Articles Posted in Motor Vehicle Accidents

A distracted driver is almost 30 times more likely to crash in a highway work zone. In a recent study reported on by Science Daily, researchers at the University of Missouri found that drivers who answered a phone call, texted, or reported being distracted by a passenger were 29 times more likely to be in a collision at or near a federal highway work zone. Given the decade-long increase in the number of car accidents on American roadways, state and federal transportation agencies will use the study to implement “countermeasures” to reduce the number of distracted drivers.

Traffic safety experts say the results of the study are not entirely surprising. Distracted driving is dangerous and substantially increases the risk of a car accident or pedestrian accident. Further, work zones typically have riskier road conditions such as poor signage, narrower lanes, and reduced visibility. The study, which included only data from federal highways, also pointed out that the high speed limit on highways – generally, 55 mph – meant that collisions would be harder to prevent and any resulting injuries more severe. The data included more than 3,000 drivers and covered more than 50 million miles.

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Pedestrian deaths are set to hit a 30-year high in America and government regulators are blaming SUVs and distracted driving for the record-setting number. According to a new report by the Governors Highway Safety Association, the number of pedestrian deaths in 2018 increased by 250 people – bringing the total to a tragic 6,227 pedestrian deaths in America last year. According to the federal agency, the number of pedestrian deaths increased a whopping 51.5 percent since 2009. Less than a decade ago, America’s pedestrian death rate hit an all-time low of 4,109 following decades of declining pedestrian deaths caused by increases in safety technology and stricter enforcement of traffic safety laws.

Despite the continued innovations of safety technology, America’s pedestrian death rate has increased every year in the last decade. Traffic safety experts say that SUVs are a large part of the problem, noting that SUVs, which have outsold passenger cars since 2014, are more likely to kill pedestrians because of their larger size. A report by The Free Detroit Press bears out this theory finding that passenger deaths caused by passenger vehicles have increased only 30 percent since 2013, while deaths caused by SUVs have increased 50 percent during the same time period. Like other parts of American life, cell phones have also changed America’s driving habits and, unsurprisingly, contributed to more pedestrian deaths. According to AAA, wireless data usage increased by 4,000 percent between 2010 and 2017. The same report found that 49 percent of Americans talk on the phone while driving and 35 percent say they send emails and text. The final contributing factor, according to traffic safety experts, involves the higher percentage of Americans walking to work.

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Traffic accidents and fatalities caused by distracted driving continue to increase every year, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). Distracted driving is a catch-all term for activities which divert the driver’s attention from the roadway and can include a wide range of activities from changing the vehicle’s music to eating. The most notorious culprit – and the primary cause of the country’s increased accidents – however, is texting while driving. In a report by The New York Daily News, 71 percent of Americans admit to using their smartphone while driving.

According to the NHTSA, the risk of a car crash doubles whenever a driver takes his eyes off the road for just two seconds. With the proliferation of smartphones, drivers no longer stop at texting while driving. In a report by News 12, a full eight percent of drivers admit to watching videos on YouTube while driving. Perhaps even more worrisome, distracted driving is no longer a dangerous activity just for young drivers – 73 percent of parents admit to using their smartphone while their child is in the car. These drivers also appear well aware of the risks, with 55 percent describing distracted driving as the top safety threat on the road. Only one-third said drunk driving constituted their biggest safety concern on America’s roadways.

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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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