What to Do After a Bicycle Accident

No matter how carefully you ride your bike, a bicycle accident may inevitably happen. There are more bicyclists on the roads than ever before, and that means there is more potential for bicycle accidents. Since 2000, the number of people riding their bikes to work increased by 60%.

Many cities have taken action to increase safety for bicyclists, including developing designated bike lanes and providing public safety information. Many other cities have not taken these steps, however, and bicycle-related accidents continue to be a problem.

Cycling in the Old Pueblo

Last year Bicycling magazine compiled a list of the “Best Bike Cities in America;” Tucson ranked 24th out of 50 cities. The editors cited Tucson’s extensive network of off-street bike paths and Tucson’s Bicycle Boulevard Master Plan, which aims to develop 193 miles of bicycle boulevards in the city, as  positives. They noted that Tucson’s high fatality rate for bicyclists (six deaths per 10,000 riders) prevented them from ranking the Old Pueblo higher.

In spite of Tucson’s commitment to making the streets safer for cyclists, Tucson has nearly the highest rate of accidents involving bicycles in the US. In 2017 Forbes magazine dubbed Tucson the second most dangerous city for riding a bicycle.

Both drivers and bicyclists should be aware of some of the most frequent causes of bicycle accidents. These include distracted driving (both driver and bicyclist), failure to yield to a bicycle, dangerous road conditions, and riding at night.

Bicycle Safety

May is National Bike Month, where cyclists celebrate the many benefits of bicycling. But first and foremost, safe cycling is the priority for young and old.

To help keep riders safe, Pima County offers bicycle safety classes that include Traffic Skills 101 and a bicycle mechanics class. Riders can also learn about the Pima County Bike Buddy Program that teams experienced riders with novice cyclists. The safety classes may include free bike safety items such as lights, helmets, and locks. 

The top bicycle safety tip promoted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association is to wear a helmet. Riders and parents with young children should also ensure that helmets fit properly, because an ill-fitting helmet may offer little to no protection in the event of a fall or a collision.

NHTSA’s bicycle safety initiatives provide the following tips for safe cycling:

Tips if You Get In a Bike Accident

Even if you’re careful, you may find yourself involved in a bicycle accident. If injured, you should know what to do in the aftermath. Consumer Reports provides some tips to help you know what to do in the event of a crash.

  • Move off the road and assess your injuries. The shock of the crash may mask what you feel at the scene; injuries may reveal themselves once the shock wears off.
  • Either you or someone at the scene (if you are unable to do so) should get information from the driver of the vehicle, including their phone number, information about their car, license plate, and insurance information.
  • It is a good idea to take a picture of the license plate and the driver’s insurance card. Also get names and contact information from any witnesses at the scene.
  • Call 911 to report the crash. If you are injured, the police should come to the scene and prepare an incident report. Ask the driver to stay at the scene until police arrive.
  • At this point you may not know the extent of your injuries and damages, so avoid accepting any offers of compensation from the driver.
  • Make sure you write down the details of the crash for yourself so you can remember exactly what happened.
  • Depending on your injuries you may not need to be transported by ambulance, but it is important to get yourself checked as soon as possible. Even if you don’t feel injured at the moment, it is always a good idea to get medical attention.
  • Likewise, get your bike inspected to make sure there isn’t any hidden damage that could crop up later.
  • Talk to an attorney before making any statement to the insurance company, especially if you’re injured.
  • Finally, read more tips to keep safe when riding a bicycle.

If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, consult the experienced bicycle injury attorneys at Hollingsworth Kelly.

Pedestrian Accidents Increase in Arizona

Pedestrian accidents causing serious injury or death have seen a dramatic increase in Arizona. In Tucson, a 17-year-old Cholla High School student walking to school last month was tragically killed by a speeding motorist as she tried to cross a busy westside street. In January, two pedestrians were killed while attempting to cross local streets. One was a man who was struck by an SUV as he crossed an eastside street. The other was a young man who was celebrating his birthday just after the new year and was hit by a truck as he crossed a dark road on the northwest side of town.

