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Why You Should Hire a Personal Injury Attorney

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One of the rights of the citizens in the US is to be compensated whenever they are injured. It is even in the US Constitution that if you are injured because of an accident, the person responsible for that accident should compensate the victim. That is what the law says and the law has to be followed.

Everyday, everyone is at risk of being involved in an accident. It could be as simple as going to throw trash in the trash can outside when suddenly this cyclist who is not watching hits you from the back. You end up with back injuries or even spinal cord injuries. We all know how bad spinal injuries can be. In more complex situations, you could be crossing one of the busy roads in Boca Raton and then suddenly, this reckless driver decides to jump the traffic lights and heads straight for you. Luckily, you don’t die, but the pain, injuries and trauma sometimes make people wish they died. Sometimes the pain can be so unbearable and some people may even want to die so that they get away from all the pain. Well the fact that one survived means that they still have a chance to fulfill a few more things.

Back to the injuries, after going through such an ordeal it would be good for one (or the victim’s relatives) to begin to look for a personal injury attorney, even if the incident happened in the most interior parts of Boca Raton. So, if you are in Boca Raton, why is a personal injury attorney important?

Well, if you try and get compensation on your own, you may either get a raw deal or you may never get compensated at all. With a personal injury attorney, they will bring all the wealth of experience that they have in building a strong case so that a valid lawsuit can be served to the person responsible for the incident/ accident. Since the personal injury has been dealing with such cases for a while, your case may probably not be so new to him. From the past successes and failures, they will be able to come up with a good write up and serve the person(s) responsible with the lawsuit and the claims.

Some of the claims that one is supposed to get are for medical bills, compensation of wages/ salary because of time wasted recovering in the hospital or at home and also for any mental distress. One of the ways to deal with trauma is counseling. This means that someone has to pay for all the counseling sessions that victim has to attend.

In Boca Raton, it is very possible to get a competent personal injury lawyer.

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5 Dirty Little Tactics Insurers Use to Deny Legitimate Claims

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The bottom line is that all insurance companies really care about is their bottom line. Nowhere else is this more evident than when a customer tries to make a valid claim, but is turned away and denied the coverage they not only need, but are entitled to.

For example, take the case of Molly Jefferson. Molly, at age 24, was seriously injured in a car accident. Initially, her insurance carrier refused to pay more than $100,000 in damages, falsely stating that the policy limits extended no further. Molly hired legal representation and sued for bad faith. The company, knowing they were in the wrong, settled for $2 million out of court-enough to cover Molly’s medical expenses and lost time at work.

Insurance companies have all kinds of tactics to avoid paying for the job they are obligated to do. Here are five of the most common.

Tactic #1: Standard claim denial

For many insurance companies, it is standard procedure to deny claims the first time around. The reason is that most claimants will not attempt to fight the decision, and the company will get out of having to pay coverage. However, if the claimant does indeed pursue coverage further after the initial denial, the company will then pay up.

Tactic #2: Lowball settlement offers

In many personal injury cases, such as car accidents, the victim is scrambling to pay expensive medical bills and recover from lost time at work. Insurance companies use this financial stress to their advantage by persuading claimants to settle too quickly for insufficient offers and sign a form that releases the company from future claims. Most people underestimate the time and expense of fully recovering from their injuries, and insurance companies count on that to get out of providing your complete coverage.

Tactic #3: Recorded statements

The job of insurance adjustors is to record your statement in the hopes that you will say something that the insurance company can use against you to deny or reduce coverage. Adjustors have an extensive knowledge of the legal system, which they use to try and twist your words around in their favor.

Tactic #4: Requesting medical records

Insurance companies ask for claimant’s medical records in order to find information suggesting that the injury was not caused by the accident, but rather a preexisting condition. They will also try to use the medical records to argue that your injury is not as severe as claimed.

Tactic #5: Video surveillance

For claims that the insurance company finds highly disputable, they may send a private investigator to video record a claimant engaging in chores, recreation, or other activities. The intention of video surveillance is to show that the claimant’s injuries are not that severe, since they are able to mow the yard, lift objects, play sports, etc.

Protect Yourself

Insurance companies have plenty of tactics to get out of paying for injuries and damages, as well as a knowledgeable legal team to fight on their behalf. Without a doubt, so should you.

If you have an insurance dispute, contact an experienced bad faith insurance attorney immediately to discuss the details of your case.

