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Motus connects smartphones to rise in mobile worker car crashes

Drivers in Brooklyn are probably aware that distracted driving is a serious safety issue. According to the 2018 Distracted Driving Report from Motus, a workforce management company, this issue is especially common with the mobile workforce. Mobile workers are always connected, so it's not surprising that they would be prone to using their smartphones behind the wheel.

The report actually links the increase in smartphone ownership with the rise in auto accidents among mobile workers. In 2013, 55 percent of mobile workers owned smartphones whereas 77 percent did in 2017. In that same five-year period, the number of crashes among mobile workers rose from 5.7 million to 6.4 million.

Study looks at influence of reality-based programs on safety

Motor vehicle accidents are the top cause of accidental death among teens, but teenagers in New York might be safer drivers if they take a supplemental driving program that exposes them to the dangers of certain behaviors. Researchers at Baylor University in Texas examined how the attitudes of teen drivers toward safety changed after they participated in a six-hour program that included visits to a morgue, intensive care unit and emergency room.

There were 21 participants in the program, which included lectures, discussions, videos and more. Participants completed surveys at the beginning and end of the program about risky driving behavior. At the end of the program, they had a better awareness of the dangers of speeding and how much their peers can influence their likelihood of drinking and driving. However, only six participants filled out the follow-up survey two months later. The four who drove during that time all said they had texted and talked on the phone while driving. Two admitted to speeding. As a result, researchers deemed the follow-up inconclusive.

How to reduce the risk of hydroplaning

Late summer and early fall can be very rainy in Brooklyn and surrounding areas. As a result, it's important for motorists to know basic safety tips for driving in this type of weather.

According to traffic safety experts, hydroplaning is one of the top causes of weather-related car crashes. Hydroplaning occurs when rainwater gets between a vehicle's tires and the surface of the road. If the layer of water becomes too thick, the tires can float off the pavement and lose all contact with the road, making it easy to spin out of control. The risk of hydroplaning is usually highest during the first few minutes of rainfall. This is because oil residue on the pavement mixes with the water to create slick spots. Once the oil washes away, the risk reduces, but drivers should remain cautious on all wet roadways.

Rear automatic brakes can reduce backup crash rates

A test conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has shown that rear automatic braking, a safety option on only 5 percent of new vehicles, can cut down on the number of backup crashes by 62 percent. The IIHS also found that if these brakes are combined with rearview cameras and backup warning sensors, the risk can be lowered by 78 percent. New York residents with newer vehicles may want to consider these safety features.

In the test, the IIHS gave a superior rating to two models, the 2017 Subaru Outback and the Cadillac XT5 SUV, and an advanced rating to four other vehicles for avoiding crashes and significantly reducing vehicle speeds. One vehicle, though, crashed with a dummy car parked at an angle because the former failed to automatically brake.

Pedestrian safety as the weather changes

School is in full swing and you’ve become accustomed to seeing children walking or riding their bikes in the mornings and afternoons. You make a point to be vigilant at crosswalks and to stop whenever a school bus turns on its caution lights or extends its safety arm. You are careful to be aware of your surroundings while driving, and you are courteous and follow the rules. However, the changing season introduces hazards for you and other New York residents that you haven’t seen in a year. It’s vital for the pedestrians around you that you are aware of the risks.

The following road and weather conditions will become more prevalent in the coming weeks as summer gives way to autumn, and you feel the pre-winter chill in the air:

  • Early morning frost can fog up your windows and reduce visibility.
  • Frost and ice will make the roads more slippery.
  • Rain, mud and fallen leaves can create a slick surface to drive on.
  • The sun’s changing position can create a harsh glare at unexpected times, especially in the early afternoon.
  • Strong winds can throw falling leaves, twigs and other debris onto your windshield, reducing your visibility or frightening you as you drive.

New York construction deaths up 41 percent in 2 years

A worrying number of construction workers are being killed in workplace accidents in New York, and an advocacy group says that lax safety standards on nonunion constructions sites and less-than-vigorous enforcement of industry safety standards by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are largely to blame. The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health made the claims in its most recent annual report.

According to the NYCOSH report, construction site deaths in New York increased by a worrying 41 percent from 50 in 2014 to 71 in 2016. The most common cause of death cited was falls, and most of the workers killed were employed on nonunion sites where the group says fall protection regulations are often ignored. NYCOSH puts the blame for the soaring fatality rate squarely on employers and regulators and points out that it cannot be explained by increased construction activity.

Roundabouts could reduce the risk of severe crashes

Some rural roads in New York are particularly prone to dangerous crashes and other incidents. When roads with high speed limits come together at intersections marked by only a stop sign, severe collisions are often inevitable. This is especially true when visibility in the area is limited. In an attempt to reduce the number of such crashes, traffic engineers are looking to roundabouts.

While a traffic light is a common solution proposed when a junction becomes a site for frequent, serious car accidents, it may not be the only option. Traffic lights cut down on the number of incidents at a particular location, but they may not reduce the severity of the motor vehicle collisions that still happen. On the other hand, a traffic circle may not make such a substantial reduction in the number of overall crashes. However, the collisions that do occur are usually minor. In some locations, roundabouts could cut injury risks by up to 89 percent.

Basic safety tips drivers should follow

Drivers traveling on New York roads should be completely focused on their surroundings. Eliminating distractions can be an effective way for motorists to get themselves and their passengers to a destination safely. Safe driving means obeying posted speed limits and avoiding speeds that are too fast for road conditions. It also means not using a phone, eating or performing other tasks while a car is in motion.

Those who need to stop for a snack or a drink should pull over to the side of the road. Time should also be built into a trip for snack, rest or other breaks while traveling to a destination. Mirrors, seats and other vehicle components should be adjusted before a person starts the car. If an item falls while a car is moving, a driver should not attempt to reach for it.

NIH study shows teen drivers crash more once licensed

The National Institutes for Health has collaborated with university researchers on a new study about teen driving behaviors. Researchers observed 90 teen and 131 parent participants, using dashcams to observe drivers and the road while letting special software record speed and braking data. Their study period ranged from the time that drivers received their learner's permits to the year after they obtained their licenses. Teen drivers in New York may be surprised by the results.

The conclusion was that teens are eight times more likely to get in a crash or near-miss with another vehicle in the three months after obtaining their licenses than in the three months before. Many teens engage in unsafe driving behaviors such as turning too severely, braking harshly and accelerating quickly. Researchers also noted that while teens drive more safely than adults at night and in bad weather, they drive worse on bright, clear days.

Why elevators are dangerous for construction site workers

The dangers of working at a construction site are many, from falling off scaffolding to getting stuck in or under heavy machinery. It is no surprise the industry has so many fatalities, though many of these are preventable by following OSHA guidelines to the T.

Though falls receive much deserved attention, one source of this type of accident may not: the elevator shaft. A necessary contraption for getting up and down a tall building can also be a deadly fall for construction workers.

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