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Brooklyn New York Legal Blog

Ridesharing drivers put others at risk through drowsiness

Ridesharing drivers generally receive low fares but also various salary incentives. These factors often urge them on to work even when they are drowsy. New York residents should know that the American Academy of Sleep Medicine has a position statement out, published in April 2018 in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, that calls drowsy driving in the ridesharing industry a public safety risk.

The National Transportation Safety Board put the reduction of fatigue-related accidents among its 2017-2018 Most Wanted List of changes that are critical to saving lives on the road. Every year in the U.S., drowsy driving contributes to an average of 328,000 car crashes according to estimates by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

AAA finds what's most distracting on infotainment systems

Infotainment systems can come with features that allow drivers to call, text, surf the web and even finger paint. Researchers analyzed 30 such systems on new 2017 vehicles and argue that many of the features are not only irrelevant to driving but also dangerous. They can lead to inattention behind the wheel, which is already a major issue in New York and elsewhere in the U.S.

Researchers had participants aged 21 to 36 use those 30 systems while driving. Their results, which were for AAA, are as follows: Of the 30 systems, 7 demanded a moderate level of attention, 11 a high level and 12 a very high level. Of the various actions, using the GPS and sending text messages were the most dangerous, distracting drivers for more than 40 seconds each. Even listening to the radio taxed one's attention.

Seat belts diminish severity of liver injuries

The liver and spleen are the two most commonly injured organs in motor vehicle accidents. While a spleen can be surgically removed in an emergency, a liver cannot, which is why preventing liver injuries is of the utmost importance. New York residents should know that researchers from the NYU Langone Hospital-Brooklyn have a study out showing the benefits of seat belt use in this regard.

Granted, seat belt use cannot prevent liver injuries, but it can mitigate their severity. Researchers came to this conclusion after studying the National Trauma Data Bank's cases of liver injury from 2010 to 2015. This amounted to more than 52,200 injury cases whose severity could be accurately classified. Patients were all 18 or older, and only vehicle crashes were considered.

3 tips on how to deal with aggressive drivers

Dealing with angry drivers can be scary. When someone tailgates you, cuts you off or starts yelling at you, you may have no idea how to react. Aggressive motorists may make it more likely for you to be in an accident, and then direct their anger toward you for it. 

The key to handling a hot-headed driver is controlling your reactions. While you may not be able to control how the other person is acting, you are in charge of your own behaviors. Utilize these tips to respond to aggressive motorists.

Road rage, and how to defuse it

Road rage is all too common in New York, but there are several tips that one can follow when faced with an aggressive or impatient driver. It could make all the difference between getting in a crash and avoiding one. For instance, drivers can maintain more "breathing room" from the vehicle in front during traffic jams; that way, if an impatient driver gets too close, they can easily escape.

On multi-lane highways, it is best to move over when impatient drivers begin to honk the horn and flash the headlights at them. So as not to block a passing lane, drivers should not slow down or speed up but rather signal a right turn and follow through with their intention as soon as it's safe.

Proposed bill seeks to reduce deadly truck crashes

Safety advocates in New York are concerned about the danger posed by often-deadly underride truck crashes. These type of accidents occur when a passenger car slides underneath the front, side or rear of a large commercial truck. In many cases, the top of the car is crushed or severed, causing catastrophic and often fatal injuries. Severe head and neck injuries are closely linked to underride crashes, including decapitations. Indeed, every year, hundreds of people lose their lives in severe trucking crashes that include underride damage.

Federal regulations already require large commercial trucks to install underride guards at the rear end. In 2011, 260 people were killed in underride trucking crashes involving a rear-end collision. However, these guards are not required for the front or sides of semi-trailers. A bipartisan bill introduced into Congress, the Stop Underrides Act of 2017, aims to change that. In addition to mandating front and side underride guards, the bill would also require these guards to be present as part of a truck's annual safety inspection. It would update the existing standards for rear underride guards. The proposed legislation would also require the Department of Transportation to review the underride standards every five years.

Crane safety and final rule from OSHA

Workers in New York who routinely use cranes to execute their job duties may be interested to learn about a final rule published by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The rule explains the certification requirements for crane operators and mandates that employers have to ensure that crane operators are able to operate the equipment safely.

According to the final rule, employers have to train operators in the usage of cranes so that they are able to carry out crane-related work duties. The performance of the crane operators must also be evaluated, and those evaluations must be documented.

Study: automated brakes greatly reduce rear-end collisions

When they were designed, automatic emergency braking systems were expected to have a moderate impact on the safety of drivers in New York and across the country. Now, a recent study suggests that the improvement to vehicle safety provided by automatic emergency brakes is far greater than anticipated.

According to the study, vehicles with automatic emergency braking systems avoid far more rear-end collisions than expected and far outperform cars without these systems. The study, conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, looked at vehicle accidents in General Motors vehicles from model years 2013 through 2015. This study included 10 models from Buick, Cadillac and Chevrolet lineups.

How dangerous is it to drive in Brooklyn?

New York drivers may have a reputation for driving aggressively, but that does not always translate into increased risk for drivers in New York City and the surrounding areas. There are many factors that come into play in terms of car crashes in Brooklyn, and not all crashes involve negligent or aggressive drivers.

Following is some information about driver safety in Brooklyn as well as whether traffic fatalities are on the rise or decreasing in the most populous borough in New York.

Fatal construction accident in New York blamed on high winds

Falling debris at a construction site in Brooklyn killed a 44-year-old man the day before Thanksgiving. Two of his sons were working with him at 859 Myrtle Avenue, and one son pulled his father from beneath the metal wall that fell on him. In a press conference, the son said that no one should have been working on the roof that day because of the high winds. He insisted that the accident did not have to happen.

The Brooklyn Borough president joined the son at the press conference and said that the fatal accident required a full investigation. The borough president said that the high winds that day had prompted the crane operators to refuse to work. He expressed concern that the victim had been told to work as a way to get around the work stoppage by the crane operators. Confirmation has yet to emerge that crane operators actually warned supervisors about the dangerous conditions. The contractor, Empire ID Construction, has not provided a public comment.

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