Dying for a good selfie shot?


From a Russian Selfie Safety campaign

From a Russian Selfie Safety campaign

Globally, more people have died in selfie-taking incidents this year than were killed by sharks. Nope, that’s unfortunately not a joke. So far this year, here’s the toll: Selfies, 12. Sharks, 8. From live grenades, bull chases and clifftops: people are dying to take selfies.

There’s even a Wikipedia page that tracks selfie-related deaths and serious injuries. Some deaths are the result of daredevils trying to get just the right adventure shot. Other deaths are the result of the selfie-taker being so absorbed in photo taking that they become oblivious to surrounding dangers.

And that says nothing of the scores or injuries and near-misses that have occurred while trying to get the ultimate selfie. No matter how strong you think your selfie game is, you probably can’t outrun a bear. One phenomena that is driving park rangers crazy is the number of people who get way-too-close to wild animals so that they can snag a shot with a bear, buffalo or moose over their shoulder. So many people are doing this that at least one park in Colorado closed down to visitors to protect both the bears and the selfie-taking people. Park rangers say that getting close to a bear, bison or any wild animal is highly risky – and turning your back on them is an invitation to an attack.

In Russia, where there have been more than 100 selfie-related injuries, the interior ministry launched a Safe Selfie campaign with a motto: “Even a million ‘likes’ on social media are not worth your life and well-being.” Our post graphic shows the situations the public safety poster suggests that selfie takers avoid.

The dangers of selfie taking have been exacerbated with the popularity of selfie sticks – leading an increasing number of tourist and public venues to ban selfie sticks for for insurance liability reasons.

Pizza Hut got in on the dangers of selfie stick with a pretty humorous fake public service announcement. It’s funny because it’s true.

New report on biking fatalities shows risk groups, problems


More and more bikers are taking to the roads. That’s good for many reasons: it’s an an environment-friendly transportation option, it’s economical and it offers health and cardio benefits to the rider.

There’s a flip side of the coin, though. According to a new report from the Governors’ Highway Safety Association, Spotlight on Highway Safety: Bicyclist Safety. The report notes that, “… yearly bicyclist deaths increased 16 percent between 2010 and 2012, while overall motor vehicle fatalities increased just one percent during the same time period.”

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The report also notes that some groups are at higher risk.

  • In 1975, adults represented only 21% of all fatalities; On 1974, adults repreent 74% of all fatalities.
  • Bicycle fatalities are increasingly an urban phenomenon, accounting for 69 percent of all bicycle fatalities in 2012, compared with 50 percent in 1975.
  • While bicyclists killed in motor vehicle crashes increased in 22 states between 2010 and 2012, six states – California, Florida, Illinois, New York, Michigan and Texas – represented 54 percent of all fatalities.

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In looking at prevention, these rather shocking stats from 2012 are significant:

  • Two-thirds or more of fatally injured bicyclists were not wearing helmets
  • 28% of riders age 16+ had blood alcohol concentrations of .08 percent or higher, compared with 33 percent of fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers.

Click for the full report and other tools

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Resources / Prior Posts
For National Bike Month, here’s the scoop on insurance

Protecting your bicycle from bike thieves

Bike Safety for Kids

How safe are your favorite kids on their new jobs?


Our workers’ compensation service partner Lynch Ryan had previously posted this on their Workers” Comp blog – we thought it was important advice that bears repeating as we approach the summer months.
If you are a parent of a high school or college age kid, you are probably familiar with the quest for the summer job. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, more than 2 million teen workers flock to the workplace, many for the first time. Think back to your first job – it can be an exciting thing to earn that first paycheck. It can also be very dangerous. Every year, about 70 teens are killed on the job and about a quarter of a million suffer injuries on the job. That means that about once every three minutes, a teen gets hurt at work.
All first-time workers are vulnerable to work injuries, teens especially so, often because of youthful feelings of invincibility. New workers aren’t yet work hardened. Because they don’t know their limits, they are more susceptible to overexertion, strains, and sprains. Young workers typically aren’t seasoned enough to have good judgement about risks. Eager to make a good impression, they often don’t want to ask for help, question authority, or call attention to themselves in any way.
Most work-related teen deaths occur as the result of motor-vehicles or as a result of machine related accidents. Agriculture has accounted for more than 40% of these fatalities, followed by the wholesale/retail trade, and construction. Frequent nonfatal injuries include lacerations, contusions, abrasions, sprains, or strains. Weather related injuries are also common – sunburns, heat exposure, and the like. The pattern of nonfatal injuries follows the most common types of employment: wholesale/retail and service industries.
Over the month, we’ll follow up with more information on this topic. today, we’d like to address parents, and urge parents (or aunts, uncles, friends) to be proactive about teen worker safety:
Familiarize yourself with child labor laws in your state. Know the hours they can work, and restrictions on the type of work they can do. For example, according to the the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE):

” …by law, your employer must provide protective clothing and equipment necessary for your job, payment for medical expenses if you are injured at work and training in on-the-job safety; and, that on a school day, a 15-year-old is only permitted to work up to three hours a day. Sixteen year-olds are limited to the type of work they can do. For instance, out of these jobs — A. operating a meat slicing machine at a deli counter, B. driving a forklift at a warehouse, C. waiting tables at a restaurant, or D. performing demolition work at a construction site — a 16 year-old is legally only allowed to work waiting tables.

