Sunday, June 14, 2009

By Our Poems, Not Our Corpses

Here is a little philosophy for ya. I read this passage recently and thought I would share it. It was written by Robert Ardrey. He was an American playwright and screenwriter who returned to his academic training in anthropology and the behavioral sciences in the 1950s.

But we were born of risen apes, not fallen angels, and the apes were armed killers besides. And so what shall we wonder at? Our murders and massacres and missiles, and our irreconcilable regiments? Or our treaties whatever they may be worth; our symphonies however seldom they may be played; our peaceful acres, however frequently they may be accomplished. The miracle of man is not how far he has sunk but how magnificently he has risen. We are known among the stars by our poems, not our corpses.

Friday, June 12, 2009

SiteMeter Counter

Noting much going on at the moment. I added a visitor counter at the bottom of the page. Got it through Unfortunately, it started counting today so I don't have any historical data.

Help me get my counter number up and recommend my blog to your friends.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Hybrid vehicles’ silence seen as posing peril

As "Knights of the Road", there are many drivers out there that will not hesitate to stop and help at an accident scene. The article below point out some hidden perils when it comes to hybrid or full electric cars.

Besides being a potential problem for those who are sight-impaired, they also could put someone responding to an accident in danger as well.

As the article states, one of the problems is knowing if a hybrid/electric are still on. Since an electric motor makes virtually no noise, it can be hard to tell if it is still on. “If it’s in gear, it can lurch forward and injure someone,” said James Surrell.

"In addition to a standard 12-volt battery under the hood, a typical hybrid engine uses another battery under the back seat that packs as many as 600 volts — more than enough to cause instantaneous death."

If you are a "Knight of the Road", please educate yourself so you can minimize the additional threats that a hybrid/electric car pose.


Hybrid vehicles’ silence seen as posing

Emergency workers share concern of advocates for blind
over quiet motors
By Alex Johnson
updated 7:53 a.m. ET, Mon., June 8, 2009

As the car crept up to them, the students didn’t react. It wasn’t until it was about to run them over that they even knew it was there. And that was only because it hit their white canes.

The hybrid car’s electric motor had kicked in. And the students, all of whom are blind, couldn’t hear it.

“It came up, and it was right there. We had no idea it was even coming,” said Chad Wilburn, one of students, who took part in a demonstration of the new hazard posed by the quiet hybrid vehicles earlier this year in Salt Lake City by the Utah Center for the Blind.

Advocates for the sight-impaired say the vroom of a conventional engine is the only sure way a blind pedestrian can know that he or she may be walking into the path of an approaching car. They have been pushing for safety measures for several years, and Congress is considering a bill that would order the Transportation Department to make sure hybrids and the coming generation of all-electric vehicles make enough noise to be heard.

But they’re not the only ones worried about the silence. Emergency workers are raising the alarm, too, saying it can be hard to tell whether a hybrid’s engine is still running at the scene of an accident.

“If it’s in gear, it can lurch forward and injure someone,” said James Surrell, a physician at Marquette General Hospital in Michigan, who teaches hybrid safety classes for rescue workers and emergency medical technicians.

Hybrids’ electronic motors offer several other challenges for emergency workers at the scene of an accident. The biggest is that they are electronic motors.

In addition to a standard 12-volt battery under the hood, a typical hybrid engine uses another battery under the back seat that packs as many as 600 volts — more than enough to cause instantaneous death.

There have been no documented reports of any emergency worker’s having been electrocuted by a hybrid battery in the United States. But in literature they publish for emergency responders, nearly all manufacturers include vivid warnings like this one in the first-response manual for the Nissan Altima Hybrid: “Failure to disable the high voltage electrical system before emergency response procedures are performed may result in serious injury or death from electrical shock.”

First puzzle: Is it a hybrid?
On the road, government safety tests indicate that hybrid vehicles are just as safe as their gas-powered counterparts. Any concerns come from what to do once one of them has been in an accident.

The high-voltage batteries are thoroughly sealed in protective metal, and there is little chance that they could leak or explode. In fact, hybrid engines are packed with automatic sensors designed to stop the flow of electricity on impact or whenever the side-impact air bags deploy.

But that assumes the sensors themselves haven’t been damaged.

In its guide for emergency responders, Toyota, whose Prius popularized hybrids in the United States, warns crews to “never assume the Prius is shut off simply because it is silent.”

Emergency agencies across the nation have added specialized training for workers responding to accident scenes involving hybrids, like a hybrid safety seminar last month at the Lamar Institute of Technology in Beaumont, Texas. That’s because “we’re worried about forced entry into a hybrid and using the jaws of life,” said Brad Pennison, a captain with the Beaumont Fire Department.

