from paper to electronic logging.

The newly mandated ELDs will also reduce harassment of commercial drivers by making it easier to penalize employers who impose overly aggressive and demanding schedules or ill-timed intrusions of drivers’ rest or sleep schedules.

The new rule is expected to take effect in 2016.