New Year’s Day is Most Dangerous for Young Adults

The Pennsylvania Medical Society says New Year’s Day is the most dangerous holiday for young adults, and drinking is part of the problem.   Government statistics show emergency room visits for underage drinking on New Year’s have surpassed other national holidays. 

Dr. Henry Unger, president of the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians, says there are alcohol poisoning, car crashes, fights, and injuries from falls.  He says there are 250% more injuries coming to the emergency room from alcohol-related problems on New Year’s compared to any other holiday.

Dr. Unger says when we drink, our coordination is impaired and our thought process is impaired.  He says college students are especially at risk for assaults committed by someone who has been drinking.

Dr. Unger says adults should drink in a sound way and people who are underage should not drink at all.  He says parents and other adults who have contact with teens should educate them about the risks.

Dr. Unger says injuries range from severe head trauma to broken bones and stitches.  He says they see alcohol poisoning cases so severe that patients are not breathing. They’ve also seen abuse of alcohol cause bleeding ulcers in young adults.

FEMA Urges People to Resolve to be Prepared in 2012

The Federal Emergency Management Agency wants everyone to make a resolution to be better prepared in 2012.   Administrator Craig Fugate says if you do nothing else, visit and book mark the page.

Fugate says the first step for preparedness is to develop a family communication plan. He says in an emergency, cell phone systems can be overloaded and texting or posting to a social network site may be the better way to keep in touch.  He says that also cuts congestion on the cell network to allow emergency calls to get through.

 Emergencies can strike with little warning, and unexpected situations can develop within an emergency.   Fugate says you need to know what you’d do if you had to shelter in place, or evacuate in a moment’s notice.   

Fugate says as we saw in Pennsylvania, the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee came up and caused flooding in places that had been spared by Hurricane Irene.  He doesn’t think people were necessarily expecting that. He says even with a good forecast, we don’t always know what’s going to happen.

Fugate says emergency plans should include your pets and anyone in your household with special needs in addition to basic needs.

Fugate says if you have a plan, you can secure your family in an emergency then reach out to your neighbors.  He says he has seen in time and time again.  Across the southeast during the tornadoes, and during the tropical season all the way up to Vermont, a lot of the help people got came from their neighbors.   He says their neighborhoods were digging them out debris, giving first aid or providing comfort until emergency responders could arrive.

Five People Killed in Crashes Investigated by Pennsylvania State Police Over Holiday Weekend

Not one of the five people killed in the Christmas weekend traffic crashes that Pennsylvania State Police investigated wore a seat belt, according to Sergeant Anthony Manetta. He adds that two of the crashes were alcohol related. Although the toll was not as high as last Christmas when 7 people died, this year’s holiday weekend was a three day enforcement period, rather than four days as it was in 2010.       

Troopers arrested 202 people who were suspected of driving under the influence. They handed out nearly 13 hundred speeding citations and cited 174 people for not buckling up and 17 for not having children properly restrained.

The statistics only include cases handled by Pennsylvania State Police, and not by local departments.

State Police plan extra enforcement for the coming weekend as people mark the New Year holiday.  They will be focusing on driving under the influence. It’s a weekend when police tend to see a lot of alcohol-related crashes.  They will be using roving patrols and DUI checkpoints to discourage drinking and driving.


Corbett Administration Eyes Capital Budget Reforms


Budget Secretary Charles Zogby

Budget Secretary Charles Zogby addressed capital debt in his mid-year budget briefing.

On the same week that Governor Tom Corbett signed a capital budget bill, his budget secretary was vowing to reduce the commonwealth’s capital debt.  “The level of capital issuance that the commonwealth was doing from the prior administration was unsustainable,” says Budget Secretary Charles Zogby. 

The Corbett administration’s goal is to reduce spending on public improvement projects at commonwealth-owned buildings and facilities by 50%.  While the Rendell administration averaged $415-million dollars in new commitments per year, the Corbett administration’s goal is in the $150 – $200 million dollar range.  “I think as you watch the budget you’ll see debt service continue to climb in the coming years,” Zogby says.  “But with these reforms, we think we’re going to start to bend that cost curve and bring those costs down.” 

Things like leaky roofs, leaky pipes and broken down HVAC systems will be prioritized under the new approach to capital budgeting.  “If you’re a homeowner, and you’re watching all of that fall down or fail around you, those are important things.” 

Also primed for a 50% reduction is the level of new-project releases that the commonwealth provides to the State System of Higher Education.  Zogby’s mid-year-budget briefing indicated that the Rendell administration was averaging $310-million dollars per year in state system capital project commitments; the Corbett administration’s goal is roughly $155-million dollars annually.

RadioPA Roundtable

Radio PA Roundtable 12.23.11

Radio PA Roundtable is a 30-minute program featuring in-depth reporting on the top news stories of the week. Professionally produced and delivered every Friday, Roundtable includes commercial breaks for local sale and quarterly reports for affiliate files.

Click the audio player below to hear the full broadcast:


Flurry of Bills Signed

In the wake of all the yearend legislative activity, Governor Tom Corbett signed 23 bills on Thursday.  Perhaps the most controversial new law (SB 732) will hold abortion facilities to the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers throughout the state.  “It is extremely disappointing that Governor Corbett signed this politically-motivated bill into law,” Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates Executive Director Sari Stevens said in a statement.  “Make no mistake, this new law has everything to do with politics.”

