Distracted walking is no joke


OK, you’ve heard about distracted driving – but were you aware that distracted walking could be a problem, too? Although it may sound funny, it’s a real thing and not a joke. Just as happens to drivers, pedestrians experience reduced situation awareness, distracted attention and unsafe behavior when talking or texting on mobile phones.

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that 1,152 pedestrians were treated in emergency rooms after being injured while using a cellphone or some other electronic device in 2010 — and the number had doubled since the year before. The increase in pedestrian injuries paralleled and even exceeded distracted driving injuries.

Falling onto a train track

Falling off a pier

Scary run-in with a bear

A little humor to make a serious point
Distracted walking is a serious topic but it prompted fun-loving pranksters Improv Everywhere to launch an army of “Seeing Eye People” to protect the many distracted walkers in New York – a funny way to make a serious point.

Insurance and Your Dog


If you are thinking of getting a dog, or even if you already have one, it’s critical as either a homeowner or renter to check with your insurance agent to establish or review your liability coverage for dog bites and other canine-related injuries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that every year more than 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs, and last year, the average cost of a dog bite claim was $26,166, according to the Insurance Information Institute — and costs continue to rise due to growing medical costs and larger settlements.

Most states have strict statutes holding owners directly responsible for injuries or damage inflicted by their dogs, and some insurance policies exclude dog breeds that are seen as particularly aggressive (see the Top 7 Dangerous Dog Breeds), so in addition to evaluating your ability to care for and properly train a dog, it’s vital to make sure you are covered by your policy, and take steps to minimize any risk of dog bite or other injury.

Tips for dog owners seeking homeowner/renter’s coverage for their dog(s):

  • Enroll your dog in obedience classes and work on helping the dog earn a diploma or certification
  • Schedule refresher classes for dogs who have already been trained, but are not as attentive as they once were!
  • Neuter male dogs to reduce dominance and aggression
  • Always keep your dogs on a leash and under control during walks
  • If your dog is allowed outside on your property, be sure the area is adequately fenced and protected
  • Never leave young children alone with a dog, and always teach them how to behave safely around dogs
  • If strangers make your dog nervous, be sure to separate them from new visitors in your home
  • To keep canine frustration in check, always make sure your dog is properly exercised, and don’t allow them to be exposed to teasing or taunting

Finally, if you are thinking of getting a dog primarily for home protection, be aware that money spent on increased security measures will ultimately be easier, more reliable, less expensive — and kinder to the animal.

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.