Mar 21, 15
Every month in the U.S., products are recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) because of safety hazards. The following are some recent consumer product recalls you may not have known about:
- Costal Carolina Residential Elevators: These hydraulic residential elevators, which have been installed in homes with multiple floors, pose a crushing hazard because the elevator can operate while the accordion-style gate door is open. This recall was issued after a 10-year-old boy suffered catastrophic traumatic brain injury with this elevator.
- Urban Outfitters “Cheeky” Teacups: The gold paint accents on these delicate looking teacups make them a fire hazard. The paint can spark in the microwave, and the cups have been incorrectly labeled as microwave safe.
- Kids Korner Children’s Zipper Hooded Sweatshirts: The zipper pull can detach from these sweatshirts and cause a choking hazard for young children. The sweatshirts are manufactured by Kroger and available in 62 different prints and solid colors.
- Sears/Kenmore 24-Inch Electric Ranges: The heating elements in these ranges may fail to adhere properly to the stove’s cook top, posing electrical shock hazards to consumers.
- Dream on Me 2-in-1 Bassinet to Cradle: The wire supports on the sides of the bassinet can disconnect, causing the fabric sides to lower. Infants can be trapped or suffocated or fall out of the bassinet.
- Dirt Devil Hand Vac Turbo Tool Attachment: The interior fan on the Turbo Tool can break and eject from the housing, causing lacerations to users and bystanders.
- Strike Master Ice Lithium Laser Augers: This tool is designed for use by ice fisherman, to cut circular holes in the ice for access to the fish. The auger is a 24 lb. unit powered by an electric motor and lithium battery. It has two handles, a power switch, a trigger switch, and a drill. The hazard with this tool is the defective trigger switch which, when it fails, can cause the unit to not turn off.
- Bauer Hockey Goalie Masks: The metal wires on the cage can break and cause facial lacerations or impact to the goalie’s face.
- Safe Step Walk-In Tubs: The Safe Step is a hydro massage bathtub with a heated seat. The problem is that the seat heater can get stuck in the “on” position, posing burn hazards to users.
- Mima Moon 3-in-1 High Chairs: The seat on this chair can loosen and dislodge and allow the child to fall. The chair itself can fall over on a child crawling underneath the seat.
Many hazardous products are recalled when their potential dangers are discovered before they have caused any serious injuries to consumers. In other cases, the consequences can be tragic, particularly when they involve injuries to babies and children. To stay on top of recently recalled products, you can visit the CPSC website.
If you or your child has been seriously injured by a hazardous consumer product, your best course of action is to consult with a knowledgeable product liability lawyer. You may have a personal injury claim for compensation for your injuries.
Mar 04, 15
More than 30,000 people are killed in car accidents every year in the United States. Typical causes range from speeding to drunk driving and vehicle malfunction. But, another cause of car accidents has steadily risen, not so coincidentally right along with the popularity of social media – distracted driving. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter are the social center of many people’s lives, even when they’re on the go. But, when someone is behind the wheel, checking in online can be a death sentence.
In 2012, there were 3,328 people killed in car accidents in the United States as a result of distracted driving, and more than 1,100 people are injured every day. Of course, social media isn’t to blame for all of the deaths, because distracted driving covers a number of behaviors, including eating, changing the radio, and talking on the phone. However, the desire to remain constantly connected to family and friends causes many people to develop a habit of impulsively checking their social media accounts for updates and messages, even while they are driving.
While no exact figure can be attributed to the number of accidents, injuries and deaths caused by driver’s interacting on social media, the number of drivers who are actively using their cell phones or other electronic devices at any given time has remained fairly steady (at about 660,000) since 2010. That is an indication that social media must play a part in at least some of the distracted driving accidents.
The reason why it is so dangerous to access social media while driving is because the act involves all three primary types of distraction: visual (eyes off the road), manual (hands off the wheel), and cognitive (mind off driving). During that time, the driver’s reaction time is impaired to the point that it’s as if he were driving while intoxicated. When a driver travelling 55 mph looks down at his electronic device for just five seconds, it is the equivalent of driving blindfold for the length of a football field.
