Wednesday, February 15, 2017


Traffic deaths soared past 40,000 last year for the first time in a decade

By Ashley Halsey III February 15 at 11:41 AM

The number of people killed in car crashes last year exceeded 40,000 for the first time in a decade, reversing a trend that saw traffic fatalities dwindle for several years, data released Wednesday show.

Officials attribute the increase mostly to the improved economy and lower gas prices, which have led to more people driving for work and pleasure.

The statistics released by the National Safety Council offer the first full picture of fatalities on the country’s roadways in 2016, and the numbers were significantly higher than those projected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) due to a simple mathematical difference.

The safety council data includes traffic deaths that occurred more than 30 days after a crash and those that happened on private property, like driveways or parking lots.

“Our complacency is killing us,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president of the National Safety Council and former chair of the National Transportation Safety Board. “Americans believe there is nothing we can do to stop crashes from happening, but that isn’t true. We lag the rest of the developed world in addressing highway fatalities. We just haven’t been willing to do what needs to be done.”

The National Safety Council data shows a 6 percent increase in deaths last year when compared to 2015, and a corresponding 3 percent increase in the number of miles Americans drove last year.

NHTSA statistics for 2016 will be released later this year. Given the disparity in methods of calculations, NHTSA counted 35,095 traffic fatalities in 2015, a 7.7 percent increase from the previous year, while the National Safety Council recorded 37,757.

“Motor vehicle fatality numbers have been ringing the alarm for two years,” Hersman said. “Unfortunately, we have been tone-deaf to the data and the carnage on our roadways. If we fail to take action, the death toll will continue to rise.”

About 4.6 million people required medical treatment after crashes, the safety council said, an increase of 7 percent over 2015. The cost of deaths, injuries and property damage attributed to crashes was $432.5 billion, up by 12 percent from 2015.

The safety council found a more than 20 percent increase in traffic fatalities in seven states: New Mexico, Alaska, Hawaii, Iowa, Alabama, Kansas and New Hampshire. Crash deaths declined by more than 10 percent in Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana and Nebraska. There were less significant drops in Delaware, Maryland, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington state. Washington, D.C., had 28 traffic deaths in 2016, an 8 percent increase from the previous year.

Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, a coalition of state safety officials, said, “The trend is clear: after years of progress, highway deaths are heading in the wrong direction.”

The number of people killed reached a record low of 32,675 in 2014, according to NHTSA statistics. That record capped a fairly steady downward track for the past six years, that experts attributed primarily to safety features that have been built into cars and trucks.

From increased seat-belt use to air bags to anti-lock braking to stability controls that keep cars from flipping to a new generation of electronic warnings and cameras, cars today are far safer than they were a generation ago.

The lingering effects of the recession and high gas prices also influenced the reduction in deaths.

Now, with unemployment and gas prices both low, more people are driving for work and pleasure trips.

“Historical crash data point to the economic recovery as the main factor behind the recent increase in deaths,” said Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. “It’s not just that Americans drive more miles when the economy improves, it’s the kind of miles they drive. What comes back after a recession is the optional driving that’s riskier, like going out on the weekends or taking long trips on unfamiliar roads.”

Lund said teenagers who might not have been able to afford driving during the recession have returned to the roads, and they have the highest fatal crash rates per mile driving.

“The good news is we know what works to save lives — high visibility enforcement of strong traffic laws coupled with public education and awareness,” Lund said. 



Despite the improvements in road safety, the United States has one of the highest death rates at about 1 person dead per 10,000 people. Unfortunately, only undeveloped countries have higher death rate.

Some states, such as Texas and West Virginia (sorry, WV, despite your tremendous progress in traffic safety, you are still at the top of the worst-death-rate list) have death rates of nearly 1.5 percent, i.e., fifty percent more people die compared to the national death rate.

Approximately 34,000 people are getting killed each year. In the 1950s and 1960s, about 55,000 people used to die on the roads – so, there has been improvement in the number of dead.

However, the number of injured is rising. Roughly 2.5 million are injured (yes, you read it correctly – 2.5 million injured) per year. That is, 1 percent (1%) of the population that is eligible to drive is injured every year.