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Introduction to Social Media for Lawyers

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Social media or networking has been defined as: “Interaction with external websites or services based on participant contributions to the content. Types of social media include blogs, micro blogs, social and professional networks, video or photo sharing, and social bookmarking. Examples of social media sites are YouTube, Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, WordPress, MySpace, RSS, Second Life, LinkedIn, Delicious, etc.”[1]

The Conference of Court Public Information Officers defines social media as: “highly interactive, multimedia, websites and programs that allow individuals to form into communities and share information, knowledge and experiences more quickly and effectively than ever before.”[2]

The top 10 social media channels that impact Lawyers include:

YouTube

YouTube is a video sharing site where you can post your own original videos, watch videos, and share videos online. Lawyers have been using YouTube increasingly to overview their law firm and services for purposes of internet marketing. Once a video is created and uploaded, it can be found by searching on key words on various search engines. A search on “Personal Injury Lawyer” will yield over 13,000 videos.

Social Bookmarking

Social bookmarking is a way to store, search, and share your favorite web sites or content so others can view. One popular use of social bookmarking is to share top stories and post the story for others to comment or vote on. Another common social bookmarking practice is to submit links to your blog or website to increase traffic and visibility. Some of the most popular social bookmarking sites include Delicious, Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Yahoo! Bookmarks, Diigo, and Google Bookmarks.

PhotoSharing

Social photo sharing is a way to store, edit, and share your photos online. If photos are stored publicly, they will often be crawled by major search engines. If photos are tagged with individual names, they become easier to search for online. Online photos may put a client or case at risk. Popular photo sharing sites include Photobucket, Yahoo! Photo, and Flickr.

Facebook

Facebook is a website which allows the user to create an account by inputting an email address and password. Once the account is created, the user is able to invite “friends” to be a part of their network. Facebook has a “News Feed” which allows the user to post specific information chosen by the user. This information can include anything from what the user is doing at any given moment to posting a picture or beginning a discussion in which other users can read and comment. Facebook also allows private messages to be sent to other users or friends similar to an email message. The appeal of users to Facebook is the ability to communicate in either a public or private forum with other users in written format almost instantaneously. This can be done by either a personal computer, laptop, netbook, ipad, or mobile phone. Facebooking can be done from anywhere there is an internet connection.

Twitter

Twitter is a website where a user can create an account similar to Facebook and send “tweets” which are limited to 140 characters of content created by the user. Twitter allows the user to “follow” other persons with Twitter accounts who then receive the tweets instantaneously. This allows people to have followers and also to follow other persons having twitter accounts.

MySpace

MySpace is a website that allows the user to create an account and post specific information about the user, which may be for any purpose the user chooses including personal or professional. Pictures, music and other types of media can be uploaded to the website and also accessed by other persons who have a MySpace page.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a website that is predominantly used for individuals to network themselves in a professional capacity. The user is able to create an account which then contains specific information about the user including education, work history, special designations, accomplishments, etc. Users are able to endorse other users and write comments as part of the endorsements.

Avvo

Avvo is a website that rates doctors and lawyers and includes information such as whether a lawyer has ever received discipline by the respective Bar Association in which the lawyer is licensed to practice. Lawyers are able to claim their profiles and include information such as their education, work history, and memberships with professional organizations. After a profile is claimed by the attorney, the user can endorse other attorney’s work, which further has an impact on the rating of the attorney.

Blog

A Blog (short for “weblog”) is a website that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer.[3] Attorneys may create blogs on hosted sites such as Blogger, HubPages, or Squidoo or they may add a blog to their own website domain. Different types of Blog technologies include WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal.

RSS

RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication” and it is a group of web site feed formats that can be added to web sites for the purpose of sharing information. Many Lawyers add RSS feeds to their own web sites to allow visitors or other professionals to subscribe to the new content that gets added. In some cases, an RSS feed has replaced a company newsletter. You can also add RSS feeds from major news sources such as Google, Yahoo!, or CNN to your own web site.

[1] Guidelines and Best Practices for Social Media Use In Washington State; Office of the Governor in Coordination With Multiple State Agencies and Contributors (November 2010).

[2] Conference of Court Public Info. Officers, New Media Comm., New Media and the Courts: The Current Status & a Look at the Future (Aug. 26, 2010) at http://www.ccpio.org.

[3] Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/blog?show=0&t=1305502048.