The habit of accessing social media while driving is a deadly one, to be sure. State governments have taken notice of it, too. Currently, 14 states, along with Washington D.C., prohibit any use of a hand held cell phone while driving, and 38 states and Washington D.C. prohibit all forms of cell phone use by new drivers. Penalties range from state to state, but the goal is to avoid engaging in the dangerous behavior in the first place.
Clearly, the responsibility to affect change is in the hands of all drivers who must make a personal commitment not to engage in such irresponsible behavior. If you are one of the millions of people who enjoy participating in and connecting through social media sites, and you find yourself falling into the pattern of checking in online when you drive, put your phone away. When you’re on the road, secure your cell phone in the glove compartment, the back seat, or even the trunk of your car, and don’t use it for any reason other than an emergency. Updating your social status shouldn’t be a matter of life and death.
Mar 02, 15
“Smart” motorcycle helmets could be a game-changer for safe riding. High tech helmets can provide a visual display from a rear-view digital camera, GPS navigation and other features in a transparent heads-up display (or “HUD,” a digital display of readings that are viewed with no need to lower eyes, and projected onto the visor without limiting vision).
Skully is at the forefront of this revolution, now moving into the manufacturing phase after landing $11 million in funding from investors. Reevu also offers a new helmet with a rear-view camera and display, and other companies such as Fusar Tech are developing similar products that will soon be on the market.
Motorcyclists have flocked to participate in the beta-testing of these products, and pre-sales are extensive. Some critics express concerns that HUD will be a distraction to the motorcyclist, but with familiarity with the transparent display, riders are expected to be far more likely to avoid the potentially tragic results of an impact. As a motorcycle rider involved in an accident is estimated to be 26 times more likely to be injured than a driver of a passenger car, this technology could be the answer.
Other new products implementing digital technology are products manufactured to mount around an existing helmet, giving the rider the ability answer incoming calls from a smart phone, listen to your music, and get a video capture of the ride, as well as weather forecasts and the details of the ride, including arrival times, speeds, and other data.
The ability to gain access to 360 degrees of data, including blind spots, as well as a turn-by-turn digital display for directions gives riders an unprecedented level of safety. Whether a recreational rider, racer or use your motorcycle to get to work or school, knowing what is going on behind you could save your life. A full 180 degrees of data from the sides and behind is expected to reduce the numbers of motorcycle accidents that occur due to the actions of a distracted or inattentive driver who has failed to observe the motorcyclist in the adjoining lane, at a stop or when turning.
The numbers tell a frightening story, with the Insurance Information Institute reporting that in a recent year, 2,668 motorcyclists died, and 88,000 were injured. With about 8.5 million motorcycles on the road, with numbers increasing every year, a focus on rider safety is long overdue.
These helmets may be the answer to the problems motorcyclists deal with every day – drivers who are not paying attention. When a motorcycle accident takes place, the outcome is often tragic, leading to incapacitating injuries or loss of life. Commonly the injuries include broken bones, severe abrasions, and in the worst cases, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries and amputations. Any of these injuries are very possible, even in slow speed impacts. These helmets bring new hope for riders are essentially, putting their lives at risk when sharing the streets, roads and highways across America.
Mar 02, 15
In 2012, 30% of all fatal accidents were caused at least in part by a speeding driver, according to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. More than 10,200 people died as a result of those speed-related accidents, which represented an increase of 2 percent from 2011. In short, speed kills.
One of the reasons for so many fatalities is that the driver erroneously believes he has the skill to control a powerful, fast moving vehicle. Some people choose their cars based on the power and size of the engine, mistakenly believing that they have the skill to maintain control even at high speeds. As evidenced by the numbers, however, they often find out too late that they’ve made a deadly mistake.
Knowing exactly what to do after a car accident is critical, but avoiding one in the first place is even more important. The first step to avoiding an accident takes place before you even get behind the wheel. When you consider your next vehicle purchase, think about the engine size and make an informed decision about just how much power you really need (and can control) under the hood. Knowing the difference between a 4-cylinder, a 6-cylinder, and an 8-cylinder engine, and being aware of your own driving abilities, can literally save lives.
Is There Much of a Difference Between a 4-Cylinder and a V6?
