Move Over Laws Protect Emergency Responders

paramedic

On Sunday, a driver hit a State Patrol trooper’s car on I-5 in Tacoma as the trooper investigated an earlier crash. Luckily no one was hurt, but northbound lanes were shut down for several hours.  This is a good reminder that moving over or slowing down to keep law enforcement officers and emergencies responders free from harm is not only a great safety precaution, but the law.

“Move Over” laws were created by a South Carolina paramedic who was struck and injured at an accident scene in 1994.  South Carolina passed the first Move Over law in 1996. In 2000, a series of similar events sparked the US Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration to address the need for improved standards in Emergency Scene Safety and protection for emergency workers. With the further assistance of public interest groups such as the Emergency Responder Safety Institute Move Over laws became standard across the US and Canada.

In our state, Move Over laws passed in 2007. In 2010 legislation added “Emergency Zone” laws. Emergency Zone is defined as the adjacent lanes of the roadway 200 feet (10 car lengths) before and after a stationary emergency vehicle with flashing lights. These vehicles include tow trucks, emergency assistance vehicles, or any police vehicle using emergency lights. Fines double for vehicles exceeding the posted speed limit in an Emergency Zone.

In Washington, If the highway has four or more lanes, two of which traffic is heading the same direction as the approaching vehicle, proceed with caution, and if reasonable and safe, yield the right-of-way by making a lane change or moving away from the lane or shoulder occupied by the stationary responding vehicle. If the highway has less than four lanes, proceed with caution, reduce speed, and if safe and under the rules, yield the right-of-way by passing to the left at a safe distance while also yielding the right-of-way to vehicles traveling in the proper direction.  If changing lanes or moving away would be unsafe or unreasonable, proceed with caution and reduce speed.

To find information on the Move Over law in your state, visit Move Over America.

The Perils of Spring Break

Some college student’s spring breaks have come and gone. For some, it’s just around the corner. The safety of spring break drinkingchildren during a spring break trip is a concern for many parents. Spring breakers are basking in the freedom of vacation away from parents and there seems to be a never-ending flow of alcohol. This combination can be injurious and deadly. With four college aged grandchildren, I share that concern. Being injured in a strange place, away from home and the comfort and care of parents can be frightening for a young adult. Here is some information I found regarding spring break safety that you can pass on to your children.

Over-service of alcohol: This is a huge. When college aged students go on a spring break trip, you know alcohol will more than likely be consumed – and a lot of it. Most states have dram shop laws, which allow licensed establishments such as restaurants, bars, and liquor stores to be held liable for selling or serving alcohol to individuals who cause injuries or death as a result of their intoxication.

Social host liability: Similar to dram shop laws, if an adult hosts a parties and alcohol is consumed by minors and as a result, injury or death occur, the host of the party may be held responsible. Injuries in the case of social host and dram shop laws don’t have to be traffic related. This also includes acts of violence.

Traffic accidents: Between the last week of February and the first week of April, a considerably higher number of traffic fatalities occur in popular spring break destinations compared to other locations in the same states and at other times of the year. Sometimes, it’s as dangerous to walk home. With an elevated amount of negligent driving this time of year, there is also risk of getting struck by a car as a pedestrian. It’s best to leave the car behind, stay off your feet and hail a cab or use Uber or Lyft for a safe ride back to the hotel.

Alcohol related injuries: Binge drinking can come with a price. We’ve all read stories about young adults dying from alcohol poisoning. Drinking too much can also turn any normal activity into a dangerous one, such as a boating, swimming, sitting in a hot tub or standing on a balcony.  Also, binge drinking has also resulted in a number of sexual assaults.

What is the best way to protect your child? If your child is going on a spring break trip, make sure you educate them on the dangers of binge drinking. Tell them to stay in groups with people they know and never leave a party or bar with strangers. Ensure they understand the risks of drinking and driving or getting in the car with someone intoxicated. Perhaps even give them access to your Uber account for a free ride back to their hotel. The best course of action is to keep them from going on a spring break vacation. Of course, that is easier said than done.

9 little known facts about Martin Luther King Jr.

Many of us enjoyed the day off Martin Luther King Jryesterday in honor of, Martin Luther King Jr. We know about his March on
Washington and his “I Have a Dream” speech, but here are a few other things you may not know about this great civil rights leader.

