It’s not entirely out of the question. Someone could be standing on the premises of another person’s home, and the next minute they could be dead of a natural gas blast.
An interesting article in the Philadelphia Inquirer this month points out the dangers of aging pipes. In one instance earlier this year, a man was standing outside his home in Tacony as a utility worker went next door to try to fix a natural gas leak. The air smelled of the gas, and the man says he could see bubbles rising through cracks in the street.
At that point, there was a massive explosion, and the gas worker was killed. Several others were severe injured. As it turns out, the leak was in a cast-iron pipeline that was 68 years old.
The Inquirer reports that the explosion knocked out windows in a two-block radius and destroyed a nearby office. Natural gas explosions can be massive, which makes aging pipes all the more worrisome.
Soon after the blast in Tacony, another explosion in Allentown killed five people. That pipeline was over 80 years old. Some in the area are more than 100 years old, with the oldest dating from the 1800s. One company in Philadelphia has more than 3,000 miles of cast iron pipelines in the city, over half of the gas mains. That’s apparently the highest percentage in the country.
There is apparently no rush to replace them. There are no laws in place regarding replacing aging pipelines, and crews are slow to do so. It would apparently cost about $1.6 billion to replace all the pipes, which is nearly impossible.
In the meantime, however, the decaying cast iron pipes pose a real danger of further leaks. What should be done?
Teenagers from all over the state will gather in the Wisconsin Dells this week to participate in a conversation and convention about driver safety and texting while driving. The program partners local high schools with the Wisconsin State Patrol, along with other organizations, to create the first annual “Teen State Summit.”
There have been many studies that confirm that distracted or inattentive driving causes many car accidents each year. This is a particularly serious problem for new drivers, who are generally more susceptible to distraction than experienced drivers. Combined with teens who are constantly trying to keep up with friends and monitor their social media applications, and there is a serious risk of injury from a distracted driving car accident.
One element of the summit will be screening a documentary about teenagers who were injured or killed in a car accident linked to texting and driving. The documentary is called “The Last Text.”
They will also see a presentation about how difficult it is to text and drive a car at the same time, including an obstacle course element.
The teenagers who are attending this event also went to a National Teen Distracted Driving Summit in Washington D.C. last year. It is part of a greater national initiative to curb distracted driving and make the roads safer for all drivers.
Distracted driving is considered negligent behavior under Wisconsin laws. Any driver who causes an accident through texting or other negligent acts is liable for car injuries or property damage that they cause.
Many Wisconsin drivers take the benefits of crash-testing for granted. When we get in our cars to go to work in the morning, we know that the manufacturer has already tested how a crash will impact our bodies. Thanks to federal regulations, cars on the road in Wisconsin must meet basic safety standards and have specific features that help prevent accidents and minimize injuries in the event of an accident.
Information about what happens inside of the car during a crash is first gathered through the use of crash-test dummies. Originally made out of plaster in the late 1940s, crash test dummies have been a central figure in the evolution of motor vehicle safety. Testing of this kind became increasingly important as Americans began to venture out onto the interstate highway system in the mid 1950s, and the range of possibilities for car accidents expanded significantly.
Crash test dummies are now sophisticated devices with many sensors and monitors, helping carmakers gather complex information about the impact of an accident on the drivers and passengers in the car. Industry analysts now use dummies of a variety of shapes and sizes to simulate children, infants, and different sized adults. Modern dummies are made out of a combination of rubber, vinyl, and steel to be durable but also move in a similar way to a human body.
A spokesperson for General Motors said that many of the safety features we take for granted in cars today, such as seatbelt placement and steering wheel positioning, are the result of extensive testing with crash-test dummies.
A recent crash in the Philadelphia area demonstrates the danger of speeding. A single-car accident that occurred in the evening on Jan. 4 resulted in three fatalities. The crash happened close to the Franklin Mills Mall at approximately 8 p.m. when a motorist was apparently unable to maintain control of his maroon 1994 Grand Am.
The car was traveling north on Franklin Mills Circle and apparently flipped over after colliding with no less than three concrete barriers, causing two male occupants, the driver and a passenger, to be ejected from the vehicle. A woman riding in the car was stuck inside in a passenger seat. The car came to a standstill lying on its hood, upside down, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Police indicated that the vehicle was traveling at a high speed prior to the accident, and that the force of the collision with the concrete barriers was so severe that only one of the four tires remained attached to the car, and the battery of the car was flung away.
All three of the car’s occupants were pronounced dead shortly after emergency personnel were summoned to the scene of the accident. The female passenger was pronounced dead at the scene a few minutes after the two men, as it took some time for her to be extracted from the vehicle. Police officers remained on the scene for several hours conducting their investigation. All three accident victims were reportedly in their early 20s or late teens.