The two most common engines in the United States are 4-cylinder and 6-cylinder engines. The smaller of the two, the 4-cylinder, is generally configured in straight lines. 6-cylinder engines, on the other hand, are usually in a “V” shape, which is the reason why they’re called V6 engines. Historically, the more cylinders an engine has, the more powerful it is, and the less economical it is to drive. After all, more power requires more gas. For that reason, drivers who prefer economy over power have opted for vehicles with 4-cylinder engines. However, recent advancements in both fuel economy and engine efficiency have closed the gap some.
Auto manufacturers have worked tirelessly to improve the efficiency of the V6 engine so that it is now closer to the 4-cylinder relative to gas mileage. They’ve also worked to improve the performance of 4-cylinder engines. However, even though some 4-cylinder engines can now hold their own against a V6, for the most part, V6 engines are still more powerful. So, if you are choosing between two cars, one with a 4-cylinder engine and one with a V6, and you’re a new driver, or are otherwise concerned about your ability to control a more powerful vehicle, consider the car with the 4-cylinder engine. Cars with smaller engines generally cost less, too.
The V8 Beast
The “V” configuration of a V6 engine is there for a reason. It’s designed to separate and balance the cylinders into what are called banks. It’s a critical component of the engine’s design because the power of so many cylinders working together requires that its force be counterbalanced with equal forces. Without that balance, an engine could literally shake itself apart. The same is true for a V8 engine. While the V6 is balanced best when the V is situated at 60 degrees, the V of a V8 engine needs to be at 90 degrees.
Most vehicle engines come with either 4 or 6 cylinders, but some trucks and many sports cars are equipped with a V8. Even as manufacturers continue to close the gap on performance between the engine sizes, it should still be a top consideration for new drivers and those who aren’t comfortable with handling more powerful vehicles. If you fall into one of those two categories, consider a car with a 4-cylinder or even a 6-cylinder engine instead of the heavy duty V8 engine. When you purchase a car that has less power, it will cost you less, you will save money on gas, and you could possibly save lives.
Feb 27, 15
The consumer’s need to stay connected is a contributing factor in one out of five car accidents every year. Distracted driving, which includes activities such as texting, talking on the phone and checking in on social media accounts, accounts for more than 1,150 injuries and 9 deaths every day in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Auto manufacturers have taken notice, and are adding technological safety features to their cars with an eye on preventing people from driving while distracted. But, adding enhanced safety features isn’t the only way manufacturers are improving the driving experience. Here are three of the most innovative changes being made to vehicles.
It’s obviously important to know what to do if you’re involved in a car accident, but avoiding one in the first place is the real goal. To that end, some manufacturers will soon begin adding a gesture control feature to select vehicle models.
In an apparent effort to confront the inherent dangers of so many gadgets in our vehicles, BMW presented a futuristic concept at the 2015 Consumer electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Indicating that they have plans to integrate gesture control into their next-generation iDrive interface, BMW presented trade show visitors with a concept vehicle that had headliner-mounted sensors which will be able to detect and interpret specific movements. The new interface system, dubbed BMW Gesture Recognition, will allow drivers to control many features of their vehicle without having to touch anything. For example, if the driver wants to accept an incoming call, he will simply point at the screen, and if he wants to reject it, he just sweeps his hand to the right, in effect ‘shooing away’ the call. Touchscreen controls will still be available, though.
Gesture control technology could make a significant difference relative to common commands, such as turning music up or down, and managing calls. But, with smartphone integration, drivers will be able to tap into many facet of their cellphones without the danger that comes with looking down to focus on such a small screen. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay allow drivers to connect their phones to the vehicle, after which the built-in dashboard screen will display the options most used by drivers, such as navigation, music, phone, and messaging. The technology is already available in select 2015 models, but manufacturers like Audi, Hyundai and BMW will be adding smartphone integration to even more vehicles over the next year.
For those who don’t want to drive, much less use vehicle gadgets, there is good news. Manufacturers have been working to create self-driving cars. Of course, there will always be a driver behind the wheel, but if Audi and BMW have anything to say about it, those drivers will be able to simply sit back and enjoy the ride.
In an effort to demonstrate just how far they’ve come in development, Audi recently sent its RS 7 to drive a lap at racing speed on a Grand Prix track. The vehicle was without a driver for the duration. The company also sent an A7 model from Palo Alto, California to Las Vegas, Nevada. The 550 mile trip was made with someone behind the wheel, of course, but the vehicle was able to negotiate lane changes and turns with no assistance.
