Washing Machine
Washing Machine Explosion Raises Safety Concerns

Doing laundry is an uneventful, if not mundane, household chore for most Americans. Or at least that’s what one Irving family thought when Faisal Nuree’s wife put a mattress pad in her washing machine. Just minutes later she heard a loud boom.

It turns out their washing machine had exploded with such force that it pushed away from the wall and the top had blown off, becoming a potentially deadly projectile.

Doing a simple load of laundry shouldn’t be dangerous.

Only after the incident did the Nuree family learn that their washer was one of 2.8 million Samsung washing machines recalled. Nuree said he didn’t know his washer was unsafe and never received notice of the recall from the manufacturer.

And the Nuree family isn’t the only one to have their Samsung top-loading washing machine explode. There has been a …

This Mobile App Could Test Driver Impairment
This Mobile App Could Test Driver Impairment

When the police ask you to take a Breathalyzer test, it’s usually already too late. The damage — sometimes property damage, sometimes injury or loss of life — has already been done. But what if there were a way you could tell if you were impaired before you got behind the wheel? Well, there’s an app for that.

DRUID is one of a recent (and ever-growing) crop of phone-based applications that allow drivers to measure their level of impairment before they turn the key.

How It Works

DRUID, which was specifically formulated to measure impairment from marijuana, asks users to complete a series of cognitive and physical tasks while sober to establish a baseline performance score. Reaction time, decision making, hand-eye coordination, balance and time estimation are measured while the user’s attention is divided.

This score is then compared to …

Studies Suggest Texas Is Asleep at the Wheel
Studies Suggest Texas Is Asleep at the Wheel

Those open stretches of rural Texas road may contribute to the alarming rate of drowsy driving crashes in our state. A report from NBC revealed that in Texas the number of drowsy driving fatalities in rural areas is 6.8 times higher than in urban areas.

Another study by the mattress company Amerisleep and Sleep Junkie, a mattress review website, revealed that in 2016, one in every five drowsy driving fatalities occurred in Texas. Looking at data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, researchers saw that Texas drowsy driving fatalities were four times higher than California drowsy driving fatalities, even though California has 10 million more residents.

Understanding Drowsy Driving

Many people who don’t get enough sleep think they can overcome drowsiness by drinking coffee. But while coffee my briefly increase alertness, …

Safety Concerns About Austin’s Dockless Scooter System
Safety Concerns About Austin’s Dockless Scooter System

In April, two California companies launched dockless scooter systems in Austin. The City Council limited the two companies – LimeBike and Bird – to 500 scooters each, until the city determines the feasibility of dockless scooter systems.

In theory, riders use a scooter and leave it next to a bike rack or some other out-of-the-way area; but by mid-April, the city had impounded 55 scooters that were blocking sidewalks, roads, or public areas. By mid-May, the city was scrambling to regulate scooters and published 10 pages of rules and six pages of licensing requirements.

What the New Rules Say

The Austin Department of Transportation’s new rules address several safety concerns. The rules apply to scooters and bikeshare bicycles. Companies operating either of those devices in Austin are now required to:

  • By Aug. 1, outfit all units with technology that tells

Texas Work Zone Deaths Increased in 2017
Texas Work Zone Deaths Increased in 2017

Last year, vehicle accidents in Texas work zones killed nearly 100 people and injured 800. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, work zone fatalities were 9 percent higher last year than in 2016, which seems to indicate that drivers need to get serious about work zone safety.

Driver error – specifically, speeding and inattention – is usually to blame for work zone crashes. Aggressive driving and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol have also been associated with work zone crashes.

Speeding in Work Zones

When a stretch of road is under construction or undergoing maintenance, that section will have a lower speed limit than the rest of the road. Lower speed limits help protect roadside workers from serious injury. And when a construction project temporarily alters the usual traffic patterns, or creates irregularities in the road surface, …

Pedestrian Safety Could Be a Concern in a World of Self-Driving Vehicles
Pedestrian Safety Could Be a Concern in a World of Self-Driving Vehicles

Car-for-hire service Uber has been testing self-driving cars for a few years in some U.S. cities, including Tempe, Ariz. But Arizona’s governor issued an order prohibiting Uber from operating self-driving cars after a March accident that killed a pedestrian.

