Deer Season - Rifle, Bow or Car?
Nov 9, 2017

Now is not a good time to be an odocoileus virginianus (white tailed deer). Not only is it hunting season, it's also road kill season. Fall is when the greatest number of deer are killed in collisions with cars and trucks. Do your drivers, especially of smaller vehicles, know how to cope with deer season to minimize collisions or minimize the damage when a car on deer impact cannot be avoided? A seasonal reminder might just be in order.

The nice folks at Farmer's Insurance have put together a neat summary  which offers a number of tips on sharing the roads with Bambi. Here are a few quick reference highlights:

  • Location, location - these states have the greatest frequency of deer related smashups - Iowa, Montana, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota - but any place which has both fields (food) and even limited forests (cover) looks like home sweet home to deer.
  • The blue hour - deer are crepuscular feeders which means that they are on their way to/from the local MickeyDeer's most often at dawn or dusk.
  • Light 'em up - use your high beams (when legal) and scan the sides of the road for deer heading towards the roadway.
  • Don't crowd - remember, deer are herd animals. When one bounds across the street, there's a good chance that more are coming.
  • Fasten your seat belt - a four point buck will run 200 pounds. If you run into one, you'll know it.
  • Don't swerve - slamming on the brakes and swerving when a deer appears in front of you seems like the right thing to do. It's not. You can lose control, go off the road, cross the center line, carom off other cars. Yes, brake, but stop in a controlled straight line. This may be fatal to the deer but it minimizes collateral damage.
  • Stop and report to the local police - the Farmer's report has a very useful section on what to do if you do hit a deer. Failing to follow the right procedures can make a tragic situation much worse.

Roughly 30% of all car-animal collisions occur right about - NOW. Deer-auto collisions cost Americans about $1.1 billion annually. Every driver behind the wheel of a company vehicle should know this and know how to minimize deer related highway risks. Deer will never understand cars. It's up to us to understand them - and drive accordingly. Spare everyone the trauma of having to tell your kids that you killed Bambi.

Is Your Website ADA Compliant?

That might sound like a very odd question at first, but the failure to meet ADA compliance requirements, in all their many aspects, can create a serious non-compliance risk. After all, how many documents - requests for proposal, loan papers, performance contracts, SOW docs, federal contracts and grants, etc.-- do you handle every year as part of your risk function that ask something about company compliance with government regulations?

Imagine the surprise, then, of the group of colleges and universities in the greater New York City area (including Fordham University, Manhattan College, Long Island University, and Hofstra University) when they were served with lawsuits by lawyers for Emanuel Delacruz, who is blind, charging that the college websites are inaccessible to their plaintiff and therefore in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act. A recent New York Times article explains that "the filings are part of a growing number of actions involving accessibility and the internet." The lawsuits revolve around the question of whether or not your company's website is a "public accommodation" as defined by the ADA.

Something like 750 lawsuits have been filed involving website compliance with the ADA in the last two years (see this excellent SeyfarthShaw blog). Well, what does the law say? According to Vivian Wang, writer of the Times update on this situation, "The Americans with Disabilities Act, written in 1990, makes no mention of the internet. The Department of Justice, which enforces the act, has issued guidelines about web accessibility but no formal regulations on how to achieve it - and they seem unlikely to materialize soon, after the federal government in July placed web regulations on its list of "inactive" agenda items."

But it gets better. In the absence of serious regulations from the other two branches of government, the courts have been deciding some of the earlier cases, which have involved retail and restaurant enterprises and similar applications of ADA based objections to website accessibility. Thus far, the results have been mixed. While some challenges have been turned aside, others have shown a judicial preference to treat the internet as just another public place. Most notably, this past June, a Florida judge ruled that the grocery store Winn-Dixie had to offer the same accommodations on its website as it did in stores.

For Journal readers, perhaps the most important question is how might these suits and subsequent decisions impact your D&O? Most of the suits brought thus far appear to be relatively small stakes affairs, but that could change. Even more to the point, are there other possible avenues for novel ADA accommodation requests? How thorough have you been in determining how to accommodate the blind, the deaf, or persons otherwise disabled under the definitions of the ADA? In an increasingly electronic, web-based world, we aren't talking only about ramps and Braille anymore. How ADA compliant are you really and how well have you defined and protected that risk pocket?

The Last Truck Stop 

Drivers of heavy and long haul trucks account for about 56% of non-supervisory employees in the transportation sector of our economy. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) 14% of them are also diabetics, compared to 9.1% of the general population. (See here) The CDC report describes the trucking industry as a virtual ground zero for unhealthy living:

Why do truckers suffer from diabetes at a rate almost 50% higher than the rest of Americans? They have more risk factors, physicians say. Drivers smoke more – about half of truck drivers smoke compared to 19% of other adults – they rarely exercise and their diet is high in calories and fat. Also, almost 70% of truck drivers are obese, which is more than twice the nation average.

Diabetes is not good for anyone, but consider further that many diabetes medications have side effects that include blurred vision, impaired coordination, tiredness, and confusion - just the ticket in the cab of an eighteen wheeler.

What to do? Truck driving is demanding and usually tightly scheduled, but there are a few things you can reasonably ask your drivers to do, and do regularly -

  • Park at the far corner of the truck stop. Even a little more walking helps control type 2 diabetes.
  • Walk around your truck several times each time you inspect it.
  • Good sleep hygiene is vital. Tired people, like truck drivers, use carbs, like that enticing piece of pie in the case, as a sugar bomb to ward off sleepiness. Note: it doesn't work, but it does make you fat.
  • Truck stops are justly not famous for their health food, but drivers can select the less calorie dense foods even on a limited menu and avoid the glycemic death potions.
  • Drivers smoke at more than twice the rate of the general population. Stop it!

Basic awareness will help. One physician who often treats drivers noted, "They have numbers that are high and wonder why we might give them short cards or might actually, in some cases, disqualify them when their [blood sugar] numbers are 450 or 500. They'll look at me in disbelief and say: 'Why would you do that?' I say, 'This is not stable. This is not safe.'" (Awareness test for you, dear reader: what is the recommended blood sugar for a fasting diabetic?)

Risk management is about far more than insurance policies and limits nowadays. Non-compliant diabetic drivers represent not just a possible workers' comp hit but also a catastrophic truck over the center line event that will ring your reinsurance limits like a dinner bell.

That blood sugar number? About 100.

Notes on the Plague Year

So, how bad is the opioid epidemic in this year of grace, 2017? So bad that in county after county, morgues are literally overflowing with bodies and the coroners can't keep up while their budgets are exploding - all due to opioid related overdoses. The coroner's office in one suburban county outside Philadelphia is 33% over budget and the total number of bodies is up 40% (via samwood@phillynews.com).

Do you and your TPA need to do everything you can to stem this plague? Yes, you do. Consider this from coroner Ken Batcha of Westmoreland County outside of Pittsburgh: "We saw a mom, a dad, and a daughter who all died within 18 months of ODs in the same house… A young man was found dead in the morning in Youngwood, and 7.5 hours later his brother was found dead in the same room. It takes an emotional toll."

Charles Dickens stops in the middle of Bleak House when poor Jo, the little crossing sweeper dies of neglect, like so many orphans in 19th Century England, the most powerful country in the world at that time, and addresses the reader: "Dead, your Majesty. Dead, my lords and gentlemen. Dead, Right Reverends and Wrong Reverends of every order. Dead, men and women, born with heavenly compassion in your hearts. And dying thus around us every day."

Of course, that was 160 years ago. Doesn't happen now, right?

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