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Insurance survey reveals worrying distracted driving trends

A recent study from an auto insurer suggests that cellphone use by drivers is becoming an epidemic road safety problem in California and around the country. The poll of American drivers conducted by a Virginia-based research company on behalf of Root Insurance found that motorists spend about 13 minutes every day looking at smartphone screens instead of watching the traffic around them. Almost two in five drivers surveyed told researchers that they do not put their cellphones down even when they see a police car.

One of the challenges facing road safety advocacy groups is that drivers tend to overestimate their behind-the-wheel abilities. This often leads them to engage in behavior they would otherwise feel is extremely dangerous. An overwhelming 89% of the motorists polled on behalf of Root Insurance said that they would give a Lyft or Uber driver a poor rating if they used their phones while driving, but an even larger number told researchers that they were more skilled than those providing ridesharing services.

Letter prompts investigation into DOJ policies

Employees in California and throughout the country are generally protected from discrimination or harassment based on sexual orientation. This is true for Department of Justice workers as well. A group calling itself DOJ Pride sent a letter to the attorney general asking that he investigate discrimination against homosexual and transgender workers. The letter said that FBI trainees are not allowed to become agents if they are not deemed masculine enough.

Furthermore, the letter states that they are evaluated using different criteria. DOJ Pride also said that the Bureau of Prisons made it hard for transgender or gay men to find success. Ultimately, the discrimination caused low morale among workers who perform a crucial role in society, the letter concluded. In response to the letter, the attorney general said that he was bothered by the prospect that these allegations could be true. He then ordered an investigation into the claims made by the group.

Why pedestrian deaths are increasing

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, there were 6,227 pedestrian deaths in 2018. That was an increase of 250 from 2017, and it was the highest level since 1990. The report states that smartphone usage as well as an increase in larger vehicles are partially to blame for this increase. Pedestrian deaths account for 16 percent of all annual traffic fatalities in California and throughout the country.

When a person is struck by an SUV or a larger vehicle, they're more likely to be injured or killed. This is because the vehicles are heavier and they tend to strike with more force. Between 2013 and 2017, fatalities involving SUVs increased by 50 percent. Those who are using smartphones while walking or driving may be less aware of their surroundings. Ultimately, this leaves an individual more vulnerable to a collision.

HR company polls workers about sexual harassment

A new poll suggests that workers throughout California and the rest of America only speak up about half of the time after hearing colleagues make inappropriate comments to people of the opposite sex. When asked what could be done to improve the situation, about three-quarters of the 1,227 workers surveyed by Georgia-based Randstad US said male workers should be supportive allies and take the lead.

The poll reveals that most workers do not know how to behave in such situations, and only about one in two employers has mentorship or leadership programs in place. The responses also reveal that sexual harassment remains a thorny workplace problem. Almost a quarter of the women surveyed said that they had suffered career setbacks after refusing the sexual advances of a senior male colleague.

Signs of possible age discrimination at work

Workplaces should treat all employees equally and based on merit. Jobs shouldn't rely on preference or discrimination towards a group of people.

Unfortunately, ageism can be a common issue in companies. Sometimes it happens without anyone even realizing it. Here are a few signs your employer could be discriminating based on age:

Opioid abuse may be a cause of some traffic fatalities

More insight is being given into the prescription opioid epidemic in California and around the country as a new study indicates that the drugs may play a role in fatal car accidents. The study, which was published in the JAMA Network Open, found that drivers who were under the influence of opioids were twice as likely to be at fault in fatal two-car accidents compared to the other driver not using the drugs. The most common error found in the accidents studied was drivers veering out of their lanes into other traffic.

The study was done by researchers at the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention at the Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University. Researchers looked at data from 18,321 fatal two-car motor vehicle accidents reported in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System. Over 7,500 of the accidents occurred due to drivers not staying in their proper lane. In the accidents analyzed, 918 of the drivers who were at fault were under the influence of prescription drugs versus 549 who were not at fault.

Understanding why car accidents happen

Accidents happen quickly. California drivers who are involved in an automobile accident may find themselves wondering what caused the accident. Identifying what was behind an automobile accident is of interest to insurance companies as well as law enforcement agents. Insurance companies are interested in knowing what caused an accident and who was at fault to determine the type of compensation that is due and how much compensation is due. Law enforcement officials are interested in identifying who is legally liable and whether the individual should be issued a ticket.

While there are a number of factors that contribute to an automobile accident, many of them can be put under the umbrella of human error. A perfect example of human error is driving while distracted. Most would agree that there are more gadgets and devices available that can distract the driver than ever before. A number of mobile devices are constantly requiring attention. Many of these devices are designed to connect or interact with the automobile.

Auto maker sued for racial intimidation

A large U.S. auto maker that sells models in California and in many other parts of the world is being sued in federal court for acts of racism at its transmission plant. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio by nine former workers who allege that they were wrongfully terminated and ignored when bringing up civil rights violations. They said that they were repeatedly harassed by their white co-workers throughout their employment at the plant.

One major allegation in the lawsuit was the display of nooses in the plant over a three-month period. The auto maker suspended one employee spotted throwing a noose at a black worker but did nothing more according to the plaintiffs. The workers also allege many other racist activities, including wearing Nazi regalia, using slurs and putting "whites only" signs outside of bathrooms. Plaintiffs claim they have photographic evidence of many of these actions.

Upholding your rights involving those who protect and serve

Most adults believe they know the difference between right and wrong. But when you are in a situation where someone has authority over you, you may not know what you are, or are not, allowed to do. This may be especially true regarding police involvement. Considering allegations of excessive force spread across social media and the news, you may not know whether you have the right to record your traffic stop or how you can protect yourself if things get out of hand.

In California, it is legal to record your interactions with on-duty law enforcement officers (LEOs), as long as doing so does not interfere with their job duties. Though you should be able to trust the police, you may choose to record your interactions. This is one way to protect yourself against possibilities of police misconduct, although new laws also continue working toward that goal.

Sleep deprivation an issue in ride-sharing industry

Ride-sharing drivers in California are often endangering themselves and others by working during extended periods of wakefulness. Drowsy driving, according to estimates from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, contribute to an average of 328,000 car crashes every year in this country. Of those, 109,000 result in injuries and 6,400 in at least one death.

The reasons for sleep deprivation among ride-sharing drivers are several. Many feel compelled by the low fares and salary incentives to work as long as possible. Though ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft require a six-hour break between every 12 and 14 hours of work, respectively, their drivers can circumvent the rule by holding more than one job.

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