Articles Posted in Pedestrian Accidents

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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Three people were injured in April when scaffolding collapsed near the entrance to the Borough Hall Train Station in Brooklyn Heights. The scaffolding, which was being taken down at the time, left one construction worker with serious injuries and two pedestrians with relatively minor injuries. The company responsible for the scaffolding, New Force Construction Corporation, has previously been fined $25,000 by the New York City Department of Buildings for not following worker safety laws.

According to a witness speaking to CBS New York, “We just all of a sudden heard a crashing of the scaffolding, and then people screaming.” Other witnesses described a similar scene of mayhem when the 20-foot section of scaffolding in front of the Starbucks came crashing down onto two pedestrians who happened to be walking under the sidewalk shed. According to witnesses on the scene, the two pedestrians suffered relatively minor injuries while the construction worker’s arm appeared to be “seriously hurt and badly injured.” In addition to the three New Yorkers injured in the collapse, the faulty sidewalk shed also took down a crosswalk light at the intersection of Court Street and Joralemon Street, according to the NYPD.

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In a tragic crash, an autonomous vehicle killed a pedestrian last week in Arizona. The self-driving car was driving 38 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour zone, according to the New York Times. The Governor of Arizona has halted all self-driving car demonstrations throughout the state until an investigation is completed.

Previously, Arizona has been at the forefront of self-driving vehicles with its permissive laws and flat, dry landscape. In 2017, Governor Doug Ducey declared the state a “regulation-free” zone for companies interested in testing autonomous vehicles. “We needed our message to Uber, Lyft and other entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley to be that Arizona was open to new ideas,” Gov. Ducey said at the time. When an Uber vehicle collided with another vehicle back in March, the Arizona Governor downplayed the significant, describing the accident as the fault of the other driver. Last month Gov. Ducey issued another executive order permitting cars on the streets without a human behind the wheel, the first state in the country.

However, that changed on Sunday, March 18 when a Volvo XC90 owned by the ride-sharing company Uber struck a woman with a bicycle who walked in front of the vehicle in Tempe, Arizona. The car also had a human driver behind the wheel, who was apparently unable to see the pedestrian either. The weather was clear and dry.

Parents of a victim lost to the terrorist attack on one of Lower Manhattan’s bike trails has filed a notice of their intent to sue New York City. The parents of Darren Drake state that New York designed a bike path that was unsafe for people to use. According to them, New York should have foreseen the possibility of a terrorist attack and not allowed the terrorist to have “unfettered” access to the bike path. According to the family, this was “grossly negligent” of the city and its various departments.

bikeBike lanes and bike-sharing programs have shot-up across the world in recent decades. Possibly fueled by urbanite’s increased enthusiasm for exercise and the environment in recent decades, New Yorkers know that the best part of biking is how quickly it can get you somewhere. As bike lanes and Citi Bike’s ridership have skyrocketed in the city over the last few years, the lawsuits have, perhaps predictably, followed. Continue reading

Despite its reputation for progressive politics, New York City is failing its residents with physical disabilities. While the subway has long created a nightmare of obstacles for New Yorkers with special needs, sidewalks are also becoming an increasing problem for the city.

Disability advocates point to two main problems with the city’s sidewalks. First, there are an insufficient amount of so-called “curb cuts.” Curb cuts are the term used for the are where the concrete sidewalk becomes level with the asphalt on the street.  For individuals with walkers or wheelchairs, the steady and smooth decline into the street is necessary for their safety. If the curb cut has a large bump or cracks, wheelchairs can be more difficult to navigate, imperiling the safety of the person as he or she attempts to safely cross the street. Continue reading

distracted-drivingNew York State may be the first state in the country to equip police with a Textalyzer, meant to check whether a driver was using his or her phone immediately preceding a crash. Governor Andrew Cuomo has directed the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee to study the technology and the inevitable issues it could create for New York residents’ privacy and civil rights. Texting, or otherwise using your cell phone, is illegal in New York and violation of this law carries five driver violation points. There is an exception for hands-free calling.

The term, a play on the age-old breathalyzer which tests the blood alcohol content of potentially drunk drivers, is meant to function in a similar manner. After a vehicle accident, police would arrive on the scene and plug the Textalyzer into the driver’s cell phone. After about a minute, the Textalyzer would respond with whether the driver was texting, emailing, surfing the web or otherwise violating New York State’s hands-free drive law. Also similar to a breathalyzer test, refusing the roadside test could result in the mandatory suspension of the driver’s license.   Continue reading

Despite almost universal state laws discouraging the practice, Americans are still refusing to put down their phones while in the car. Cell phone usage, especially text messaging, and distracted driving continue to be contributing factors in car crashes. The need to stay in contact all the time is especially high among young twenty-somethings. In New York State, residents between the age of 21 and 29 make up only 15 percent of the state’s drivers, yet they are involved in 37 percent of crashes involving cell phone use and 24 percent of crashes involving distracted driving. Continue reading

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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