Articles Posted in Motor Vehicle Accidents

2020 was the deadliest year for traffic crashes in New York City since Mayor Bill de Blasio introduced his Vision Zero plan in 2014, according to a recent report by the New York Times. There were at least 243 deaths in traffic crashes in the city last year, despite a downturn in actual traffic during the Covid-19 pandemic. As the Times report observes, this spike was at odds with historical trends, in which “Economic downturns and reduced congestion typically lead to fewer fatal crashes.”

During the pandemic, however, there was an increase in reckless driving, as motorists went over the speed limit on sparse turnpikes, drag-raced, and rode motorcycles. As such, there was a stark increase in driver, passenger, and motorcyclist deaths over the last year, from 68 in 2019 to 120 in 2020. Pedestrian fatalities fell, according to the Times, while bicyclist fatalities remained steady. Continue reading

Newly released federal data indicates that in 2019, vehicular crashes and injuries rose while pedestrian and cyclist fatalities fell. StreetsBlog, a website covering transportation issues and pedestrian safety, suggests that this data reflects “that doctors are getting better at saving lives after collisions while our streets remain as dangerous as ever.”

According to data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2019 there was a total of 36,096 deaths resulting from  vehicle crashes, down from 36,835 in 2018. There were 630 fewer passenger vehicle occupant fatalities; 169 fewer pedestrian fatalities; 25 fewer pedalcyclist fatalities; 568 fewer alcohol-impaired driving fatalities; and 813 fewer urban fatalities. Continue reading

A new study out of Brown University investigates the risks of Covid-19 aerosol transmission in a car. According to Science Daily, the study, published in the journal Science Advances, found that the risk was lowest when all four windows were open. The researchers did not look at the airflow of respiratory droplets or the risk of infection, only the flow of aerosol particles through a moving car.

The researchers simulated airflow within a compact car using simulated models, in which the car’s driver was accompanied by a single passenger sitting in the rear passenger seat. One of the study’s lead authors told Science Daily that they found opening windows was a much better means of circulating air than turning on the vehicle’s own ventilation system. “Driving around with the windows up and the air conditioning or heat on is definitely the worst scenario, according to our computer simulations,” he said. “The best scenario we found was having all four windows open, but even having one or two open was far better than having them all closed.” Continue reading

Public health experts and epidemiologists strongly recommend that Americans do not travel for the Thanksgiving or Christmas holidays. For those that must travel—such as college students who cannot stay on campus—a few recent reports offer tips for traveling as safely as possible, to minimize the risk of Covid-19 transmission.

According to a recent Los Angeles Times report, some of the biggest transmission risks are airports, train stations, and highway rest stops where “it can be difficult to stay six feet away from others.” When it comes to air travel, experts recommend sitting in window seats and away from restrooms. The report quotes a University of California, San Francisco epidemiologist who said, “you want to sit as far away from the toilets as much as possible, which would minimize how often you’re near passengers walking past you…You want to be as far away from that action as possible.” He also advised that travelers fly with airlines that are leaving middle seats unoccupied.

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On average, there are about 200 bridge strikes—incidents in which a truck collides with a bridge—every year in New York. Bridge strikes put drivers and other motorists at risk of injury, cause traffic disruptions, and can require expensive repairs to the bridge that gets struck. Since 2015, according to officials, there have been over 1,100 bridge strikes in the state. That’s why Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently announced an “enforcement and education campaign” to combat bridge strikes.

The campaign, a joint effort between the state Department of Transportation, the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, and the State Police, took place between November 9th and November 15th. It involved state troopers monitoring areas “where there have been documented bridge strikes by large commercial vehicles.” Continue reading

A study of American travel habits by Longwood International found that “half of American travelers are currently planning to stay home for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or New Year’s Eve,” and that about the same number feel that the Covid-19 pandemic “will greatly impact their travel decisions in the next six months.”