When a pedestrian is killed it is a devastating loss for the victim’s loved ones and friends, but it’s also tragic for the at-fault motorist who will have to live the rest of his life knowing he was responsible for someone’s death.

According to the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, fatalities in Arizona increased more than 40 percent in a four-year period, with 228 pedestrian fatalities in 2017 compared with 160 in 2013.

The Governors Highway Safety Association released a report last year showing pedestrian deaths at levels not seen in decades. Arizona was one of four states that experienced almost half of all pedestrian deaths, and was ranked first in the nation in pedestrian fatalities. In Tucson there were 28 pedestrian deaths in 2018, up from 24 in 2017 and 12 in 2016.

Factors Contributing to Pedestrian Accidents

The Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety is working with local and national officials to determine the causes of the increase in pedestrian traffic deaths and to create awareness across the state about precautions both motorists and pedestrians should take when on the road.

Several factors have been identified as contributing to the increase in pedestrian accidents. A major one is distracted driving, particularly with the rise of cell phone use. Drivers who are paying attention to their cell phones aren’t paying enough attention to the road, or to pedestrians crossing in front of them.

We know that distracted driving is dangerous, but so is distracted walking. Texting, talking on your phone, checking e-mail, and playing games on a cell phone are dangerous distractions that pedestrians may not realize put them in danger, especially when attempting to cross a street.

The rise in pedestrian deaths has also coincided with the popularity of SUVs. Their larger size, heavier weight, and higher clearance makes it more likely that hitting a pedestrian will have deadly consequences.


Pedestrians not crossing at an intersection, wearing dark clothes at night, or being under the influence of drugs or alcohol puts them at increased risk of being hit by a car.

For drivers, speeding, being impaired by drugs or alcohol, making a right or left turn without checking for pedestrians, and not respecting crosswalks are preventable behaviors that can reduce pedestrian deaths.

Pedestrian Safety in Tucson

Tucson city officials have been working to make local streets safer for pedestrians. Tucson installed High-Intensity Activated Crosswalk (HAWK) signals to help citizens cross streets more safely. A pedestrian who wants to cross a street activates the signal, which changes from yellow to red to alert traffic to stop.

Tucson installed the first HAWK signal in 2000. Since then, they have been 90 percent effective in making drivers aware of pedestrians preparing to cross a roadway. Currently Tucson has more than 100 HAWK signals, and the city recently received a grant from the Federal Highway Administration to install six more.

Avoiding Pedestrian Traffic Accidents

Both drivers and pedestrians can take steps to prevent pedestrian accidents. Drivers in Arizona must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians, whether they are in a marked or unmarked crosswalk.  All intersections on public roads have crosswalks. If they are not marked, they are designated by an “imaginary” line where the sidewalk or edge of the roadway crosses the street.

Drivers are also required by law to exercise due care to avoid striking a pedestrian. Here are tips to help motorists share the road safely with pedestrians:

  • Use your turn signal to let pedestrians know when you are changing lanes or turning at an intersection.
  • Be aware of pedestrians near the roadway; be particularly aware of the presence of children or anyone who seems incapacitated or confused as they may suddenly dart in front of traffic.
  • Make sure you slow down when pedestrians are nearby, as the chances of serious injury or death increase with speed. While a pedestrian hit at 20 mph has a chance of survival of 95 percent, those odds decrease to 16 percent at 40 mph. 
  • It is against the law to pass a school bus with flashing lights and an extended stop sign, so you must always stop. Even if the lights are not flashing, watch out for children around the bus, who may dart into traffic without notice.
  • Pay attention to the road when driving. Don’t be distracted by activities such as checking a cell phone or texting while driving. 

