GM Plans to Launch Hands-Free Driving by 2016

Originally posted by  CNET on September 7, 2014.
General Motors has announced it plans to introduce Cadillac models in two years that incorporate hands-free driving and Wi-Fi-enabled vehicle-to-vehicle communications to exchange traffic information with similarly equipped vehicles. GM’s “Super Cruise” semi-automated technology will automatically keep a vehicle in a specific, properly equipped freeway lane, making necessary steering and speed adjustments in bumper-to-bumper traffic or long highway trips.

“With Super Cruise, when there’s a congestion alert on roads like California’s Santa Monica Freeway, you can let the car take over and drive hands-free and feet-free through the worst stop and go traffic around,” said Mary Barra, GM CEO. “And if the mood strikes you on the high-speed road from Barstow, California to Las Vegas, you can take a break from the wheel and pedals and let the car do the work.”

However, unlike the driverless vehicle being tested by Google, GM’s system will require drivers to remain attentive and ready to resume control of the vehicle.

To see the full article, go to: www.cnet.com/


Bluetooth Sensors Constantly Check Car Tire Pressure, Send Alerts

Originally posted by CNET, on September 11, 2014.
“Always check your tire pressure.” It’s something parents teach kids during early driving lessons, and it’s something most kids quickly forget. Now, a new invention making a run on Indiegogo could play the role of a nervous parent for thousands of drivers out there by continuously monitoring tire pressure and relaying that information via Bluetooth to a smartphone or in-car receiver.

To use the system, drivers would unscrew the little black caps on their tires’ fill valves and replace them with round Fobo (“For Our Better wOrld”) tire sensors. Each sensor continuously monitors the pressure in its assigned tire, then uses Bluetooth to relay that information via smartphone app or to an in-car receiver. Because Bluetooth is a low-energy technology, the creators say the sensors will last about two years before the batteries need to be changed. Cost for the sensors will be around $90.

The creators are working on a lock nut that can only be removed with a special wrench that will help make the sensors as theft-proof as possible.

To see the full article, go to: www.cnet.com/


U.S. Dept. of Transportation Unveils New, Free, Online Search Tool for Recalls

U.S. Department of Transportation unveils new, free, online search tool for recalls using vehicle identification number.

Originally posted August 10, 2014 by U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Every year, millions of vehicles are recalled in the United States due to safety defects or noncompliance with federal safety standards. To help car buyers, owners and renters know that their vehicles are safe and their safety defects have been addressed, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has unveiled a new, free, online search tool consumers can use to find out if a vehicle is directly impacted by a recall.

The new tool is available on www.safercar.gov/vinlookup and provides consumers with a quick and easy way to identify uncompleted recalls by entering their Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). All major light vehicle and motorcycle brands can be searched.

To see the full press release, go to:www.nhtsa.gov/


GM Models First to Get Eye-Tracking Safety Tech?

Originally Posted by Left Lane News on September 2, 2014.
General Motors is reportedly on track to become the first automaker to bring eye-tracking safety tech to its lineup. Australian company Seeing Machines has partnered with supplier Takata to commercialize the technology, which monitors the driver’s gaze.

If the system determines that a driver is spending too much time looking down or to the side, it can activate an audible alarm as a reminder to pay attention to the road. Seeing Machines and Takata have not yet publicly disclosed which automakers are eyeing the technology, however unnamed sources told CNBC that GM will be the first customer.

Other companies will likely be watching to see if the system actually works, and if drivers view it as an annoyance rather than a welcome safety feature.

To see the full article, go to: www.leftlanenews.com/


New Data Shows U.S. Driving at Highest Level in Six Years

Originally posted August 9, 2014 by Federal Highway Administration.

WASHINGTON – New estimates released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) show that American driving between July 2013 and June 2014 is at levels not seen since 2008, fueling calls for greater investment in highways that must bear growing volumes of traffic.

“More people driving means our economy is picking up speed,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “It also means we need to increase our investment in transportation to meet this demand, which is why Congress needs to pass the President’s four-year, $302 billion GROW AMERICA Act.”

