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How teen motorcyclists can prepare for the road

Teens in Louisiana and across the U.S. who have obtained their motorcycle license will want to take a few precautions before heading out on the road. Teen motorcyclists file 5.7 more accident claims than those between the ages of 35 and 50, and motorcyclists in general are 35 times more likely to get into accidents than automobile drivers.

Teens should first take a training course if they haven't yet; the DMV can provide a list of approved courses. It's worth keeping in mind that 90 percent of motorcyclists who are involved in a crash had no formal training. Teens should then purchase the proper safety gear including gloves, boots that go over the ankles, shatterproof goggles, etc. Pants and jackets should be durable; reflective clothing is also recommended.

Brain injuries and colon changes

Motor vehicle accidents are a common cause of brain injuries in Louisiana. Researchers at the University of Maryland have found a link between traumatic brain injuries and changes in the colon that could lead to infection.

The researchers examined mice with brain injuries and discovered chronic intestinal changes which were also linked to increased risk of brain inflammation resulting in further damage. They found that after a brain injury, the colon became more permeable, making it easier for harmful bacteria to enter.

Rising crash rates highlight what can go wrong on the road

There may be a correlation between the measured increase of human intelligence and the increasing number of deadly car accidents in Louisiana and across the country, and scientists are working to find out why. Improvement in this area came to an abrupt halt in 2015 when the largest increase in fatalities in 50 years was recorded. The death rate rose even higher in 2016. That year, more than 40,000 people lost their lives in U.S. car collisions.

Research suggests that the most common car crash scenarios are the result of simple human misunderstandings of what can go wrong. Accounting for 6 percent of all pedestrian fatalities, rolling right on red requires drivers to look in one direction while traveling in another. An estimated 21 percent of all deadly car crashes are related to drowsy driving. Drivers are terrible at gauging their own level of sleepiness and possibly oblivious to episodes of microsleep, according to a past administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Intersection dangers can be cut by roundabout creation

Drivers and traffic specialists in Louisiana are often concerned about improving safety at roadway intersections. These junction points can be some of the most dangerous places on the road. As two or more streets come together, cars are at risk of hitting one another even with the use of traffic signals and other technology to manage the flow of cars. Intersections can frequently be site of fatal crashes or those that lead to serious injuries, posing a problem both for individuals on the road and for state authorities.

One popular solution to dangerous intersections has been the creation of roundabouts, or traffic circles, in place of traditional perpendicular intersections. One study by the Minnesota Department of Transportation found stunning results for the roundabouts' success in cutting down on bodily injuries, as fatal car accidents fell by 86 percent at 144 intersections following the construction of roundabouts. It wasn't only deaths that dropped as serious injury accidents also declined by 83 percent, and all injury crashes fell by 61 percent.

Motorcyclists face significant hazards on the road

A clear day in Louisiana beckons motorcyclists out on the road, but riders must always guard against hazards because they are physically exposed on their vehicles. Personal choices or errors, such as drinking or entering a turn too fast, account for some motorcycle wrecks, but drivers of other vehicles too often simply fail to see motorcyclists, resulting in crashes and injuries or deaths.

Many crashes result from a driver making a left turn in front of a motorcyclist who had the right of way. Sometimes, even if the driver sees the oncoming motorcycle, the driver misjudges the person's speed and still makes the turn. A predilection for people to look for cars and not smaller motorcycles also causes drivers to turn in front of bikers.

Lowering the risk of traumatic brain injury

To Louisiana residents, the term traumatic brain injury may sound serious, and it is. However, concussions, which are a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI), are actually quite common. Lifestyle or profession can increase someone's risk of concussion, but everyone is at risk, largely due to the possibility of TBI caused by car accidents.

A great deal of focus has been placed on the danger TBI holds for professional athletes. Even though football players wear helmets, they are at a high risk, which is why some teams have neurosurgeons on their medical staffs. The Pittsburgh Steelers' long history of concussion awareness has contributed to concussion evaluation techniques that are used across the country.

Pokémon Go and its effect on drivers

Ever since its launch in July 2016, Pokémon Go has given rise to reports of people injuring themselves and others because of the game. It has also provided many drivers in Louisiana and across the U.S. with yet another way to be distracted from the road.

Two professors at Purdue University have released a study on the rise of traffic accidents in the five months immediately following Pokémon Go's launch. They analyzed nearly 12,000 crash reports made in Tippecanoe County, Indiana, starting from the months preceding the launch. They then tallied the number of crashes in those intersections that are near locations that were designated as Pokéstops, where gamers must go for special in-game items. They discovered that 26.5 percent more accidents occurred at these intersections than those further away after the game came out.

How to drive safely in the winter

According to the U.S. DOT Federal Highway Administration, 22 percent of all accidents are caused by the weather. Winter may be the most dangerous season for Louisiana drivers in terms of accidents caused by bad weather. Rain, ice and black ice can all make roads hazardous to drive on. Ice may exist on roadways even when the temperature is above freezing as road and other surfaces may warm slower than the air above it.

Black ice may be especially dangerous because it may appear to drivers as if the road is merely wet. However, it can still make it difficult for tires to get a good grip on the road, which may cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles. Those who are operating their vehicles in cool or cold weather are advised to slow down and increase their stopping distance.

Scientists develop blood test that detects concussions

Scientists have developed a new blood test that may be able to diagnose traumatic brain injuries and concussions within an hour of the initial injury. The test might help patients in Louisiana and elsewhere get early treatment and avoid further injury.

Many mild brain injuries go untreated because current diagnostic tools, such as CT scans, are not sensitive enough to detect them. This can leave concussion patients vulnerable to re-injury if they are not prescribed the rest and recuperation required for recovery. However, researchers at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA have discovered certain proteins that appear in the bloodstreams of people who suffer brain injuries. These proteins are released from injured brain cells, called astrocytes, and they appear in people with even mild concussions.

Nonfatal motorcycle crashes hurt legs and feet most often

Motorcyclists in Louisiana share the road with larger vehicles. Although safety gear somewhat mitigates their physical exposure to accidents, crashes often result in injured riders. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attributed 30 percent of these injuries to the legs and feet after studying the medical cases of 1,222,000 people involved in nonfatal motorcycle wrecks. Head and neck injuries accounted for the second most common type of injuries.

Another study conducted by the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine confirmed the prevalence of leg and foot injuries among motorcyclists. The association also examined the influence of helmet use on accident outcomes. After collecting police reports and hospital records about accidents across a four-year period, the researchers concluded that people wearing helmets experienced a greater number of minor injuries and a smaller amount of serious injuries compared to riders without helmets.