Articles Posted in Pedestrian Accidents

The Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reports that the number of traffic deaths has increased by 6 percent in the last five years. Even more alarmingly, the number of pedestrian fatalities has increased by 25 percent over the same period of time. Pedestrian fatalities now account for 15 percent of all traffic fatalities – up from 11 percent in 2011. The State of New York currently ranks 25th in pedestrian fatalities. New York City, as the largest city in the country and most pedestrian-friendly, unsurprisingly has the most pedestrian fatalities. New York City had 131 pedestrian fatalities in 2015, the second-highest city for pedestrian fatalities was Los Angeles which had only 85 in the same year.

The GHSA Report states that the increase in pedestrian fatalities is most likely due to more people choosing to walk or bike. Spurred by the health, environmental and economic benefits – walking and biking have become more popular in recent years. According to the Government Accountability Office, almost one million more people are choosing to walk or bike to work compared to 2005.

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A study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has found voice activation technology in cars to be distracting and that it takes drivers 27 seconds to regain full alertness after making a command.  For example, a car going 25 mph can travel the length of three football fields before the driver’s brain fully refocuses on driving after use of this technology. One of the researchers compared the use of these systems to balancing a checkbook while driving, something no one would do. Researcher and professor at the University of Utah, David Strayer, stated once a person shifts their attention to interacting with the device they stop scanning the road and do not anticipate hazards or things in their way.

573 adult drivers were surveyed for the study in Washington, D.C. and concluded that hands-free driving distracts one-third of drivers even with their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. Seven out of 10 surveyors believed they were only distracted for 10 seconds after using an in-vehicle device to dial a phone number or change the radio station. Meanwhile, 88% said they believe other drivers are “very distracted or somewhat distracted” while using these devices. AAA spokesman, John B. Townsend stated that everyone believes they are the exception, exaggerating our ability to handle these technologies and loathing the thought of other people using it. Continue reading

In 2011, a researcher from the Triple AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety published a report on the death rate in pedestrian-car accidents based on federal study of car crashes from 1994-1998; the study found the faster a car was going or the older the pedestrian, the deadlier the outcome of the accident. Lena Groeger, the author of the cited article, created an interactive chart based on the Triple AAA data, showing the correlation of speed and the age of a person, which is available on the link below. The interactive chart shows a 30 year old hit by a car going 45 mph has about a 50% chance of being killed, while a 70 year has a 50% chance of dying when hit by a car going 35 mph. Although these percentages are not exact, they show that age makes a significant difference.  In addition to age playing a role, the chart shows that cars going over 20 mph rapidly become more deadly.

According to the Triple AAA data, a person is 70% more likely to be killed when struck by a car going 30 mph versus 25 mph. In 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio decreased the speed imageNew York City (NYC) speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph. NYC saw the fewest traffic accidents in 2015 since 1910; there were a total of 231 deaths with 134 of them being pedestrian.  Many saw the decrease in the speed limit as unnecessary and annoying but it makes a difference in the survival rate of those who are hit. Tobias Niebuhr, a statistician at the University of Hamburg who studies pedestrian risk recently published a study showing oldespeed imager people are more likely to seriously injured or killed at all collision speeds. Continue reading

A recent Triple AAA Foundation for Traffic (“Triple AAA”) study draws attention to the risks of distracted driving. Distracted driving refers to drivers who talk, text, and dial, including hands-free devices, while operating a motor vehicle.  It can also include those that eat or drink while driving.  Triple AAA’s study illustrates that driving while distracted is very dangerous and plays a significant role in motor vehicle accidents.   Continue reading

A report released by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) suggests that pedestrian cell phone use is almost as deadly as texting and driving. The report found a 10% increase in the amount of pedestrian deaths in the first six months of 2015; the largest year to year increase in those types of deaths within the last four decades. GHSA stated that this increase may also be due to lower gas prices resulting in more road trips being taken than in 2014. However, cell phones are known for having a strong hold on people’s attention that could be severely harmful.

walking textingRichard Retting, co-author of the report released by the GHSA, stated that there has never been a 10% increase in only one year. He also stated that the amount of cell phone data used on a regular basis is “explosive” which factors into the elevation of pedestrian deaths.  Studies have shown that people using their cell phones while walking have slower reaction times and pay less attention to their surroundings. As of January 2014, 9 of 10 adults in the United States owned a cell phone, which prompted lawmakers to ban texting while driving in 46 states and the District of Columbia. Continue reading

The New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department reversed a trial court order for summary judgment in favor of the defendant driver in a pedestrian car accident case.