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Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma Survival Rate

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Malignant pleural mesothelioma is the most common type of malignant mesothelioma. Many factors may be involved in determining the survival rate for this aggressive cancer; some are better understood than others. Estimates of median survival time range from one to two years; survival depends on underlying factors such as the type and extent of spread of the mesothelioma. Only seven percent of people with this cancer survive to five years after diagnosis, but this outlook is gradually improving with some promising experimental treatments. Some people live well beyond five years from the time of diagnosis.

In general, younger age at diagnosis, absence of weight loss and limited loss of lung function are associated with chances for increased survival. Stage I mesotheliomas, which have not spread to the lymph nodes or adjacent tissues and organs, also carry the best prognosis. The type of cell the cancer is comprised of can also affect survival. The epithelioid cell type has the best prognosis, the mixed or biphasic cell type the next best prognosis, and the sarcomatoid cell type the worst prognosis. The majority of malignant pleural mesotheliomas are of the epithelioid cell type.

Because this cancer takes so long to manifest, people are usually diagnosed at an older age and with more advanced disease, potentially worsening the prognosis and the treatment options available. The more aggressive the treatment, the better the outcome may be, but in cases with cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, chemotherapy may be the only alternative. New drugs, such as the combination of Alimta with Platinol, have been shown to improve survival in malignant mesothelioma patients whose only option is chemotherapy. A number of experimental treatments, such as immunotherapy and biotherapy, are currently being evaluated in clinical trials.

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South African Entrepreneurs

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Understanding South African Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship Development

It has often been said that economic development in any country is directly related to the level of entrepreneurial activity that takes place within the country. It has also been said that both enterprise development and entrepreneurship are amongst the best ways to create wealth and add value to society as a whole.

In South Africa, with all its historical imbalances, enterprise development in particular is seen as a key to enabling black South Africans (in particular) to take a rightful place in business.

You may well have read this kind of thing before, but how much do you know about enterprise development, South African entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship development in this country?

South African entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship development are key to our national economy

South African entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship development defined

If you open a dictionary and look for the definition of an entrepreneur, you will see that this is a business person who is prepared to take initiatives and calculated risks in order to make a profit. If you are going to be an entrepreneur, you will have to take risks. And to be successful, you need to make money out of your endeavours.

Taking risks does not imply stupidity, or suggest that entrepreneurs are gamblers. But it does mean they are able to rise to challenges that will increase profitability.

The most significant factor about entrepreneurs – including of course South African entrepreneurs – is that they need to be able to identify a feasible opportunity and then ascertain whether the opportunity they have identified is in fact a viable idea. If the idea isn’t feasible, anyone who is likely to become a successful South African entrepreneur will drop the idea. But if the idea IS feasible, that very same person will have the capacity to take the idea further to see if it is in fact viable. If it is, they will usually do a business plan and then launch a new business.

Basically, entrepreneurs are able to take their own creative ideas and combine these with the skills, resources and people who are needed to be able to form a successful business.

In essence, they need to be able to:

  • Identify new or different opportunities that may be products or services.
  • Be creative and innovative.
  • Start a business that he or she can call their own.
  • Manage that business with or without the help of other people.
  • Finance, produce and market products and services successfully.
  • Find the finances if not immediately available.
  • Organise and control all the resources needed to run a successful business (this includes finding and managing the capital required for the business, as well as the people and materials needed for it to operate).
  • Take risks. Remember that these will be calculated risks and not just stupid risks!

A lot can be said about entrepreneurship development, but really what is important is that the concept involves literally developing entrepreneurship and making entrepreneurial enterprises happen. For this reason, enterprise development helps South African entrepreneurs of all colours and creeds achieve their desires.

Extending the concept of South African entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship development

There are many different types of entrepreneurial businesses, and also many different types of entrepreneurs.

For instance, entrepreneurial businesses may be micro – which means they are really small, one-person businesses – or they can be small, medium or large. Generally it is the SMME (which stands for small, medium and micro enterprises) sector that carries the South African entrepreneur. This is partly because the more entrepreneurial businesses there are, the more jobs there will be for people who aren’t entrepreneurs.

In fact it is believed that 97.5% of all businesses in South Africa are SMMEs – although not all of these are entrepreneurial businesses, and not all grow and become successful.

A business entrepreneur, regardless of what he or she might do for a living, may be described as a person who undertakes a wealth-creating and value-adding process by developing ideas, getting resources together and making things happen. The success of a business entrepreneur is measured by performance and return (or profit).