… Teenagers are not allowed to work in mining, logging, meatpacking, roofing, excavation or demolition, according to labor laws. They cannot drive a car or forklift or work with saws, explosives, radioactive materials, or most machines.”

Take a detailed interest in your teen’s work – talk to your child about what they do on the job and talk specifically about safety matters. Ask a lot of questions:
-Do you work alone?
-Who is your supervisor? Is he or she in your work area with you?
-Do you use any equipment or machinery? Have you had training?
– What would you do if…
Trust your instincts – call or visit a workplace before your teen starts work. If you have any misgivings after work starts, follow-up with the boss or the supervisor.
Other resources for parents:
Department of Labor’s Youth & Labor page
OSHA: Do you have a working teen?
Clocking in for Trouble – Teens and Unsafe Work
What teens need to know before going to work
Teen Workers: Avoid 2005’s Five Worst Jobs this Summer
Working the Smart Shift: Helping Parents Help their Teens Avoid Dangerous Jobs
Driving on the Job: New law for teen Workers
Teen Driving Safety
Your Teen at Work: Tips for Parents

The deadliest U.S. roads


Fox news just issued their list of The Top Ten Deadliest Stretches of Road in America. To compile this list, they analyzed five years of crash reports to determine which roads had the highest number of deadly accidents. For those of us in New England, the good news is that none of those roads are located here. California has four roads on the list; Florida and Arizona both have two roads on the list; and Texas and Nevada both have one. See a comparison chart of all states auto fatalities and fatality rates.
But New England drivers shouldn’t relax. Nearly 60% of all highway deaths occur on rural roads, and two New England states appear on a 2005 report of states with the highest percentage of rural road fatalities:

  • Maine (92%)
  • North Dakota (90%)
  • South Dakota (89%)
  • Iowa (88%)
  • Vermont (88%)
  • Montana (86%)
  • Wyoming (84%)
  • South Carolina (83%)
  • Mississippi (82%)
  • Arkansas (81%)
  • West Virginia (80%)
  • Minnesota (72%)
  • Wisconsin (68%)

If you’d like to check the safety of the roads in your neighborhood or on your commuting route, there’s a terrific tool developed by University of Minnesota researchers which allows you to do just that. It combines information from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System with Google Maps to offer a visual representation of traffic safety across the U.S. You can enter an address and view the roads that have the highest number of traffic fatalities in a specified area, or you can view data for your state.
Most dangerous road in the world
As treacherous as some U.S. roads can be, they pale in comparison with Bolivia’s Death Road, a 60 to 70 kilometer mountainous stretch between La Paz and Coroico, which is often cited as the most dangerous road in the world. It’s been the subject of numerous televised reports – watch a 6 minute clip:

Cars injure 841,000 people a year – without crashing


A new Not-in-Traffic Surveillance study sheds light on the numbers and types of injuries that occur as a result of non-crash related accidents, statistics that hadn’t previously been tracked. Annually, auto-related non-traffic accidents are estimated to cause 1,747 deaths and and 841,000 injuries, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which conducted the study.
Here are some of the study findings, as reported by the Consumer Reports Car Blog:

  • More than half of the non-crash fatalities in the study occurred when a vehicle fell on a person who was under it or from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning
  • About 20 percent of the non-crash injuries involved slamming fingers or other extremities in a car door or trunk, or resulted from overexertion when loading or unloading a vehicle or pushing a disabled vehicle
  • Across all types of tragedies, about one-third of those injured and about half of those killed were not inside the vehicle at the time
  • Other common hazards included vehicle fires, anti-freeze and battery-acid burns, and falling from a vehicle
  • A significant 221 deaths, and 14,000 injuries resulted from pedestrians being backed over by a vehicle

Backovers killed nearly 100 children and injured 2000 in 2007
About twice a week, kids are killed by being run over by a vehicle that is being backed up. Tragically enough, this often occurs in the home driveway with a parent or a relative at the wheel of the car. In 2007, nearly 100 children were killed and 2,000 injured when they were backed over by cars. In fact, one of the primary reasons for the new mandate to track non-traffic related injuries and deaths stems from a 2008 law requiring the tracking of data for incidents in which children are backed over, strangled by power windows or killed from being left in hot vehicles
A child safety advocacy organization called Kids and Cars says such accidents are predictable and preventable. The following video highlights the issue and shows Consumer Report studies on blind zones, which vary by vehicle, ranging from about 12 feet for a sedan to as much as 30 feet for a pickup-truck.

For additional information on back-up blind zones, see The danger of blind zones by Consumer Reports.