At these seminars, crews learn that the first difficulty is recognizing that a vehicle is, in fact, a hybrid, which calls for different procedures.

Most contemporary hybrids are built to resemble their conventional counterparts — a design philosophy the industry calls “mainstreaming.” Many can be identified only by a badge or a small logo; if that’s damaged or hidden by debris or another vehicle, rescue crews may have no obvious clue that there’s a high-voltage battery lurking in the wreckage.

If the “hybrid” badge is missing from the door of its Silverado and Sierra trucks, Chevrolet details a four-step inspection process that crews should follow to determine whether they’re dealing with a hybrid or a conventional engine. Steps 3 and 4 require opening the hood, assuming the emergency workers can get to it.

Saturn, meanwhile, suggests finding the vehicle identification number on its Vue sport utility. “If the eighth digit is a five (5), this signifies the vehicle is a Hybrid,” its responder guide says.

Just how do you turn this thing off?
Once crews know they’re dealing with a hybrid, the next step is to make sure it’s turned off. All manufacturers say simply switching off the ignition and removing the key is the best way to disable the system. But that’s not foolproof.

For example, even when the motors are disabled, “power remains in the high voltage electrical system for 5 minutes after the HV electrical system is shut off” in the Prius, Toyota says. On the Lexus GS450h, it can be as long as 10 minutes.

And those instructions assume that the key or the ignition system is accessible. If it isn’t, the next option is to disable the standard 12-volt battery, blocking power to the bigger, more dangerous battery.

Different vehicles have different ways to do that, information that rescuers must either know when they arrive at the scene of an accident or be able to quickly retrieve.

On Honda hybrids, crews are advised to remove the main fuse (they must have a Phillips-head screwdriver handy) and cut both cables on the 12-volt battery.

On Lexus’ GS450h, however, they have to remove a yellow fuse in the engine junction compartment block. On the Lexus RX400h, it’s a red fuse. But on the Lexus LH600h L, they should remove the IG2 relay.

Other hybrids call for non-intuitive steps that crews must take before they can even
try to disconnect the 12-volt battery. In the Nissan Altima, for instance, they first have to move the power seats and operate the power trunk release.

‘You need to know these little things’
If, in the worst case, emergency workers have to go near the big battery cables, they’re generally in luck. Nearly all hybrids color-code their battery lines in orange,
an easy visual clue. But in some Saturns, some of the cables are blue.

The color isn’t set by any law, meaning not only that there isn’t 100 percent consistency, but there’s no guarantee that manufacturers planning to enter the market will observe the unofficial orange standard.

Complications like that mean emergency crews have to take extra time to assess an accident scene, even if injured victims need rescuing.

“There’s this tremendous amount of electrical energy,” said Surrell, of Marquette General Hospital. “You need to know these little things about hybrids because of the potential electrical danger to the victim of the accident and the rescuer alike.”

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Expedite Expo 2009

Expedite Expo 2009

Why Attend?
Everything you need to see is here under one roof!
Expedite Expo 2009 is the best way to discover and meet the leading carriers, suppliers and vendors of the expedited trucking industry.

And it that is not reason enough, here are the
Top Ten reasons YOU can't afford to miss the
best and biggest Expedite Expo yet:

If it's new in expediting, it'll be here.
Exhibitors will demonstrate their products and services for you.
Get first tabs on the newest products, including expo-exclusive specials.
Find out who the new service-providers are and how they can help you.
Get the latest news and trend reports about expediting.
Hear what industry experts have to say about excelling at what you do.
Meet the carriers who are looking for owner operators.
Meet the owner operators who are looking for carriers.
Relax and enjoy Dave Nemo and other live music events.
Free registration, free parking and free admission to our cool, comfortable indoor expo.
Save time when you arrive: REGISTER ONLINE NOW!!

Heavy, drowsy truckers pose risk on the road - Another sleep apnea scare tactic

*** EDIT ****
Poll Results:

I only had 4 votes:

Is Sleep Apnea a real problem for truck drivers?
  • Yes! I think every truck driver should be tested. - 1 (25%)
  • Yes, I think ALL drivers should be tested (including 4-wheelers) - 2 (50%)
  • I don't know. - 0 (0%)
  • No, it is just another way to try and add more regulations to the industry. - 1 (25%)
  • No, It is just another way to get my money! - 0 (0%)
  • What were you saying? I dosed off. - 0 (0%)


I would love to see your comments on this issue. Also, please take the poll (It should be right over there <-------- some place). The poll will be open until midnight on June 17th, 2009. {Source}

Heavy, drowsy truckers pose risk on the road
Scientists call for apnea screening; industry says weight isn't only factor

By JoNel Aleccia
Health writer
updated 8:34 a.m. ET, Wed., June 3, 2009

Truck driver Kenneth Armstrong is a big guy with a bigger problem.

