No. 248 September 2003

TRAFFIC CONGESTION Every street, road, and highway are designed and built to handle an expected volume of traffic; each one has its own capacity. Whenever the traffic demand approaches or exceeds that capacity there is congestion. Sometimes growth of the community and population density can bring constant and permanent congestion. Most frequently, highway congestion occurs when there is a temporary high volume of traffic due to holiday travel or any special community events which draw a large number of people. A highway’s capacity to handle traffic is also reduced by vehicle crashes, disabled vehicles, work zones, adverse weather and other spontaneous events which hinder the flow of traffic. Congestion is measured by “level of service, speed, travel time, and delay.” To learn more about congestion, go the Federal Highway Administration’s Congestion and Traffic http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/congestion/ website. For current information about the congestion occurring in a Local (City) areas go to What’s going on in my state?  which is a map of the United States. If you “click” on your state you will find a link to the State’s Department of Transportation website. The Kentucky website provides access to ARTIMIS (Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Regional Traffic Management System), TRIMARC (Louisville/Southern Indiana Traffic Information), and the Lexington Traffic Information Network. Under each Traffic Information System, there are links to current information on construction zones, congested areas, vehicle crashes/accidents, traffic cameras, and weather conditions. Similar links for every state provide current information about the congestion and traffic conditions whether you are traveling cross town or cross country. 

GENDER NEUTRAL LANGUAGE There are some federal agencies showing signs of acknowledging women in the written word. Congressional concern for legal clarity and “legalisms” leave little room for gender sensitivity. To quote: United States Code, Title 1, Chapter 1, “Rules of Construction,” Section 1. “Words denoting number, gender, and so forth: In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, unless the context indicates other wise [the third term in the list is that] “words importing the masculine gender include the feminine as well.” However, in 1993, the FEMA’S United States Fire Administration issued a report The Changing Face of the Fire Service: A handbook on Women in Firefighting shows a concern about gender http://www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/txt/publications/fa-128.txt. Military veterans now have spouses, not wives. In “Spouse and Surviving Spouse” the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) published a final rule replacing gender-specific language with gender-neutral language in the Federal Register, V. 62, No. 25, February 6, 1997, pages 5528-5530 (AE 2.106:62/25) to protect the benefits for female veterans, their dependents, or beneficiaries. Now that a woman’s work accessories may include safety lines and tool belts, NIOSH must adapt its terminology to include the increasing number of women in the construction workplace. Outdated is the signage: “MEN AT WORK.” The very last in the “List of Recommendations for NIOSH” found in the Study and Recommendations by the Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health regarding “Women in Construction Workplace: Providing Equitable Safety and Health Protection,” (Submitted June 1999) http://www.osha.gov/doc/accsh/haswicformal.html is that NIOSH should use gender neutral language. The gender neutral language recommendation is last, but it is there.

AUTOMOBILE CRASHES ARE NOT ACCIDENTS Vehicle accidents have been occurring since the first rider fell off his horse, two chariots collided in the Rome streets, or the first motorized vehicles collided in an American street. It was not until August 11, 1997 that the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration decided that “Crashes are not Accidents.” Motor vehicle crashes and injuries are predictable and preventable events. “Since we can identify the causes of crashes, we can take action to alter the effect, and avoid collisions. These events are not “acts of God” but predictable results of the laws of physics. The use of the term “Accident” promotes the concept that these events (that is, accidents) are outside of human influence or control. Since “Crashes Aren’t Accidents,” the NHTSA Traffic Safety Program Campaign of 1997 was initiated with the removal of “Accident” from the NHTSA vocabulary and any media or public NHTSA discussion of unintentional highway injuries. Instead of “accident” the use of terms such as “crash,” “collision,” “incident,” and “injury” was encouraged, since “Crashes Aren’t Accidents.”  There is an article “’Crashes Aren’t Accidents’” Campaign”by Pamela Anikeeff, NHTSA Now, V. 3, No. 11, August 11, 1997 pages 1-2, found on the NHTSA Now archival website at ( http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/nhtsa/announce/NhtsaNow/Archive/1997/v3.11/ ).  What does it mean that crashes are not accidents? The answer to the questions: Why is an automobile crash is not an accident? and Why are vehicle Accidents not accidents? did not come until 2003. Read on.

ERRORS & AUTOPSY OF A VEHICLE CRASH Autopsy, which translates literally into self + visible, is the through examination of an occurrence or event which reveals its reason(s) and cause(s). Since this author is not a vehicle crash specialist, an autopsy (of a crash) will not be performed, but we can discuss the reasons and causes to be considered in a vehicle crash. Some drivers involved in crashes are innocent victims, but “driver error is cited as the principal cause of from 45 to 75 percent of crashes.” Even though the degree of driver error in crashes may vary, over 90 percent of all crashes include driver error as a contributing factor. Also, driver error is the primary causal factor in almost half of all crashes. As a coroner dissects the corpse, the “crash incident” researcher dissects the vehicle crash. The latter examines the “traffic event” identifies the errors, analyzes them, and determines to what degree the driver and the environment exhibit correctable or uncorrectable errors. “Table 1- Overview of driver error and incident causation factors,” has four categories. I-Human Conditions and States such as A. Physical/Psychological, B. Mental/Educational, and C. Experience/Exposure; II -Human Direct Causes, such as A. Recognition Errors, B. Decision Errors, and C. Performance Errors. III -Environmental Factors include A. Highway Related, and B. Ambient Conditions; and IV -Vehicular Factors. The crash coroners who examine the vehicles and crash site will develop driver error taxonomies to determine the causes of the identified human and vehicle errors. These researchers will support the use of this analysis in future studies of vehicle crashes, and make recommendations for improvements in highway design and traffic control devices to correct environmental errors. Identification and Evaluation of Driver Errors: Overview and Recommendations, Final Report for research done from September 1997 to September 2001, by W. W. Wierwille, R.J. Hanowski, J.M. Hankey, (and 5 others), was issued in August, 2002 as Federal Highway Administration Report FHWA-RD-02-003. It is a 321 page report available in some Depository Libraries under TD 2.30:02-003. 

