batter.jpgSports are a great way to keep our youth fit and active, but they do carry risks. Take for example last week’s reports on not one but two major league baseball players who were seriously injured when hit in the face by pitches.(1) Although any athlete is at risk for injury, the risks may be higher for children due do their inexperience and lack of training. In an effort to protect children from certain sports-related injuries through education and guidelines, two New Jersey lawmakers have co-sponsored a bill recently introduced in Washington.(2)

The bill is intended to offer protection for student athletes not only in New Jersey, but across the country. Titled the SAFE PLAY Act (Supporting Athletes, Families and Educators to Protect the Lives of Athletic Youth), the bill is said to be the most comprehensive of its kind in addressing both the safety and health of student athletes. It seeks to:

– increase awareness of risky cardiac conditions in children through educational resources;
– provide public schools with funds for cardiac training and equipment through grants;
– impose stricter requirements for treating and preventing concussions;
– outline safe practices for playing and practicing in hot weather;
– offer guidelines on the safe use of energy drinks; and

- seek more comprehensive emergency action plans for all school-sponsored athletic activities.(3)

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pedestrian.jpgA recent study revealed that New Jersey’s senior population was more at risk than their counterparts in other states when it comes to being killed in a pedestrian versus motor vehicle accident. On the heels of this report, Somerset County announced ongoing efforts by three of its municipalities to make their roads safer for pedestrians in general.(1)

The study was announced by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a regional not-for-profit group that looked at pedestrian accidents nationwide for the period between 2003 and 2012, which accounted for about 47,000 pedestrian deaths. The study revealed that, in general, people 60 years old and over were more likely than those under 60 to be killed by an automobile. During the study period, 453 New Jersey pedestrian seniors were killed; that’s a rate of 2.85 seniors per 100,000 residents, compared with 2.23 per 100,000 residents nationwide. This indicates that New Jersey seniors are 28% more likely than seniors elsewhere in the country to be killed by a motor vehicle.(1)

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icy parking lot

An icy parking lot has cost the Extended Stays America Hotel in Piscataway, NJ $1.35 million. That was the jury award in a suit brought against the hotel by a 64-year-old woman who was injured after she fell in the parking lot coming to the aid of another resident who also had slipped on the ice.(1)

The incident occurred in January 2010 when Ruth Janiszak heard cries for help from another hotel resident. Ms. Janiszak ventured out into the parking lot to help the other woman get back to her apartment in the hotel. When that woman realized she had left her car keys in the parking lot, Ms. Janiszak returned to the lot to retrieve them, which is when she herself slipped on the ice. The fall aggravated a minor back problem Ms. Janiszak was suffering, resulting in her being required to undergo major surgery. Per reports, Ms. Janiszak continues to be plagued by mobility issues.(1)

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courtroom.jpgIn light of recent court rulings on both the federal and State levels impacting issues previously discussed in this blog, we would like to offer our readers the following updates.

A blog published here approximately one year ago entitled, “Proposed Law Would Allow Police to Search Cell Phones at Accident Scene without a Warrant” discussed a bill presented to New Jersey lawmakers that called for granting police officers at the scene of an accident the authority to search a cell phone’s history of calls and messages without obtaining a warrant. The intent of the bill was to help police in determining whether or not use of a phone contributed to an accident.

The bill was one more effort in the fight against distracted driving. While most people can agree that distracted driving is a growing problem plaguing the State’s roadways, the above-mentioned bill did meet with opposition from those believing it constituted an invasion of privacy, a viewpoint the U.S. Supreme Court appears to share.(1)

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walmart-2.jpgA lawsuit has been filed against Walmart Stores, Inc. claiming that the retailer’s negligence was a major contributing factor in a previously-reported accident on the New Jersey Turnpike that left one person dead and three others, including comedian Tracy Morgan, injured.(1)