According to FHWA’s “Traffic Volume Trends” report – a monthly estimate of American travel – drivers in June 2014 logged 261.7 billion vehicle-miles traveled (VMT), the highest level for any June since 2010 and the biggest single-month gain this year. It is the nation’s fourth consecutive month of VMT growth.

Americans drove more than 2.97 trillion miles between July 2013 and June 2014, the most recent month for which data are available. In the first half of 2014, drivers traveled 1.466 trillion miles – the largest since 2010 and the fourth-highest in the report’s 78-year-history.

Traffic in the Northeast – a bloc of nine states including New York and New Jersey – rose to nearly 37 billion VMT, a gain of .7 percent over the previous June, ending the region’s seven-month decrease in vehicle traffic.

The new data show the South Atlantic region – a bloc of eight states stretching from Delaware to Florida, and including the District of Columbia– experienced the biggest regional single-month increase at 2 percent more VMT than the previous June.

At 4.5 percent more VMT than the previous June, Washington, D.C., led the nation with the largest single-state increase followed closely by Tennessee, who had a 3.7 percent gain that month.

“These data are critical to helping the nation’s leaders make informed decisions about critical infrastructure investments,” said Acting Federal Highway Administrator Gregory Nadeau. “To ensure our roads, bridges and tunnels can keep pace with the demands of the American public, greater investment is needed – and the ‘GROW AMERICA’ Act is a step in the right direction.”


Just Say 'No' to Co-Workers' Halloween Candy

Originally posted on  October 14, 2014 by Josh Cable on ehstoday.com.

Workplace leftovers might seem like one of the perks of the job. But when co-workers try to pawn off their Halloween candy on the rest of the department, it’s more of a trick than a treat.

Those seemingly generous and thoughtful co-workers often are just trying to keep temptation out of their homes.

“Not only does candy play tricks on your waistline, but it also turns productive workers into zombies,” says Emily Tuerk, M.D., adult internal medicine physician at the Loyola University Health System and assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

“A sugar high leads to a few minutes of initial alertness and provides a short burst of energy. But beware of the scary sugar crash. When the sugar high wears off, you’ll feel tired, fatigued and hungry.”

Tuerk offers a few tips to help you and others on your team avoid being haunted by leftover candy:

  • Make a pact with your co-workers to not bring in leftover candy.
  • Eat breakfast, so you don’t come to work hungry.
  • Bring in alternative healthy snacks, such as low-fat yogurt, small low-fat cheese sticks, carrot sticks or cucumber slices. Vegetables are a great healthy snack. You can’t overdose on vegetables.
  • Be festive without being unhealthy. Blackberries and cantaloupe are a fun way to celebrate with traditional orange and black fare without packing on the holiday pounds. Bring this to the office instead of candy as a creative and candy-free way to participate in the holiday fun.
  • If you must bring in candy, put it in an out-of-the-way location. Don’t put it in people’s faces so they mindlessly eat it. An Eastern Illinois University study found that office workers ate an average of nine Hershey’s Kisses per week when the candy was conveniently placed on top of the desk, but only six Kisses when placed in a desk drawer and three Kisses when placed 2 feet from the desk.

And if you decide to surrender to temptation and have a treat, limit yourself to a small, bite-size piece, Tuerk adds. Moderation is key.


Millennials under insured compared to other age groups

Originally posted August 27, 2014 by Chris McMahon on http://ebn.benefitnews.com.
Nearly a quarter of millennials, Americans between the ages of 18 and 29, lack health insurance according to a report from insuranceQuotes.com; and 16 percent of all adults do not have health insurance despite the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that all Americans have health insurance.

“A lot has been made of the so-called ‘young invincibles’ who are choosing to forgo health insurance,” said Laura Adams, senior analyst, insuranceQuotes.com. “This could be a costly mistake, especially because this group has easy access to health insurance. Young people typically pay much lower prices to obtain coverage via the health insurance exchanges and can receive subsidies depending on their income. Plus, they can stay on their parents’ health insurance policies until age 26.”

 

Millennials also are less likely than other age groups to own health, auto, life, homeowner’s, renter’s and disability insurance, according to the report. Some of the disparity can be attributed to living with their parents or having fewer assets to protect, insuranceQuotes.com said, but millennials appear to be under insured across all insurance lines.

