Steering Column March 13

Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage treated the motorsports media to lunch recently during the annual TMS media day. Interviewees included Sprint Cup driver Kevin Harvick and his wife and Nationwide Series team owner Delana Harvick, Craftsman Truck Series driver Ron Hornaday Jr. and live via satellite IndyCar drivers Helio Castroneves (who answered “Dancing With The Stars” questions including one from Harvick posing as a reporter) and Danicka Patrick, who spent half her time defending her layout in the SI swimsuit edition.

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Algae bloom prompts closing three bays to shellfish harvesting, recall issued
The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) has closed Aransas, Corpus Christi and Copano bays to shellfish harvesting and has issued a recall of oysters, clams and mussels because of an algae bloom.
DSHS officials say high concentrations of the Dinophysis organism have been found in several locations in the area. The toxin produced by this algae bloom, okadaic acid, can accumulate in shellfish tissue and cause diarrhetic shellfish poisoning, or DSP, in people who consume oysters, clams or mussels.
Cooking does not destroy the toxin. Shellfish harvested from these bays March 1 or later are included in the recall. Consumers who purchased shellfish March 1 or later are advised not to eat them. People should either call the store where the shellfish were purchased to determine the date and location of harvest or dispose of them. The toxin does not affect other seafood.
DSHS officials say that preliminary test results indicate that levels of okadaic acid in oyster samples taken from the bays exceed federal guidelines. Final test results will be available next week. DSHS will monitor and determine when it is safe to reopen the shellfish areas.
DSP symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea and cramping. Symptoms, which usually last two to three days, can begin from 30 minutes to 12 hours after eating shellfish containing the toxin. DSP usually is not life threatening and does not generally cause long-term effects. DSHS is not aware of any illnesses associated with this algae bloom.
Dinophysis occurs naturally in ocean waters and estuaries and is not related to pollution. Typically it is not found in high numbers along the Texas Gulf Coast. High concentrations can turn the water an orange or brown color. DSHS officials say they know of no health issues associated with people being in water containing the algae.

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Move to Daylight Savings Time Increases Risk of Drowsy Driving
As clocks spring ahead for the start of daylight savings time, roads and highways throughout the nation become a bit more dangerous, according to the National Road Safety Foundation, Inc., a non-profit group that provides free driver safety programs including it’s newest, called “Recognizing the drowsy driver.”
“The change throws off our internal clock, and it can take as long as two weeks for our bodies to adjust,” says Adele Kristiansson, director of marketing and legislative affairs at the National Road Safety Foundation.
“Drowsiness is a condition most drivers fail to recognize, and it can be as dangerous as drinking and driving,” she adds. “Studies show 60 percent of us have driven while feeling fatigued, and more than a third admit to having fallen asleep at the wheel in the past year. Drowsiness is a factor in a substantial number of traffic crashes.”
Experts list several signs that should warn a driver to stop and rest:
• Difficulty focusing, with frequent blinking.
• Daydreaming or not remembering the last few miles driven.
• Head nodding.
• Repeated yawning or rubbing eyes.
• Drifting out of your lane, tailgating or hitting shoulder rumble strips.
If you experience any of these warning signs, pull over at the next exit or a safe rest area and take a break or a 20-minute nap. Have a cup or two of coffee or caffeinated snacks and allow 30 minutes for the caffeine to enter your bloodstream. Don’t drink alcohol or take medication.
Sleep-induced crashes are often very serious, since the driver does not take evasive or corrective action as the vehicle loses control.
Over the past 40 years, the National Road Safety Foundation has produced films and teaching materials that have been used to train millions of young drivers about the dangers of drinking and driving, speeding and aggressive driving. The Foundation’s newest program, “Recognizing the Drowsy Driver,” is available free by calling 1-800-SAFEPATH or visit http://www.nationalroadsafety.org to download it and other driver safety programs.

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