Then there are social entrepreneurs, who are people who recognise social problems and use entrepreneurial principles to organise, create and manage ventures in an endeavour to bring about social change. The success of social entrepreneurs is measured by the impact their work has on society.

A relatively new sector, social entrepreneurship has a vital role to play in emerging markets. Because social entrepreneurs are passionate about what they do, they are able to make change happen and so help in the transformation process.

Then there are corporate entrepreneurs, or intrapreneurs, who create a new, profitable business within a business that already exists. One of the best known examples of successful intrapreneurship involving South African entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship development, is the formation of Outsurance and Discovery Health from within the highly successful existing business structure of First National Bank (FNB). What made Outsurance entrepreneurial was that it offered direct, short-term insurance to people without the traditional intermediary insurance brokers being involved. Over the years it has grown from a small corporate entrepreneurial business to a large, highly successful insurance business.

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Online Degrees – What Online College is the Best?

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If you’ve been thinking about getting an online degree you may be wondering what online college is the best. I’m asked this question often. There are many variables to consider however.

You probably know that a traditional, well-known school with a campus, such as Harvard, Yale, Stanford and others, is going to have a better reputation. However, the cost of attending these schools is prohibitive for many, besides having to go through the acceptance process.

But there are many other schools that have excellent reputations that are worthy of attending or taking classes from online. There are also vocational and traditional schools that are limited to online degree programs only.

The program and major you plan to pursue and whether you want an associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s degree or doctorate will greatly influence which online school you decide on.

Online colleges and online degree programs are becoming more and more popular and are more and more accepted by employers, much more so than they used to be. Many of the largest companies in the U.S. readily accept applicants with online degrees, especially from accredited online colleges.

Technology is also gaining and improving every year so you have better access to your professors and to other students as well.

You want to avoid schools with unrecognizable names that offer promises of quick diplomas or degrees. These are called diploma mills and they’re still operating. Some of these schools report that you can get your bachelor’s degree in 72 hours. You don’t want to present this kind of degree to a prospective employer. It will work against you.

Recently in our community, I read that it was discovered that three state (highway) patrol officers had online degrees from diploma mills and were fired.

Staying with a recognizable name school and checking to make sure they are accredited is very important. You can check through the Council of Higher Education Accreditation to make sure they are accredited.

If you’re unfamiliar with the school here are a few questions you can ask of any online college or school that you’re considering. What is the acceptance rate, can they help with financial aid, what is the retention and graduation rate and what is the number of years the school has had accreditation. You also want to make sure that any school you transfer into later will accept your credits. Know this before you sign up.

What online college is best is going to depend on your needs, as there are many variables. Your location, how much money it will cost, whether you’re on a budget or have plenty of money to spend on an online degree or do you want to get to go free or cheap? It will also depend on the program you choose and how specialized it is.

There is plenty of federal financial aid and other money available for online degree programs so you may want to check this out. There are also grants and scholarships available for online students and many go unawarded every year. There are many scholarships available in specialized areas too. Some students go free. Just take a little time to do some research and you can save a lot of money.

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The Pedestrian Drinking Problem

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In 2003, the Department of Transport released figures to show that drunk driving caused half of South Africa’s accidents. Statistics continually prove that drunken pedestrians are also an ongoing problem on our roads.

Drinking and road usage has received the benefit of considerable funding and concern in recent years, but the figures are still escalating. Are we treating the symptoms and not the cause when we endeavour to keep heavy drinkers off the roads? What is it that causes so many people to drink so heavily? Where many pedestrians are concerned, it can be assumed that most would benefit if the money they ‘sink into drink’, was used more meaningfully.

But the poor and unemployed are not the only people drowning their sorrows on a regular basis. Car owners/drivers behave just as badly. Their sin is generally considered worse, because the influence of their alcohol is backed by the sheer weight of heavy machinery. Since previous strategies appear not to have worked, how then, do we plan to improve the status quo?

Call to action

The good news came in the form of an open letter from the Minister of Health (Mercury 22/12/2004). She acknowledged the report from the United Nations General assembly stating that road safety has received insufficient attention at international and national levels and that multi-disciplinary collaboration is needed to tackle it effectively. Lack of political responsibility was also cited.

