Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Baby Trend Car Seat Recall Reminds Parents: Be Responsible, Be Safe

My grandchildren have brought much joy and much concern about the safety of children’s toys and car seats. Since the arrival of our first granddaughter, our family has weathered the recall woes of Mattel, the Thomas the Train tragedy (no mommy, not that one!), and even a recall of a part on one of the supposedly highest rated car seats on the market.

Today, Baby Trend, Inc. http://www.babytrend.com/ announced the recall of nearly 6,000 Latch-Loc car seats. It seems that the “locking pawl” can detach during a severe crash. This, of course, defeats its purpose and endangers the occupant.

When problems persist to the point that manufacturers are willing to admit some fault, or at least some flaw, these recalls give them an opportunity to issue a warning. As a responsible consumer, it’s important to be aware of these recalls. Not surprisingly, most recalls are not announced on the evening news. You can stay on top of manufacturer notices by checking out these sites on a regular basis. And, always mail in registration cards for products so that when a recall is issued, you can be notified.

Here are some websites that will help you stay informed:

Recalls.gov U.S. Government portal for recall information http://www.recalls.gov/

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recalls and product safety news site. http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prerel.html

U.S. Food & Drug Administration recalls, market withdrawals and safety. Alerts .http://www.fda.gov/opacom/7alerts.HTML

U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service information about recalls and public health alerts that involve meats, poultry and egg products. http://www.fsis.usda.gov/FSIS_RECALLS/

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) defects and recalls site. http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/problems/recalls/

Consumer Affairs.com - an independent Web-based consumer news and resource center. http://www.consumeraffairs.com/recalls/recalls.htm

Consumer Reports blog about safety. http://blogs.consumerreports.org/safety/

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Truckers’ Poor Health: More Accidents Waiting to Happen

The trucking industry is under fire once again for its inability to self-regulate. This week the U.S. Government Accountability Office announced the findings of its investigation into commercial drivers license holders and serious medical conditions. Given many in the industry’s disregard for regulations, the findings are, sadly, not surprising.

Following a 12-state study, the Government Accountability Office stated, “our analysis of commercial license data from DOT and medical disability data from the Social Security Administration, Office of Personnel Management, and Departments of Veterans Affairs and Labor found that about 563,000 of [commercial drivers] had commercial driver licenses and were determined by the federal government to be eligible for full disability benefits.”
I’m not insensitive to people with health conditions, but there are good reasons why drivers with disabilities shouldn’t be allowed on the road. For years the government has issued warnings that fell on deaf ears. According to the Dallas Morning News, “hundreds of deaths and injuries” have been “blamed on commercial truck and bus drivers who blacked out, collapsed or suffered major health problems behind the wheels of vehicles that can weigh 40 tons or more.”

No state is safe as medically-unfit drivers have been found in all fifty states. Texas is listed in an AP article as one of 12 states “where drivers were sanctioned most frequently for breaking medical rules, such as failing to carry a valid medical certificate.”

The AP article also provides a list of cases, including the New Orleans bus wreck shown in this photo that killed 22 people . In this instance, the driver was seen slumped in his seat shortly before the crash. “Investigators said he was treated at least 20 times in the 21 months before the accident for various ailments.”