Articles Posted in Traffic Accidents

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

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

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

On March 24, a train accident occurred in Mentz, NY resulting in the death of a passenger in the vehicle. The accident occurred at the North Main Street railroad station when a work van drove around the flashing lights and horizontal bars that signaled a train coming; one person was ejected from the vehicle and died. The accident occurred at approximately 6:50 a.m., leaving one line open for the passing of freight trains with both lines being open by 12 noon; the two sets of tracks are major routes with 50-60 freight and Amtrak passenger trains passing through daily.

Rob Doolittle, communications director for the CSX railroad, stated that the Federal Railroad Administration estimates that every three hours a person or vehicle is struck by a train. In 2015, there were 31 incidents in New York where a train struck a vehicle at a railroad crossing.  These accidents resulted in eight deaths and 59 injuries. Doolittle said the deaths were unfortunate and that people should pay attention at all times. People who live near train tracks may think they know the train schedule; however, it is never a good idea to ignore the warning signs because trains today travel quickly and are much quieter.   In some instances, drivers may not realize that as one train passes another could be passing in the opposite direction.

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Each year, an astonishing 1.3 million people die in car crashes, and a whopping 20-50 million are injured. Car accidents are the 9th leading cause of death among adults and the #1 cause of death among young people. These crashes cost U.S. citizens over $230.6 billion each year. The vast majority of these accidents are caused by negligent and reckless drivers.

fries.jpgIn fact, a new study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, described in the NY Daily News, has shown that 80% of car accidents in the U.S. are caused by distracted drivers who are eating while driving. While many drivers feel confident in their multitasking abilities, the facts show that eating while driving is dangerous. An alarming 70% of drivers eat while driving, and 83% drink beverages. Eating and drinking distracts drivers. Rather than focusing on the road, drivers are focused on rooting around in the bag for the last French fry and unwrapping a sandwich.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that burgers are the most commonly eaten food during food-related car accidents. Given the prevalence of fast food restaurants and the relative ease of grabbing a burger to-go from a drive thru, this is not surprising. What is surprising, though, are the other top contenders on the list. Soup, tacos, chili dogs, ribs, wings, fried chicken, jelly donuts, and chocolate are all top culprits. In addition, coffee and soda have been notorious for causing spills that distract drivers and cause 65% of near misses.

The United States Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently released a research note on the prevalence of drivers using hand held devices while driving. NHTSA is tasked with keeping the roads safe. It does so by conducting research on driver behavior and traffic safety, enforcing safety performance standards for motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment and providing information to consumers and other road users.

The note is based on a survey by the National Center for Statistics and Analysis which along with NHTSA is part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The survey, the National Occupant Protection Use survey (NOPUS), is the only nation-wide probability based survey of device use conducted in the United States. The NOPUS is based on in-person observation taken by surveyors at intersections during daylight hours. The information is only recorded from stopped vehicles by trained volunteers and the data collected includes such information as age, gender, race and vehicle type (car or truck).

Perhaps counterintuitively, the NOPUS found no statistically relevant increase in the use of drivers text messaging or visibly manipulating electronic devices with the rate increasing only marginally from 1.3 percent in 2011 to 1.5 percent in 2012. Driver’s hand-held cell phone use remained steady at 5 percent. The rate of drivers holding a phone directly to their ear while driving also stayed at 5 percent. This figure translates into 66,000 drivers driving while holding a phone to their ear at any given daytime moment during 2012. The statistics also mean that at any given daytime moment in 2012 9 percent of drivers were using some type of device.

The parents of Even Lieberman, a 19-year-old college student killed in a 2011 car accident, are calling upon lawmakers to toughen distracted driving laws in New York. In response to their son’s death, which was caused in part by distracted driving, parents Ben and Debbie Lieberman formed the organization DORCs–Distracted Operators Risk Casualties. The organization seeks to inform the public about the dangers of distracted driving and calls upon state legislators to treat distracted driving as seriously as drunk driving.

While Plains resident Jacy Good, an advocate for DORCs, lost both of her parents and suffered a life-long injury as a result of being in a distracted driving car accident. Highlighting the dangers of distracted driving, Good stated, “It is critically important that distracted driving laws are as strictly enforced as drunk driving laws have become. We know that the simple act of having a conversation on a cell phone delays our reaction time and causes cognitive impairment resulting in attention blindness that leaves a driver with the same or worse driving ability as a driver with a .08 percent blood-alcohol content–the legal threshold for driving drunk.”

car phone.jpgAs detailed in a USA Today story, on the early morning of June 16, 2011, 19-year-old Michael Fiddle was driving Evan Lieberman and two other friends to their summer job on Long Island. Fiddle got into a head-on collision that killed Lieberman and injured the two other passengers. Fiddle claimed that he fell asleep at the wheel. He never faced any criminal charges as a result of the fatal accident. However, as a result of a civil lawsuit filed against Fiddle by Lieberman’s parents, investigators were able to subpoena Fiddle’s cell phone records at the time of the crash. Administrative Law Judge Donna Marinacci ruled that the records showed that Fiddle was texting at the time of the accident which “constituted gross negligence in the operation of a motor vehicle” and showed a “reckless disregard for life.” Fiddle’s license was suspended for one year as a result of the ruling.

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