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Brooklyn New York Legal Blog

Study: school start time may affect how safely teens drive

Teens in New York, as elsewhere, are at risk for drowsy and distracted driving. The two can go together as drowsiness impairs judgment and leads teens to take more risks and become unsafe. Teens tend to sleep for 8 to 10 hours and wake up late in the day, and this habit can put them in danger when school starts early in the morning.

The Journal of Clinical Medicine has published a study that tentatively links later school start times with a reduction in the rate of car crashes, especially distraction-related crashes, that involve teen drivers. Researchers focused on Fairfax County in Virginia, which, back in fall 2015, pushed back its school start time from 7:20 a.m. to 8:10 a.m.

Five tips for teen drivers to avoid distraction

In a survey conducted by The Zebra, 38% of drivers aged 18 to 24 admitted to texting while on the road. The problem is clearly not a lack of education, as the overwhelming majority of drivers know that what they are doing is wrong. In New York, as elsewhere in the U.S., this means that a great many accidents are caused by drivers who never thought it could have happened to them.

There are three forms of distractions: cognitive, visual and manual. In short, the first distracts the mind, the second the eyes and the third the hands. While phone use comprises all three, something as simple as eating and drinking or changing radio stations can prove to be dangerous to drivers. The following five tips, though, can keep drivers, especially teen drivers, from falling into these dangers.

NHTSA's car safety rating system needs upgrading, new report says

In the 1990s, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration established a five-star rating system for vehicle safety. Many drivers in New York and across the U.S. rely on this rating when purchasing a vehicle, which is why it's important to know that some experts believe the rating system needs updating. A former leader in the development of NHTSA's crash testing program published a report about this in October 2019.

The author states that the crash testing on which the rating system is based is insufficient. The federal government is lagging behind Europe, Asia and Latin America in this regard. The report states that Europe crash-tests its vehicles four times as much as the U.S. before rating their safety.

Amherst car collision sends six to hospital

Reports claim that six people were injured following a car crash that occurred in Amherst on Jan. 31. It involved two vehicles -- an Amherst Police vehicle and a 2012 Chevrolet with five occupants. According to the Amherst Police Department, the officer was responding to a call when the crash arose. As for who was at fault, this has yet to be determined; the crash is under investigation.

The occupants of the 2012 Chevrolet were all University at Buffalo students with the driver identified as a 20-year-old woman from Centereach. The five were taken to the Erie County Medical Center. Of those, three (including the driver) were listed in stable condition and two in critical condition. The police officer, who had non-life-threatening injuries, was transported to Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital.

Finding out who was at fault in multi-car collisions

Brooklyn residents who have been involved in a multi-vehicle crash probably know how hard it can be to determine fault. It takes all kinds of evidence to do this: the police reports, for example, and even evidence from the crash site like skid marks and vehicle debris. Eyewitness testimony frequently helps, too, even if it is testimony from the drivers themselves who were in the crash.

The following is a basic outline of how fault can be established. Say that three cars are involved in a chain reaction of rear-end collisions. Driver A brakes to avoid a danger, and Driver B initiates the crash because he or she was following too closely. Then, Driver C, also tailgating, increases the impact felt by Driver A. In this case, Driver A can file a claim against both Drivers B and C as they both violated a basic traffic rule. Even Driver B can hold Driver C responsible despite being partially to blame for Driver A's injuries.

Avoiding the top four common types of auto accidents

New York drivers may want to hear what the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has to say about the four most common types of car accidents. They are front-impact, side-impact, rear-end and parking lot collisions. Drivers can usually prevent each one by following certain safety tips.

According to the IIHS, front-impact collisions made up 54% of all serious crashes in 2016. These can occur between two vehicles or between a vehicle and another object like a telephone pole or tree. Drivers can avoid them by reducing their speed on slippery roads, avoiding phone use and other distracting activities and having lane-keeping assist installed in their vehicle.

When to replace a child’s car seat after a crash

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends buckling children under age 12 in the back seat of your vehicle. Depending on the height and weight of your son or daughter, you should also use an appropriate child car seat or booster seat. While most safety-rated car seats contain high-quality materials that are strong and durable, they are not invincible. 

Following any car crash, you should take certain steps to protect yourself and assert your legal rights. Replacing a car seat that looks fine may not be high on your priority list. Still, in some collisions, car seats can develop microscopic cracks or other types of damage that make them unsafe. To know whether you need to replace your child’s car seat, you must weigh the seriousness of the accident. 

Red-light cameras stir controversy despite the good they do

New York residents may or may not support the use of red-light cameras at certain intersections. Nationwide, there has been controversy over these devices, and as a result, fewer communities are installing them. In 2012, 533 communities had them, but by mid-2018, that number fell to 421.

First, the benefits of red-light cameras have been revealed through studies by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and other safety organizations. IIHS data shows that cameras can reduce red-light running violations by some 40%. Big cities with camera systems also experience 21% fewer fatalities from red-light running crashes than do other big cities.

Drivers claim anti-drunk-driving IID a distraction on the road

Brooklyn residents may have heard of the ignition interlock device, an in-car breathalyzer that prevents drunk drivers from heading out on the road. The number of IIDs installed has grown from 133,000 to 350,000 over the past decade, and 34 states have a law requiring these devices in the vehicles of DUI offenders. Those states, incidentally, see 15% fewer alcohol-related crash fatalities than the other states.

While there are numerous benefits linked to the use of IIDs, there is one drawback. It's linked to the fact that IIDs require a "rolling retest" while the car is in motion. While this keeps drivers from using the trick where they have a sober friend blow into the breathalyzer to start the car, it has been a factor in a large number of car crashes, according to a recent investigation.

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