Archive | February, 2011

Don’t Be a Statistic!

23 Feb

This guy should have read my blog.

source

Chances are, if you have spent any time with me over the last few months, you have heard me utter the phrase, “Don’t be a statistic!” in regards to walking/driving/living. If you haven’t, allow me to explain.

As a previous blog post noted (see “S.E. OoooOoOOoOOOOooOoooooO.”), I work for a legal internet marketing company as a blog editor and copywriter. We deal exclusively with attorneys, and the vast majority are personal injury lawyers (as opposed to criminal defense lawyers). My days are filled with writing and editing blog posts and website content pages on topics such as product liability, medical malpractice, workers’ compensation, defective drugs, and various accidents, such as car, bicycle, motorcycle, and truck accidents.

Thanks to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), I’m able to rattle off certain accident statistics like I’m Watson the super computer. I can tell you off the top of my head that 33,808 people died in motor vehicle accidents in 2009 in the United States (stats for 2010 haven’t yet been published), and over 2.2 million people were injured in these accidents, and that over 10,000 fatalities were in alcohol-related crashes (I had to check my handy NHTSA PDF to see that the exact number is 10,839). These statistics scare me, but it’s easy enough to brush off since the population of Los Angeles is somewhere around 3.8 million (source), making my chances of being involved in an accident relatively low.

I know you can read.

However, there are two areas whose statistics I haven’t been able to shake from my mind, and that’s where my phrase “Don’t be a statistic!” comes in.

(I apologize if what follows is overly preach-y or if you have heard me rant about this topic before. Learning these things at my job has definitely made me improve my driving habits and by sharing them, I hope to change the habits of those who read this as well.)

Of those 33,808 accident-related fatalities in the U.S. in 2009, 5,474 were reported to have involved a form of distracted driving (source), which includes cell phone use, eating, flipping through a playlist on an iPod, etc. Of those 2.2 million people that were injured in accidents that year (keeping in mind that becoming a paraplegic is considered an injury), 448,000 of them were injured in accidents that were distracted driving-related.

A recent study found that a driver using a cell phone (texting or talking, handheld or hands-free) delays their reaction as much as have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the legal limit of .08 percent. Scary, isn’t it? Think about that the next time you reach for your cell phone while behind the wheel to read a text that likely contains something along the lines of “Hey, what’s up?”

If these statistics and facts still haven’t made you want to change your driving habits, I encourage you to go look through the NHTSA’s “The Faces of Distracted Driving” video series, which highlight the people who have lost their lives in distracted driving-related accidents by interviewing their friends and family while telling the victim’s story. They are heartbreaking.

I warn you in advance: if I am a passenger in your car and you get out your phone while behind the wheel, I will yell at you.

 

Let the poor man walk!

Closely tied to distracted driving are pedestrian accidents, the second area of personal injury with which I have become obsessed. According to our friends over at the NHTSA, a pedestrian “is any person on foot, walking, running, jogging, hiking, sitting or lying down who is involved in a motor vehicle traffic crash.”

In 2009, 4,092 pedestrians died in traffic accidents in the U.S. and an estimated 59,000 were injured in these accidents. (Note: these statistics are not a part of the 33,808 motor vehicle accident fatalities or the 2.2 million people injured.) These statistics result in an average of a pedestrian killed every two hours and one injured every nine minutes in traffic accidents in the U.S.

This information has caused me to now look both ways before crossing a street at least twice, and then give each car that approaches or is stopped at the intersection the evil eye should they be tempted to run me or my companions over.

Also, thanks to my job, I have the contact information of over 100 highly skilled personal injury attorneys, and you bet your sweet rear-end I will sue the living daylights out of you if you hit me or my friends.

I Live in Los Angeles

3 Feb

That's my city!

source

(Sometimes, when I’m driving on the 2 and see the sun setting behind the city, I can’t believe I live in Los Angeles. [along with 4 million other people!] It’s surreal.)

Lately, my LA life has been going a million miles an hour.

I’m very happy to announce that earlier in January my husband was offered a position at DreamWorks Animation Studios, where he had previously worked before getting laid off. This time, however, he’s an assistant artist, which means he’s doing ridiculously cool things, like spending his afternoon drawing with super legit people. Obviously, I’m jealous, but my stick figures look like mentally handicapped people, so I know a job in the creative realm is out of the question. Thankfully, my husband is contractually locked in until 2013, which is a huge relief to us after we were both unemployed for a time.