Pedestrians should also exercise caution when walking along a roadway or crossing a street. When crossing a road anywhere other than at a marked or unmarked crosswalk, a pedestrian must yield the right-of-way to vehicles. The following tips will help you stay safe when walking on or near a roadway:

  • Always make sure that you can see traffic.
  • If crossing a street or roadway, try to cross at a location that gives you the best view of traffic and where drivers can best see you.
  • Don’t assume that drivers will always stop, even if you are at a crosswalk. Make sure everyone is stopped before you step onto the road. Be particularly aware of turning vehicles, as they may be looking at oncoming traffic and may not see you.
  • Make sure you are visible. Walk toward traffic and wear bright or reflective clothes at night.
  • When walking in a rural area, walk as far off the roadway as possible.
  • Stay alert when crossing a street. Don’t use headphones, cell phones or anything that may distract you from safely crossing the street.

Being alert on the road, both as drivers and pedestrians, can save lives.

Talcum Powder Lawsuits Prove Strong Cancer Risk

Johnson’s Baby Powder has been a staple in many households for over a century, but recent talcum powder lawsuits against the conglomerate have exposed the cancer risks associated with its use.  

First marketed by Johnson & Johnson (J&J) in 1894, Johnson’s Baby Powder became a staple to prevent diaper rash, but other uses for the powder were soon discovered, and it became widespread in many other products marketed to consumers.

Baby powder is known to be an absorbent, light substance, making it ideal for many uses. Besides its use as a baby powder, the company marketed the powder as a feminine hygiene product for women because of its ability to absorb moisture and prevent rashes. It was also formulated for use in cosmetics, deodorants, and dry shampoos. Innovative consumers found it useful for everything from keeping playing cards from sticking together to freshening shoes.

The product contains talc, a soft mineral that is mined, then ground into a powder referred to as talcum or talc. Talc by itself is not known to be harmful. The issue is that it occurs naturally in the ground along with asbestos, which is a known cancer-causing agent.

It has been clearly shown that asbestos causes cancer, including ovarian and lung cancer, mesothelioma, and laryngeal cancer. Because talc and asbestos are mined together, this close link may be the source of cancer risk when using talc products.

Whether talcum powder increases the risk for cancer has been studied and discussed for many years. Recent developments make it more important than ever for consumers to understand the controversy that’s been brewing around talcum powder.

As early as the 1950’s, laboratories found contaminants in talc used by J&J that appeared to be consistent with asbestos, which is often described as fibrous or needle-like. Since that time, studies by several laboratories also showed these impurities.   

Scientists started questioning the relationship between talc and ovarian cancer as early as 1971. In that year a scientific paper reported the results of a study that examined tissue from ovarian tumors. The scientists found talc particles in the tumor tissue, and pointed out the connection between talc and asbestos. Other studies demonstrated the movement of talc particles to the ovaries. This sparked curiosity about the connection with ovarian cancer.

Research from several other studies since then on women with ovarian cancer who used talcum powder has shown everything from no risk to a moderate risk. One study that looked at over 8,000 cases found a risk of ovarian cancer between 20 and 30 percent in women who used talcum powder for feminine hygiene.

The link between talc and asbestos is troubling, but it’s notoriously difficult to prove what may cause a certain type of cancer.

Despite the studies and mounting evidence of the link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer, J&J continued to market it, and insisted that its powder did not contain asbestos. However, a recent investigation by Reuters reported that the company may have known their talcum powder was contaminated with cancer-causing asbestos. According to this report, company documents uncovered as a result of talcum powder lawsuits show that from 1971 to the early 2000s, the talc J&J used would sometimes test positive for asbestos.

Internal J&J reports reviewed during this investigation show that most of their testing didn’t show any asbestos, but also noted that J&J’s test methods had limitations when detecting trace amounts of asbestos. In addition, the company tested only a small fraction of its talc.

Other documents uncovered by Reuters show that J&J knew that three tests by different labs between 1972 and 1975 found asbestos at levels that were described as “rather high.” Nevertheless, J&J told the FDA in 1976 that it did not find asbestos in any sample of talc from December 1972 to October 1973.

Further, Reuters uncovered that company officials discussed how to deal with the problem in company documents and reports during the 1970s and 1980s. While they were talking about it, they did not disclose their concerns to consumers or to regulatory agencies.

