November 2012 Archives

November 26, 2012

Young Adults More Likely to Drive Drowsy

The AAA Foundation conducted a survey recently which found that young people, between the ages of 16-24, are more likely to drive drowsy than older people. It is estimated that one in seven licensed young drivers admitted to having fallen asleep behind the wheel at least once while driving in the past year, when compared to one in ten of all licensed drivers who confessed to falling asleep during the same time period. The AAA Foundation estimates that one in six deadly automobile crashes involve drowsy/sleepy drivers.

Sleep deprivation can impair drivers by causing slower reaction times, vision impairment, lapses in judgment and delays in processing information. It has been determined that being awake for more than 20 hours results in an impairment equal to a blood alcohol concentration of .08%, which is the legal limit in all of the United States.

Therefore; if you are feeling sleepy/drowsy, do not get behind the wheel. Before attempting to drive an automobile, please do the following:

- Make sure and get at least 8 hours of sleep
- Don't be rushed to get to your destination. Make sure and give yourself enough time to arrive at your destination
- Avoid driving long distances alone
- Take a break every 100 miles or 2 hours, whichever comes first
- Take a nap if needed. Find a rest stop and take a 15-20 minute nap. This allows your ssystem to recharge
- Do not use alcohol or medications that may make you drowsy
- Avoid driving at times you normally sleep
- Consume Caffeine. It has been proven that caffeine increases alertness

November 13, 2012

Stop Sign Cameras in the District of Columbia

Stop Sign.jpgPhoto enforced stop signs have been very successful in the Washington, D.C. area, since they were implemented this fall. These cameras improve safety at intersections by monitoring vehicles and also help prevent pedestrians from being hit by automobiles that do not come to a full stop at stop signs. These cameras act as police officers, on continuous duty watching for violators all day every day, at a minimal cost of actual people doing the job. The District of Columbia cannot afford to post police officers at every dangerous intersection for this duty alone, even for hours a day, much less all day and all week long. Therefore; these cameras are a classic example of technological leaps forward in the United States.

When these cameras were first installed in the D.C. area there was a 30 day transition period when offending drivers were only issued warning tickets, but now that the 30 day transition period is over, drivers receive citations in the mail. The fine for running through these stop signs is $50. The fine for blocking an intersection is $100 and the fine for failing to yield to pedestrians is $250. In order to avoid these fine, under the law the car has to come to a full and complete stop before the crosswalk in order to be considered a legal stop.

In 2011 alone, existing traffic cameras generated $55.1 million dollars, and it is expected to be even more in 2012, now that the stop sign cameras for been implemented all over the city. To date, 16 stop sign cameras have been placed at dangerous intersections all over the District, most of which are near schools.

November 1, 2012

Your Genes May Determine the Level of Pain Felt After an Automobile Crash

New research conducted by scientist from the University of North Carolina has found that genes play a role in the amount of pain and the severity of pain a person experiences after being involved in an automobile crash.

Two studies were conducted and data from 948 adult automobile accident victims were collected to determine that certain inherited genetic variations affect the response to pain intensity both immediately after an accident and up to six weeks after. The adult participants of these two studies provided blood samples after being treated in an emergency room and were also evaluated for extent and severity of pain at a second emergency room visit six weeks later.

The first study conducted examined the role of the neurotransmitter drug called Dopamine, which helps regulate pain. The pain levels felt immediately after an automobile crash was varied based on genetic variations associated with the use of Dopamine.

The second study evaluated the role of hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis - a hormonal system - which helps regulate the body's response to stressful events and situations. It was found that a gene variant was linked to a 20% higher risk of moderate to severe neck pain six weeks after an automobile crash, as well as greater overall body pain.

This research will allow us to find new ways of tailoring pain treatments to each individual patient in order to alleviate pain suffered as a result of an automobile crash, both immediately after a crash and weeks after.