Vehicles of the future certainly won’t look anything like those of our parents, both inside and out. The technology is developing at a breakneck pace and, while driving has dangerous elements to it regardless of the type of vehicle begin driven, auto manufacturers are doing their part to make the roads safer for those of us who simply must stay connected.
Feb 24, 15
The smallest digital devices have traditionally had the most dated-looking fonts, and are often difficult to read. The future of mobile may have just taken a giant step with advances from the 100-year-old font company Monotype, with a new program called “Spark.” The types of fonts used on smaller mobile displays have been very limited in the past, as the font must use the least amount of computing power to get fast loading and best utilize device space.
This new program gives the ability to use more legible and more attractive fonts in smaller digital displays such as watches, allowing for more readable rendered fonts such as Times New Roman to appear on the screen. A low quality screen display can make a valuable product look cheap, and Spark offers an answer for digital product developers that could be a game-changer.
Digital devices such as watches used by medical professionals for alerts and transfer of information could be more common in upcoming years, and readability and clarity are exceptionally important in this environment. Watches that alert surgeons and other medical professional of urgent data could save a life. The least one could hope to get with such an advanced device would be easily readable fonts that reflect the high quality of the device, rather than what was available in the past in these devices.
A smartphone, tablet or other digital device pulls information from various sources, and the outcome can be unpredictable and very low quality in appearance. The flagship product from Monotype brings a solution to this problem. The program makes fonts on small screens look as clear and defined as on an iPhone, desktop or laptop. The fonts displayed now look less dated and jagged in appearance, offering new opportunities for companies who want to deliver a luxury item experience but don’t have the resources in programmers such as big companies like Apple. User interface (UI) designers have a new tool that could level the playing field.
Feb 17, 15
Every year in the United States, an average of 33,000 people are killed and more than two million people are injured in car accidents. Driver’s error is the number one cause of car accidents, but since that is such a general term, www.myinjurycase.com offers a more specific list, including speeding and drowsy driving. Distracted driving is also on the list because it is equally dangerous. In fact, distracted driving (texting, eating) is the cause of more than 3,000 vehicle fatalities every year in the United States.
In an effort to prevent themselves from looking down at their phones while they drive, and therefore avoid a distracted driving accident, some people have taken to wearing Google Glass behind the wheel. But, does Google Glass really help prevent distracted driving accidents, and is it even legal to wear them while driving?
What is Google Glass?
Google Glass is, as the name suggests, a pair of glasses that are worn the same way as prescription lenses. But, on the lens of the Google Glass is a small screen that acts as a computer monitor of sorts. Using specific voice prompts, the wearer can use Google Glass to take pictures or video, read Gmail messages and incoming text messages, and reply to them. The user can also get directions, check the weather, and do myriad other things through Google. With all of the features available with Google Glass, and considering the additional incentive of being able to control them using only your voice, Google Glass is a connected driver’s dream, right? Not so fast.
Can You Wear Them While Driving?
The concern over the safety issues revolving around driving while wearing Google Glass has led at least eight states to consider a ban on the practice. In response, Google has begun to lobby in earnest against such efforts, rightly believing that such laws could negatively impact sales. As it stands now, the vast majority of states have not yet considered enacting laws that would specifically prohibit the use of Google Glass while driving. But, does that mean the glasses are safe to wear? Not necessarily.
Distracted Driving and Google Glass
Just because there isn’t a law specifically forbidding the use of Google Glass while driving does not mean that a driver won’t face sanctions if he is caught wearing them. As with all electronic devices, law enforcement discourages the active use of Google Glass because, regardless of someone’s ability to maintain control of his vehicle, interfacing with the eyewear requires the driver to focus on something other than the road. Given that, it is possible that a driver could be ticketed for wearing the glasses if he is found to be driving recklessly, or worse, was the cause of an accident because he was checking his email instead of paying attention to the road.
Google Glass is not available for sale to the general population yet, and Google hasn’t given a firm date for their release. However, some employees and a small handful of consumers have been able to purchase them, and interested consumers can find them on websites such as Ebay. If you do plan to purchase a pair, though, consider the implications of distracted driving before you decide to wear them behind the wheel.