The plaintiff was a pedestrian who was crossing the street when she was injured after being struck by the defendant’s car. The plaintiff argued that the defendants negligently drove their car into the plaintiff. The plaintiff also argued that the defendants committed intentional gross negligence. The plaintiff stated that she was struck by the defendant’s car while she was walking across a street within a pedestrian crosswalk with the light in her favor. However, the defendant testified that the plaintiff was riding a bicycle at the time of the accident and that the accident occurred after she suddenly appeared from between parked cars while trying to cross the street in the middle of the block.

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Some states such as Colorado, Washington, and Washington, D.C. have legalized marijuana use. As such, these states have begun thinking about the possibility that their drivers may be driving under the influence of a now-legal drug. While alcohol is legal in all 50 states, driving while drunk is not. Therefore, lawmakers have begun defining intoxication / impairment thresholds for DUI liability due to marijuana use.

Lawmakers are worried that as more citizens begin consuming marijuana under lax legalization policies, more citizens will begin taking to the roads while high. Lawmakers fret that this will lead to increased traffic deaths. However, research is so far divided on whether marijuana will lead to more car accidents.

It is undisputed that some of the effects of marijuana use are a net negative for driving. Marijuana obstructs peripheral vision, slows reaction times, and hinders multitasking. Unlike alcohol, known as “liquid courage” for its ability to give drivers the power to speed and drive recklessly while under the influence, marijuana may have the opposite effect on drivers. Drivers who are high are aware they are high. They have no interest in reckless driving and instead drive very slow, avoid other cars by refusing to pass and keeping large distances between vehicles, and stop at yellow lights.

One of the busiest cities in the world, New York City has long been known for its horrendous traffic and subsequently, car accidents. 3.49 individuals are killed by cars in New York City per every 100,000 residents. This ranks New York City as the twelfth most dangerous city in the world for car accidents. In comparison, large cities like London, Paris, Tokyo, and Hong Kong are all ranked below New York City.

To combat the death rates and increase vehicle occupant and pedestrian safety in the city, the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) launched the Sustainable Streets plan in early 2008. In conjunction with the Mayor’s office, the DOT detailed a new transportation policy for the city.

The initial goals of Sustainable Streets were numerous. Decreasing traffic fatalities was the number one goal. However, other goals included addressing city-wide parking issues, encouraging bicycle use, and developing a car sharing fleet for DOT employees.

In 2009, less than 300 pedestrians were killed in car crashes in New York City. Though this figure seems alarming, this marks a 25% decrease in the past decade. In fact, 2009 was the safest year for pedestrians in New York City. Thanks to New York City DOT initiatives designed at increasing pedestrian safety, New York City’s pedestrian fatality rate has dropped to only 25% of the national fatality rate and only 50% of the 10 largest cities in the U.S.

Due to their vulnerable position, pedestrians are 10 times more likely to die in a crash than the occupants in the car. Overall, 52% of all car accident-related deaths in the country involved pedestrians. The most common reason for pedestrian fatalities is speeding. In fact, most drivers do not know that the speed limit is only 30 mph in the city. Other common reasons include driver inattention (36% of crashes) and failure to yield to pedestrians (27% of crashes).

The majority of pedestrian fatalities in New York City occur on major thoroughfares such as Times Square. 79% of these fatalities are due to private drivers. 21% are due to taxis, trucks, and buses. 80% of drivers who kill pedestrians are males. Finally, an unsurprising 43% of the pedestrians killed are not New York City residents. This includes both tourists and commuters.

Late at night on March 30, 2015, a West New York police officer was making his way to work. Driving in his personal vehicle, a blue 2013 Honda Accord, the rookie officer was making his way down JFK Boulevard in North Bergen when he encountered the victim.

The victim was a young man who was crossing JFK Boulevard by the 70th Street intersection. It was dark at night, the victim was wearing dark clothing, and the victim was not walking on or near a crosswalk. The victim was struck by the officer’s car and went flying, landing on the sidewalk face down.

The officer immediately stopped his car and got out to assist. The victim was passed out with head trauma. A Guttenberg Police Department officer was driving by and also helped to assist. North Bergen Police and the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office were called to the scene following a 911 call. By the time North Bergen EMS arrived, the victim had gone into cardiac arrest. Both the driver and victim were taken to Palisades Medical Center for treatment. The victim did not die until the next day while being treated at the hospital.

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