  1. His birth name was Michael. When his father, who was a pastor, traveled to Germany, he was inspired by the Protestant Reformation leader Martin Luther. He decided to change his own name and that of his son.
  2. King was so gifted that he skipped two grades and entered Morehouse College as a freshman at age 15.
  3. Before entering Morehouse, he had no intention of following the footsteps of his father, grandfather, and great grandfather to become a minister. Theologian Benjamin E. Mays urged him otherwise and King was ordained before he graduated college.
  4. King’s civil rights actions led to his arrest 29 times. His arrests included acts of civil disobedience, but also Martin Luther King Jr Arrestfalse charges, such as when he was jailed in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1956 for driving 30 miles per hour in a 25-mile-per-hour zone.
  5. Martin Luther King Jr. survived an earlier assassination attempt. While at a book signing in Harlem Izola Ware Curry plunged a seven inch letter opening into his chest. He had to endure hours of emergency surgery to repair the damage.
  6. Alberta Williams King, Martin’s mother, was also killed by a bullet. As she played the organ at a Sunday service, Marcus Wayne Chenault Jr. rose from the front pew, drew two pistols and fired shots. One of the bullets struck and killed King. She died steps from where her son used to preach.
  7. In 1993, then president Ronald Reagan signed the bill that created the national holiday in honor of King. George Washington is the only other American whose birthday is observed as a national holiday.
  8. In 1963, he was the first African American to be named Time Magazine’s Man of the Year. IN fact, he is one of only two African Americans to receive the honor. The other is Barack Obama, who was named twice.

 

Liquor licensee risks with New Years alcohol sales

The new year begins at the end of this week, and many people will be out reveling and ringing it in. Some may stay alcoholat home, but other will have a night out on then town. Those celebrating are not the only ones that need to be careful. If you are a bar or restaurant owner, bartender, or server, be vigilant when serving alcohol. You can be liable of you serve a minor or over-serve an overtly drunk individual. Under dram shop law, bar owners, servers, and retail stores can be held liable if they sell alcohol to a minor or someone who is already drunk, and that person in turn injures or kills a third party due to driving drunk or other by other means (such as assaults).  If the wounded party provides evidence that the serving or selling of the alcohol was the proximate cause of their injuries, they may be entitled to compensation.

Dram Shop law were put into place to protect the public from the irresponsible selling of alcohol to minors or discernibly intoxicated patrons.

Violations may include:
  • Selling alcohol to a minor
  • Over service of alcohol
  • Selling alcohol without checking ID
  • Selling alcohol without a license
  • Selling alcohol after hours
There are many ways to avoid becoming the defendant on the end of a dram shop claim.
  • If unsure about a patron’s age, check ID. This will prevent serving liquor to a minor.
  • Don’t be afraid to cut someone off. It’s not only a right, but a duty to stop serving a visibly intoxicated customer.drunk
  • Avoid overcrowding. Capacity is not just a number – overcrowding can lead to fights among other safety hazards.
  • Know the signs of intoxication. Not sure what they are? The State of Oregon Liquor Control Commission created a comprehensive list. View it here.
  • Don’t serve alcohol outside of legal sales hours. In Washington, liquor sales are allowed from 6 A.M. to 2 A.M. For more info, Wikipedia has a detailed list of liquor law by state.

Don’t think it can’t happen to you. I’ve helped many clients with dram shop claims. Whether in a car accident or assaulted by an intoxicated individual, I’ve proven liquor licensee liability.  Err on the side of caution when serving alcohol this weekend. You might save your business, your job, or even save a life.

Happy New Year to you.

Don’t let the New Year start deadly

New Year’s Eve is one of the worst days of the year for alcohol related car crashes and deaths.  According to the drinking and driving new yearNational Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on average, 130 deaths take place on New Year’s Eve.

Here are some tips regarding staying safe on New Years:

  • Designate a sober driver.
  • Save the number of a local cab service in your phone prior to heading out.
  • Hire a shuttle or limousine service to transport you and your friends to and from your event.
  • Take an Uber or Lyft home.
  • Stay in a hotel.

 

 

Don’t assume walking is a safe option.  New Years has the highest death rate of pedestrians than any other day of the year.  The walker is drunk in over a third of pedestrian fatalities.  Alcohol impairs your ability to walk and navigate, especially in the dark.  If you must walk:

  • As silly as it sounds, have a designated walker.
  • Drink responsibly
  • Stay on the sidewalk. If no sidewalk is available, walk facing traffic
  • If you plan ahead of time, wear bright colored clothing and carry a flashlight to be more visible to drivers.
  • Walk in groups. This help with visibility also.