Over the past few years J&J has been hit with multiple lawsuits alleging that its talc products caused cancer. Juries have awarded over $5 billion to plaintiffs since 2016, and the company is currently facing nearly 13,000 claims with up to $20 billion at stake. In February the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department issued subpoenas to J&J related to these lawsuits.

Concerns about talc contaminated with asbestos go beyond baby powder. Recently the FDA alerted consumers not to use three cosmetic products—eye shadows, contour palette, and compact powder—from Claire’s Stores, Inc., due to these products testing positive for asbestos.

J&J denies that the company knew that its baby powder contained asbestos. They maintain that their baby powder is free from asbestos and does not cause cancer.

People who are concerned about a serious cancer risk from talcum powder should consider staying away from it, or at least using it cautiously, until more scientific evidence of the link between talc and asbestos is available.

Know the Risks and Benefits of Medical Devices

Medical science continues to make great progress in diagnosing illnesses and treating them. Devices of many types allow doctors to see inside the body to diagnose a variety of conditions. Other types of medical devices that are used or implanted inside the body provide relief from many painful conditions. However, no matter how far medical science has progressed, there are still risks and benefits that people need to consider before undergoing even the most routine procedure involving a medical device.

Here are a few common devices and procedures, as well as some injuries and issues that have been associated with them.

Medical Scopes

Each year, millions of people in the U.S. have a procedure with a medical scope of some type. In these procedures, a doctor places an instrument called an endoscope inside the body to examine the esophagus, stomach, bile ducts, colon, lungs, bladder, or other organs. After each procedure these devices are cleaned and re-used on another patient. Duodenoscopes, which are used to diagnose and treat stomach and other GI tract conditions, have been of particular concern.

Since 2013, at least 35 people have died from after having a procedure that used a duodenoscope. The problem is that the design of the scope makes cleaning it extremely difficult, so even if the scope is cleaned according to the manufacturer’s instructions, bacteria can still be trapped inside the scope and transferred to another patient. A paper published in April 2018 showed that 71 percent of scopes tested at three major U.S. hospital were contaminated with bacteria.

In 2015 the FDA directed three duodenoscope manufacturers (Olympus, Fujifilm, and Pentax) to study this issue. Interim results of these studies released in December 2018 showed that up to three percent of samples were contaminated with “low-concern” organisms, and up to three percent were contaminated with organisms of high concern. Sampling is continuing.

One manufacturer, Olympus, pled guilty in December 2018 to charges of failing to file reports about infections stemming from its scopes.  The company agreed to pay $85 million to resolve the charges. Additionally, the company settled lawsuits with two women whose husbands died after undergoing a procedure with the scope and becoming infected with a “superbug” bacteria resistant to most antibiotics.

Other types of scopes are similarly difficult to clean. Bronchoscopes, which are used to look inside the lungs, have also been found to be contaminated, even after cleaning, and have likewise been linked to “superbug” infections.

Bone Cement

There are over a million joint replacements performed each year in the U.S. In many of these procedures, the surgeon uses bone cement. Bone cement doesn’t actually “glue” the joint into place; it fills the space between the artificial joint and the bone to keep the joint in place. The use of bone cement in joint replacements is not without complications, however. The bone cement can break loose, which can cause pain and affect movement. It can also leak into the body.

The most serious problem is bone cement implantation syndrome (BCIS). Fortunately, this complication is rare, but when it happens, it causes the cardiovascular system to collapse and can cause death, often during the procedure.  BCIS has been reported with knee, shoulder, and hip replacements. One study from the UK reported 41 deaths linked to the use of cement in hip replacement.

BCIS has also been reported in patients undergoing spinal surgery. As early as 2002, the FDA sent a warning about a bone cement that was being used to treat spinal fractures and had been linked to serious complications, including blood clots in the lungs, cardiac failure, and death.

