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rsz_pexels-photo-134392 We love our pets in the U.S. Many of us consider them family, and some of us bring them just about everywhere we can. But did you know that an unrestrained animal in your vehicle can be the cause of a distracted-driving collision?

Our distracted-driving habits are deadly: 10 percent of all fatal crashes and 18 percent of all injury-causing crashes involve some form of distraction, according to 2013 figures from the NHTSA. Distraction caused by cell phones and texting often top the list, but distraction can also be the result of eating, drinking, smoking, talking or arguing with passengers, adjusting audio or video devices, and checking maps or GPS.

Distraction is Not the Pet’s Fault

According to a recent announcement by the National Youth Leadership Council (NYLC) and Project Ignition, a South Carolina school is one of the 10 places best at helping change the way teens drive.

Project Ignition, a teen driving safety effort sponsored by State Farm Insurance and coordinated with the NYLC, asked schools across the U.S. and Canada to share their attempts to help teens build safer driving habits and have teens get involved in spreading awareness about safe driving. The program recently announced a list of 25 schools in the U.S. and Canada, which earned $2,000 grants from Project Ignition because of their successful drivers’ safety efforts. Among those top 25 schools was Blythewood High School, located in Blythewood, SC. However, Blythewood High’s teen driving safety successes didn’t stop there.

After that initial list, Project Ignition then selected ten schools for additional awards that could add up to around $7,500. And Blythewood High topped that final list of ten schools. According to Project Ignition, the title of Blythewood’s campaign was, “Keep your eye on the prize–Life.” The school’s efforts included machines simulating intoxicated driving and texting, golf cart texting and distracted driving exercises, seatbelt checks and prom-related crash safety efforts.

As we head into summer, many people look forward to the transformation of their backyards into great places to cool off and keep fit with in-ground and portable pools. However, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), many people still don’t know that drowning is a leading cause of death for children in the U.S. It’s the leading cause of injury death for children between the ages of 1 and 4, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of the 390 drowning deaths reported on average to the CPSC each year, 75 percent are children under age 5. Sixty-seven percent of those deaths are children between the ages of 1 and 3. And, according to the CDC, although drowning dangers can be a year-round hazard in warmer states, most injuries and deaths related to pools occur between May and August.

Concerned parents and caregivers can go to the CPSC’s Pool Safety web portal, which contains safety tips and information for families, as well as more statistics and facts about drowning injuries and how they occur. According to the CPSC, nearly half of all child drowning injuries and deaths occur at home. The next most common place for injury is at a friend or relative’s house. About 58 percent of drowning-related injuries among children up to 14 years old occur among boys. Though drowning injuries don’t occur only in pools–some can occur in places like spas–most happen in pools. Nearly 60 percent happen while using in-ground pools; another 10 percent happen in portable pools.

The CPSC recommends a few simple steps that parents, family members and neighbors can follow to keep their pools and spas safe for all to enjoy. They recommend parents and pool owners:

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports a jury has awarded $89 million to the family of a 28-year-old man killed in 2008 as a result of a drunk driver.

Dennis Riegel Jr. was killed and his pregnant fiancee was seriously injured as they returned from a shopping trip. She was 13 weeks pregnant at the time of the accident and has since given birth to a daughter.

The 20-year-old driver who hit Riegel’s car had a blood alcohol level more than two times the legal limit and was driving on a hardship license after an earlier DWI.

The Palm Beach Post reports the dangers of the once popular drug Vioxx were known years before the drug was withdrawn from the market in 2004.

The dangers included increased risk for heart attack, stroke and death and were known as early as 2000 — a year after the drug was put on the market, the article states. Merck & Co., manufacturer of the drug, denies the allegations and states the drug was voluntarily withdrawn within a week of receiving data from clinical trials.

However, researchers found 21 trials had been completed which showed the risk for a cardiovascular event was 35 per cent higher for those taking Vioxx compared to those taking a placebo. This percentage grew to 43 percent in 2004 as more trials were competed.

A 14-year-old boy who was left paralyzed below the waist from a 2002 automobile wreck has been awarded $6.5 million by a Memphis jury, reports The Commercial Appeal.

The boy, who was 6 years old at the time of the accident, was in the back seat of his grandfather’s 1995 Mercury restrained by an adult seatbelt. The shoulder strap was behind the boy because it did not fit, when his car was struck head-on by the second car. The boy’s father, grandfather and the driver of the other car were all killed in the accident.

Ford Motor Company was found to be 15% liable for the total $43.8 million judgment for an adult seatbelt that was defective and not suitable for a child.

The Janesville (WI) Gazette reports $893,684 has been awarded to parents of a baby boy who suffered permanent injury to his shoulder during his birth in 2001.

The parents sued Janesville’s Mercy Hospital, Mercy Women’s Health Center, Mercy Clinic West and two doctors, claiming they were negligent in the way they handled the mother’s labor and the birth of her son.

Among other things, the lawsuit alleged the doctors should have advised the parents of the risks of a vaginal delivery and that it could be hazardous to the infant. The lawsuit alleges the doctors did not properly dislodge the baby’s shoulder when got stuck during delivery, causing the nerves to stretch, causing permanent damage. The boy, now 8-years-old, has limited strength, dexterity and motion in his shoulder.

The Dallas Morning News reports one of the largest awards in Denton County, since tort law reform of 2003, has been awarded to the family of a woman who died from misdiagnosed cancer in 2004. The $3.5 million is expected to be reduced to $1.5 million due to civil law and will be divided between her husband, her two children, and her father.

In October, 2002, the 33-year-old woman was told by Highland Family Medical Center the marble sized lump on her head was a sebaceous cyst. The cyst was removed and was not sent to a lab for testing to confirm that it was a cyst. When the cyst returned a year later, the woman saw another doctor but did not have it removed because she was pregnant. By January, 2004, the cyst had quadrupled in size and was diagnosed as a sarcoma. After vigorous treatment, she died on December 14, 2004, leaving a husband and two small children.

The medical malpractice suit was filed by the woman’s husband against the medical center, the doctor, and the physician’s assistant who removed the initial cyst.

The Miami Herald reports a Broward County jury awarded a 92-year-old man over $5.3 million in his wrongful death lawsuit against Philip Morris, the cigarette maker. The man’s wife died in 1996 at the age of 63 from lung cancer after smoking two packs of Marlboros a day since she was 16-years-old.

A jury determined in an earlier phase of the trial cigarettes caused the woman’s death.

Her husband’s attorneys also claimed the cigarette companies “hooked” her when she was just a kid.

Colorado, Texas, and now New York are advising patients to get tested for hepatitis C while health officials investigate a technician addicted to pain killers, reports the Associated Press.

Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco has begun to notify 2,800 patients of their possible exposure to Hepatitis C because of a surgical technician’s drug dependency.

A surgical technician is accused of taking clean needles filled with Fentanyl, injecting herself with the drug, then placing the used syringes filled with saline onto the operating room carts. Fentanyl is a narcotic painkiller 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine, and was meant to be used for the hospital’s surgical patients. The surgical patients received saline solution from a Hepatitis C contaminated needle instead.