Fourth of July
Practice safety on the holiday
The Fourth of July is a time of celebration. But the holiday also brings anxiety about traffic and intoxicated drivers. Unfortunately, auto safety is getting even more complicated, with emerging risks that are making our roads more dangerous.
The good news is that ridesharing has added another option to discourage drunken driving. And our vehicles are getting dramatically safer with sophisticated crash avoidance technology. Yet nationwide, auto accidents have increased 14 percent over the past two years — the biggest increase in over half a century. Last year, 4.6 million people were significantly injured on the roads, a 31 percent increase over the last seven years and a 12 percent increase since 2014. Florida, in particular, is one of the states dealing with some of the largest spikes in accident rates.
Distractions due to smartphones are some of the leading causes for these accident trends. Impaired driving threats also are changing. As states liberalize marijuana laws and the opioid abuse epidemic spreads, law enforcement needs effective impairment testing capabilities and appropriate standards.
Our nation has come a long way over the last few decades in raising awareness about drunken driving. Now it's time to look at the changing impairment landscape. Let's do our part to keep the roads safe not just for this holiday but every day.
Logan McFaddin, Tallahassee
The writer is regional manager for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America.
Health care bill
Four practical improvements
The Senate's version of the health care bill attempts to rein in costs by limiting services and denying or restricting affordable care to the most vulnerable.
Here are four changes the Senate can implement to ensure affordable health care for everyone. 1) Set caps on fees for services and procedures. 2) Set caps on prescription drug prices. 3) Establish incentives for providers to ensure positive outcomes that include counseling and follow-up to ensure patients are following their doctor's recommendations. 4) Means-test insurance premiums.
With these changes, people can still choose plans that are right for them and private insurers can continue to be the administrators of the plans. Making plans within financial reach of all is essential.
Cindy Deadman Maxwell, Clearwater
Dems' 2018 reality is grim | June 25
Things don't look that bad
A recent column from Adam Smith suggests that Democratic prospects for 2018 seem bleak. I respectfully disagree.
Since the election of Donald Trump in November, there has been a huge groundswell of support for both moderates and progressives throughout the nation, including Florida. Throughout Pinellas County, local Democratic organizations have witnessed a surge in membership. Then there was the Women's March in January.
Or course, the trick is both maintaining this energy and harnessing it into activism, as well as recruiting qualified candidates in every race and adequately funding them. On all of these fronts, the Florida Democratic Party and its local affiliates are working feverishly to tackle these tasks.
Bernard Fensterwald, Dunedin