Articles Posted in Motor Vehicle Accidents

As America blazes its path towards marijuana legalization, federal agencies and traffic safety experts are worried that the full ramifications of legalizing the once-illicit drug remain unknown. The latest smoke signal that states should study the matter further came out last week when the federal government reported a 6 percent increase in highway crashes across states that legalized the drug. The previous study, which focused on the first three states to legalize the drug for recreational purposes, found a 5.2 percent increase in highway crashes.

Unlike alcohol, where a breathalyzer can easily and objectively determine whether a person is too intoxicated to drive, the push for an objective sobriety measurement for cannabis remains elusive. Currently, the police are able to perform a blood test and locate THC in the blood of the driver, however, because THC can stay in a person’s system for days or even weeks, the test lacks the ability to measure whether the driver was intoxicated while behind the wheel.

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After a tragic limo crash killed 20 in upstate New York, Senator Chuck Schumer is renewing his call for stronger government regulations and oversight. Similar to other limousine offerings across the country, the Ford Expedition involved in the accident was modified into a limousine by cutting the SUV into two parts and then extended. Safety advocates have long warned that this process requires removing necessary safety features from the vehicle, including airbags and side rollover pillars, and imperils limo passengers. Now the cause of the deadliest traffic accident in a decade, according to The New York Times, transportation safety advocates and politicians are hoping their pleas for oversight will no longer remain unanswered.

According to New York politicians, the stretched Ford Expedition should not have been used on the night of the crash. The limo had repeatedly failed state inspections, including one just last month. The numerous violations included a faulty braking system, which had taken the twenty-passenger Ford Expedition off the road twice. Further, the driver of the limousine, Scott Lisinicchia, did not possess a valid license to operate the limo. Lisinicchia also died in the crash, which killed all seventeen passengers and two individuals parked on the side of the road. Authorities have charged the owner of the limo business with negligent homicide. The business owner pled not guilty and said the DOT deemed the limo roadworthy only a week before the crash and described the Lisinicchia as a “reliable employee” to CNN.

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Over the past decade, automakers have rapidly introduced new safety technology into their fleet of vehicles. The technology available only on high-end vehicles just five years ago – such as blind-spot monitoring, emergency braking, and lane-departure warning – is now becoming standard on new vehicles. These life-saving technologies, however, do have limits and, according to a new report by AAA, most drivers do not seem aware of these limits.

One example cited by the association is blind-spot monitoring. According to the report, a full 80 percent of drivers mistakenly believe that blind-spot monitoring systems detect cyclists, pedestrians, and fast-approaching vehicles better than current technology allows. Because of this mistaken belief, one-fourth drivers with blind-spot monitoring do not check their blind spot before changing lanes.

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According to the National Institute of Highway Safety, August 2 is the most lethal day for driving a car in America – with 505 deaths on the day just between 2012 and 2016. As the most common cause of death in America, car accidents tend to peak in the summer, with three of the five most dangerous days occurring during the warmer weather months. Perhaps surprisingly, Thursday 8/2 is the deadliest day of the week to be driving.

The summer is “prime vacation time,” according to Bloomberg, which reported on the federal government’s study. The first week of August, especially, is the most common time for a family to take a road trip in America. According to the researchers, the increase in travelers on the road is essentially the sole cause of the higher accident rate in August. Anecdotal evidence also shows that “driving habits” tend to be more erratic in the summer months – with no icy, dark roads to fear. Other data indicating that August is the most dangerous month for American drivers? According to Nationwide Mutual Insurance, more motorists report claims in August than in any other month.

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An “enforcement blitz” against speeding motorists is expected over the coming week as New York performs its an annual “speed week.” The initiative, funded by the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, is entering its ninth year in the Empire State. Now an annual tradition, local police stations take to the streets and ramp up enforcement for driver’s disobeying speeding laws.

According to LoHud.com, Westchester residents should not expect any mercy or “warnings” if they are pulled over for speeding sometime in the next week. In fact, the entire slogan for the week is “Obey the Sign or Pay the Fine,” according to the state government’s website. Speaking on the topic of “Speed Week”, New Rochelle Traffic Unit Supervisor Detective Sgt Myron Joseph told LoHud.com, “Speeding drivers put themselves, their passengers, and other drivers at tremendous risk. Our goal is to save lives, and we’re putting all drivers on alert – the posted speed limit is the law.”