She wrote that she believes that an increase in road accidents is synonymous with development, an attitude that many would consider defeatist – development should surely encompass all spheres of life. Despite this, she agrees that the Department of Health must become involved in primary prevention strategies, including public campaigns to reduce alcohol intake and encourage behavioural change.

Welcome news, no doubt, for Transport, which has been trying to achieve a level of intra-departmental co-operation since the start of Arrive Alive in 1997. The minister further explained that “Health has a social responsibility to prevent injuries due to the enormous amounts of taxpayer money that are spent on emergency care, hospital care, rehabilitation and social security grants.”

It was gratifying to note that the Minister intended to rally her department to achieve the World Health Organisation 2004 objectives regarding road safety. A year later, few can see any sign that her department remembers her promise to help turn a growing national drinking problem around? Does she need more motivation to act?

Research Factors

Effective research has repeatedly highlighted the effects of alcohol on both body and brain. Only two examples are noted here, since they are considered sufficient to highlight interesting facts of which every drinker should be aware.

The first part of the brain to be affected by alcohol is the frontal lobe, which controls conscience and executive control (including co-ordination and dexterity). This obviously means that drinkers are less able to control machinery or react in sufficient time to avoid accident situations, but that they have also lost any natural urges to behave well or to evaluate their behaviour with honesty. This can be seen in their assurances that they are ‘just fine’ to drive or walk home, even after several drinks.

The cerebellum is the next part of the brain to feel the effects of alcohol consumption. It controls coordination of all types, but especially hand/eye co-ordination. After a few drinks, the drinker slurs his/her speech, suffers memory loss and double vision, though it appears to him-/herself that there is no more than a warm, fuzzy, comfortable haze in the atmosphere.

After a big night out, even after blood and breath alcohol levels have returned to normal, the brain still has not recovered its former capacity to perform normally. Hangovers translate into ‘still drunk’. Due to alcohol’s dehydrating effects, the brain shrinks and a hangover is actually part of the recovery process. Until the fluids in our bodies have completely returned to normal, our reactions and judgement are severely affected, though reaction improves before our judgement does.

Gender bias

“Researchers from the Institute of Psychiatry at Kings College, London found that women are now more likely than men to indulge in regular binge drinking (Binge drinking ladettes at risk, Daily News, 22/1/2004). A five-year study into the drinking habits of 20 000 adults between 20 and 60 showed that deaths from alcohol abuse among women trebled in only seven years.

One in five women can be considered a binge drinker – the result of greater financial and general independence. Because female hormones do not process alcohol as well as those of men, their livers are more vulnerable than those of the men who match them drink for drink.

Interestingly, during drinking sessions, female testosterone levels escalate four to five times faster than those of males. Their sex drive rises and they find it difficult to keep their urges and impulses under control. Others appear to be more attractive than they actually are, so women are likely to link up with men who, in sober circumstances, they might avoid or not spare a second glance. This information becomes fascinating when related to young girls who accept lifts from men who are not fit to drive and those who develop trust for male acquaintances after only a few drinks.

The article also reported that heavy drinking in women can be linked to breast cancer and that women are more likely than men to suffer brain damage induced by binge drinking. Good enough reason not to need to say about your teenage daughter, “She’s going to do it anyway”?

Every year in South Africa, too many babies are born with foetal alcohol syndrome, a condition that stunts their growth, health and brain capacity. It results from maternal drug and alcohol intake during pregnancy and very often the babies, who are born, already ‘damaged’, will receive as little care and attention throughout their lives as they received consideration, during the gestation period.

Very often, they become part of the growing orphan problem; their mothers dumping them as soon as they realise that their children are not normal. There are insufficient orphanages and special schools for them and they seldom find secure surroundings where they can develop to their limited potential. Moreover, alcoholism, besides being a certified illness, is also an expensive habit. Even if their mothers keep them, many have been repeatedly raped and/or sodomized before the authorities step in.

Pedestrian shoes

Despite the fact that drunken pedestrians are not essentially part of the drunken driving problem, they are a very real cause of accidents, serious injuries and fatalities on South African roads. The effects of alcohol on body and mind relate just as much to the ability of drunken pedestrians to cross a road in safety, without endangering vehicular traffic (and themselves) as they do those who get behind the wheels of their cars when ‘under the weather’.