If you’re driving, it’s very simple. Don’t drink.

Have a fun, but safe New Years Eve.

Host a safe holiday office party

A holiday office party is a great way to bring people together, boost morale, and show staff how much they’re Office Christmas Partyappreciated. Be aware, if alcohol is served, some guests may overindulge. The increased opportunities to party this time of year account for a spike in binge drinking. Some party goers will undoubtedly get behind the wheel after celebrating. If drunk party guests cause a car accident on their way home, the host could be legally responsible for damages.

Are you hosting and office holiday party this year? Here are some tips to keep employees safe.

  • Send out a party memo prior. Make clear what your alcohol policy is and enforce it. Remind staff not to overindulge and not serve drinks to minors.
  • Party during the work week. People are less apt to overindulge if they must be at work the next morning.
  • Have a dry party. Employees may not like it, but they won’t be driving drunk afterward either.
  • Have plenty of non-alcoholic drinks available. Serve soft drinks, water and mocktails as well as alcoholic drinks.
  • Serve beer and wine only. Avoid stronger alcoholic drinks.
  • Use drink tickets. Limit the number of drinks each guest is allowed.
  • Don’t host the bar. If you offer a no host bar where guests must pay for their own drinks, they may not drink as much as they would at a hosted bar.
  • Serve food. People tend to drink less at parties at which food is served because it’s hard to juggle food and a drink at the same time. Stay away from greasy, salty, and sweet foods that make people thirsty. Offer high protein and starchy foods which stay in the stomach longer and slow the absorption of alcohol in the bloodstream.
  • Hire a bartender for the night. A professional bartender can identify employees who drink too much and should be encouraged to card younger employees. If younger staff members will be attending the party, consider using wristbands. Issue one color for guests under 21 and one for those over 21.
  • Close the bar an hour before the party ends. Just like they do at sporting events, closing the bar an hour before the party ends will give guests time to sober up before heading home.
  • Host at a hotel. My law firm did this for years. We would rent a banquet room at a hotel, then most employees would book a room for the night instead of driving home.
  • Have numbers for taxi services on hand. Keep the number handy and visible, for instance, placing their business cards at tables.
  • Splurge on a party bus or ride vouchers. Hire a bus for the night to drive employees to and from the party, or offer to pay for their Uber or Lyft ride at the end of the night.
  • Reward designated drivers. Give DDs a gas gift card or some other kind of reward for staying sober and responsible.
  • Intervene. If a guest attempts to drink and drive, step in, call a cab, take their keys, do whatever it takes to keep them off the road. After all, if they cause an accident, the host may be held legally responsible under the social host liability law.

Have a fun and safe holiday season.

Be thankful and donate

thanksgiving-1060123_960_720Thanksgiving is upon us, as is Black Friday, the launch of the holiday shopping season. If you’re able, don’t forget those less fortunate than yourselves. Sometimes it’s hard to choose the right charity in which to donate your hard earned money; some of them may be less worthy than others, if legit at all. Luckily there are organizations out there that will do the legwork for you to find just the right organization to suit your needs.

Guidestar 

Guidestar is a public charity that collects, organizes, and presents information about non-profits in an easy to understand format, so that you may make an informed decision before you donate. They provide information regarding each nonprofit’s mission, legitimacy, impact, reputation, finances, programs, transparency, governance, and among other things. They don’t give an opinion, just facts. Their service is free of charge.

They operate from membership programs, grants and they do take contributions. They also offer subscriptions and licensing fees which allows users a little more depth to their services such as benchmarking multiple organizations, verifying charitable statuses, accessing compensation information and interpreting financial data.

Philanthropedia

Philanthropedia is a division of Guidestar. Their mission is to improve nonprofit effectiveness by directing money to and facilitating discussion about expert recommended high-impact nonprofits, to inspire giving and improving non-profit effectiveness.

Philanthropedia surveys experts such as foundation professionals, researchers, and nonprofit senior staff,
who then recommends nonprofits based on their impact and other money-652560_960_720organizational strengths. Their website is loaded with non-profits from many sectors including cancer, wildlife, arts and culture, emergency response, LGBT equality and support and more.

Great Nonprofits

Great Nonprofits is a review site where people can find, review and share information about nonprofits and charities. So these will be real stories by real people who will have people who have volunteered or donated to nonprofits, as well as stories of people who have benefited from their services.