The study also found that 40% of Americans are planning to travel by car during the holidays, and less than 25% are planning to travel by plane. The research indicates that Americans’ holiday travel plans are divided evenly between the four major winter holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah, and Kwanzaa. In a statement about the study, the company’s President and CEO, Amir Eylon, said: “With the number of new COVID cases rising in more than half the states, we can expect further disruption in family holiday travel plans… The number of actual holiday travelers in 2020 will likely be driven by the perceived safety and/or risk of taking such trips during the holiday period.” Continue reading

A deadly crash in Queens has sparked heated discussions about bicycle safety in New York City. As Gothamist reports, a 35-year-old delivery worker driving a motorized scooter, Alfredo Cabrera Liconia, “was killed by the driver of a Bud Light truck” last Thursday. Video of the incident shows Liconia’s Scooter “trapped under the wheels of the semi-truck, which appears to be making a right turn onto Crescent Street.” The collision occurred while the driver “appeared” to be turning right from Astoria Boulevard to Crescent Street, where trucks are not permitted unless they’re making deliveries. Gothamist reports that it was not clear whether Liconia was using the bike lane when struck.

One image of the truck reportedly captured it “crushing the flexible posts” separating the lane from vehicle lanes. These “flexi-posts” have been criticized by cycling accidents as too insubstantial to prevent vehicles from passing into protected bicycle lanes. A group of local lawmakers reportedly asked the city’s department of Transportation to replace the flexi-posts with “concrete jersey barriers” as a way of protecting cyclists from cars. Continue reading

One curious feature of the Covid-19 pandemic’s effects on American roadways is that while there were fewer vehicles on the roads, there was also an increase in reckless driving, accidents, and deaths.

As Axios reported in October, data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found “traffic fatality rates increased 30%” in the second quarter of 2020. Officials attributed this spike to an increase in “risky behavior.” When researchers looked at patient data in trauma centers, they found that many “seriously injured or fatal crash victims” had been speeding, driving under the influence, and/or not wearing seatbelts. Researchers found specifically a higher presence of “alcohol, cannabinoids, and opioids” than in the same time period in previous years.

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Research conducted by State Farm Insurance indicates that the autumn months are when motorists are most at risk of crashes involving deer. Deer-vehicle accidents reach their peak in October, per a recent article by New York Upstate, though the risk persists until the end of January. As the article notes, the risk is so high in those months because they constitute both the mating season for deer, as well as a period of heightened activity as deer forage in advance of the winter months.

A 2018 analysis by State Farm estimates that the risk of hitting deer or other large mammals “doubles in the fall.” The risk of hitting deer is highest at the dawn and dusk hours, raising the need for drivers to be vigilant. State Farm advises drivers take a number of precautions, including: driving slowly, especially at dawn and dusk; wearing seatbelts; anticipating additional deer to follow any deer they see; using high beams, unless oncoming traffic are approaching; and avoiding distractions, such as phones or food. In the event that a driver encounters a deer, State Farm advises braking if possible, but not swerving, which “can result in a more severe crash.”

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A new law in the State of New York requires all car passengers, even those riding in the backseat, to wear a seatbelt. Before the law went into effect on November 1st, passengers over 16 years of age were not required to wear a seatbelt when they were sitting in the rear seat. With the new legislation, New York becomes the 31st state in the nation to require backseat passengers to buckle up. While the law exempts bus passengers as well as people riding in emergency vehicles like ambulances, it does not exempt passengers in taxis and other ride share vehicles.

New York’s Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee has estimated that 30% of highway fatalities in the state involve passengers who aren’t wearing seatbelts. When Governor Cuomo signed the new legislation in August, State Senator David Carlucci said: “The injuries you can sustain from not wearing a seat belt can be deadly, and that’s a fact whether you sit in the front or the back of a vehicle. With this bill signed into law, we will help prevent tragedies and save lives in New York. Thank you to the advocates, including AAA for their strong support of this legislation.” Continue reading

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