School Bus Safety
National School Bus Safety Week

Each year during the third week of October, school districts around the country observe National School Bus Safety Week, which this year is Oct. 19-23. Many people may think school bus safety is an issue primarily under the control of bus drivers, but other motorists play a big role in the safety of school bus occupants, too.

Careless Motorists

Distracted or excited children entering or leaving school may not always be aware of danger in the streets. That’s why fines for traffic offenses are higher in school zones. Too many antsy drivers, however, blow through school zones with no regard to posted speed limits.

Texas law requires drivers to stop when approaching a stopped school bus with flashing red lights. The law is in place to protect children boarding or departing a school bus, but some drivers seem more concerned …

Local Car Accidents
Local Car Accidents, Wrong-Way Collisions On the Rise

In August, Austin’s exasperated police chief called for change, following another deadly wrong-way crash. The driver – who had a blood alcohol level nearly twice the legal limit – survived, but her passenger died the next day from her injuries, and another motorist died at the scene. It was the 65th fatal crash in Austin in 2015.

Chief Art Acevedo told TV station KVUE that juries need to be tougher on drunk drivers, and bartenders who over-serve customers should be held accountable. He urged parents to talk to their children about the dangers of drunk driving and the dangers of riding with a driver who has been drinking. He asked people to call the police if they witness a bartender serving an obviously intoxicated patron or if they see drunk drivers on the roadways.

Just six days later, Acevedo was …

Farm Safety Week
National Farm Safety & Health Week (9/20-9/26)

National Farm Safety & Health Week is Sept. 20-26. Since 1944, this annual event has aimed to raise awareness of how safety on farms and ranches can be improved. This year, the theme is, “Ag safety is not just a slogan, it’s a lifestyle.”

For people outside the profession, farming may seem like an occupation with few hazards. But in 2013, there were 500 farming fatalities – about 23 deaths per 100,000 workers.

Unlike most industries in the U.S., about 87 percent of farms are family-owned and operated, sometimes with multiple generations working alongside each other every day. Migrant families also account for a large number of seasonal farm workers. So for many farmers and ranchers, workplace safety and family safety are interchangeable terms.

Texas and Tractors

Texas is home to more farms and ranches than any other state in …

Campus Safety Month
National Campus Safety Awareness Month

For parents, sending children off to college can be an anxiety-inducing experience. They hope their children will be happy, make friends, excel in school, and be safe. But violent crime on campuses – especially violence against women – is raising concerns about just how safe students are when they leave home for college.

September is National Campus Safety Awareness Month, an initiative launched by the Clery Center for Security on Campus. The center is named for Jeanne Clery, who in 1986 was raped and murdered in her Lehigh University dorm room. After her death, Clery’s parents learned campus authorities failed to warn students about crimes on campus, and there was no law requiring them to do so. Because of the Clery family’s efforts, the Jeanne Clery Act went into effect in 1991, requiring colleges that receive federal funding to …

Concussions in Young Athletes
Concussions in Young Athletes

In December 2015, Sony Pictures will debut its film, “Concussion,” about the doctor who first identified a degenerative brain disease in professional football players, brought on by repeated head trauma. The disease – Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy – had long been known to affect amateur and professional boxers, but not until 2002 was it diagnosed in a pro football player.

In news stories about the long-term dangers of concussion, much of the focus has been on professional football. But pro athletes have a long history of playing the game, and it’s possible for a player to suffer one or more head injuries before even reaching adulthood.

How Brain Injury Affects Young People

The human brain isn’t fully developed until a person is about 25 years old, and investigators theorize concussion may affect growing brains differently than it affects mature brains.…

Aggressive Driving Accidents
Aggressive Driving

During a recent morning rush hour in Allen, Texas, a man fired a gun at a driver in front of him, because she had allegedly cut him off in traffic. He fired four shots – through his own windshield – that pierced her back window, and one of the bullets grazed the woman’s dashboard. Neither driver was injured, and police later arrested the man.

This incident is an extreme example of “road rage” – a problem that’s becoming increasingly common, especially in and around Dallas. It begins with aggressive drivers, and when they lose their temper, they may become involved in deadly altercations with other drivers.

Often, people who are prone to aggressive driving become more agitated when stuck in traffic. They may follow cars too closely, weave in and out of lanes, cut off other drivers, or pass other …

Car Seat Safety

Car seats are designed to keep children safe in motor vehicles, but in order to be effective, they must be installed properly and be the right size. Seats that aren’t secured or are the wrong size can put children at risk of injury.

In Texas, the law requires children to be secured in car seats or booster seats if they are 8 years old or younger. However, age is less important than a child’s size, when it comes to determining what type of car seat they need. For example, a child who’s 3 years old and therefore legally able to be placed in a forward-facing car seat might need to ride in a rear-facing seat, if he’s small for his age.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends the following general guidelines for restraining children in cars:

  • Rear-facing seats in

Unsecured Truck Loads
Unsecured Loads Cause Accidents

Many drivers have had the unnerving experience of driving behind a truck that unexpectedly drops debris. It could be a gravel truck that sheds a pebble just large enough to crack your windshield, or a semi-trailer that suddenly sheds its cargo, creating a roadway obstacle course.

Trucks carrying unsecured loads can cause minor dings and dents, along with serious injuries. But it’s not just big rigs that are causing unsecured-load injuries. Many overloaded pick-up trucks, along with cars carrying improperly secured items, are responsible for these types of crashes.

Keeping Drivers In-Check

Every state has a statute regarding unsecured loads. In Texas, it’s illegal to carry loose materials – dirt, gravel, and trash, for example – without enclosing it in some way. Fines for violation of this law could be between $500 and $5,000.

The Federal Motor Carrier …

ATV Accident Safety
ATVs and Children: A Dangerous Combination

Riding across an open field in an all-terrain vehicle can be a great way to unwind on the weekend. But it’s also an activity that can cause serious injuries for children. On June 11, 2015, an ATV accident in a Chambers County pasture killed two children. The four-seat ATV was carrying six people – all between the ages of 5 and 16 – when it rolled over. The 5-year-old boy died at the scene, and his 7-year-old sister died the next day. A week later, in Brazoria County, a 12-year-old boy died when he lost control of the ATV he was driving and crashed into a tree.

Tragedies like these are becoming too common. And not just in Texas. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that in 2013, 99,600 people nationwide were treated in emergency rooms because of ATV-related injuries

Austin, TX Dram Shop Law
Liability for Serving Alcohol

All too often, we see stories about tragic crashes caused by drunk drivers. It’s hard to say why people decide it’s OK to drink and drive. Maybe they don’t realize they’re intoxicated, or they overestimate their own ability to drive while under the influence. But when bartenders recognize that a patron is intoxicated, they may be able to prevent that person from driving drunk.

What the Law Says

Texas law forbids the sale of alcohol to people who are obviously intoxicated to the point that they pose a danger to themselves or others. A bartender or bar-owner that violates that law could be found liable, if a patron causes a crash after leaving a bar.

In 2012, a jury found a Texas bar 75 percent liable for a drunk driving crash, ordering the owners to pay $2.05 million in damages. …