The public looks to safety professionals for guidance as experts in risk avoidance and hazard mitigation. This is reasonable as they are ostensibly trained in that area and, thus, in a better position to evaluate the risks inherent in different activities and to assess what can and should be done to alleviate or reduce those risks to an acceptable level. As such, it behooves safety professionals to be aware of not only safety-related heuristics that are presented to the public, but also the research that underlies that guidance to assess the appropriateness of the various safety rules that are promulgated to address potential hazards. In the real world, however, ostensible safety experts often simply accept these rules as representing appropriate, normal or typical behavior based on longevity, common sense or the simple frequency with which they are expressed.
It might seem obvious that a bus driver would know how to properly turn a vehicle with a long wheelbase. Yet it is surprising how many are not taught to. More interesting, bus drivers often do not have the time to.
Given the mass of a bus or motorcoach, the carnage a moving bus or coach can inflict on a pedestrian is not surprising. Yet readers may be surprised by the carnage such a vehicle can cause when it is not moving - or just beginning to move or come to a stop.
In 2011, a 5-year old boy was severely injured at a public playground when he fell through a second floor opening around a fireman's pole in a playhouse. He fell more than seven feet and struck a bare concrete floor. We are thankful that he eventually recovered from his injuries. The person who designed and built the playground was accused of negligence. A lawsuit ensued, and eventually settled in favor of the boy.
For each route in each direction, transit stops are almost always located on one side of an intersection, not both. Stops just before the intersection are referred to as 'near-side' stops. Those just after the intersection are referred to as 'far-side' stops.
Event Data Recorders (EDRs) were first introduced by General Motors (GM) in 1974. That data was only available to GM; however, since 1994 more and more vehicle EDR’s have recorded data that can be gathered. The data captured can be imaged and is being used by vehicle manufacturers, law enforcement officers, and collision reconstructionists to better understand what is happening in a collision. In accident investigation, EDRs have the potential to provide independent measurements of crash data that would elsewise be estimated by reconstruction methodology.
A motorist exiting a rural freeway was struck by a motorist on the intersecting State Route at the top of the exit ramp. At the westbound exit ramp from the Interstate freeway the State Route a stop sign is posted at the end of the ramp requiring exiting traffic to stop before entering the State Route. However, the eastbound off ramp traffic is not required to stop before entering the State Route. A stop sign is posted on southbound State Route at the ramp terminal. This is an unusual traffic signing pattern for interstate off ramps. Expert observations of the operation of this intersection showed that a large proportion of the eastbound off ramp traffic slowed down at the end of the ramp, expecting to stop at the State Route.
Many automobile accidents are complex cases with multiple events during a single accident. The aim of forensic investigations of such (and all other) accidents is to reconstruct the sequence and the severity of events during the accident and then to establish cause and- effect relationships between the injuries (or damages) and the probable factors - vehicle design (e.g. brakes, structure, airbags); vehicle operator (e.g. distracted driver, alcohol impairment, reduced vision); and operating conditions (e.g. fog, failed traffic sign, excessive speed, icy road).
Tree stand accidents occur frequently during hunting season, causing a variety of injuries from broken bones to paralysis and death. Tree stand accidents involve a variety of causes, including falls from the tree stand, collapse of the tree stand, fires, self inflicted gunshot wounds, and asphyxiation. A study by the Center for Disease Control examined hunting accidents from 1979-1989. 214 of 594 deer hunting related accidents involved tree stands. 52% of these tree stand accidents were due to falls from the stand, 32% were due to collapse of the tree stands.
This issue of Forensic Clues is the second installment of an examination of ladder accidents. Last month we explored stepladders, this month we will be discussing extension ladders. Ladder accidents are a very common occurrence. Over half a million people annually seek medical attention due to ladder accidents. Over three hundred people are killed yearly in these often preventable accidents. This is a serious problem.