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Super Bowl risks

A letter in the New England Journal of Medicine finds that there is a 41% greater chance of a car crash in the four hours after the Super Bowl game in the US than at any other time... including new year. Although, predictably, alcohol figures heavily, the authors also blame fatigue and driver distraction. The most intriguing aspect of the report is that the risks are greater in the states of the losing teams but applies equally to both sexes and all age groups (Redelmeier DA, Stewart CL. Driving fatalities on Super Bowl Sunday.

Stomach starter

A mother whose baby swallowed part of her electronic car key managed to start her car by pressing the boy’s stomach close to the steering wheel as she turned the key. She had called her breakdown service when her car refused to start after a shopping trip. The mechanic thought the battery was flat but then noticed that part of the key—a tiny radio transponder—was missing. Baby Oscar was the chief suspect, so the mechanic suggested a solution. “She sat him on her lap and made sure that his tummy was pressed against the wheel” he said. “She turned the key and the car started. It was the oddest breakdown I have been to” (from Sunday Times (London), contributed by Mike Hayes).

Dry snowmobiles?

This is a man-bites-dog story: Generally, special interest groups (like the NRA) tend to oppose regulations affecting the safety of their members. In an unusual twist, after four deaths involving snowmobilers in Quebec, it was snowmobile clubs that called on the government to make it illegal to use a snowmobile after consuming alcohol. And, in a step larger than that applied to car drivers, they pushed for zero as the limit! In his infinite wisdom, the junior transport minister disagreed, preferring to “educate, sensitize, and persuade”. Evidence based policy making, indeed! (contributed by Barry Pless).

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