In 2011 the government filed charges against a company called Synthes, a manufacturer of bone cement. The company had been testing a cement that had not been approved by the FDA for use in spinal surgeries. Five patients who received the cement had died during surgery after the company ignored reports that the cement could have fatal consequences. Because the company had not been conducting a clinical trial, patients weren’t advised of the risks and given a chance to decide if they wanted to receive the bone cement. Four Synthes executives were also charged, pled guilty and sentenced to time in jail.

Pelvic Mesh

Pelvic mesh is a relatively recent product that was initially marketed in the 1990s to treat stress urinary incontinence in women. After the success of that product, it started being used for pelvic organ prolapse. However, the use of the mesh for pelvic organ prolapse has been associated with complications including pain, infection, bleeding, mesh erosion, urinary problems, and perforation of organs, and has prompted tens of thousands of lawsuits.

The FDA received over 10,000 reports of serious injuries from pelvic (transvaginal) mesh that occurred from January 2008 to October 2018, including 77 deaths. Previously, in 2011, the FDA had issued a warning, and in 2016 they classified it as a high-risk device.

Earlier this year, a woman was awarded $41 million in a verdict against one of the manufacturers of pelvic mesh, Johnson & Johnson. Altogether, more than 100,000 women are suing manufacturers of pelvic mesh due to the complications they have experienced. Some women describe continuous pain due to the plastic of the mesh perforating the vaginal wall.

This is another instance of the product being marketed and used without the benefit of long-term study, to the detriment of thousands of women. Transvaginal mesh and is banned in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. On February 12, 2019, an FDA panel met to discuss the future of transvaginal mesh in the U.S. The panel decided that rather than pulling the mesh off the market, they would like more long-term studies.

What to Do If You Need a Procedure or Medical Device

If you are faced with needing a medical procedure or device, how can you weigh the risks and benefits? You need to be fully aware of whether the device has been studied in clinical trials and has been approved by the FDA. Even if a device has been approved , such as a duodenoscope, you need to know if there are other issues, such as infection risk, associated with its use.

Doing an internet search on the device or procedure may help answer questions such as:

  • What is the history of the procedure/device?
  • Has the device been approved by the FDA?
  • What are the risks and benefits?
  • What complications have been reported?
  • Are there ongoing lawsuits associated with the device?
  • What are the alternatives?

You should also carefully read the consent document for the procedure, as it should list the potential risks and complications.

Speak with your healthcare providers also. What is their experience with the procedure/device? How many times have they done the procedure?  What are the most common complications? Before making a decision, you may also want to speak with other patients who have had the procedure.

The bottom line is that you should arm yourself with as much knowledge as you can before undergoing a procedure so you know the risks and benefits and can make an informed decision.  

Practice Toy Safety Year-Round 

Most parents learn about toy safety during the Holidays, when consumer safety advocates drive home the message that what might seem like a harmless toy could very well put your child in danger. But toys are bought year-round, and parents may forget that toy hazards may be hiding in plain sight. Learning about toy safety and which toys pose a risk to a child could very well prevent an unfortunate accident.

Worst Toys

Each year, the consumer advocate group World Against Toys Causing Harm (W.A.T.C.H.) releases a list of toys that parents should avoid. They evaluate toys for hazards such as potential for strangulation, damage to eyes, choking, and other dangers. Last year’s “Worst Toys” list included a Cabbage Patch doll,  a Marvel Black Panther Slash Claw, and a Power Rangers Super Ninja Steel Superstar Blade.

The group points out that the toys on their list aren’t the only ones that may be dangerous, but they represent some of the common hazards. Some of W.A.T.C.H.’s safety tips for parents when buying toys include avoiding anything with small parts, toxic materials, projectiles, or strings. They also caution that sometimes toys also come with unreliable age instructions or insufficient warnings.

Toy Injuries Increase

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that 251,700 children were injured by toys in 2017. Of these, 13 deaths occurred in children younger than 15. Rather than toy injuries decreasing over the years, a 2014 study found that toy-related injuries actually increased by 40 percent between 1990 and 2011.