Although many would argue that the pedestrian is far more vulnerable and does not, as such, control imminently dangerous machinery, every drunken pedestrian who is a danger to him-/herself, is as much of a danger to vehicular traffic. When motorists hit drunken pedestrians, there are no statistics to show how many vehicles have already managed to avoid the same person. When a motorist is unable to avoid a drunken pedestrian, the lives of everyone in his vehicle, and in surrounding vehicles, are also put at risk.

It is realistic to suggest that a single drunken pedestrian on the road, could ultimately be liable for the death of an entire minibus taxi or bus full of passengers. In fact, in some cases, where tragic bus accidents have claimed the lives of several passengers, it is unlikely that evidence proving the presence of a drunken pedestrian would surface, despite investigation after the incident.

Arrive Alive figures for 2002 reported 126 drunken pedestrian fatalities. In the first ten months of 2003, 56 drunken pedestrian fatalities were reported. It should be remembered here that people who die after admission to hospital are reported initially as ‘serious injury’ cases and fatality figures could have risen during the days after the accidents.

Alcohol survey

An article, Pedestrian injuries – some of the facts (Peden & Van der Spuy, Trauma and Emergency Medicine, June/July 1996) reported on the Adult Pedestrian Alcohol Survey undertaken by National Trauma Research: all of 196 consecutive adult pedestrians who presented to Groote Schuur over a nine-week period, in 1993, were clinically assessed, had specimens taken for blood-alcohol analysis (BAC) and had breath alcohol levels determined.

A staggering 61.2% of the total had taken alcohol; only 2.6% had BACs in the 0.01-0.07g/100ml range. 18.4% were between the levels of 0.08-0.15g/100ml, while 40.3% were 0.16g/100ml or higher (more than three times the legal limit for drivers). The mean BAC, for those who had taken alcohol, was 0.19g/100ml.

Not surprisingly, there is a cluster of such injuries over weekends, particularly on Saturdays and most can be linked to paydays. The most common were lower limb injuries (contact with bumpers causing the primary injury) and pelvic lesions, which were usually fractures. Next most common were head injuries, caused by victims falling and hitting their heads. No mention was made of whether victims might have fallen before being hit by a vehicle.

A clear trend of alcohol consumption was apparent. Findings also mentioned the fact that the drunken pedestrians were not conspicuous. This angle has been argued extensively. Frankly, light clothing seldom makes pedestrians visible enough at night, to avert disaster. Only retro-reflective devices are likely to alert drivers within sufficient time, to slow down in order to avert a collision. Table 1 illustrates the pedestrian injuries that can be expected at two different impact speeds, one slightly above and another below our urban speed limit, even before darkness or alcohol become part of the equation.

Impact speed % Deaths % Injured % Uninjured

65 km/h 85 15 0

50 km/h 45 50 4

Source: Urban safety and Calming, Tiwari & Patel

Table 2 depicts the blood alcohol levels measured during the adult pedestrian alcohol study. Further annual drink-rate surveys undertaken by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, on behalf on DoT, showed that, in several metro areas, of adult pedestrians walking about after office hours, but not involved in collisions, 10-13% were found to have blood alcohol levels > 0.08g/100ml (these surveys were undertaken before the legal limit was reduced to 0.05g/100ml). This highlights a tragedy – over 10% of urban pedestrians are in no fit state to cross a road alone, on many evenings.

It is a miracle that no more are hit by passing vehicles.

Table 2: Proportion of pedestrians seen at Groote Schuur with blood alcohol levels of >0.08g/100ml

Description of injuries % Pedestrians with blood alcohol levels >0.08g/100ml

In-hospital deaths 70

Severe injuries 61.2

Lesser injuries 50.9

Source: Adult Pedestrian Alcohol Study, National Trauma Research

The results of the adult pedestrian alcohol study also showed, in Table 3, that patients with substantially raised alcohol levels, increased patient management requirements. In other words, nursing became more complex – the drunker the pedestrian, the more attention and skill were needed to nurse and subsequently to rehabilitate him. Alcohol presence also impacts on the use of drugs and anaesthetic and the ability of patients to recover from emergency surgery.

Table 3: Proportion of pedestrians seen at Groote Schuur with blood alcohol levels >0,08g/100ml

Disability BAC+

BAC-

None 15 (12.5%) 12

(15.8%)

Short term ( 8 weeks) 33 (27.5%) 21 (27.6%)

Permanent (such as severe closed head injuries, amputations, etc.) 18 (15%) 7

(9.2%)

Died in Hospital 7 (5.8%) 3

(3.9%)

Source: Adult Pedestrian Alcohol Study, National Trauma Research

From the sample included in the research, pedestrian injuries and deaths appeared to be predominantly adult, black male. Injuries were severe, cost of treatment is high and alcohol plays a major role in both deaths and injuries. The consequences of drunken pedestrian collisions are serious – to the pedestrian, the vehicle driver, the health-care system and to the state.

