Thursday, October 02, 2008
Four factors that contribute to a safer drive
By Anthony Policastro, M.D

The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute did a study a few years ago. They put cameras in vehicles. They then studied the behavior of drivers just before they were involved in crashes. It was similar to what the FAA does with the black boxes in an airline crash. They found that there were several behaviors that increased the risk of accidents. The first of those was speeding. The risk of accident actually triples when someone speeds. It does this by several means. It makes it harder to steer safely. It makes stopping distance longer. It makes it harder to react quickly to avoid crashing. The faster you go, the more lethal it can be. When a car crashes, the forces of the crash are related to the weight of the car multiplied by the speed of the car. An increase in speed from 50 mph to 55 mph increases crash impact by 21%. An increase in speed from 50 mph to 60 mph increases crash impact by 44%. Various other studies have shown that speeding is the biggest cause of death in an accident. The data suggest that a 10% reduction in speed can reduce fatal crashes by 34%. The second factor was falling asleep at the wheel. It also triples the risk of being involved in a crash. About half of drivers indicate that they have driven when drowsy. In fact 37% have reported actually falling asleep at the wheel. Those numbers are the same for teen drivers. It is not just adults who have this problem. About 4% of all police reported crashes involve drowsiness as the number one factor. However, it is likely that the number is much higher since many people will not admit to drowsiness being the culprit. For example, in England the number is closer to 15% of crashes. The third factor was inattentive driving. This results in a nearly doubling of the rate of crashes. Distracted drivers are less likely to be aware of their surroundings. They are less likely to be aware of risks. Their reaction times are more likely to be delayed. You only have to watch someone drive down the road talking on a cell phone to realize this. In a National Highway and Safety Administration study, they caused 644 crashes. In addition to cell phones there are other distractions that occur in a vehicle. These include talking with passengers (375 crashes). They include reaching for objects (200 crashes). They include working the vehicle controls (175 crashes). They include eating and drinking (150 crashes). They include tending to personal hygiene (150 crashes). The fourth factor was aggressive driving. This also doubled the risk of an accident. Signs of an aggressive driver include things like rude gestures. They include verbal abuse. They include flashing lights. They include aggressive tailgating. They include unsafe lane changes. They include deliberately blocking other drivers from changing lanes. They include driving at unsafe speeds for the road conditions. They include driving as unsafe speeds for the locality (e.g., children present). If you are guilty of any of these things, then you need to address your driving habits. Accidents are usually preventable. The most risky thing that we do is drive. It still accounts for the most deaths in individuals ages 1 through 35. There are at least four factors that we can control. There are at least four factors that we should control. We need to make sure we stay alive. We need to make sure our loved ones who ride as passengers stay alive.

Nanticoke to present Tributes and honor two Hall of Fame inductees

Nanticoke Health Services has announced the recipients of the 4th Annual Nanticoke Tributes for Healthcare Leadership. The Nanticoke Tributes honor individuals who have made significant contributions to the provision and improvement of healthcare in western Sussex County. The awards will be presented at a dinner and reception on Thursday, Nov. 13 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Heritage Shores in Bridgeville. The Founders Award will be presented to Louise Riddle Hanson and W. Allen "Skip" Hastings. Louise Riddle Hanson is being honored for providing nursing care at the hospital and serving as the first director of nursing at Nanticoke Memorial. W. Allen "Skip" Hastings is being honored for the instrumental role he played in the founding of the hospital. This award will be presented posthumously to the Hastings family. The Charles C. Allen Jr. Philanthropy Award is being awarded to Frank "Snubby" Anderson. Anderson has been an important part of Nanticoke for over two decades. He has served on the hospital board of directors and development committee. The Nanticoke Tributes will also recognize the two new inductees into the Nanticoke Physicians Hall of Fame. This award recognizes and honors physicians who have served their communities with dedication and distinction. This year, Martin J. Cosgrove, MD and Mario M. Rosales, MD will be presented with the Hall of Fame Award. Tickets are $100 and may be purchased by calling 302-629-6611, ext. 2404.

