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.
Richard 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.
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.
Franklin Reyes, a Manhattan teenager awaiting trial for vehicular manslaughter stemming from the 2013 death of a four year old on the Upper West Side, is again in custody after allegedly dragging a police officer 100 feet during a traffic stop. The NY Daily News reports that during the stop, Reyes refused to put his car into park. When the officer attempted to reach inside the vehicle, Reyes sped off. The officer, whose arm was still inside the vehicle, was dragged along the road. The car finally came to a stop, after allegedly almost hitting another pedestrian, when Reyes crashed into a parked car.
When police were eventually able to detain Reyes, he was charged with assault in the second degree (a Class-D felony), unlawful fleeing of a police officer (a Class-E felony), reckless endangerment (a Class-A misdemeanor), reckless driving (a Class-U misdemeanor), and unlicensed driving. These charges, particularly the two felonies and reckless endangerment, could lead to significant jail time for Reyes if convicted. Perhaps more damaging, however, is the fact that the new charges could jeopardize a deal offered by the Supreme Court Justice in Reyes’ original manslaughter case. The New York County Supreme Court Justice, the Hon. Gregory Carro, had reportedly agreed to offer Reyes a four year prison term in the manslaughter case.
The News article did not specify when Reyes is due back in court. It did note that Reyes had already been arrested this summer, subsequent to last year’s manslaughter charges and prior to the current vehicular assault case. Reyes and his father were arrested on suspicion of looting the apartment of a dead woman earlier this year. These new arrests and charges certainly will not sit well with either the district attorney or Reyes’ sentencing judge. The outcome of the trials, as well as the length of any potential prison term that Reyes may have to serve, is unknown at this time.
Officials from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced in March 2014 that all new vehicles under 10,000 pounds, including small buses and trucks, must have rearview visibility technology by May 2018. Rearview visibility technology often consists of a small camera placed on the back of a vehicle; the camera takes live video which is displayed on a monitor on the dashboard. Such systems expand a driver’s visibility beyond what they can normally see in mirrors while backing up a vehicle. Under the new NHTSA requirement, a rearview visibility technology system must provide a field of view that is a 10-foot by 20-foot zone directly behind the vehicle. In addition, such systems will have requirements pertaining to image size, linger time, response time, deactivation and durability.
According to statistics released by the Department of Transportation (DOT), 210 fatalities and 15,000 injuries occur each year as a result of backover accidents. Children under the age of five-years-old account for 31 percent of backover fatalities. Moreover, adults ages 70 years old or older account for 26 percent of such fatalities. The new rear visibility technology requirements are expected to save between 58 to 69 lives each year.
While many car manufacturers are already making vehicles with such technology as a result of consumer demand, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx pointed out that making such systems a requirement will improve overall safety on the roads. He stated, “Safety is our highest priority, and we are committed to protecting the most vulnerable victims of backover accidents–our children and seniors. As a father, I can only imagine how heart wrenching these types of accidents can be for families, but we hope that today’s rule will serve as a significant step toward reducing these tragic accidents.”
A pregnant woman, Min Lin, 36, was struck and killed by a vehicle clearing snow in a Brooklyn parking lot during a large snowstorm in mid-February 2014. Lin was nine months pregnant, and her baby was delivered by emergency cesarean section. According to a hospital spokesperson, the baby boy is six pounds and six ounces and is in critical condition. Lin also had a husband of eight years and a six-year-old son.
Lin went out with her husband during a heavy snowstorm to go to the obstetrician. Her roommate, Sony Qing Huang, said that Lin had expressed reservations about going out in the weather. However, while she was loading groceries into her car in a Bay Ridge, Brooklyn shopping center parking lot, a mini-construction vehicle clearing snow backed up and hit her. Lin was rushed to Maimonides Medical Center where she was pronounced dead. Her baby was delivered by an emergency C-section and was in critical condition in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit. Huang said, “The baby is not looking good and [his father] is very worried.”
According to police, the driver of the snow-clearing vehicle was 42-year-old Wu Wu. Wu was driving the vehicle, a Bobcat S250, in the parking lot to clear snow from a heavy story that hit that morning. He was issued several summonses for failing to have a vehicle, and not having a headlamp or a license plate light. Police did not file criminal charges against Wu, and they believe that the incident was an accident.