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AAA study reveals distractions caused by infotainment systems

Car infotainment systems are a major source of distraction for many drivers in Illinois and across the U.S., according to a recent AAA-contracted study that analyzed 30 such systems on new 2017 vehicles. Researchers found all the systems demanded either a moderate level of attention (seven in all), a high level (11 in all) or very high (12). Cars in the last category include the Audi Q7 QPP, Dodge Durango GT, Mazda3 Touring and Tesla Model 7.

Participants in the study were drivers aged 21 to 36 who were asked to call, text, use voice commands, program navigation and engage in other activities while behind the wheel. Researchers say that even listening to the radio and using hands-free devices can be distracting to some extent. The most distracting activities, however, were GPS use and texting, both of which made drivers inattentive for more than 40 seconds.

Learning from dump truck accident statistics

Illinois motorists may find recent statistics about dump truck accidents beneficial. Although there have been initiatives enacted by federal regulators as well as industry safety experts, the number of serious accidents involving large trucks have been on the increase.

Federal regulators have tried to minimize the number of accidents by minimizing driver fatigue. They have also taken advantage of technology that allows them to keep a closer watch on what happens to truck drivers when they are on the road.

5 tips to avoid a slip and fall this winter

 Illinois sees plenty of cold weather in the winter, with its fair share of snow and ice. Many people consider themselves lucky to get through the winter without a spill or two on the icy ground.

Unfortunately, slip and fall accidents can cause serious injuries. For some seniors, a fall can even be fatal. The risk of a fall goes up as the temperature drops. This winter, follow these five tips to avoid a slip and fall accident:

External airbags and their potential benefits

Residents of Illinois who are interested in new vehicle safety technology may know about external airbags. While these are far from being implemented on vehicles, many car parts manufacturers are considering strategies for their development. The ZF Group is one such manufacturer, and it has some safety data to back up the benefits of external airbags.

In particular, external airbags can reduce the severity of side collision injuries by up to 40 percent. ZF's own external airbag model is meant to go on the sides of a vehicle and act as an additional crumple zone. Like a giant pillow, it can absorb at least some of the impact of a crash. There are several challenges to be met, though.

Approaches for limiting workplace exposure to diesel exhaust

Many industries in Illinois rely on diesel-powered equipment and vehicles. Exhaust from diesel engines contains particulate matter that can pose both short- and long-term consequences to the respiratory health of workers. Short-term exposure to diesel exhaust irritates the eyes, nose and throat. Over the long term, exposed workers experience higher rates of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases such as lung cancer. Although the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has not set a standard regarding exposure to diesel particulate matter, the agency does provide employers with guidelines for reducing exposure.

Changes to work duties have the potential to protect workers. For example, the prevention of traffic congestion on busy work sites reduces the production of exhaust. Rules that restrict how long engines can idle present is another effective method. Workplaces could also impose limits on how many diesel engines can operate within a given area.

Insufficient sleep increases crash risk

Data gathered by the U.S. Department of Transportation and other organizations indicates that one out of every three adult drivers sleeps less than seven hours a night. Researchers examining data from earlier studies by USDOT determined that the odds of causing a crash increased as the number of hours slept decreased. In the 5,470 crashes studied, drivers who reported sleeping six hours per night were 1.3 times likelier to cause a crash.

The odds of causing a crash were 1.9 times greater for those who said they slept five hours per night and 2.9 times greater for drivers who reported sleeping four hours per night. Drivers who said they slept less than four hours per night had a risk of causing a car accident that was 15.1 times greater than those who slept between seven and nine hours per night.

Trucking industry responds to fatigue, distraction concerns

Some truck drivers in Illinois struggle with fatigue and distraction when behind the wheel. The National Safety Council reports that fatigue is a factor in more than one-quarter of single commercial vehicle accidents and 13 percent of fatal truck accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that driver fatigue might cause up to 100,000 accidents each year involving all vehicles. According to the National Center for Statistics and Analysis, over 15 percent of injury crashes and 10 percent of fatal crashes happen because of distraction.

Commercial truck drivers, who may drive for long, monotonous hours, may be particularly vulnerable to fatigue and distraction, and fleets are starting to respond. One company uses hours-of-service data and other information to try to predict whether a driver is likely to suffer from fatigue. Technology is playing a role as well with companies developing instruments that monitor signs such as a driver's eyelids drooping. The driver can be alerted with an alarm or a vibration. An app called SafeRide blocks phone usage. There are a number of other systems that can monitor driver behavior.

Hit by a car while riding your bike? 4 steps you need to take

Cars hit hundreds of people on bikes each day. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that cars kill over 800 cyclists each year in the United States, and an additional 45,000 cyclists sustain injuries.

As people are trying to become more sustainable, bike travel is becoming increasingly more common. It is important to know the appropriate steps to take when a motor vehicle hits you while riding.

Are dockless e-scooters a desirable 'last-mile' solution?

The problem in the eyes of some observers is that this mode of mobility has grown too fast. In many cities, the scooters showed up unannounced and without safety rules. The appearances have proven unsafe, as evidenced by two adult fatalities reported last month. In both cities where the deaths occurred, individuals over 18 can ride scooters without helmets, and that makes for dire consequences.

Planning for a merger or acquisition

For many companies in Illinois, acquisitions and mergers can be an important way to increase their value and profit-making potential. To maximize the benefits that can accrue from an acquisition, it is important to deal with a number of challenges that can arise. Bringing together two different businesses can require significant organizational changes to optimize efficiency and create a single working framework. However, by understanding the process more clearly, companies can make better decisions when deciding to come together.

Mergers and acquisitions begin with due diligence, where a company analyzes the other business to see whether it is a positive investment. This process also includes evaluating its technology, finances and intellectual property to determine a real value for the other company. Next, both sides must agree on the terms under which the acquisition will be carried out. In addition to the financial offer on the table, this agreement can include personnel decisions, organizational changes and inventory assessments. It can also create the framework for communicating with customers and others outside the companies about the benefits of the merger.

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