Toy Safety Tips

What can you do to keep your child safe? Check to see if any of your child’s toys are on the CPSC’s recall list. W.A.T.C.H. cautions against toys sold on the internet that don’t have warnings or age recommendations on the website; toys that have longer than six-inch strings; and toys that need batteries (for children under eight years of age).

Toy safety tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics include selecting age-appropriate toys that will build developmental skills. They caution about toys that have small pieces, batteries, magnets, and balloons for small children, and digital toys for older kids.

Be vigilant when choosing toys, and remember that toy safety should be a priority all year. That popular new toy might not be as harmless as it looks.

Driving and Cell Phones Are a Deadly Combination

Injuries and deaths due to distracted driving—primarily from the use of cell phones—are increasing. Driving and cell phones are a deadly combination.

A study of driving and cell phone use in 2017 found that almost 90 percent of drivers reported using their cell phones while operating a vehicle. The study also found that drivers spent more than three minutes per hour on their phones, a distraction that significantly increased their chances of having a car accident.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that distracted driving caused 391,000 injuries from motor vehicle accidents in 2015, and 3,450 deaths in 2016. Of these fatal crashes, 14 percent involved the use of a cell phone.

Cell phone use is often under-reported in accident statistics, however. NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System Encyclopedia tracks the causes of motor vehicle accidents. Their information relies on drivers or accident witnesses reporting cell phone use. According to a report from the National Safety Council, “Crashes Involving Cell Phones: Challenges of Collecting and Reporting Reliable Crash Data,” police may not report cell phone use if another violation contributed to the accident. For example, the police report may say that the driver failed to stay in the proper lane, but they may not report that it was due to cell phone use. It may be years before we know the true picture of how many injuries and deaths are caused by distracted drivers, particularly those involving cell phones.

Anything that takes a driver’s eyes or attention off the road is potentially an accident waiting to happen. As a result, many cities and states have passed laws to ban texting and driving.

Tucson ban on cellphones and driving

The Tucson City Council voted last year to regulate the use of cell phones and portable electronic devices while driving. The Council passed a hands-free ordinance making the use of handheld electronic devices while driving a primary offense, which means that police officers can pull over drivers they see or suspect are using a cellphone. The mere fact that a driver is holding a cell phone in his or her hand is an infraction.

A previous law stated that drivers could only be cited for cell phone use if the officer had pulled them over for another reason. A similar law has been in effect in Pima County since 2017.

The change is designed to prevent distractions from texting and using phones for other purposes, such as social media, while operating a vehicle. Under the new law, drivers are permitted to use a hands-free device. Drivers cannot use a device that is not hands-free while driving or while stopped on a street or highway (such as at a stop light or sign).

Ticketing for this offense started in late March. A first-time violator can be fined $50, although if there is an accident the fine will be a minimum of $250.

Arizona—only one of 3 states with no texting ban

Arizona is currently one of only three states that does not have a law that bans texting while driving. In 2016, AT&T analyzed data from a campaign called It Can Wait and found that texting bans are working—states with texting bans have far lower rates of texting while driving. This means fewer drivers in the 47 states that ban texting and driving are putting themselves or others at risk for accidental injury or death.

Last year the Arizona Senate considered a law to ban texting while driving. Although the bill that was put forward by committee was not passed, in July Governor Doug Ducey signed into law a bill that prohibits teenagers from texting while driving when they have a learner’s permit, and within the first six months of getting their driver’s license.

Reduce your risk from distracted driving

You can’t control what others do, but you can reduce your chances of injury from an accident by not using your cell phone at all when you’re driving. According to the National Safety Council, drivers having a phone conversation may miss up to 50 percent of what’s going on around them even when using a hands-free device. Texting is even more of a distraction. A driver’s eyes will be off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds while texting, which at 55 mph means the car can travel the length of a football field without the driver paying attention.

If you are walking or bicycling, it is just as important that you stay focused on your surroundings rather than your electronic device.

Remember also to use your seat belt to reduce your risk if you are involved in an accident.