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Orange County residents had more to fear last Halloween weekend than scary costumes and haunted houses after five pedestrians and bicyclists were struck and killed in less than forty-eight hours. One accident in Santa Ana left locals especially horrified: on Halloween night a speeding driver struck three teenage trick-or-treaters and fled the scene, leaving them to die in the street. Once authorities apprehended the driver they discovered that he had been driving on a suspended license from an August conviction for hit-and-run and DUI and that he had an extensive criminal record.


How Common Is Hit-and-Run in Orange County?

Although we hear about hit-and-run accidents in the news somewhat frequently, Orange County ranks just below average for its incidence of such collisions, placing 22nd in a comparison of 58 counties in a California Office of Traffic Safety ranking system in which 1st place is considered the worst. Hit-and-run was a factor in 935 of the crashes that resulted in injury or death in the county that year. Compare this to Los Angeles County, which ranked the 2nd worst for hit-and-run and where it was a factor in 5,893 crashes.

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We’ve been writing a lot about Uber lately-and not good things. First we told you about drivers attacking and attempting to sexually assault passengers in San Francisco and Los Angeles; and then we shared that authorities in both of these cities were targeting Uber, Lyft, and other ride-sharing companies for misleading customers about how thoroughly they were conducting criminal background and driving record checks on their drivers. Now there are two more reasons not to use Uber: its drivers are still sketchy and so is its surge-pricing strategy.


Uber Driver Reportedly Kidnapped Passenger

SFGate reported today that a woman requested an Uber car to drive her home from a party but was instead taken almost 20 miles out of her way to a dark, empty parking lot. It was the middle of the night, and, when she tried to exit the vehicle, the driver locked the doors. He finally relented and took her home after she began screaming and causing a commotion. When the woman reported the terrifying incident to Uber, the ride-sharing company sent her an email apologizing for the ‘inefficient route.’ Uber responded that its “driver called 911 to ask for assistance with an intoxicated rider who requested an extended trip,” that night. Despite this contradictory information, the company has refunded the woman for the ride.

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English: A car with a parking ticket in Tel Aviv

English: A car with a parking ticket in Tel Aviv (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have you ever spent a seeming eternity circling city blocks looking for parking and then, once you’ve finally found a free spot, been baffled by signage giving you conflicting information as to whether or not you can even park there? We’ve all been there, right? Well, thanks to the efforts of some City Council members, Los Angeles parking conditions could improve soon.

Yesterday, City Council members asked transportation officials to approve two programs that could ease Los Angeles parking conditions by providing drivers with less confusing signs and prohibiting the use of mobile apps to auction off metered parking spots for profit, reported the Los Angeles Times. A local graphic artist has created a grid-like format for the new signs that divides parking restrictions by day and hour and uses green and red time blocks to indicate when it’s permissible to park. The Department of Transportation will test the new design out over the next 45 days prior to issuing its approval. The Times did not indicate when a decision on the ban on selling public parking places would be made.

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Los Angeles Times Building, downtown Los Angeles

Los Angeles Times Building, downtown Los Angeles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Catching a cab can be challenging, costly, and sometimes an all-around bad experience if the driver is rude. For years, that was our only option. Getting a lift in a stranger’s car was, understandably, considered dangerous and out of the question-if we recall correctly, it even had a name: hitchhiking. Technology has brought us a long way, though, and now ride sharing services are so pervasive we’re often finding ourselves accidently hopping into the first Prius we see thinking it’s our Lyft driver. Unfortunately, despite assurances of thorough criminal background checks from these companies, their drivers’ records may not be as clean as they’ve led us to believe.

Ride Sharing Companies Under Fire for Misleading Customers

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I was introduced to this terrible condition two years ago. So why discuss this today? How is it relevant to you? Please take a moment to read on.

A good friend started having breakouts that caused him to feel like bugs were crawling under his skin. He became quite sick, as did a family member. Soon, he was at the doctor’s office and undergoing multiple tests.

Eventually, all the tests came back normal. He had neither a virus nor an apparent bacterial infection nor elevated chemical panels in his liver or kidneys. The doctors threw up their hands saying, “We do not know what it is.”