Fund facts

Given that pedestrians are, on occasions, the cause of their own deaths and the cause of accidents in which others are killed and severely injured, should they not also contribute to the RAF coffer? Drivers are the group who bear the entire responsibility for eventual payouts. Should drivers forever be expected to fund the claims of those who carry a proportion of guilt?

The generous and timely sponsorship of the RAF towards road safety at the advent of the Arrive Alive campaign failed as an exercise in claims reduction. Seasonal promotion is also insufficient to change the bad habits of any individual. Advertising and PR spend does not guarantee change of attitude or behavioural change among road users.

Serious, ongoing, formal, social education is possibly the only strategy that will affect the habits of people, aside from prohibitive legislation. The dangers of alcohol consumption, in general, do not appear to have caught the public imagination. Or that of the DoH: it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise that alcohol addiction must cause at least as much misery in this country as tobacco addiction – ask any family member of a ‘mean’ drunk…

Nobody, no body or organisation, seems to feel a responsibility towards drunkenness, other than Road Safety, Traffic and Alcoholics Anonymous. The sensitivities of the liquor and hospitality industries, the profits at stake and their individual rights, are still considered fairly sacred. Smoking reform was considered a priority, where alcohol consumption is not.

There is no reason why alcohol abuse (in general) could not face a similar onslaught to that which tobacco has survived. Yet the ill effects of alcohol abuse on those who do not drink, are considered by many to be far worse than the ill effects of smoking on those who do not smoke. South Africans do love their pariahs, and here is a cause that does not discern between race, colour creed or political affiliation!

Education

Previous strategies for limiting drinking and road usage have not worked. A full-scale nationwide campaign against the misuse of alcohol is warranted and DoT should not be afraid to take the lead in respect of persuasion, due to the appalling statistics concerning drinking and road usage.

Teaching individuals to know when they have had enough, when alcohol is poisoning their systems and when regular intake is jeopardising their jobs and destroying their health and families, would be no easy task, since every situation is so individual, but there is no reason why a similar strategy as that used against smoking could not be taken by the government. As an illness/disease, alcoholism is the direct responsibility of DoH.

Sufficient proof of the consequences of alcohol abuse should be easily garnered from organisations such as the MRC, child and family help lines, child/gender abuse centres, places of safety and trauma centre/hospital records, to ensure a persuasive proposal for the attention of the State President and the National Minister of Health.

Legislation

Having publicly aligned herself to the cause of road safety and promised follow-up, immediate action could have been expected from the Minister of Health. The objective for lobbyers should be to clarify the costs to Health of drunken behaviour, in general, and drunken driving/walking, in particular.

It is the culture of drinking that causes these problems, not the culture of transport/traffic. Random breath testing amongst pedestrians should become the norm, since pedestrian enforcement has long been neglected. Why the alcohol levels of pedestrians are considered a traffic/transport ailment, when they are clearly far more a social ailment, seems strange.

If restaurateurs and hoteliers are expected to clamp down on smoking, why should they not also police alcohol consumption? Why not limit public consumption as is done on beaches? As smokers have learned, it only takes one really determined National Minister of Health to turn a status quo inside out and re-channel history, should she choose – and she claims to choose.

Legislative changes (not only in the interests of road safety, but also in the interests of general population health) should consider cost to the economy of consequential social programmes, emergency services and rehabilitation. A legal limit for pedestrians should be legislated. Since passengers are also pedestrians either side of their trip, it would also apply to them.

Limiting the amounts of alcohol served per customer in any public place would be an essential element and all public venues where alcohol can be purchased could be required to stock pocket breath-testing kits. Customers could be obliged to buy them to prove their sobriety before their orders are taken (pub crawling was invented by those who did not wish to be seen to be over-imbibing) and the price of the kit could be charged to the customer.

New drinkers enter the system continually, as they come of age, so no initiative could be considered short-term – at least for several years – until lower drinking levels among all South African road users becomes a way of life. It’s the week before Christmas. Let us hope that by this time next year, someone will have considered doing something rational to help drunken pedestrians help themselves.

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