It is worse than a war zone out there. So, please be safe and be on the lookout for weaving-through-the-traffic drivers, crazy drivers, reckless drivers, sick drivers, medical-condition drivers, sleepy drivers, negligent drivers, stupid drivers, careless drivers, drunk drivers, speeding drivers, drugged drivers, texting drivers, talking-on-the-phone drivers, looking-at-the-GPS drivers, hurry-hurry drivers, tailgating drivers, upset drivers, eating-while-driving drivers, putting-the-lipstick-on-while-driving drivers, elderly drivers, and so on.

Passenger killed in NC after the driver of an SUV, 39-year-old James Samuel Day Jr., was driving recklessly down a logging path when he hit the tree stump, causing his vehicle to flip over.

WILLOW SPRING, North Carolina (WTVD) -- Authorities are investigating a fatal crash after the driver of an SUV struck a tree stump Tuesday afternoon.

Troopers with the North Carolina Highway Patrol were called about the crash just before 3:30 p.m. at Mt. Pleasant Road and S. Creek Road, close to the Johnston County line.

When they arrived, they found a 2004 Buick SUV overturned.

Authorities said the driver of the SUV, 39-year-old James Samuel Day Jr., was driving recklessly down a logging path when he hit the tree stump, causing his vehicle to flip over.

A passenger in the vehicle, 39-year-old Patricia Lawson Humphries, was partially ejected in the crash. She died at the scene from her injures.

Day was taken to Wake Medical Center with serious injuries.

Investigators have said they believe alcohol was a contributing factor in the collision. Charges have not been filed at this time.



It was a matter of time until Mother Nature opens its faucets and floods California with water.  We expected it to happen.  Yet, the massively stupid California government spend all its money on harboring, feeding, educating, feeding, and providing medical care for millions of illegal immigrants.  They let down millions of lawful American residents.  What if Mother Nature continues the water bath of California?  How many more people's life and property will be affected through this reckless incompetence?

What California’s Dam Crisis Says About the Changing Climate


FEB. 14, 2017

Riverbend Park in Oroville, Calif., which has seen extremely heavy rains and is threatened by damage to a dam. Credit Jim Urquhart/Reuters

STANFORD, Calif. — After five years of record-setting drought, much of California is being pummeled by an extremely wet winter. The disaster unfolding at Oroville, where precipitation is more than double the average, is the latest reminder that the United States needs a climate-smart upgrade of our water management systems.

In the West, much of our water infrastructure is old. Oroville Dam, north of Sacramento, was completed in 1968, nearly a half a century ago. Other major components of our water system are generations older, and maintenance has not been a priority. The damage to Oroville Dam, where the primary spillway developed a giant gash and the emergency spillway threatened to erode, illustrates the hazard of relying on aging infrastructure to protect us from extreme weather.

But age and upkeep are not the only problems. Our water system was designed and built in an old climate, one in which extremely warm years were less common and snowpack was more reliable. Here in the West, we use the same dams and reservoirs for both water storage and flood control, so during the wet season, reservoir managers continuously balance the dual pressures of storing as much water as possible for the dry summer and releasing sufficient water to create room for the next storm.

This system relies on the natural reservoir of mountain snowpack, which melts gradually over the spring and summer. While it is well known that much of the West relies on snowpack for water storage, the vital role of snowpack in flood control is considerably less appreciated. When precipitation falls as snow, it stays in the mountains rather than flowing into reservoirs. This leaves more room in reservoirs to prevent flooding downstream during heavy rainfall.
The recent drought has highlighted the pressure that a changing climate puts on a snowpack-dependent water system. With the shift toward more rain rather than snow, and the earlier melting of the snowpack, water managers need to release water more frequently for flood control. This dynamic is playing out in Oroville now, with the state’s water managers racing to empty water from the dam’s reservoir in advance of storms forecast to arrive Wednesday. Because these storms are relatively warm, they are likely to bring rain to the surrounding mountains, speeding the flow of water behind the dam.