U.S. IMMIGRATION POLICIES: LATEST IS AN ELECTRONIC LOTTERY With the Immigration Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-649), and later amendments, there is a new class of immigrants known as “Diversity immigrants” (DV immigrants). The act makes available, annually, 50,000 permanent resident visas to persons from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. This legislation is intended to insure America’s racial and cultural diversity and provide a way prospective immigrants can emigrate to the United States. Instructions for participation in this program are found as a link from the introductory page Immigration through the Diversity Lottery now known at the U.S.A. Green Card Lottery http://www.usagreencardlottery.org/diversity-immigrant-visa/ . Since all applicants have to apply electronically, either the immigrant must be computer literate or know someone who is. There is also a link to the Federal Register Notice which provides Registration Instructions and Information for the 2005 Program. All visa applicants for the October 1 to December 30, 2003 application period, which is for the 2005 Program, are the first prospective immigrants who must apply electronically, whereas applicants for the earlier programs used paper forms. These immigrants are applying for “the chance” to be selected for a permanent visa, which allows them to bring their spouse and any children under 21 into the United States. The Diversity Visa Lottery Program was initiated with the first immigrants who applied on October 1, 2001 for participation in what would be the 2003 Program. The lottery results are for the DV 2003 and DV 2004 Programs Results are found on the Department of State web pages  linked to the above DV main page. 

IMMIGRATION POLICIES Did the American Indians who greeted the Pilgrims who landed in 1620 have an immigration policy? Emigration from Europe to Plymouth and Virginia Colonies grew from a few hundred people in 1608/1620 to about 15 million people by the middle 1800s. It was not until 1875 that the Supreme Court ruled that immigration was a Federal responsibility and the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) was created to monitor immigration. Then the INS enacted some memorable laws such as the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, and the Alien Contract Labor Laws of 1885 and 1887 which barred certain types of workers from coming into the United States. The Immigration Act of 1882 barred certain groups and charged a head tax of 50 cents. The Immigration Station in Ellis Island opened in 1892 to monitor the incoming immigrants. The Quota Act of 1921 and the Immigration Act of 1924 introduced the quota system as to what countries could send what number of immigrants into the United States each year. Many other acts have been passed which have shaped and molded U. S. immigration up through 1989. An Immigrant Nation: United States Regulation of Immigration, 1789-1991 published in June 1991 by the INS is 41 pages of fascinating history (J 21.2:Im6/14). In 2003, the INS issued a Commerative Edition of Retiring to a New Beginning, an Illustrated History of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (J 21.2: R 31/2). This new historical publication commemorates 112 years of existence and the transfer of the INS to the Department of Homeland Security. However, it does include many of the historical facts and information found in the 1991 edition. There is also an Overview of INS History by Marian L. Smith at http://uscis.gov/graphics/aboutus/history/articles/OVIEW.htm . Needless to say throughout America’s history, immigrants had many legal and policy obstacles, but did not need computers to apply for their immigration paperwork.

VETERANS CEMETERIES Most Americans know that Arlington National Cemetery is where America’s Unknown Soldier and other dead military veterans are buried. The Arlington Cemetery which you may know because it frequently makes the national news is one of 119 cemeteries in thirty-nine states and territories. The National Cemetery system also includes an additional thirty-three soldiers’ lots in private cemeteries, all containing more than 2.3 million remains of veterans and their families. All are operated by the National Cemetery Administration (NCA), a division of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The NCA has undertaken “The National Cemetery Administration Records Verification Project” to verify the burial records in its database. In 1993, the NCA installed a new computerized system of managing interment records. All the cemeteries have been using the new computer system, only some have completed the verification of their burial records and completely converted to the new computer system. Some cemeteries verifications projects are still pending completion and some cemeteries have not yet begun. The National Cemetery Administration Records Verification Project is presented in the news item at http://www.ancestry.com/library/print/news/articles/2117.htm. The NCA Project announcement leads to the United States Veterans website portal http://www.interment.net/us/nat/veterans.htm and to all the NCA burial records for America’s veterans. 

VETERANS CEMETERIES RECORDS ONLINE The United States Veterans Cemeteries webpage http://www.interment.net/us/nat/veterans.htm consists of a “Website Menu” of several auxiliary types of information and services for veterans’ burial records information. There is a list of the 39 States which have national cemeteries. The number of cemeteries found listed varies in each State’s page ranging from two in Alaska to six in California. Under each State, the cemeteries listed are links to the records for that cemetery. For each Cemetery, the address is given and a street map is provided. Local travel information is also provided for any prospective visitor. Next is a series of links to Surnames. A veteran’s entry includes the birth and death dates, followed by the branch of service and rank. Last are the burial plot number and the date buried. There are Civil War, World War I, World War II, and Korean War veterans. Within each of the 39 State pages, following its Surnames list is another list of complementary State (e.g. Kentucky) Genealogy Records which would useful for veterans’ records of the Colonial and pre-Civil War era. 

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February 6, 2004

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