Nanticoke offers safe sitter classes Safe Sitter classes for girls and boys ages 11 to 13 will be offered at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital. The two-day course will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 13 and Saturday, Oct. 18. The Safe Sitter program is a medically-accurate instructional series that teaches kids how to handle emergencies when caring for younger children. The cost is $50. Participants are to bring a bag lunch. To register, call 629-6611 ext. 2540. All medical information will be taught by a certified professional. During the course, students get hands-on practice in basic life-saving techniques so they are prepared to act in a crisis. Instructors also provide tips to make sitters more confident caregivers. They teach safety and security precautions, such as what to do if a stranger comes to the door and when and how to call for help. They give information on child development and suggest age-appropriate activities. Participants will also learn about the business aspects of babysitting. For more information, contact Nanticoke Memorial Hospital at 629-6611, ext. 2540.

Nanticoke offers flu shots Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Occupational Health will offer flu shots to the public at Nanticoke Mears Health Campus (across from Seaford Post Office) on the following dates: Wednesday, Oct. 29 and Wednesday, Nov. 5 - 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; 4 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 31 and Friday, Nov. 7 - 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 6 - 4 to 7:30 p.m. The cost is $20. Medicare billing is available with proof of Medicare insurance. Pre-registration is required. The vaccine is not recommended for anyone under the age of 18; it is recommended for elderly and high-risk individuals. Large outbreaks of influenza usually do not occur before December and reach a peak between late December and early March, and many continue into the spring. The duration of protection conferred by the influenza vaccine generally begins one to two weeks after injection and may last six months or longer. To schedule an appointment, call Nanticoke Occupational Health at 629-6611, ext. 8682.

Cancer Center celebrates five years On Sept. 30, 2003, Nanticoke's Cancer Care Center treated its first cancer patient. In honor of the Center's five-year anniversary, the community is invited to attend a celebration on Monday, Oct. 13 from 4 to 6 p.m. at Nanticoke's Cancer Care Center, located next to the hospital. The event includes tours and refreshments. Located within a tranquil setting, Nanticoke's Cancer Care Center is designed to help you feel comfortable during every phase of treatment. Chemotherapy suites have a view of the Nanticoke River. For more information, call 628-6344 or visit

Dr. Hashmi receives certification The American Board of Family Medicine announces the completion of its certification examination by Dr. Salman F. Hashmi. Board certification confers a standard of excellence in knowledge and practice to physicians who not only certify via the examination process, but who also work diligently on the maintenance of these skills during the seven-year cycle between examinations. To achieve recertification by the ABFM, a family physician must verify the completion of 300 hours of acceptable continuing medical education over the past six years; possess a full and unrestricted license to practice medicine in the United States; and successfully complete a one-day, written examination of cognitive knowledge and problem-solving abilities. Dr. Hashmi, whose practice is located at 1320 Middleford Rd. in Seaford, is accepting new patients. To reach his office, call 302-628-4231.

Women's Expo planned The Women's Wellness Expo, "Powerful Women: Shaping Our Lives, as We Shape Ourselves," is Friday, Oct. 24 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Dover Downs Hotel. The cost is $30 which pays for lunch, screenings, speakers, educational sessions and handout materials. For more information or to register, call the Expo at 302-744-4700.

A.W.A.K.E. group to meet "Alert, Well and Keeping Energetic" (A.W.A.K.E.) will meet at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Medical Staff Conference Room on Monday, Oct. 6, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. There is no cost to attend and membership is not required. Refreshments will be served. A.W.A.K.E. is a health awareness and support group for people with sleep apnea and other sleep disorders, as well as their family and friends. The purpose is to provide support through education, idea sharing and information among people who are affected by sleep apnea and other sleep disorders. For more, call Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Sleep Disorders Center at 629-6611 ext. 3815 or email

La Red holds fundraiser Seacrets of Ocean City and Ocean 98.1 FM WOCM have joined with Nanticoke Hospital, Sussex Surgical, Bassett Furniture and Beebe Medical Center to promote a fall fundraiser for La Red Health Center at Seacrets in Ocean City on Sunday, Oct. 5 from 1 to 6 p.m. La Red Health Center, the only federally qualified health center in Sussex County, was established in 2001 to serve all members of the community, especially those who are underinsured, uninsured or face other barriers to medical care. Event organizers are selling $100 tickets which entitle ticket holders to the entrance fee, a buffet lunch, a chance to win $500, and a chance to win the $10,000 grand prize. Only 250 tickets will be sold. To purchase these tickets, contact Marilyn at 302-855-1233. You do not have to be present the day of the fundraiser to be eligible to win the raffle. General admission tickets which include a buffet lunch are also available for $15. For more information about La Red Health Center, call 855-1233 or visit

