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Did you know that there are over 253 million cars and trucks on the roads in the US? While the vast majority of drivers get from A to B without any problems, there are thousands of crashes on the roads every year. Despite the prevalence of accidents on the roads, most people suffer from greater anxiety when faced with an airborne journey. If you’re a nervous flyer, you’re certainly not alone. A fear of flying is one of the most common phobias. If you drive or fly on a regular basis, you may be thinking about just how safe you are when you climb aboard that plane or get behind the wheel. This guide will tell you everything you need to know, and hopefully, put your mind at ease.

Driving safety: the facts

Owning a car

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 32,000 lives are lost in car crashes in the US per year. This equates to around 90 deaths on the roads every day. Driving carries a number of risks. The terrain can be tricky, the conditions may be poor, and there’s also a chance of mechanical failure. However, the overwhelming majority of accidents on US roads are caused by driver error. When you have a hold of that wheel, you are responsible not solely for your safety, but also that of your passengers, other drivers and anybody else who is in the area. Making mistakes can have serious repercussions. Of course, there’s always a chance that you’ll be injured by another driver’s negligence, and you can’t account for other people’s poor driving, but it always pays to be a careful driver yourself. You can seek advice from a firm like StephenBabcock.com if you have been injured by a negligent driver, but compensation is often of little comfort if you’ve sustained serious injuries. Rules and laws are there to protect drivers, but all too often, they are flouted, and by the time you realize that you could be a safer driver, it’s too late. If it’s been a while since you brushed up on the highway code, or you tend to take risks behind the wheel, think carefully about the other people on the roads the next time you fire up the engine.

The most common causes of road accidents include driving at high speeds, tiredness and a failure to be aware of your surroundings. If you go flying out of a junction without looking or you slow down or pull over without checking your mirrors and your blind spot, there’s every chance that you could hit another vehicle or even a pedestrian. Driving over the speed limit may affect your ability to control the vehicle, especially if you have to brake suddenly, and tiredness reduces awareness and concentration and increases reaction time. If you crash at high speed, the impact is also likely to be more severe. Other causes of accidents include drinking under the influence of alcohol or drugs and losing control of the car. This often occurs in bad weather when the surfaces of the road are slippery or wet.

Are you safe in the air?

Airplane Airport

If you’re afraid of flying, the news provides little comfort or reassurance. Sadly, when something goes wrong in the air, it tends to be a serious incident that attracts widespread media attention. If you think back over the years, you could be forgiven for thinking that there’s a real chance that your plane could go missing or come down. The truth of the matter is that flying is an incredibly safe mode of transport. Crashes are very rare. In 2016, around 3.5 billion people traveled by plane, and there were 325 fatalities, which occurred in 19 separate incidents. Although a plane crash is likely to be much more devastating than a car crash, the likelihood is so much lower. The trouble for most people is that the chance of survival is low. If you’re hit by another car when you’re driving, there’s a good chance that you’ll survive, even if you do sustain severe injuries. When you hear about plane crashes, it’s common to listen to reporters talking about entire crews and hundreds of passengers losing their lives. If you’re struggling to feel calmer about flying, you may find this article useful https://www.forbes.com/sites/lealane/2015/03/27/high-anxiety-comparative-stats-on-planes-flying-health-and-safety-in-the-wake-of-a-crash/#4c9cfa669f2b.

The most common reason people feel anxious about flying is the possibility of mechanical failure in mid-air. Although this is always a risk, the technology involved in manufacturing planes is so advanced these days that the risks are minimal. All planes should also be checked rigorously before take off to ensure they meet the required safety standards. It’s perhaps unsurprising that more and more passengers are suffering from anxiety linked to terrorism given events that have unfolded over the course of the last twenty years.

So, what is the safest way to get around?

It is estimated that your odds of being involved in a car crash are approximately 1 in 200. Most of us feel safer in a car than any other form of transport, but the statistics suggest we should think differently. The figures are 1 in 65,000 for a train accident and 1 in 7.6 million for a plane crash. If you’re nervous about flying, always remember that it’s by far the safest way to get around. Billions of people fly from A to B every year, with hundreds of planes taking off every second.