 

“Fewer Gen Yers are buying houses and more are living at home with their parents,” said Kile Lewis, co-CEO and co-founder of oXYGen Financial, a financial planning firm serving generations X and Y. “But only 12 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds have renters insurance despite the fact that almost four out of five adults under 25 live on their own, and two-thirds of adults ages 25 to 29, rent their homes, according to a report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.”

Highlights from the report:

  • 95 percent of millennials said their overall financial security is very or somewhat important, almost the same number as consumers aged 30 to 64.
  • 12 percent of millennials have renter’s insurance.
  • 64 percent of millennials lack life insurance. The most common objection is that it costs too much.
  • 36 percent of millennials do not have auto insurance, which could be attributed to declining numbers of young adult drivers.
  • 10 percent of millennials have homeowners insurance, compared to half of consumers ages 30 to 49, and 75 percent of those 65 and older.
  • 13 percent of millennials have disability insurance, compared with 37 percent of those 30 to 49.

“Despite all of this evidence that millennials do not have a lot of insurance, most millennials are confident they are prepared for the financial consequences of car accidents, having their belongings stolen, incurring substantial medical bills or becoming disabled,” InsuranceQuotes said. “Sixty percent of 18-29 year-olds are either very or somewhat confident that they are prepared for those risks; older adults are equally confident in their own preparations.”

The survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, and findings are based on responses from 1,003 adults in the continental United States. Statistical results were weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies; the margin of sampling error for the complete set of weighted data is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points,

 


How baby boomers stay resilient

Originally posted June 30, 2014 by Emily Holbrook on www.lifehealthpro.com.

As the youngest group of baby boomers approaches 50, a new study shows how the generation stays resilient in the face of challenges. The Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence and the MIT AgeLab Resilience in Midlife study found that:

  • The most resilient adults have a strong sense of self-efficacy or the belief that they are able to manage through difficult transitions.
  • Participating in entertainment activities and hobbies is the most common way that all adults in the study cope with stress. However, the most resilient adults are more likely to participate in physical activity than less resilient adults (70 percent versus 42 percent).
  • Social connections and support are also common among the most resilient people. Sixty percent of the most resilient adults talk to or spend time with friends as a way to cope with stress, compared with 35 percent of the less resilient individuals.
  • Ninety-four percent of the most resilient people reported that they are very or somewhat happy, compared with only 32 percent of the less resilient people in the survey.
  • Thirty-four percent of the most resilient people reported that they are not stressed at all, compared with 6 percent of the less resilient people in the survey.
  • Adults in their 60s reported higher levels of resilience, compared with people in their 40s and 50s.

For boomers, the most stressful aspects of their lives revolve around personal finances, according to the study. This type of stress can be relieved, at least in part, by following the advice and guidance of a professional financial advisor. Other ways to boost resilience in boomers include:

  • Physical: Be active. Adults in our study who were more resilient reported higher levels of physical activity. Walking was listed as the top activity that resilient people participate in to help cope with stress. Whether it’s taking a walk, exercising, doing yoga or playing sports, being active is associated with resilience.
  • Social: Stay connected to your friends and family. The most resilient adults in our study reported higher rates of spending time or talking with friends and family. Are there friends and family you are close to and have important conversations with? Keep those connections strong. Whether it’s talking on the phone, meeting for a meal, or just hanging-out, talk to the people in your network you rely on and who support you.

Personal: Develop the inner qualities that build resilience. Resilience is comprised of 5 key elements: family and social networks, perseverance, coping, focus of control (belief in your ability to control the situation) and self-efficacy (a belief that you are able to manage through difficult situations). In our research, we found that the most resilient adults reported a high level of self-efficacy. They are confident that they can deal with the stressors they face in the midst of life events.


Fast-rising medical ID theft hits employers hard

Originally posted May 22, 2014 by Alan Goforth on www.benefitspro.com.

About the last thing companies dealing with the complexities of implementing Obamacare need right now is to have the security of their employees’ medical information compromised. However, statistics show that is exactly what is happening.

“Medical identity theft is a rapidly spreading malady, often by organized-crime rings,” said James Quiggle, spokesman for the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, a nonprofit alliance of carriers, consumer groups and government agencies in Washington, D.C. ”Data breaches in this era of digital record-keeping can drain businesses and make employee records as vulnerable as patients.”

