Articles Posted in Traffic Accidents

New York City speed cameras are proving to be a lucrative source of income for city coffers. According to Staten Island Live, the expansion of speed cameras around the City is now generating $455 every minute in revenue. While the fines are only $50 per violation, the massive increase in cameras over the summer has already issued more than 500,000 violations to speeding motorists. The tickets are automatically sent to the owner of any vehicle going more than 10 miles per hour above the speed limit.

The speed cameras are clustered around school zones, according to city officials. After a successful trial showed that the cameras changed drivers behavior over time, politicians in Albany expanded the program over the summer. Beginning on July 11, 2019, the number of school zones with cameras increased substantially from 140 to 750. Overall, this amounts to almost 290,000 cameras installed around school zones in the five boroughs. Further, the cameras started issuing tickets all day – from 6 a.m to 10 p.m. on weekdays. Previously, the cameras only operated only during the time period when school began and ended.

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New York police went undercover this month to catch speeding drivers in Westchester by posing as highway construction workers. According to CT Post, the police officers disguised themselves and then staked out work zones on I-684 in what they named “Operation Hard Hat.” The ‘operation’ was apparently successful, with almost 50 tickets issued to drivers in just a couple days. The police say the tickets issued to motorists included traffic violations from talking on the phone while driving to speeding. However, the most common citation involved a violation of New York’s “Move Over” law, which requires motorists to either move out of the lane closest to construction workers or, if that is not possible, slow their vehicle down to a crawl while passing through the work zone.
Under New York law, fines are doubled for motorists when their violation occurs in a work zone. The “work zone trap” set up by New York police in disguise is an increasingly popular way of responding to the increase in car accidents occurring in work zones. Last year, more than 700 crashes in New York occurred in a work zone. These crashes led to 329 injuries and 13 fatalities, according to CT Post. The New York Transportation Commissioner applauded the efforts by Westchester police, saying “The Success of Operation Hard Hat is imperative – it protects our transportation workers and raises awareness to the serious issue of work zone safety.”

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The number of pedestrians injured by bicyclists in New York City increased 12 this year, according to the NYPD. In a summer with bicycle accidents dominating headlines, public safety advocates are now sounding the alarm bells for pedestrians. In a recent opinion-editorial published by The New York Post, the author argues that the two problems are both related to each other and caused by, among other factors, a bicycle culture that disregards traffic laws and safety.

According to the newspaper, Mayor Bill de Blasio has built more than 100 miles of protected bicycle lanes since coming into office. Studies consistently show that bicycle lanes create safer conditions for travelers of all kinds – pedestrians, bicyclists and car drivers. In addition to the expansion of infrastructure dedicated to bicycles, the city has also retrofitted intersections and lowered speed limits as part of its ‘Vision Zero’ initiative. Given the safety improvements, bicycling should have become safer in the city. In the first few years data show a sharp drop in accidents but this year the NYPD reports 127 pedestrian injuries, up from 113 recorded this time last year. Continue reading

Citi Bike removed its electric bikes from New York City’s streets after a slew of bicyclists reported braking problems. The popular bike sharing service made the announcement after The New York Daily News reported a “stronger than expected braking force on the front wheel” resulted in launching the bicyclists over their handlebars. The tabloid magazine said Lyft, the owner of Citi Bike, confirmed that six people sought medical treatment from injuries caused by faulty electric bicyclists. According to Bicycling.com, at least one rider broke his hip and dozens of other electric bike riders reported “close calls, scrapes, and other minor injuries.”

Electric bicycles provide an extra “boost” when a bicyclist pedals and can reach up to 18 miles-per-hour, according to Citi Bike. Consequently, a faulty braking mechanism possesses the potential to cause serious harm to the bicyclist. Commenting on the removal of electric bicycles in New York (and two other cities where Lyft operates bike-sharing programs), spokesperson Julie Wood said, “After a small number of reports and out of an abundance of caution, we are proactively pausing our electric bikes from service. Safety always comes first.”

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched a program to study injuries caused by electric scooters. Dockless, electronic scooter companies have invaded cities across the country hoping to further revolutionize the transport in America. According to a report by CNBC, companies such as Lime and Bird now operate in over 100 cities in the country. Despite their rapid expansion, there is little data on the safety of providing electric scooters to anyone over the age of 18. Riders of electronic scooters are known to drive on sidewalks, streets, or any other surface available and many of their scooters can reach speeds up to 15 mph.

Federal agencies appear to have finally woken up to the potential threat to public safety, which one emergency room doctor described as a “disruptive technology” to CNBC. The new study will be limited to the city of Austin and the CDC says it plans to “identify the risk factors for those who get injured, how severe their injuries are and why they’re getting hurt.” While still in the preliminary stages, data provided by Austin-area emergency rooms has already provided some answers. According to the CDC, 98 percent of emergency room visitors with injuries caused by an electronic scooter were not wearing their helmet. Further, a little more than half of the injured were under the influence of alcohol or another drug. The majority of electronic scooter injuries were caused by falls. Perhaps surprisingly, injuries caused by electronic scooters do not increase during the nighttime hours.

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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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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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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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New York City became the first city in America to put a cap on the number of vehicles used by ride-hailing services last month. The move by City Council is part of a broader regulatory scheme meant to address a range of issues concerning ride-hailing services including their effect on medallion prices, driver wages and benefits, and limited access for New Yorkers with disabilities. Uber, Lyft, and Via – the three most prominent ride-hailing services in the five boroughs – decried the regulation and said that their services offered a pivotal service to low-income New Yorkers without access to taxis or the subway, in addition to jobs with flexible schedules.

In addition to capping the number of vehicles used by ride-hailing services at their current level of 100,00, the bill also allows for New York to set a minimum hourly rate for Uber and Lyft drivers. Previously, these drivers were considered independent contractors under the law – not employees – and therefore were not subject to minimum wage laws, among other protections given to employees. According to the City Council and Mayor de Blasio, the new law will put a “pause” on the industry for twelve months while it commissions a study on the effect of ride-hailing services on congestion which the Mayor said contributed to the “congestion grinding our streets to a halt” without citing any evidence.

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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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