Many of us jump into the car and drive to work every day without a care in the world, but when it comes to flying, feelings of anxiety creep up on us. It’s natural to have fears, especially in the current climate, but the statistics suggest that we should feel safer on a plane than almost anywhere else. Next time you fly, remember that you’re almost certain to get to your destination safely. Put your feet up, take a nap, and try to relax.

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Student @ Advanced Digital Sciences Center, Singapore. Travelled to 30+ countries, passion for basketball.

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Are Robots Really Living Among Us?

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It’s been the staple of science fiction for decades. The notion that there will one day be robots living among us. Robots that are able to perfectly mimic human behavior but who are superiors in every way. Their strength supersedes ours, their intelligence makes our brightest minds seem infantile by comparison and they walk among us with their own agenda. Heck, in many iterations they’ve looked at our long and disastrous track record on this planet and decided that the world’s really much better off without us. But while they may permeate our popular culture, from The Terminator to Blade Runner to Avengers: Age of Ultron, real life robots have been too primitive to warrant the philosophical and moral quandaries that the world of fiction has written for them… Until now.

Meet Sophia

As of October this year, the world has just one robot who has been granted citizenship rights and that is the robot Sophia who was recently granted citizenship of Saudi Arabia. She is the first robot in the world to have achieved this status… But will she be the last? Sophia, while she represents a landmark in robotics and artificial intelligence, she is not the kind of autonomous artificial organism one might expect having watched Ex Machina. That said, she has demonstrated that she has an understanding of human social behaviours such as gestures and facial expressions and their meaning. Her open-source, cloud based AI is capable of learning and she has already demonstrated a sense of humor, an understanding of human speech patterns and the ability to be upset or offended. Her AI has been built around our most valuable and virtuous characteristics like compassion and kindness. She, like Ex Machina’s Ava (played by Alicia Vikander) has been modelled to be aesthetically beautiful and approachable and it’s telling that her appearance was crafted by former Disney Imagineer David Hanson. There’s clearly an effort at work to upend the uncanny valley with Sophia’s presence which raises some interesting questions about humanity’s prospective relationship with robots.

Robots and Transhumanism

Robots raise some interesting questions in the realm of transhumanism (the science and philosophy of using science to refine and redefine the parameters of what it is to be human). Transhumanism is unclear to most people with many misconceptions, but it has some clear views on the roles of robots in human evolution. Aside from the use of robotics for prosthesis and human enhancement, robotics may help humanity to advance itself by doing a lot of the “heavy lifting” in industry, agriculture and the various other ways in which humanity has traditionally sustained itself.

Our relationship with robots

While time will tell when it comes to specifics, there can be no denying that robots will be instrumental to human survival in an increasingly post-scarcity economy. Indeed, the rise of automation in a wealth of industries is hardly the stuff of science fiction. Sophia herself represents a specific example of Saudi Arabia’s attempt to move towards a post-oil economy as the nation (and the world) grows increasingly cognizant of the urgency with which our natural resources are depleting. There are many ways in which robots could change the world’s economies, making the prospect of Universal Basic Income more appealing to even the most fervent capitalists. As robots become more sophisticated and autonomous will we one day see a world like that of Wall E where robots do all our work for us leaving us with nothing to do but consume?

Only time will tell.

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What’s Involved in the Aftermath of a Crime Scene?

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We have almost all seen TV shows like CSI where the scene of a crime is examined to reveal clues as to who the perpetrator was, and while this is certainly a very interesting aspect of investigative work, it doesn’t really show us the whole story when it comes to what happens at a crime scene.

Crime Scene Clean-Up

When a crime that involves bodily damage has been committed, for instance an assault or murder, it can leave behind hazardous materials like blood and other bodily fluids which need to be appropriately cleaned up. This is also the case when someone has committed suicide, or when someone has died of natural causes at home in an unsupervised situation.