More than 1.8 million Americans were victims of medical identity theft in 2013, a crime that is increasing at an annual rate of 32 percent. This makes it the fastest-growing type of identity theft, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center in San Diego.

Medical ID theft is already a multibillion-dollar industry. For the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2013, the federal government alone recovered a record $4.3 billion from people and companies that attempted to defraud health-care programs, according to the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Stealing enough personal information to purchase services or devices is not difficult for a sophisticated identity thief, said Drew Smith, founder and CEO of Scottsdale, Ariz.-based InfoArmor (pictured at left). His company has provided B-to-B clients with protection against various types of ID theft since 2007.

“You can go online and readily purchase someone’s basic identity information for about $50,” he said. “You usually don’t need a lot of identification to receive medical care. Most identity thieves are not using it for primary care. It’s going for things such as medical devices, prescription drugs or other areas where there is less likely to be a personal relationship with the provider.”

Hidden employer costs

Statistics rarely account for the hidden cost of lost productivity when an employee has been victimized. Dealing with the fallout can be a painstaking, time-consuming process. The average medical identity theft loss is $22,346 – six times higher than financial identity theft. Also, on average, it takes victims more than a year to clear up medical records and repair any damage to their credit.

“Employees have to deal with identity theft issues immediately, which requires time off work and lost productivity, because some banks and agencies may be open only on work days,” Smith said. “Most medical ID thefts go undetected for a year. It’s not like credit card fraud, where you usually are notified quickly if someone tries to use a stolen card. Because of the way medical records are stored, they are extremely fragmented and hard to fix when you find out. That’s why reducing the risk of medical identification theft can help a business’s bottom line.”

Employers may be surprised to learn that medical identity theft may be as likely to occur from within their organization as from outside.

“Fifty percent of medical ID claims are considered `friendly fraud’,” Smith said. “For example, an employee’s brother may be out of work and they allow him to use their insurance card, or a family member borrows it without permission.”

Best defenses

Although eliminating medical ID theft may be impossible, businesses do have effective options to significantly reduce risks and quickly detect breaches. “Managers must implant internal controls and train employees to harden their protection of personal data,” Quiggle said. “Protocols to protect against insider theft are especially important.”

One of the most successful defenses costs nothing to implement.

“The No. 1 thing to emphasize with employees is to be smart about their user names and passwords,” Smith said. “Many people use the same ones for multiple sites, such as health care, banking and payroll information. Identity thieves are pretty adept at stealing credentials and often use them to steal from more than one account.”

Early notification of security breaches also is critical. “Timeliness is key,” he said. “Most explanations of insurance benefits don’t come for 30 to 90 days, but we can provide real-time alerts.”

Companies such as InfoArmor can provide several levels of protection. “The entry level (service) is monitoring personal and insurance carrier information,” Smith said. “We can alert employees daily to a potential compromise of their information online.”

The next level is to search the Internet and other networks for employees’ potentially exposed medical information that may be bought or sold. InfoArmor’s service providers also evaluate medical professionals who submit claims.

“We are able to do scoring behind the scenes to identify doctors with a record of fraudulent claims who may present a high risk,” Smith said. “Finding these fraudulent doctors often is like looking for a needle in a haystack, but we can help make the haystack much smaller.”

InfoArmor is testing a new service that it calls ID Verification, which uses information from dozens of public record databases to enable providers to confirm a patient’s identity before services are administered.

“The newest services are the most employee-focused,” Smith said. “We can determine which employees have a greater inherent risk and monitor their claims data daily. We look for certain flags, such as care being received farther from home, durable medical equipment being purchased in their name or a high volume of paperwork over a short period of time. We then can issue an alert. And we are careful to do everything in a HIPPA-compliant manner.”

Smith said it is still too early to judge the potential impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) on the incidence of medical identity theft. But for employers seeking ways to reduce medical identity theft and its repercussions on employees, the best offense is a good defense.

“Don’t believe people who try to tell you they can prevent identity theft, because they probably are lying,” he said. “Because theft is not going away, the solution is to detect digital crimes faster.”