November 6, 2003

The Transportation Department’s latest national survey showed that, for the first time, the typical American family has more vehicles in the garage than licensed drivers in the house. Many Americans have firm beliefs about which professions and occupations speed, or drive aggressively, or are the most accident-prone. Quality Planning Corporation recently released statistics derived from a study of more than one million drivers across the country. The analysis reveals who has the most accidents and who gets the most speeding tickets. There are some surprises in the numbers.

The worst speeders are:

· Students
· Enlisted military
· Manual laborers
· Politicians
· Architects

Least likely to speed are:

· Teachers
· Secretaries
· Cops
· Librarians
· Homemakers

Students, doctors, and lawyers are most likely to be involved in accidents.

From the QPC website:

Politicians, who rank fourth for speeding violations, somehow manage to avoid collisions, ranking number 38 for accidents.

Commenting on the statistics, Dr. Daniel Finnegan, president and founder of QPC, noted, “The numbers blow big holes in the conventional wisdom about which professions are accident-prone or dangerous drivers. Interestingly, it appears that it is educated professionals who are most likely to be involved in accidents. Fortunately for those unlucky enough to be involved in an accident, individuals from two professions which are most helpful after such an incident — doctors and lawyers — are the most likely to be on the scene.”

But the question is, why are the numbers as they are? A CNN/Money story explained:

Fifteen percent of students listed in the data were involved in an accident. The figure for doctors was 11 percent. Just four percent of farmers, on the other hand, were involved in an accident.

Long hours, especially for doctors in the training phase of their careers, may contribute to the higher accident rate for physicians, said a spokesperson for the American Medical Association. The AMA has not studied physician involvement in auto accidents. “Fatigue could be a factor,” offered the AMA spokesperson. Medical residents and fellows often put in eighty-hour workweeks.

Lots of cell phone use, a common factor among doctors, lawyers, and real estate agents, may also contribute, said the spokesperson. “There’s plenty of evidence that shows that cell phone use is a big contributor to accidents,” he said.

Feds About to Require New Tornado Sirens

This tip comes from Morning Meeting reader Steve Chamraz, an investigative reporter at KCTV in Kansas City. Steve has done a lot of work on broken storm warning sirens. Now he tells me, “FEMA is working on a new standard for outdoor warning sirens due out late 2003/early 2004. The standard was last updated in 1980. This update will make most outdoor siren systems obsolete. What remains to be seen is if FEMA will force governments to comply and if there’s a timeline. The old FEMA standard is called CPG 1-17. The new one is CPG 1-17 Update.”

The Civil Defense Association explains the old law as having to do with the distance that a siren can be heard at a certain volume in decibels:

According to CPG 1-17, with a known starting point, that being 100 feet, every time you double the distance you subtract 10dB from the previous level beginning at 100 feet. For example, let us assume the device is tested following the standard and has a published measured output of 120dB at 100 feet. At 200 feet, the sound is reduced to 110dB. It is 100dB at 400 feet, 90 dB at 800 feet, 80 dB at 1600 feet, and 70 dB at 3200 feet.

Of course this would affect a lot of communities with old systems.

Here is an Illinois-based big vendor of warning sirens.

Here is another big name with divisions in New Hampshire and Connecticut.

Looking for Draft Board Volunteers

Salon says (reg. req.):

The Pentagon is quietly moving to fill draft board vacancies nationwide. While officials say there’s no cause to worry, some experts aren’t so sure.

Thanks to WTSP-TV’s Theresa Moore for the tip.

Here is more information on the DoD’s call for volunteers to join the draft boards.

Who is signing up and why?

The federal site says:

Local board members are uncompensated volunteers who play an important community role closely connected with our nation’s defense. If a military draft becomes necessary, approximately 2,000 local and appeal boards throughout America would decide which young men, who submit a claim, receive deferments, postponements, or exemptions from military service, based on federal guidelines.

Rethinking “Lock ’em up and Throw Away the Key”

AP said:

Squeezed by shrinking budgets and burgeoning numbers of inmates, states are moving away from the lock-’em-up-and-throw-away-the-key attitude of the 1980s and ’90s and focusing more on drug and alcohol treatment, education, and job training.

The story says:

In 2003 alone, according to the Vera Institute of Justice, Kansas earmarked $6.6 million to increase inmate counseling and rehabilitation, and seven states, including Texas, Louisiana, and Oregon, reduced sentences and repealed mandatory minimum terms passed in the 1980s and ’90s.

Also, Michigan and at least five other states launched drug courts as an alternative to locking up nonviolent drug offenders. Five states repealed parole regulations deemed overly harsh. And seven states expanded programs to help ex-convicts adjust to life on the outside.

Resource: State legislators’ views on sentencing, from the Vera Institute.

Shape of Packaging Determines How Much You Consume

I read dozens and dozens of websites a day while putting together Al’s Morning Meeting, so I run across some pretty interesting stuff. This story really fascinated me. It is a study of how the shape of a container influences how much you eat or drink. It would be an interesting experiment to see whether the size of a plate or glass makes the consumer feel he or she has consumed more or less than he or she really did.

We are always looking for your great ideas. Send <AL <?XML:NAMESPACE PREFIX = STRONG"Al<STRONG"AlAl a few sentences and hot links.

Editor’s Note: Al’s Morning Meeting is a compendium of ideas, story excerpts, and other materials from a variety of websites, as well as original concepts and analysis. When the information comes directly from another source, it will be attributed, and a link will be provided, whenever possible.</STRONG"Al

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Al Tompkins is one of America's most requested broadcast journalism and multimedia teachers and coaches. After nearly 30 years working as a reporter, photojournalist, producer,…
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