June 2010 Archives

June 28, 2010

Maryland Embraces Roundabouts for Intersections

Roundabout.gifThe state of Maryland is installing roundabouts because they offer a good solution to safety and capacity problems at intersections. At intersections where roundabouts have been installed accidents of all types have been reduced by over 60 percent, and injury accidents have reduced by over 75 percent. Roundabouts can also offer high capacity at intersections without requiring the expense of constructing and maintaining a traffic signal.

80 roundabouts have already been installed in Maryland on state roads and a plan to add about 15 more is in the planning stages, according to David Buck, a spokesman for the Maryland State Highway Administration.

Here are some Facts about Roundabouts:
1) Slow speed, circular intersection.
2) No stop signs or signals within the circle.
3) Safer than other types of intersections with fewer points where vehicles could collide with each other, pedestrians or bicyclists.
4) Crashes are less severe as vehicles have already slowed down to enter and navigate the roundabout.
5) In a crash, vehicles tend to sideswipe each other, rather than collide in a T-bone manner.

Roundabouts are safer, quieter, more environmentally friendly and can be cheaper than building intersections with signs and signals. In a study conducted in 2007 by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program of the National Academies, converting a traditional intersection to a roundabout led to a 35 percent drop in crashes and a 76 percent drop in fatal or serious injury crashes. It is this fact that makes roundabouts appealing, so appealing that other states, such as Delaware, Georgia and Indiana are adding more to their traffic systems.

June 23, 2010

Physhield Insurance Exchange, a Risk Retention Group, Approved in Maryland

Physician Pic.jpgPhyshield Insurance Exchange, a risk retention group (RRG), has been approved in Maryland, to write medical professional liability insurance policies. Physhield now has the authority to operate as a liability insurer in Maryland, as well as other states, such as Florida, Texas and Nevada. According to Robert Trinka, Chief Executive of Phyhealth (an affiliate of Physhield) says that Physhield can also write policies in Washington, D.C.

This RRG will insure large, single speciality or multispeciality doctors groups that have more than $500,000 a year in premiums. The insurance will be sold through the sales force and Internet site of Maryland-based Palumbo Insurance Associates, a full service commercial insurance agency in Maryland.

Physhield's business model is to bring together groups of local physicians who will form a delivery network, and be the primary owners of the groups HMO license. They will develop and market HMO products for their community of patients. This is the doctors that Physhield will offer medical professional liability insurance to. It is these physicians that have the financial responsibility over the care that is delivered, and therefore, have a great deal of control over their own liability insurance situation.

Putting physicians in control of the care and the liability, results in more effective medicine practices. With more control come greater responsibilities, and these Physicians are held liable for the treatment and services they render.

June 16, 2010

Elderly Drivers More Likely to Be Involved in Automobile Accidents

Automobile Accident.jpgIn 2007, the Federal Highway Administration stated that there were more than 20 million licensed drivers 70 and older in the United States. In 2030, there will be an estimated 9.6 million Americans 86 and older, that is a 73% increase from the 2007 US Census estimate. These elderly drivers would be responsible for 25 % of all fatal crashes.

A study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University, using date from 1999-2004 made the following discoveries about elderly drivers:
- Fatality rates for drivers begin to increase after age 65.
- For drivers over the age of 85, the fatality rate increases 4 times more than that of teenage drivers (this is an average of three fatal automobile accidents per day).

Many factors contribute to elderly driver accidents. These factors are poor judgment in making turns, drifting within the traffic lane, and decreased ability to change behavior in response to an unexpected or rapidly changing situation. Also, eyes change with age. Elderly people lose the ability to focus quickly, peripheral vision narrows and the retina become less sensitive to light. In addition to physical/medical changes to elderly people, one must also consider the impact that prescription medications have. Some side effects to medications taken by the elderly can hinder their ability to driver safely. In order to be a safe driver, paying attention to road conditions and your own body changes are essential. Ultimately, what matters on the road is performance.

June 7, 2010

Asbestos Regulations in Maryland

Asbestos.gifAsbestos: a naturally occurring mineral found in certain rock formations, mined from open pit mines. Most of the asbestos used in the United States comes from Canada. Three kinds of asbestos are most commonly found in the US: Chrysotile, "white asbestos"; Amosite, "brown asbestos" and Crodifolite, "blue asbestos".

Asbestos was used in more than 3000 different products, ranging from pipe insulation, floor and ceiling tiles, brake pads, plasters, adhesives, paint, packing materials for valves, roofing materials, etc. Asbestos fibers were wonderful to use because they were durable, strong, flexible, and most importantly resistant to wear.

Concerns with Asbestos:
In the early 1960's evidence began to emerge showing that certain diseases were rampant among asbestos workers. These workers were ones that worked in mills, manufacturing facilities, painters and shipyards. These people were heavily exposed to airborne fibers. They were at high risk of developing an asbestos-related disease.

The diseases most common are asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma, and digestive system cancers. Fibers may be inhaled or ingested. The fibers are small and can remain in the air for various hours. These fibers have no color or smell and therefore; are difficult to detect. Asbestosis is a chronic lung condition where the lungs become scarred, breathing becomes difficult and the disease may worsen even if the person stops working with asbestos. Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer to the lining of the lung and/or abdominal cavities and is always fatal. None of the asbestos related diseases have early warning symptoms and are usually diagnosed years after the disease begins to develop.

Regulating Asbestos:
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates Asbestos. They brought to law a Clear Air Act to produce regulations to regulate air pollutants hazardous to health. These regulations are called the Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants. Asbestos is one of the air pollutants that is being regulated by the act. Asbestos in schools is also regulated by the EPA, but specifically by the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA). Under AHERA schools are required to inspect buildings for asbestos and develop a plan to manage asbestos. The department inspects Maryland's public and private schools.

Asbestos is regulated by states and by the federal government. The State of Maryland regulates how persons work with asbestos and also regulates those who train persons to work with asbestos. The EPA regulations cover four basic asbestos activities:
1) Removal, repair, or encapsulation of asbestos containing materials;
2) Approval of asbestos training;
3) Regulation of persons accredited to perform asbestos related activities;
4) Asbestos in schools.