This accident, which occurred on June 7, has brought to light the issue of driver fatigue and its impact on long-distance truckers in particular. It had been reported that the driver of the Walmart truck involved in the accident had admitted to not having slept in the 24 hour period immediately preceding the accident, a violation of New Jersey law. Further, it was reported that the driver had been “on the job” for more than 13 hours prior to the accident. Federal law limits drivers to a 14-hour work day, with a maximum of 11 hours at the wheel between rests.(2)

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texting%20penalties.jpgNew stricter penalties went into effect last week for New Jersey drivers found guilty of texting while driving.(1)

Effective July 1, fines for a first-time offender were increased to between $200 and $400 from $100. Anyone guilty of a second offense of texting while driving now faces fines between $400 and $600, and a third-time offender faces fines of between $600 and $800, plus a possible 90-day suspension of his or her driver’s license and three points against his/her driving record.(1)

The increased penalties are part of an effort being made to help stem what has been dubbed “New Jersey’s Distracted Driving Decade.” A report issued this past spring disclosed that driver distractions were a major contributing factor in 1.4 million motor vehicle accidents on State roadways during the period from 2004 through 2013, representing about half of all crashes that occurred in that timeframe. In the decade from 2003 through 2012, more than 1,600 people were killed in crashes where inattention of the driver was listed as a major contributing factor.(2)

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truck%20crashes.jpgThe recent accident on the New Jersey Turnpike that killed one and injured three others including comedian Tracy Morgan, has attracted both local and national attention as lawmakers debate the best way to improve the safety of our roads, particularly as it relates to truck traffic.(1)

This accident was not the only one to warrant this attention. Within days of Mr. Morgan’s accident, there were three other truck accidents in New Jersey, each of which claimed one life and injured several others. In fact, since 2009 fatal truck accidents have been on the rise, according to a study by the National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB). The agency noted that there were 3,921 deaths relating to truck accidents reported in the country in 2012.(1)

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baby.jpg More than a year after being recalled, the Nap Nanny baby recliner has been attributed with the death of another baby prompting the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) to release an urgent appeal for all parents to immediately discontinue use and discard the product.(1)

The recliner, manufactured by Baby Matters LLC, a Pennsylvania company no longer in business, was designed to help relieve babies from the discomfort of gas and/or congestion. However, the product has been at the center of controversy since early 2010 when the company voluntarily recalled 30,000 of its recliners following the reported death of a four-month-old. At that time, the CPSC and Baby Matters had received 22 complaints, most involving babies five months of age and younger; these children were found hanging over the side or having fallen from the recliner despite being fastened in.(2)

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boating%20accidents.jpgMemorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer – the season that draws many people to the water for recreation. Those whose warm-weather activities include boating should be aware of pending legislation that would increase the penalty for anyone leaving the scene of a boating accident in New Jersey waters. (1)

The proposed change, recently approved by the State Assembly’s Law and Public Safety Committee, would make it a second degree offense to leave the scene of a boating accident if the accident results the death of anyone involved. Second degree offenses are punishable by a prison term of five to ten years and/or up to $150,000 in fines. If the accident results in serious injury, leaving the scene would be considered a third degree crime punishable by three to five years in prison. Additionally, the proposed legislation would increase penalties for failing to assist injured parties at the accident. (1)

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400-04038056d.jpgParents who drink and drive with children in their car may face tougher penalties than other drivers who drink and drive alone or with other adults in their car. A proposed bill to make the stiffer penalties a law is currently under consideration in New Jersey.

New Jersey Assemblyman Charles Mainor (D-Jersey City) has proposed changing the State’s DUI laws making it a fourth degree crime for parents and guardians convicted of driving under the influence if a minor riding in their car suffers injuries as a result of an accident relating to that violation. These crimes would carry penalties of up to 18 months in jail and up to $10,000 in fines. If the DUI resulted in serious bodily injury to a child, the crime would then be considered a third degree offense, punishable by a jail term of between three and five years and up to $15,000 in fines. (1)

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