The bill was drafted in response to a grand jury’s tragic and filthy discoveries at one Philadelphia abortion clinic.  Supporters say it’s about safety.  But critics say the costly new regulations will actually close down safe abortion facilities, and ultimately jeopardize women’s health.  This new law takes effect in 180-days. 

Another new law will provide a boost to Pennsylvania’s one-million family caregivers.  The Pennsylvania Caregiver Support Act will increase the maximum monthly reimbursements from $200 to $500, and for the first time open up the program to caregivers who do not live in the same household.  “Here in Pennsylvania we had such restrictive eligibility requirements – one being that you had to live under the same roof – we were leaving about a million dollars on the table every year because families could not qualify,” says Vicki Hoak, executive director of the Pennsylvania Homecare Association.  The Caregiver Support Program is funded through Lottery dollars; it requires no new state spending.   

It’s going to be easier to buy beer on Sunday, with the enactment of HB 242.  Beer distributors will be allowed to be open from 9am until 9pm on Sundays, compared to the previous noon to 5pm restrictions.  “The legislature recognized that consumers are shopping at different hours, outside of traditional hours,” says Pennsylvania Malt Beverage Distributors Association President Mark Tanczos.  HB 242 will also allow restaurants to start serving alcohol earlier on Sundays, in order to accommodate the Sunday brunch crowd. 

Some of the other bills signed on Thursday will reauthorize Philadelphia’s Automated Red Light Enforcement System, enact a capital budget for the current fiscal year, and codify the new congressional maps.

New Teen Driver Law Takes Effect

Representative Katharine Watson

Pennsylvania’s new teen driver law took on Tuesday, December 27th and the state representative who fought for the changes believes it will make a difference.   

Representative Kathy Watson (R-Bucks) says studies show the greatest distraction for a new teen driver is other teens in the vehicle.   Under the changes, junior drivers will not be able to carry more than one passenger under age 18 who’s not an immediate family member for the first six months that they’re licensed. 

The law also makes seatbelt use a primary offense for junior drivers and passengers under age 18 and requires an additional 15 hours of supervised training, including night and poor weather driving.

Representative Watson says the more practice you have in different situations for that young driver, the more competent they will become.

Representative Watson worked for six years to get the changes in the law. She says it will give parents additional tools to help keep their young drivers safe. She says it also sends teens a message that a police officer could stop them, and issue a warning or a ticket, if they don’t buckle up or if they carry too many passengers.

Representative Watson says the bill includes a review provision.  In two years, they’ll look at the impact of the changes and see if additional steps must be taken.

Representative Watson says “we can’t design a law that will bring every young person home safely, but we’re starting a law that can bring more of them home safely.”  She says they’ll also review it to see if there’s more they can do.

State Police Plan Holiday Enforcement

Pennsylvania State Police are stepping up enforcement for the Christmas holiday, with extra patrols on the roads.

Troopers will focus on seatbelt and child safety seat use as well as driving under the influence enforcement. Spokesman Sgt. Anthony Manetta says drivers are asked to drive defensively, courteously and avoid distractions behind the wheel.

Sgt. Manetta adds that statistics show seatbelt use saves lives-so please use buckle up.

 The holiday travel period starts December 23rd.

Don’t Indulge, Imagine

A little imagination may be all it takes to resist those holiday treats, according to research out of Carnegie Mellon University.  Assistant Professor of Marketing Carey Morewedge tells us decades of research shows that ignoring your cravings won’t work.  So he set up a series of experiments that went in the opposite direction.

“When people think about eating a food repeatedly, in the same manner as they would actually think while eating the food, it seems to habituate them to the food,” professor Morewedge says.  “In other words it decreases their appetite for that food.” 

Morewedge ran five experiments with about 1,000 participants, which asked them to imagine eating various foods or doing various tasks.  He found that only people who imagined eating more of the food, subsequently ate less of it.  “For example, people who imagined eating 30 M&M’s ate fewer M&M’s than people who imagined eating three.” 

Morewedge stresses that this habituation technique will only work if you imagine eating the food that you’re about to eat.  He adds that it’s untested when it comes to eating a variety of foods at the same time – so you’re on your own at the Christmas buffet. 

More research on habituation is in the works, and Morewedge hopes to branch out and look at its impact on addictive substances like nicotine.

Getting the Most of Your Holiday Job Search

The holiday season can be a mixed bag for job seekers, according to Kevin Collins, Assistant Director of Carnegie Mellon University’s Career and Professional Development Center.  While the job boards may not be flush with openings this time of year, job seekers can take advantage of the lull.  “The best way to put it would be to reconnect, retool and reconsider,” Collins says. 

To reconnect could mean reaching out to contacts you’ve made over the course of the year.  “This is an ideal time to be doing that because, if it’s a business contact, a lot of times their inbox is not getting slammed like it is during the rest of the year.”

To retool, Collins tells us, is to evaluate your resume, cover letters, etc. to ensure they’re reflecting the skills and the message that you want to convey to potential employers.

To reconsider means just that.  If your job search is too narrow, you may want to start considering other industries or geographic regions. 

While Collins emphasizes networking, he warns of mixing your messages too much over the holiday season.  “You don’t want to send Christmas cards out to people and have your resume in it,” Collins quips.  “It’s a little too over the top.” 

Nearly a half-million Pennsylvanians are currently unemployed, according to the latest data from the state Department of Labor & Industry.  The statewide jobless rate has improved for two consecutive months; it now stands at 7.9%.