Spring Safety

   Spring is in the air and summer’s almost here, and with warm weather comes lawn maintenance.  We read a lot about sun, swimming and bicycle safety, but lawn safety seems all too often to be overlooked.   Cutting the grass is more of a chore than summertime fun, and sometimes, in an effort to get the yard work done quickly, we forego safety.    

          According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, each year approximately 68,000 people are treated in emergency rooms with injuries caused by power mowers (this doesn’t even include injuries from other lawn equipment), with more than 9,000 of those being younger than 18 years old.  Injuries include deep cuts, loss of fingers and toes, broken and dislocated bones, burns, eye and other injuries, some very serious.  In my practice, I have seen firsthand how badly a person can be injured by a lawnmower.  It wasn’t my client’s fault that he was injured, but it confirms the need for people to be vigilant about safety when it comes to handling power equipment, even if you’re an expert. 

                I have found a website that gives an exhaustive list of safety tips for lawn maintenance.  I encourage anyone reading this article to visit the website http://juniorbiz.com/lawn-mowing-safety-tips

                Above all, remember this:

Make sure someone knows when you are working with power tools in the yard.  If you are injured you want someone to be able to call for help.

No Child younger than 16 should use a ride-on mower. 

No Child younger than 12 should use a push mower.

Make sure you know where children are at all times.  They should be a safe distance from the area you are mowing and safely away from any flying debris, such as rocks.

Wear safety goggles and sturdy shoes, not sandals. 


                Be smart about keeping your yard looking nice this summer.  Think of all that can go wrong and take steps to prevent it from happening. 

Texting Laws and Facts You Need To Know

Deaths and Injuries Involving Distracted Driving

In a recent entry I led you to a website that showed you the tragic stories of children who had lost their lives as a result of distracted driving.  Today I thought I’d share with you some of the nationwide statistics on auto accidents that occur as a result of distracted driving.** 

  •   20 percent of injury crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving. (NHTSA).
  •   Using a cell phone while driving, whether it’s hand-held or hands-free, delays a driver’s         reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent.   (Source: University of Utah)
  •   In 2009, there were 30,797 fatal crashes in the United States, which involved 45,230  drivers. In those crashes 33,808 people died.


        * *Unless specifically noted, distracted driving includes anything that may distract a driver while driving, such as but not limited to using a cell phone, eating, drinking, talking with passengers, grooming, reading, changing the radio station, using a navigation system or watching t.v.

       Georgia’s Laws

        So what are the cell phone and texting laws in Georgia?  Currently, there is not an all out ban on handheld cell phone use while driving; however, there are some restrictions.

  • Bus Drivers and Drivers under 18 – Completely banned from using cell phones while driving.  In fact, you can be pulled over and cited for using a cell phone without any other traffic offense if you fall into this category
  • All Drivers – Completely banned from texting while driving.*  Again, drivers may be pulled over and cited for texting while driving even without any other traffic offense having taken place. *

There are some exceptions to these restrictions, which may be found by going to www.gahighwaysafety.org/textingsafety  and reading the law prohibiting texting while driving.  

*This information was obtained from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) at www.ghsa.or/html/stateinfo/bystate/ga.html  

 Accident related statistics in Georgia may be found at www.gahighwaysafety.org/statistics/overall.html

Distracted Driving

    Most of us have heard the dangers of driving while texting or talking on a cell phone, but we do it anyway.   That is, until we personally know someone who has been injured or killed by a distracted driver. 

      There are lots of statistics showing the number of people killed or injured by distracted drivers, but sometimes seeing a bunch of numbers can fall flat and the numbers can lose their meaning.  To have a real impact, people need to see real life situations of sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, mothers or fathers killed or injured by a distracted driver. 

The website www.distraction.gov lets you see the faces of people whose lives have been permanently altered because of distracted drivers.  I urge everyone to go to this website, click the faces tab, and listen to each story.  Each situation is similar in that someone was killed as a result of a distracted driver, but each one is also very different.  You will not be able to watch these without believing that no one should be driving while texting or talking on the phone. 

As a lawyer who represents people injured in auto and trucking accidents in Georgia, I’ve seen firsthand how  families can be devastated by a terrible irresponsible decision by a reckless driver, or by companies allowing truck drivers to drive without regard for the rules of the road.  Having seen such tragedy and being the father of two young boys, I want to do whatever I can to try to make our roads safer for my family and for others.  Please take a moment to visit this site.

Does Your Smoke Detector Protect You and Your Family?

If you are like me, you bought smoke detectors for your home trusting that they would protect you and your family if a fire broke out.  It turns out there is some reason to worry that some types of smoke detectors are better than others at detecting fires in a home.

There are 2 basic types of smoke detectors – ionization and photoelectric.  And 9 out of 10 homes have the ionization type of detector rather than the photoelectric type.  MSNBC’s consumer reporter Herb Weisbaum reports today in an article entitled What You Need to Know About Smoke Alarms that this is because they are cheaper and fire departments have given away the ionization type of detectors for years.  But they may not be the best choice.  

Weisbaum reports that several states and municipalities are now favoring the photoelectric type of detectors because they are better at detecting smoldering – rather than flaming – fires.  

Perhaps the most important suggestion in this article is for people to consider buying dual-sensor models which combine both ionization and photoelectric capabilities.  This is recommended by Consumer Reports as well. I am planning to switch all our smoke alarms to these dual-sensor models. 

Back Seat Seat belt Warning System

I have often wondered why more vehicles did not have that annoying "dinging" sound to remind the passengers and driver that someone in the rear seat had not bucked their seatbelts.   It seemed to me that you would especially want this kind of warning system for the back seats since that is where parents usually seat their kids.  It’s hard not to put on your seatbelt when this sound is being repeated.  

Now Consumers Union is seeking to have the NHTSA require auto manufacturers to have such seat belt warning systems in place.  You can read the CU blog entry here.  The NHTSA research on such warning systems is found here.   

Hopefully this new rule will be adopted by the NHTSA.