How Massachusetts Cut Its Rate of Teen Driving Accidents
Jun22

How Massachusetts Cut Its Rate of Teen Driving Accidents

Approximately six million car accidents take place in the United States each year, and teen drivers are three times as likely, per mile driven, to be in fatal car accidents than drivers aged 20 and older. But a new study in Massachusetts suggests that setting tougher rules for night driving can reduce teens’ risk of being involved in serious or fatal crashes. “Our research shows that restricting unsupervised nighttime driving until age 18 years, with significant penalties for violating the law, contributed to a significant reduction in the crash rate in junior operators and, importantly, reduced crashes that occurred at night and those that caused serious injury,” study author Shantha Rajaratnam said in a news release. After a high-profile incident in which a drowsy teen driver hit and killed soon-to-be-married Army Reserve major Robert Raneri in 2007, Massachusetts implemented several new regulations for drivers under 18, including stiff penalties for driving unsupervised at night — involving license suspensions, instead of nominal fines — and mandatory education on the dangers of driving while fatigued. Hoping to assess the efficacy of those measures, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospitals analyzed data from crashes reported to the police between March 31, 2006, and March 30, 2012. They found that serious and fatal crashes involving 16- and 17-year-old drivers fell by a full 40% after the implementation of the new rules. Car crashes involving drivers in that age group fell 19% overall, and nighttime crashes fell by 29%. While drivers of all ages should be wary of driving fatigued, teens are particularly vulnerable to the effects of sleep deprivation and are more likely to fall asleep at the wheel, according to the researchers. They’re also less likely to pull over for a nap when they need one. The full study has been published in the June issue of the journal Health...

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This Restaurant Was Forced to Close Its Patio for a Reason You Won’t Believe
Jun22

This Restaurant Was Forced to Close Its Patio for a Reason You Won’t Believe

For many restaurants, bars and cafes, adding an outdoor deck or patio is a great way to keep customers happy, especially when the weather warms up. It’s also an excellent financial choice, typically boasting a 72% return on investment. But if your restaurant’s patio doesn’t have enough plants, beware of the “plant police” — they’re out there, and they’re watching. According to a June 17 Eater article, Blue Bricks, a restaurant in Mankato, MN, closed its sidewalk patio space after the city’s “plant police” cited its failure to meet the minimum foliage requirement. Last summer, the city instated a rule that requires all businesses with sidewalk decks and patios to cover at least 25% of their patio space with live plants. Mankato City Manager Pat Hentges explained this rule was put in place to liven up the downtown area and prevent these areas from turning into “drinking corrals.” In May, Blue Bricks received a notice from the city that said the restaurant had until May 25 to increase its plant count. On May 28, three days after the restaurant’s deadline, its foliage count hadn’t changed — so the police ordered the restaurant to shut down the patio. While Hentges called this a “harsh decision” for the city, it was a necessary one. Because this sidewalk patio space is technically city property and “public right of way,” Mankato’s leaders have the right to regulate this space. Since the plant requirement went into effect, Blue Bricks has been the only business the city has cited for a plant shortage. Luckily, Blue Bricks was permitted to re-open its deck a day later after owner Marty Lewis quickly ran out and purchased an array of plants and landscaping fixtures. It sounds like Mankato residents can breathe a little easier now. Lewis maintains that he never received the initial notice from the city, KARE 11...

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