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Privacy is fleeting these days. A Google search of almost anyone will yield at least a few results, in many cases from social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. The widespread attention one Riverside beauty contestant received on YouTube would have probably been welcome had it not resulted in a year in county jail, three years probation, and $24,000 in restitution-if she’s convicted of Workers’ Compensation Fraud.

Last March, 22-year-old Shawna Lynn Palmer, a clerk for Stater Brothers, claimed to have fractured her toe, insisting she couldn’t put weight on her foot or wear a shoe. Not long after making these claims, and while collecting workers’ comp benefits, Palmer competed in the 2014 Miss Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix pageant. A YouTube video of the event shows her walking and standing in high heels without any indication of discomfort. A week later she was back at the doctor’s office with the same complaints of pain.

Investigators for the California Department of Insurance had little trouble finding the YouTube video of the aspiring beauty queen and she was arrested last Friday, reported KTLA.com

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English: CPR training

English: CPR training (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, claiming the lives of about 600,000 people and accounting for 1 in every 4 fatalities annually. Sufferers of heart disease are more prone to cardiac arrest, and about 47 percent of sudden cardiac deaths occur outside a hospital. A new app alerts its users whenever someone’s heart has stopped beating. The hope is that good Samaritans will perform CPR, in many cases sooner than emergency responders arrive, ensuring the brain continues to receive oxygen and preventing death.

Using the PulsePoint Respond mobile app, an emergency dispatch system alerts CPR-trained bystanders and off-duty professionals when people near them suffer a Sudden Cardiac Arrest event and where to find the closest automated external defibrillator (AED).

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Earlier this week, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department received reports that porcelain dolls had been left on the doorsteps of eight homes in the upscale community of Talega in San Clemente. The impacted families expressed concern to authorities that the dolls bared an eerie resemblance to their daughters.

image005.jpgimage006.jpgAuthorities immediately began investigating the matter. After interviewing the families, they were able to link the dolls to a female adult who lived in the local community and attended church with many of the families. She admitted to leaving the dolls on the porches of her neighbors; however, it was determined that her motivation was out of goodwill. The investigation has been closed.

Given the resemblance of the dolls to the girls living in these homes and the way they were anonymously gifted, it’s not surprising the recipients were alarmed. Fortunately, the case was solved quickly. Next time the woman wants to give back to her community, hopefully she won’t choose such a creepy way to do it.

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Morning commute: Toll booth

Morning commute: Toll booth (Photo credit: soumit)

In Orange County, there’s been a lot of confusion in recent months as to how to pay to use local toll roads. In the first few weeks after the Transportation Corridor Agencies removed toll booths and switched to a cash-free payment system, the number of toll violations spiked to about 15,000 a day, reported the Orange County Register. Drivers who think they may owe the toll agency, however, should beware of an email billing scam.

Nationwide, drivers have been receiving a phishing email with a logo mimicking the design of E-ZPass, the agency responsible for managing electronic tolling services on the East Coast, that reads, ‘You have not paid for driving on a toll road. This invoice is sent repeatedly, please service your debt in the shortest possible time.’ Representatives from both Transportation Corridor Agencies and E-ZPay have said these agencies did not send the emails, reported the Los Angeles Times. Those who receive the email are urged not to open it, respond to it, or download attachments.

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Best idea ever

Best idea ever (Photo credit: Shiny Things)

When walking toward an intersection, we’ve all relied on countdown timers to determine if we have enough time left to cross. While these devices ensure safer passage for pedestrians, they may be alerting drivers to how much time they have before the light changes, encouraging them to speed through signals they should be slowing down for and creating a dangerous situation, reported NPR.

When the timer winds down to two or three seconds, pedestrians will stop and, in many cases, drivers, who can also see the timers, will go. A study in Toronto revealed that installing timers at nearly 1,800 intersections decreased the number of pedestrian accidents and increased collisions between cars, specifically rear-end ones. This is because some drivers would slow down for the dwindling timers while others behind them would attempt to speed up. The problem tended to be worse at once-safe intersections and to grow with time as drivers became more used to the timers and took greater risks, blowing through intersections first with only two seconds left on the timer and then just one.

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