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Following a five-year pattern, New York’s traffic deaths continued to decline during the first six months of the year. From January to June, a total of 81 traffic fatalities occurred throughout the five boroughs. With the exception of motorcycle fatalities, all other traffic fatalities saw a decrease compared to the immediately preceding year. The continued decline is largely attributed to Mayor de Blasio’s “Vision Zero” campaign which aims to reduce vehicular deaths and pedestrian deaths to zero.

Across the city, vehicular deaths have decreased a full 30 percent since 2013. For pedestrian deaths, the decline is even steeper – at a full 45 percent compared to five years ago. According to The New York Times, pedestrian deaths are the lowest since at least 1910, when the city began keeping record of the fatalities.

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Hit-and-run fatalities have seen a marked increase throughout the country as more Americans are bicycling and walking to work, according to the Wall Street Journal. Citing a report released by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the newspaper states that hit-and-run fatalities increased 61 percent between 2009 and 2016. In 2016 alone, 68 percent of the fatalities in hit-and-run accidents were pedestrians or bicyclists. According to the Wall Street Journal, the increase in Americans choosing healthier modes of transportation is the leading cause of the increase in deaths.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 1,980 fatal hit-and-run accidents which caused a stunning 2,050 deaths. Both of these numbers represent record highs, according to the federal agency which has been tracking these statistics for over four decades. Overall, there were 40,000 traffic fatalities in 2017 – the second year the rate of fatalities has seen a significant increase, and following years of declining deaths in traffic accidents.

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A recent study suggests that marijuana use may cause fatal car accidents. The study, released by JAMA Internal Medicine, found there were more fatalities and car accidents on April 20, a “holiday” of sorts for cannabis enthusiasts, compared to the same period of time a week beforehand and a week afterward. This study comes on the heels of an increasing push by legislators and public policy experts to determine the effects of marijuana on driving habits, and consequently, to establish an objective standard for measuring intoxication by the drug.

To measure the effect of marijuana on car accidents, the researchers gathered data on car accidents on April 13, April 20, and April 27. April 20 is widely “celebrated” by marijuana users, and 4:20 PM on that day is traditionally regarded as a time to imbibe on the once-illicit drug. Consequently, researchers looked at the number of car accidents between 4:20 PM and midnight on April 20 and compared the results to the statistics during the same time period a week earlier and a week later.  The researchers compared the data over a 25-year period and in several different locations throughout the country. The results showed a 12 percent overall increase in fatal accidents between 4:20 PM and midnight on April 20. Further, the increase in car accidents was particularly notable in drivers under the age of 20. New York, along with Texas and Georgia, saw the sharpest increase in fatal car accidents on April 20.

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A Queens mom has sued New York City for a missing stop sign that caused the Uber she was riding in to crash, injuring herself and her one-month-old son. The mother, Oddeth Davidson, was traveling with her infant son, Kaiden Brown, in a ride-share vehicle when another car T-boned the Uber in Cambria Heights at the intersection of 225th street and 120th Avenue on January 11, according to the New York Post. According to the lawsuit, the Department of Transportation’s negligence in failing to replace the stop sign, which had allegedly been missing for several months, caused the accident and should, therefore, be responsible for the damages.

In total, Davidson is suing for $45 million in damages – $30 million for her child’s injuries, $10 million for her own injuries, and $5 million for the anticipated costs of caring for her brain-damaged child. The car accident left the young infant with traumatic brain injuries, seizure disorder, and a neck injury from the crash, according to the New York Post. “He is under the care of a neurosurgeon and a pediatric neurologist. This could be catastrophic and affect him for the rest of his life,” Davidson said of her infant child.

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The family of Isaac Ward, the 27-year-old man killed in a drunken car crash by a New Rochelle police officer, filed a lawsuit against the cop and the three bars that over-serving the police officer in January 2017. Penelope Ward, Isaac Ward’s mother, said the police officer, Harry Kyreakede, and three local bars – Brazen Fox, Brother Jimmy’s BBQ in White Plains, and Celtic Corner in Dobbs Ferry – should be held responsible for the death of her child because of their “negligence, recklessness, and carelessness.”

drunk-driving-300x150Kyreakede was sentenced last year to two-and-a-half to seven years in prison for driving while under the influence last month. A full two hours after the car crash, Kyreakede blood alcohol content, or BAC, was 0.20 percent – more than two times the legal limit of 0.08 percent in New York state. Continue reading

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