Charity Navigator

Charity Navigator is a charity and nonprofit evaluator. Their professional analyze organizations and use their findings to develop  an unbiased, objective, numbers-based rating system to assess America’s charities, both the best known and the lesser known.

The rating system specifically examines two broad areas of a charity’s performance; their Financial Health and their Accountability & Transparency. The ratings show those who donate how efficiently they believe a charity will use their support, how well it has sustained its programs and services over time and their level of commitment to good governance, best practices and openness with information.  They do this so that those who make donations can make intelligent giving decisions, and so that the nonprofit sector can improve its performance.

If you don’t want to do research, Consumer Reports posted an article showing the best and worst charities for your donation. From animal welfare to veterans, the article lays out which organizations are worthy of your philanthropy, and the ones from which you should stay away.

These are just a few of the organizations that want to help you make an informed decision before you donate. There are many more.  Volunteerism and philanthropy are important to my family and me. If you want to give locally, feel free to peruse my “Community” page where I have a listing of organizations to which I donate and volunteer.

From my family to yours, have a wonderful and relaxing Thanksgiving. Enjoy your family and friends. If you’re going  shopping on Black Friday, be safe and remain sane. Don’t forget those things you were thankful for the day before, and the people who go without every day of the year.

Celebrating our veterans

veterans dayTomorrow is Veterans Day. Here’s a little history about this important celebration:

Origins

The end of the “Great War,” World War I came on the 11th hour of the 11th day on the 11th month of 1918 when an armistice, or temporary end to the fighting, was called between the Allied nations and Germany.  A year later, President Woodrow Wilson declared November 11th as the first commemorative Armistice Day. He stated:

“To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”

The day became a national legal holiday in 1938 as a dedication to the cause of world peace and to honor the veterans of World War I. In 1954 the act declaring the day a holiday was amended for two reasons.  World War II had the greatest recruitment of military troops in United States history and the deployment of troops to Korea. The word “Armistice” was changed to “Veterans” to honor the American veterans of all wars.

Why not a Monday?

In 1968 under the Uniform Holiday Bill, Veterans Day began being on a Monday every year along with Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, and Columbus Day. The thought behind the change was to give people three-day weekends to encourage consumerism and stimulate the economy. However, the changed caused some confusion and many states opposed the change and did not comply. Realizing that the date of observance for Veterans Day was a holiday based on historic significance, which meant a great deal to not only veterans, but all Americans, President Gerald R. Ford signed a law returning the holiday to its original date of November 11, beginning in 1978.

Celebrations

The United States isn’t the only country to recognize their veterans. Countries that are members of the Common Wealth of Nations, United Kingdom, Australia and Canada to name a few, also honor veterans of the two World Wars on Remembrance Day. Many of the countries observe a two minute silence at 11:00 am every November 11th. France, who lost many military members during World War 1, celebrate Armistice Day. In Poland, November 11th signifies their Independence Day.

U.S. Veterans Day commemorations include an official wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery, parades and other celebrations.

Veterans Day vs Memorial Day

Many people confuse Memorial Day and Veterans Day. On Memorial Day we remember and honor military personnel who died in the service of our country. Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans, living or dead, who served in war or peacetime. It is especially a time to thank veterans still living for their service to our country.

The Red Poppy

In the United States, the red poppy is used during Memorial Day to help raise money for disabled veterans; however, the poppy is also associated with Veterans Day as it has become a symbol of the sacrifices, resiliencered poppies, and perseverance of all veterans.

The red poppy was immortalized in the poem, In Flanders Field, by Canadian physician and officer, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae. The poppy grew over the graves of deceased soldiers. The flowers, which lay dormant in the soil for years then reappear in great numbers, inspired the poem. He associated the flowers with his veteran patients and fallen friends.

Our veterans have fought bravely and persevered though they may have suffered wounds, be them physical or emotional or both. Go out of your way to thank a veteran today. It’s because of their service and sacrifice that we are able to remain a free country and they deserve to be honored.

Thank you veterans. You’ve served us well.

Resources:

Here is a list of restaurants offering discounts or free meals to veterans on Veterans Day.

Retail stores also give discounts on Veterans Day.

Veterans Day information from the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs.

Everything from parade listings to teacher’s resources at Operation: We Are Here

Ivan the Gorilla

The bronze tribute immortalizing Ivan the Gorilla has finally been unveiled at the Point Defiance zoo. Many younger Ivan the Gorillapeople probably do not know of Ivan and his role in Tacoma’s rich history, but he left a giant footprint in our city. He is much deserving of the statue built in his honor.

