Autonomous Car Crashes: What Causes Them?

Some would say it was bound to happen eventually. In March, the ridesharing platform Uber made the news in spectacular fashion when one of its self-driving prototype vehicles struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona. In theory, at least, autonomous cars are supposed to make us safer because human error gets removed from the equation. This accident underscores that developers may still be far from realizing that goal—and critics have already used the incident as a push to eliminate autonomous vehicles completely. So if autonomous (i.e., self-driving) vehicles are programmed properly, why would they ever be involved in an…

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Thinking of Getting a Hoverboard for Your Child? Think Again…

Since hitting the market in 2015, the self-balancing scooters commonly called hoverboards have been seeing their reputation worsen almost by the day. Most of us have heard the reports of some of these products spontaneously catching fire or exploding due to overheating lithium batteries, prompting several airlines and transit authorities to ban them completely. As recently as last November, the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued yet another recall on numerous brands of hoverboards over fire dangers. However, fire isn’t actually the biggest threat a hoverboard poses to your child—at least from a statistical point of view. It’s injury due to…

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Medical Implant Devices and the FDA: User Beware? (part 2)

We previously discussed an ongoing public health concern where the FDA’s approval process for medical devices appears to be dangerously lacking—to the point that many devices get released to market without a clinical trial. What does this truth mean for you or your loved ones who might need an implanted medical device? What steps can you take to stay safe? Do Your Own Research If your doctor recommends a certain medical device, you don’t have to assume it’s safe because your doctor says so. Find out about the device—not just what it is and what it does, but who makes…

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Medical Implant Devices and the FDA: User Beware? (part 1)

When the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approves a medical device designed to improve your health, can you assume the device is safe? Not so fast, according to some critics. Modern medicine relies more and more on implantable medical devices to help certain patients—from artificial hips and knees to coronary stents and pacemakers, from cataract lenses to breast implants. Yet remarkably, as author/reporter Jeanne Lenzer points out in a recent interview, less than 1 percent of FDA-approved medical devices even undergo clinical trials. (By comparison, drugs must go through at least two trials prior to approval.) Even devices considered…

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