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Brooklyn New York Legal Blog

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.

Park Slope crash results in new law

In New York state, a new law prohibits drivers who fall asleep behind the wheel to drive again until they have been cleared by a doctor. The law was created after an accident in 2018 that left two people dead and three people injured. One of the injured victims was a pregnant woman who would later miscarry her child. The driver who caused the crash had a seizure before running a red light at Ninth Street and Fifth Avenue.

According to prosecutors, the driver knew that she was not healthy enough to operate a motor vehicle. The woman had been involved in an accident several weeks before the crash that occurred in Park Slope, which also was the result of a medical issue. Lawmakers said that the new law would have prevented the woman from driving after that incident.

Study finds dangers associated with car safety systems

Some New York drivers who have safety technology installed in their vehicles may actually be more dangerous on the road than if they did not have it. Some experts say drivers need to be better educated about what these systems are and are not capable of.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety did a study in conjunction with researchers at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute in which they looked at video footage of drivers. They found that drivers did not seem to realize that even with automatic safety systems, it is necessary to remain engaged and alert. Technology that keeps drivers in their lane can nudge the steering wheel of a drifting car, and adaptive cruise control can help keep cars a safe distance from one another. However, unlike what will be necessary with self-driving vehicles, this technology cannot make sophisticated decisions.

More than 40% of construction worker deaths stem from falls

Construction sites are undeniably dangerous places to make a living. If you are among the many people across New York who work in construction, you may have firsthand knowledge of the field’s numerous hazards. While some construction site accidents are likely preventable, others are less so. Construction site falls may land themselves in either category, depending on circumstances.

According to Safety & Health, falls are one of the most substantial hazards you face working in construction, with falls ultimately causing more than 40% of all construction industry deaths. Just how often are today’s construction workers experiencing falls that result in fatalities?

Drowsy driving may be far deadlier than official figures suggest

Drowsy driving has been a serious road safety issue in New York and around the country for many years, and studies suggest that the problem is far more widespread than government figures suggest. Crashes caused by fatigued drivers claimed 795 lives in 2017 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, but researchers from the American Automobile Association say that the true death toll is much higher. The nonprofit organization Foundation for Traffic Safety has reported that drowsy driving causes about 6,400 fatal car accidents in the United States every year.

When polled about the problem, most drivers say that they routinely drive while drowsy despite understanding that fatigue impairs reaction times and concentration in the much same way as alcohol. When 2,003 motorists were questioned by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, an alarming 45% of them admitted to remaining behind the wheel even when they were barely able to keep their eyes open.

Legislation aims to stop drunk drivers before they start

People in New York are often concerned about the dangers of drunk driving. After all, every day, 30 people across the country lose their lives in car accidents caused by drivers under the influence. After a drunk driving conviction, drivers may be required to install an ignition interlock device that allows them to only start the car after blowing a clean Breathalyzer test. However, this equipment is not included on standard vehicles, and it can be expensive to install when ordered by a court. Some members of Congress want to change that and mandate that all cars be equipped with alcohol-detection technology.

A bipartisan group of Senators introduced the Reduce Impaired Driving for Everyone Act of 2019, also called the RIDE Act. They say that their bill would save thousands of lives each year due to preventing impaired drivers from getting behind the wheel and causing serious motor vehicle collisions. It would require all new vehicles to be equipped with alcohol detection technologies by their manufacturers by 2024. It would also fund research and development of more advanced software to detect the presence of alcohol and establish a program to test this software on fleet vehicles used by federal and state governments as well as private partners. These vehicles would serve as testing cars before the requirement for public sales went into effect.

How opioids may be behind many fatal two-car crashes

Residents of New York who use opioids for chronic pain or acute injuries probably know what the effects can be like. For people who are not used to the effects, it is common to experience psychomotor and cognitive impairment. Opioids can cause drowsiness and impair judgment. It's not surprising, then, that opioid use and driving do not go together.

However, a study published recently in JAMA Network Open has found that in fatal two-car crashes, the drivers who initiated them were twice as likely to test positive for opioids as the other driver. Researchers analyzed 18,321 fatal two-car crashes recorded in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System and focused on those 1,467 drivers who were found with opioids in their system. While 549 of them were not at fault for the crashes in which they were involved, the remaining 918 were.

Drowsy driving causes crashes and these drivers are most at risk

Most workers feel exhausted driving home to Brooklyn after a long night shift. Some of them might experience the warning signs of dangerous drowsiness that could lead to car accidents. Frequent blinking and yawning, lane drifting and blanking out for miles indicate that drivers are at a heightened risk of falling asleep behind the wheel. Shift workers who put in long hours or night hours are among the categories of people most at risk for drowsy driving accidents. Commercial drivers are also vulnerable to getting tired while operating buses, tractor-trailers or tow trucks.

On top of occupational causes, sleepiness can result from untreated sleep disorders and medications. Sleep apnea is a condition that prevents people from sleeping properly because it continually interrupts their breathing. Their lack of restful sleep places them among drivers with greater risks of drowsy driving. People who ignore medication warnings about drowsy side effects or do not realize what medication might do can expose themselves to drowsy driving risks as well.

Ladder use leads to 500,000 falls annually

Chances are, if you make your living working as a roofer or construction worker, you rely on ladders on a near-daily basis to perform the basic functions of your job. Ladder use, however, is responsible for a high number of injuries and deaths every year, with Industrial Safety & Hygiene News revealing some surprising and sobering statistics about the dangers of using ladders.

An average of 500,000 people seek medical treatment for ladder-related injuries every year in the United States. Far more likely suffer injuries in ladder incidents, but decide not to seek treatment. About 300 of the approximately 500,000 people who seek treatment annually after ladder-related falls wind up succumbing to their injuries.

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