At age 55, he stands 5-foot-11 and weighs 308 pounds, which doctors say helps to explain why he's been diagnosed with severe obstructive sleep apnea, a dangerous disorder that puts him at high risk for health problems — and falling asleep at the wheel.

"It was mild, but has worsened as I have gotten older," says Armstrong, a Michigan man who weighed 190 two decades ago, but gradually has put on pounds.

Fortunately for Armstrong — and the people on the road around him — his employer Swift Transportation Corp. of Phoenix is one of a small but growing number of trucking firms that voluntarily screen drivers at risk for sleep apnea and then pay to treat and monitor them for the potentially life-threatening condition.

Armstrong, for instance, wears a mask hooked to a machine that inflates his airways and restores his oxygen levels every night as he sleeps in his rig.

"I feel that I'm a much better and safer driver because of this CPAP," he said, referring to the continuous positive airway pressure machine.

But that's the exception, not the rule, according to sleep scientists at Harvard University, who have renewed a call for federal rules requiring mandatory testing of obese drivers. They say research shows there's a strong link between fat drivers and sleep apnea and that screening could help prevent truck crashes that kill more than 5,200 people and injure more than 100,000 each year in the U.S.

"It's a major public health issue and it's becoming more common with the obesity epidemic," said Dr. Stefanos N. Kales, medical director of employee and industrial medicine at the Cambridge Health Alliance in Cambridge, Mass.

Kales, who is also an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health, is the senior author of a study published this spring in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. It's the latest to find that obesity is a strong predictor for sleep apnea, and that many drivers are likely to underreport symptoms or to fail to follow through on sleep study referrals and treatment.

"Screenings of truck drivers will be ineffective unless they are federally mandated or required by employers," said Kales, who studied more than 450 commercial drivers working for more than 50 firms.

New federal rules for obese truckers?
Regulators with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration have been considering for more than a year new rules that would require screening for drivers whose body mass index — a metric based on weight and height — exceeds 30, the baseline for obesity.

A BMI of 30 means 221 pounds for a 6-foot man. Kenneth Armstrong's BMI equals 43. Researchers estimate that more than 40 percent of commercial drivers have a BMI of 30 or higher.

But the FMCSA has yet to act on the January 2008 recommendation by a medical review board, which frustrates groups representing victims of trucking accidents, who say that fatigue in general and sleep apnea in particular are under-recognized threats on the road.

"A driver is impaired by fatigue long before he falls asleep," said Jeff Burns, a lawyer representing the Truck Safety Coalition, a safety advocacy group.

"Every time I'm in the vicinity of a large truck on the highway, I believe my life is in danger. I give trucks a very wide berth," Burns added.

Trucking industry officials reject such comments as scare tactics, noting that the number of truck and bus accidents has held steady at about 161,000 annually for several years, despite more miles traveled, according to figures from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

They argue that obesity is only one of many indicators of sleep apnea and that safety standards should be based on driver performance, not body size.

"There is no direct relationship between a person's body weight and his ability to drive an 18-wheel truck," said Tom Weakley, director of operations for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, which represents about 160,000 drivers. "Show me where that's a better predictor than a person's driving record."

Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes a person's airways to collapse during sleep, cutting off breathing dozens — or even hundreds — of times a night. Because sufferers wake over and over, they're never fully rested and their bodies are chronically deprived of oxygen. That can cause health problems ranging from heart disease to diabetes and symptoms that include daytime sleepiness and a tendency to nod off during normal activities.

"It can be a microsleep for few seconds," said Kales. "That can be enough to throw a truck off the road."

In such cases, the results can be devastating.

  • In May 2005, a Kansas mother and her 10-month-old child were killed when a truck collided with their sports utility vehicle, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office. The driver had been diagnosed with severe sleep apnea, but he went to another doctor who issued a medical certificate because the driver didn't disclose his condition.
  • In July 2000, a Tennessee Highway Patrol officer died when a truck struck his police car as he guarded a highway work zone, the GAO said. The patrol car exploded on impact. The driver of the truck had previously been diagnosed with sleep apnea and had had a similar crash three years earlier, when he struck a patrol car in Utah.