Ivan and a female gorilla, Coco came to the United States in 1964 from the Congo. They were sold by wildlife traders to an owner of the B & I department store, E.L. Irwin. The B & I was a much different store back then. It began life in 1946 as a hardware store. In just a few years, it became “Biggest Little Store in the World,” known for huge Christmas light displays, amusements, and a carousel. 1953 is when the B & I began bringing in animals. They had an elephant named Sammy, and chimps Cathy and Murphy.

Ivan and Coco lived in the Irwin family home and were raised like children. Unfortunately, Coco died of pneumonia only six months after arriving. Ivan lived with the family until his stature made him a danger to the family. That is when Irwin built the concrete enclosure at the B & I that would become Ivan’s home for the next 30 years.

The B & I drew many families in with their amusements and celebrity appearances, such as Burt Ward from Batman, Sheena, Queen of the Jungle and boxer Joe Louis. Ivan, however, was the real star of the store. Many admiring fans, adults and children alike, went to observe the “Shopping Mall Gorilla” while he played with a tire, watched television, ripped pages out of phonebooks, and finger painted. At the time, visitors were unaware that his living conditions were less than ideal.

Eventually, the novelty of Ivan wore off. People stopped visiting and were coming to realize how appalling his living conditions were. He needed space, fresh air, and companionship. In the mid 80s animal activists began campaigning for Ivan’s transfer to a zoo so he could go outdoors and socialize with other gorillas.  Tacomans actively began boycotting the store and petitions to “Free Ivan” began circulating around the city.

By 1994, the B & I was facing not only national outrage, but bankruptcy as well. Ivan was finally donated to Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo and later that year, transferred to Zoo Atlanta. It took him a while to adjust, and though he eventually became social with the other gorillas, he never reproduced and still preferred the company of his human keepers.

Ivan died in 2012. He was anesthetized for a physical exam and simply never woke up.

His memory and legacy remains as an entertainer and a poster-child for animal welfare. And now, with the monument built in his honor, generations will come to know Ivan, the Shopping Mall Gorilla.

Here’s a video about Ivan at the B & I. To see some photos about Ivan’s journey, visit this page at the News Tribune.

Halloween Safety part 4: Pet Safety

Today’s blog will complete my Halloween Safety series. When planning a safe holiday for children, it’s easy to forgetpet safety halloween our four legged friends. Halloween poses some serious threats to a pet’s mental and physical health. Here are pet safety tips to keep furry friends from harm during the haunting season.

  • Dogs and cats may beg for chocolate, but giving it to them could be a fatal mistake. Chocolate can be toxic to dogs and cats. Keep the Halloween candy stashed up and away from their reach.
  • Make sure candy wrappers are thrown in the trash and don’t fall to the floor. Wrappers may pose a choking hazard or get stuck in a pet’s digestive tract and can cause illness, or worse, death.
  • Keep glow sticks and glow jewelry away from pets. The liquid in them may not be toxic, but it is known to make pets salivate excessively and act strangely.
  • Keep Jack-o-lanterns and candles out of reach. Candle’s flames can burn or singe pets and can easily be knocked over and start a fire. Also, keep wires out of biting range. If chewed, pets may sustain cuts from broken glass or plastic, or could receive a deadly electric shock.
  • Though many pets are receptive to wearing costumes, but for some this causes distress and anxiety. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) recommends not putting pets in costumes unless they are known to love it. Pets will be frazzled enough with the noise and visitors at the door. Don’t cause them more undue stress. If a pet will be dressed up, ensure the costume does not limit movement, vision or ability to breathe, bark or meow.
  • Strangers can often be scary and stressful for pets, especially when dressed in costume. With all the visitors pet safety halloweencoming to the door on Halloween night, dogs and cats should be kept in a separate room away from the front door. This will alleviate pet’s stress and keep them from darting out the open door.
  • Even the most prepared pet owner could find their furry friend escaping while the door is opened for trick-or-treaters. Pets should be able to be properly identified with an ID tag, microchip, or some other form of identification.
  • Keep outdoor cats inside for several days before and after Halloween. Cats, especially black cats, are at risk from pranks and cruelty during the Halloween season. Many pet adoption agencies won’t even adopt black cats out during October. This goes for all pets on Halloween night. Keep them in and away from pranks, cruelty, and theft.