All posts by Maria Sassian

From the I.I.I. Daily: Our most popular content, July 6 to July 12

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Teen crash risk spikes in first 3 months after getting license

Teen drivers are a lot more likely to get into a car crash or near crash during the first three months after getting a driver’s license, compared to the previous three months with a learner’s permit.

A new study, led by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that teens were eight times more likely to have a crash or near crash during this period, and four times more likely to engage in risky behaviors, such as rapid acceleration, sudden braking and hard turns.

Teens with learner’s permits drove more safely, with their crash/near crash and risky driving rates akin to those of adults.

“During the learner’s permit period, parents are present, so there are some skills that teenagers cannot learn until they are on their own,” said Pnina Gershon, Ph.D., the study’s lead author. “We need a better understanding of how to help teenagers learn safe driving skills when parents or other adults are not present.”

The I.I.I. has a backgrounder on teen drivers here.

Malware infections drop on World Cup match days

It’s a well-known fact that worker productivity dips during the World Cup. But there is a surprising upside to workers switching off their computers and zipping off to their local pub to watch the game. According to this Yahoo Sports article, malware infections dropped by 20 percent during World Cup match days in countries whose teams are playing in the World Cup.

“A day to day drop that dramatic can only happen when people get offline in massive amounts,” explains Ryan Gerding, a spokesperson for EnigmaSoft, maker of anti-malware software. In every country that experienced a drop, infections jumped back up the next day.

Interestingly, Russia is the only country not to experience a decrease in malware when its team is playing. On match days when the national team was playing, Russia experienced a 5.98 percent increase in malware infections.

From the I.I.I. Daily: Our most popular content, June 29 to July 5

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Revised 2018 Hurricane Season Forecast

By Phil Klotzbach, lead author of the Colorado State University (CSU) hurricane forecasting team, and I.I.I. non-resident scholar. 

Colorado State University (CSU) released its updated outlook for the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season today, and they are now calling for a below-normal season with a total of 11 named storms (including Alberto which formed in May), four hurricanes and one major hurricane (maximum sustained winds of 111 miles per hour or greater; Category 3-5 on the Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale) (Figure 1).  This prediction is a considerable reduction from their June outlook which called for 14 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes.  Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) and Net Tropical Cyclone (NTC) activity are integrated metrics that take into account the frequency, intensity and duration of storms.

 

Figure 1: July 2, 2018 outlook for the forthcoming Atlantic hurricane season.

CSU employs a statistical model as one of its primary outlook tools.  The statistical model uses historical oceanic and atmospheric data to find predictors that worked well at forecasting prior year’s hurricane activity and has shown considerable skill based on data back to 1982 (Figure 2).  The statistical forecast for 2018 is calling for a below-average season.

Figure 2: Efficacy of statistical forecast model at predicting historical Atlantic hurricane activity since 1982.

CSU also uses an analog approach, whereby the team looks for past years with conditions that were most similar to what they see currently, and what they predict for the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season (August-October).  The forecast team currently anticipates below-average to near-average sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the tropical Atlantic and warm neutral to weak El Niño conditions in the eastern and central Pacific.  This averaging of the five analog seasons also calls for a below-average season (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Analog predictors used in the July 2, 2018 seasonal forecast.

The primary reason for the reduction in the seasonal forecast was due to continued anomalous cooling of the tropical Atlantic.  Most of the Atlantic right now is much cooler than normal. (Figure 4).  In fact, current sea surface temperature anomalies in the tropical Atlantic are colder than any year since 1994.  In addition to providing less fuel for storms, a cooler tropical Atlantic is also associated with a more stable and drier atmosphere as well as higher pressure.  All of these conditions tend to suppress Atlantic hurricane activity.

Figure 4: Current SST anomalies in the North Atlantic.  SSTs are much cooler than normal across the entire tropical Atlantic.

CSU also believes that the chance has increased for a weak El Niño event developing to coincide with the peak of Atlantic hurricane season. El Niños tend to reduce Atlantic hurricane activity through increases in upper-level winds that tear apart hurricanes as they are trying to develop.  The dynamical and statistical model guidance is about evenly split between El Niño and neutral (neither El Niño nor La Niña) conditions for the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season (August-October) (Figure 5).

Figure 5: Statistical and dynamical model guidance for El Niño.  Model guidance is about evenly split between El Niño and neutral (neither El Niño nor La Niña) for the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season (denoted by the arrow).  Figure courtesy of International Research Institute for Climate and Society.

Coastal residents are reminded that it takes only one storm to make any hurricane season an “active” one. For example, CSU correctly predicted a quiet Atlantic hurricane season in 1992.  The season, in fact, was very quiet, with only seven named storms, four hurricanes and one major hurricane—but that major hurricane happened to be Hurricane Andrew, which tore across south Florida as a Category 5.

Philip J. Klotzbach, Ph.D. is Research Scientist, Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University and an I.I.I. Nonresident Scholar. You can follow him on Twitter at @PhilKlotzbach

 

From the I.I.I. Daily: Our most popular content, June 25 to June 28

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How safe is your bike helmet? Virginia Tech and IIHS debut new safety rating system

With more people choosing to bike to work and for recreation, accidents and injuries are also on the rise.

Having the right bike helmet can significantly cut the risk of injury, but up until now there was not a standardized rating that consumers could use to determine the effectiveness of a bike helmet.  A new ratings program, based on research by Virginia Tech and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), changes that.

The program used more rigorous tests than required by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), for example, taking into account the angle at which a bicyclist’s head is likely to strike the pavement in a crash.

The number of stars assigned to each helmet represents how effectively that model reduces overall injury risk. Only four of the 30 helmets tested in the initial round earned a 5-star rating. All four are equipped with a Multi-Directional Impact Protection System (MIPS). MIPS creates a low-friction layer inside the helmet which helps to reduce rotational forces that can result from certain impacts.

With better ways to gauge helmet safety, there still remains the problem of getting people to wear them. By some estimates only 18 percent of riders regularly wear helmets.

 

The I.I.I. has facts & statistics on bicycle crashes here.

 

The Week in a Minute, 6/28/18

The III’s Michael Barry briefs our membership every Wednesday on key insurance related stories. Here are the top stories this week: 

  • Northern California’s Pawnee Fire began on Saturday, June 23, and is threatening hundreds of homes in Spring Valley (Lake County). Meanwhile, the Creek Fire started on Sunday, June 24, and prompted evacuations near Happy Valley and Igo (Shasta County).
  • Florida’s Limerock Fire either destroyed or damaged dozens of homes in Eastpoint (Franklin County), with at least 175 residents displaced due to the Sunday, June 24, blaze.
  • Americans are reaching retirement age in worse financial shape than the prior generation for the first time since the Truman administration, a front page Wall Street Journal Weekend Edition story (June 23-24) stated.

 

From the I.I.I. Daily: Our most popular content, June 15 to June 21

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