In these cases, the requirement to clean up after the event is handled in a similar way to when foul play is suspected, however, as the cleaning process does not begin until after the coroner or police ‘release’ the crime scene, meaning they have completed their own processes in terms of gathering and taking evidence.

Why Is This a Specialist Cleaning Job?

One might think that cleaning up things like blood after a crime would be no different to cleaning up bodily fluids in other situations, and be something that a non-specialist cleaner or the owner of the location could do. However, it is protocol to assume that crime scene biological waste may be infectious, and needs to be cleaned up and disposed of as a biohazard. There are companies who specialize in doing this, and depending on the state, they may need to be licensed by the Department of Health or be registered to transport hazardous waste with the Department of Transport.

The Cost of Crime Scene Clean-Up

Cleaning a crime scene and disposing of waste is a job done by private companies rather than the police, and while these companies do sometimes work in collaboration with government agencies (for instance when engaged to clean up materials at scenes of death where a potential Ebola outbreak was a concern). Professional crime scene cleaners are not government employees. This means that if you are the owner of a premises where crime scene clean-up is required, this is a service you need to pay for. Crime scene cleanup pricing does take into account the specialist nature of the job and the unpleasant scenes the workers may have to face, but is also designed to be as affordable as possible and may also be covered by insurance depending on the situation.

The All Clear

Crime scene clean up professionals are fast and efficient, and so if you ever find yourself in the situation of needing to use them, you shouldn’t need to stay off site for too long. However, it is vital that you and any other people outside of the cleaning team are kept away from the location until cleaning is officially completed and you have the all clear.

Crime scene clean up may not feature as often in TV dramas or movies as the evidence gathering phase of the aftermath of a crime, but it is still a very important part of the work!

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If Milennials Can’t Afford To Buy Homes, How Will The Next Generation Cope?

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Fewer young people are buying real estate than ever before – and it’s no mystery as to why. The average home in 1997 cost 3.6 times the average salary. Last year, a study found that the average home is now worth 7.6 times the average salary. The property boom has long since slowed down, but rather than plateauing as many expected, property prices seem to still be steadily increasing. If young people are struggling to get a foothold on the property ladder now, how will the next generation stand a chance?

Here are some solutions that are already being discussed now. Are they enough?

Those lucky will be able to inherit

Older generations are still buying property at a steady rate and fewer are downsizing. These properties then end up being inherited by the next generation who can choose to live in them (some may be mortgage-free) or sell them and buy their own property.

Of course, this doesn’t work in the long-term as it could mean owning a property becomes a privilege for the wealthy only. Inheritance tax could lead to each generation having to downsize. Besides who will be buying all the property for the remainder of people to rent?

Property investors will have to evolve

Fewer people will be able to become landlords as owning multiple properties becomes harder to do. Only rich investors and large property rental companies will be able to cope. Already, rental companies are struggling to buy housing for tenants. Some are finding creative solutions – the likes of California company Invitation Homes have found that by merging with another rental company they can share and lower running costs. This could result in a future of rental corporations the size of supermarket chains battling each other. Will this save the property market? Would a population of renters be a good thing?

Cheaper homes will have to be built

In many places, it’s a shortage of property that’s leading to such high prices. Without enough competition, property sellers can get away with charging more than the value of their home. Governments around the world are trying to build more housing, although in most cases it’s not enough or not the right kind of housing. People have to want to live in these homes after all – there have been too many cases of luxury apartments or cheap housing sitting empty because it was built in an inappropriate neighbourhood. Property planning companies like Ethical Property are behind this. Will less ethical property planners see the light, or will they continue to build properties for short-term gain?

Will there be a property price crash?

A property price crash could be around the corner, which could make properties cheap enough again for average people to get into property. However, this might not be a positive outcome for everyone. As the Dublin property crash showed, few young people were actually able to buy properties afterwards. Banks and mortgage lenders were destroyed by the crash and less willing to give out loans, whilst many property owners clung onto their properties – why sell if you’re then only able to buy a smaller home?

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