Nearly one in three drivers has sleep apnea
Sleep apnea increases the risk of an accident by two to seven times, and up to 20 percent of truck crashes are estimated to be caused by drivers who fall asleep, Kales said.

Prevalence studies suggest that up to 28 percent of commercial drivers have mild to severe sleep apnea. That works out to as many as 3.9 million of the roughly 14 million commercial drivers licensed in the United States, Kales indicated.

It's a much higher than rate than for the general population, where an estimated 4 percent of men and 2 percent of women between the ages of 30 and 60 in the U.S. have sleep apnea, according to the American Sleep Apnea Association. Overall, about 18 million Americans have the problem, although only about 10 percent of sufferers actually are diagnosed.

In the survey Kales led, 456 commercial drivers from 50 companies were studied for 15 months. During that time 78 drivers, or 17 percent, met screening requirements for sleep apnea. They were older and more obese, with higher average blood pressure. Of the 53 drivers referred for sleep studies to test for apnea, 33 did not comply and were lost to follow-up, researchers said. The remaining 20 were all confirmed to have sleep apnea, but, after diagnosis, only one driver complied with treatment.

It's not clear when the FMCSA will take up the issue of screening obese drivers.

"We are taking the Medical Review Board's recommendations under thoughtful advisement, and supplementing those recommendations with additional research in order to develop sound regulatory proposals," Candice Tolliver, an agency spokeswoman, responded in an e-mail.

But neither Tolliver nor Dr. Mary D. Gunnels, director of the agency's office of medical programs, responded to questions about a timeline, or about why sleep apnea doesn't appear on the agency's list of pending agenda items.

However, critics and supporters of the agency say the reason for the long lag is clear: Officials are leery of any proposal that could affect, or even idle, 40 percent of the truckers on the road. Costs for conducting sleep studies, paying for equipment and monitoring drivers could cripple independent truckers or small firms, said Weakley, of the independent truckers' association.

Link between obesity and crash deaths isn't clear
"Until you can show a direct relationship between sleep apnea and deaths on the road, they can't do anything about it," he said. "It won't fly."

The American Trucking Associations, a group representing some 38,000 members, is more circumspect. Christie Cullinan, director of workplace and fleet safety, said the organization recognizes that sleep apnea is a public safety issue and that the group supports the idea of guidance to detect and correct the problem.

After all, the average cost of a large truck crash involving a fatality is $3.6 million, FMCSA figures show. A crash with injuries costs nearly $200,000. And the average cost of all large truck crashes is about $91,000.

Still, any guidance has to be the right guidance, Cullinan said.

"I don't think there's a CEO that doesn't know that screening for sleep apnea banks your safety dollars," she said. "But there's a balance that needs to be met."

As it stands now, sleep apnea screening is left to a single, easily dodged question on a certification exam, Kales and others said. As his study showed, many drivers simply ignore referrals for sleep studies, or they ignore the treatment. Some resort to "doctor-shopping," seeking certifiers who will overlook sleep apnea. That's primarily because they're afraid of losing their licenses, people on all sides of the issue agree.

"Truckers have quite a fear of disclosing that they get sleepy when they drive because it might mean their livelihood," said Wendy Sullivan, vice president of Precision Pulmonary Diagnositics, a Houston company that created a sleep apnea screening tool used by at least two trucking firms that have started testing their drivers.

One trucking firm, Schneider National Inc. based in Green Bay, Wis., became an industry leader on the issue after a pilot project begun in 2003 showed that screening drivers reduced crashes, cut liability costs, increased retention — and trimmed employee health expenses by more than $500 a month.

Now, the firm screens all of its 15,000 drivers and treats and monitors the 1,400 or so diagnosed with sleep apnea, said Don Osterberg, Schneider's vice president of safety and driver training.

'You're going to feel better and you're going to be safer'
"We want to remove those barriers," he said. "Come forward, let us help you get treated for this. You're going to feel better and you're going to be safer."

But officials at Schneider and Swift Transportation, the firm Kenneth Armstrong works for, acknowledge that change will come slowly, despite danger, unless it's mandated.

"The science speaks for itself. We know there's an issue out there," said Scott E. Barker, vice president of safety, recruiting and driver services for Swift, which launched its pilot project this year. "I believe there's going to be regulation. We're just trying to get out ahead of it."

Armstrong said he tries to do his part to inform fellow truckers about the benefits of sleep apnea detection and treatment. In the meantime, he's starting work on losing weight.

"I tell them, 'Get it done,'" he said. "You can't treat sleep apnea like a bad haircut, that time will solve it. It won't solve itself.'"