Annual Redden Ride/Walk planned Southern Delaware Therapeutic & Recreational Horseback Riding, Inc. is hosting their 6th Annual Fall Redden Ride/Walk on Sunday, Oct. 19 at Redden State Forrest Park in Georgetown. Join us for a beautiful trail horse ride or walk. Rain date is Sunday, Oct. 26. This event benefits Southern Delaware Therapeutic & Recreational Horseback Riding, a non-profit organization that has been providing equine-assisted therapy to children and adults with disabilities in Sussex County for almost 20 years. Registration begins at 10 a.m. and lunch is provided by Jimmy's Grille. There will be raffles, trivia games and a Finders Keepers Trail. The registration fee is $30 for riders ages 14 and up, $20 for riders ages 13 and under and $20 for walkers. Lunch is included. For more information, call 302-644-1920 or visit If you are unable to participate but would like to make a donation, you may do so online or through the mail at SDTRHR, P.O. BOX 219, Nassau, DE 19969.

Golf outing benefits Hospice The Delaware Hospice Golf Outing is Monday, Oct. 6 at Cripple Creek Golf and Country Club in Dagsboro. Ê For a team of four, the fee is $500 or $125 per person, which includes green fees, cart, box lunch, refreshment cart and awards reception with heavy hors d'oeuvres. The format will be a scramble. Registration begins at 10 a.m. followed by lunch at 11 a.m. The game will begin with a shotgun start at noon. The award reception will begin at 5:30 p.m. Sponsorships are available. Funds raised will help Delaware Hospice continue to provide a high standard of excellence in the programs and services it provides to Kent and Sussex Counties. For more, contact Peggy Dolby, assistant director of development, at 856-7717, ext. 2123, or visit

Horseback group receives donation Southern Delaware Therapeutic & Recreational Horseback Riding (SDTRHR) received a $600 donation from Saint Peter's Episcopal Church Women in Lewes. SDTRHR's mission is to provide equine-assisted therapy to children and adults (ages 6 to 58) with special needs. SDTRHR is one of 700 in the world and the only one in Sussex and Kent counties. Therapy with horses is highly effective because the horses' gait is the closest replicating movement to the human gait; thereby, increasing balance and muscle strength often better than traditional therapies. For more information, visit or call 644-1920.

Walk for breast cancer planned On Thursday, Oct. 2 at 7 p.m., the community is invited to join Nanticoke's Cancer Care Center, the American Cancer Society and the City of Seaford for a vigil walk to Seaford's Gateway Park with lighted pink candles to kick off "Making Strides Against Breast Cancer - Sussex County: A Hot Pink Community". Governor Ruth Ann Minner will participate and present a proclamation. A wreath will be placed in honor of survivors and in memory of those who lost their battles with breast cancer. Community members are encouraged to wear pink during the walk from the Cancer Care Center to Gateway Park. During the month of October, Nanticoke Memorial Hospital Campus and Mears Health Campus will be "turning pink". Several activities are planned to provide cancer awareness. For more information, contact Ms. Melinda Huffman, cancer screening nurse, at 302-629-6615, ext. 3765.

Senates passes Michelle's Law Delaware Congressman Mike Castle praised the Senate's recent passage of H.R. 2851, Michelle's Law, which is legislation introduced by Reps. Castle and Hodes (D-NH) that would allow seriously ill or injured college students to take up to one year of medical leave without losing their health insurance. The measure now goes to President Bush for his approval. Michelle's Law is inspired by the life and the memory of Michelle Morse, who was a full-time college student when she was diagnosed with colon cancer and died as she struggled to attend classes full-time to maintain her health insurance. Michelle's Law passed the U.S. House of Representatives with an overwhelming bipartisan majority on July 30. The bill was referred to the Senate on July 31.