The juxtaposition of five years of hot, dry conditions followed by more rain than reservoirs can store may seem incongruous. However, this is exactly what climate scientists have predicted for California since at least the 1980s: protracted periods of warm, dry conditions punctuated by intense wet spells, with more rain and less snow, causing both drought and floods. Recent work from my lab shows that in fact this pattern is already emerging, with the conditions that create extremely warm dry years and extremely wet years both becoming more frequent.

The other bitter reality is that this extremely wet winter will not wash away the drought. Depending where one looks, California lost out on one to three full years of precipitation from 2012 to 2016. That is a lot of water to make up in one year, and as of last week almost half of California was still in a state of drought. The moisture deficits that have accumulated during the drought have not been seen in our lifetimes. They have caused thousands of California residents to go without running water, resulted in groundwater contamination and permanent loss of aquifer storage capacity, and have severely stressed tens of millions of trees. As a result, even after this wet year, rural communities, groundwater aquifers and forest ecosystems will still feel the effects of the drought.

As the last five years illustrate, California’s water system is not equipped for climate change’s “new normal.” That water system must simultaneously provide for the country’s largest population and agricultural sector, and one of its most diverse natural environments. Although California has greatly improved water-use efficiency in the last half-century, climate change is pushing our water system to the limit. Investments in “climate smart” infrastructure can ensure the safety and security of Americans in the face of climate stresses now and in the future. These investments in infrastructure upgrades and expansion would create jobs, protect communities from disasters and help prepare us for changes in the climate. This effort would have several key elements:

First, given the new climate normal in which protracted hot, dry periods are far more common, we need to deploy technologies that can increase water supply. While expensive, energy-intensive desalination options have received considerable attention, wastewater recycling technologies have improved to the point that clean, safe water can now be delivered at reduced energy cost and can even be an energy source by using the organic matter in wastewater to produce energy. Investments in infrastructure to capture, store and clean urban storm water will also create new sources of water supply.

Second, we need to acknowledge that a water system that relies on snowpack for both water storage and flood control is increasingly risky. To make up for loss of snowpack, we need to build infrastructure that enables us to use excess runoff to recharge groundwater aquifers. This will have the dual benefit of replenishing groundwater that is drawn down during hot dry spells and capturing storm water that is lost when water is released for flood control.

Third, we need to prioritize infrastructure that helps us reliably supply safe water to both urban and rural communities while also ensuring that our vibrant agricultural sector and treasured ecosystems have the water that they need. Creating new supply and storage will help, but ensuring equity will require that infrastructure investments simultaneously provide for all of these constituencies.

Fourth, although California has made tremendous progress in improving efficiency, this drought shows that there is still more room to improve. New technologies such as “smart” sensors, coupled with expanded water markets, offer opportunities to further increase water efficiency.

Each of these infrastructure investments would increase the safety and security of Americans right now. That each would also help us to prepare for further climate change shouldn’t be a reason not to make those investments.

3-alarm fire destroys 12 boats at the dry dock of the Seaport Inlet Marina on 5th Avenue in Belmar, New Jersey

Fire destroys at least 12 boats at marina in Belmar, New Jersey

Eyewitness News
Tuesday, February 14, 2017 05:22PM
BELMAR, New Jersey (WABC) -- A raging fire tore through numerous boats at a marina in New Jersey Tuesday.

The boats caught fire at the dry dock of the Seaport Inlet Marina on 5th Avenue in Belmar.

It took firefighters several hours to get the 3-alarm blaze under control, and thick, black smoke could be seen for miles.

Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty said at least 12 boats were destroyed in the fire.

"The source of the fire is still under investigation," said Doherty. "Even right now while it's under control there are parts of the fire that are still stubborn. It's a mixture of plastics in the boat, and fuel that's still in the boat that's leading to this continuing fire."

There are no reports of injuries.

Power was cut around the marina. An outage of several hours was expected in the area of 5th Avenue between Main and B Street.

Dozens of firefighters from Belmar and several neigboring towns battled the fire, and kept it from jumping to nearby condominiums.

"Fortunately none of the residential properties were damaged, no injuries, no fatalities," said Doherty.

Boat owners came checking to see which vessels had been lost.

"My buddy called me from work and I shot right over here," said Shawn Funk. "Thank God the flames didn't hit this area, but I cried all the way home. It missed my boat, my boat's OK."