A lot of January was filled with celebrating, as you can imagine. We also awoke from hibernation, and finally crawled out of our little home and got around to exploring some of prettier parts of the Los Angeles area, which, according to Travel & Leisure Magazine, is the rudest city in the United States. (Personally, the people I have met are nothing but nice—however, the drivers here are TERRIFYING.) Thankfully, the annual Urban Mobility Report from the Texas Transportation Institute reports that traffic in the LA area isn’t the worst in the U.S. anymore, which is great.

Awesome.

The first place we visited was the Griffith Observatory. I was anxious to go for a few reasons. I had heard the views of Los Angeles were incredible, that you could see the Hollywood sign which I hadn’t really seen, and I was desperate to go to the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon Theater there, because I am a gigantic nerd. The Observatory was wonderful. It was a beautiful sunny day, and it was actually relatively smog-free. The views were fabulous, and reminded me that I actually live really close to the ocean now (it’s easy to forget in the concrete jungle). I was disappointed to find that a huge cell phone tower is atop the hill the Hollywood sign resides against (and almost ruins it), but it was great nonetheless to see such an iconic LA landmark. While we didn’t star gaze, since it was daytime, the exhibits and city views definitely made the trip worth it, even if we had to park what felt like 10 miles away to get to the Observatory. I can’t wait to take my space-loving dad when he visits!

We then trekked over to Hollywood. We first visited the legitimacy that is Gallery 1988 to see the exhibit, “Is This Thing On?” featuring art inspired by popular comedians. I can’t express how much we loved the gallery! How can you not love a place that displays art like little stuffed Brets and Jemanines from “Flight of the Conchords” or a piece that highlights the greatest cinematic glory of our time—the fight scene in “Anchorman”?! Love love love. Then, we went to the Hollywood strip to see the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Without a map, I was excited that we stumbled upon the stars for Harrison Ford, William Shatner, and Godzilla (me=nerd, remember?). I had no idea that stars weren’t just for movies—did you know stars are also given in the categories of television, music, broadcast radio, and live theater? It felt a little bit like Vegas, but without people trying to shove porno business cards in my hand. I also saw the Kodak Theatre, which to be honest was a little disappointing. They do a good job during the Academy Awards broadcast of not highlighting the nearby area, so I was surprised to see the Theatre was next to a giant Gap, among other stores. So not what I expected. I’m halfway tempted this year to camp out by the Theatre and watch the stars arrive for the Oscars, but my husband pointed out that then I wouldn’t be able to actually watch the broadcast, so I doubt I will attempt such a feat.

On our next outing, we went to Venice Beach. It had been several years since I had visited, and two things jumped right out at me that had changed: the plethora of medical marijuana dispensaries and the abundance of really weird art that featured Marilyn Monroe as a gangster. (Note: Anyone who thinks that marijuana isn’t legal should definitely visit Venice Beach. I have news for you. It basically is.) We walked the entire Ocean Front Walk, enjoying our lemonade in the hot sun while refusing about 10,000 people asking us if we wanted to see a “doctor” to get a medical marijuana license. We skipped over to Intelligentsia’s Venice Coffeebar, where I proceeded to trip down a stair, spilling my expensive cappuccino in front of bored hipsters, solidifying my lameness and the fact that I have no business being at such a trendy place. After my embarrassment, we checked out the “Multiplayer” exhibit at the other Gallery 1988. I don’t play a lot of video games, so many of the references went over my head, but I was excited to see a few pieces that featured Mario, Sonic, and the original “Tron”, which I had recently seen and loved. (How can you not instantly love a movie that looks like one long Fry’s commercial?!)

Sunset.

Santa Monica was next. My favorite part of this leg of our tour was watching a street performing sing “Colors of the Wind” from Disney’s completely inaccurate “Pocahontas.” Mostly, we walked around, which was nice, and when the sun began to set, we went to the pier. Though everyone in the group was afraid of heights, we toyed with the idea of riding the Ferris wheel, but opted not to. Our day as tourists came to a close with a treat from Vanilla Bake Shop, which is how I feel every day should end.

More and more, as I begin to depend on my Garmin less, I realize I’m starting to put down some roots in Los Angeles, and surprisingly, it is alright with me.

(How about those Clippers?!)