Tempe police released video of the accident, captured by the Uber vehicle’s forward-facing camera. The video shows an empty road until the pedestrian enters the frame. Inside the car was an Uber “developmental vehicle operator” – an employee who is supposed to take command of the car in an emergency. But footage from the car’s dash camera showed that the backup operator was looking down at the time of the crash.

The Tempe crash raises numerous questions about the safety of self-driving cars, chiefly: Why didn’t the car “see” the pedestrian as she entered the roadway, and to what …

What You Can Do to Share the Road with Motorcyclists
What You Can Do to Share the Road with Motorcyclists

More than 400,000 motorcycles are registered in Texas, and large gatherings like the Republic of Texas Rally draw thousands of motorcyclists to Austin every year. Most drivers are accustomed to sharing the road with motorcyclists, but accident statistics suggest there is room for improvement.

In 2016, crashes in Texas killed 493 motorcyclists; about half of those crashes involved another vehicle, and many of those crashes occurred because a motorist did not see the motorcycle or misjudged its distance. With May being Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, now is a good time to brush-up on what you can do to avoid a collision with a motorcycle.

Check Your ‘Blind Spots’

Because of their relatively small size, motorcycles may be difficult to see when they enter a vehicle’s blind spot – that area of road that neither the side mirrors nor interior …

How Safety Features Might Make Us Worse Drivers
How Safety Features Might Make Us Worse Drivers

Lane-departure warning systems and rear-facing backup cameras are just a few innovations that can help keep drivers safe. But it’s possible that vehicle safety features may be having the opposite effect for some drivers.

Drivers may be relying too heavily on technology to keep them safe. For example, a driving instructor in Canada said that someone told him they liked lane-departure warning systems, “… because I can keep texting.”

Safety features aren’t meant to be a substitute for cautious driving. Even modern “autopilot” systems require some degree of driver attention and interaction. When drivers don’t understand how to properly use safety features – or the limits of those features – they could be at higher risk for a crash.

Lessons from Autopilot Crashes

In January 2018, a Tesla Model S struck a stopped fire truck on a Los Angeles freeway. …

Pay Attention: It’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month
Pay Attention: It’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, of the 537,475 crashes in the state during 2017, 100,687 – 19 percent – involved some type of driver distraction.

While people are generally aware of the dangers of texting while driving, many drivers do it anyway. And some drivers may not realize all the other ways in which they could be distracted. To help raise awareness about these issues, the National Safety Council ramps-up outreach campaigns each April, during Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

How Employers Can Help

The NSC promotes the concept that employers can play an important role in reducing the rate of distracted driving. To support that message, it has published two case studies and other materials.

One case study describes Cummins’ Driver Safety program, which began in 2014.

The company’s new policy prohibited any employee “on the clock” …

Dusting off Your Motorcycle This Spring? Here’s a Safety Checklist
Dusting off Your Motorcycle This Spring? Here’s a Safety Checklist

If you’re one of the more than 400,000 licensed motorcyclists in Texas, warmer weather means hitting the open road on your favorite two-wheeled vehicle. But if your bike’s been sitting in a garage for a while, make sure you inspect it before taking that first spring ride.

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation recommends that riders complete an annual T-CLOCS inspection, which stands for tires/wheels/brakes, controls, lights/electrics, oil/fluids, chassis, and stands. Here’s what that entails:

Tires/wheels/brakes

  • Tires – Check the tread depth, and look for signs of wear, cracks, embedded objects, or bulges. Check the manufacturer’s recommended air pressure, and test your air pressure when the tires are cold. Inflate if necessary.
  • Wheels – Look for any bent, broken, loose, or missing spokes. Inspect the cast for cracks and dents and make sure rims are true (spin the wheel against a