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Brooklyn New York Legal Blog

Drowsy driving, and how to prevent it

Brooklyn residents should know that drowsiness and driving do not go well together. A 2018 AAA study found that 9.5% of all car crashes are caused by sleepy drivers. The National Sleep Foundation says that going without sleep for 24 hours will have an effect similar to that of having a BAC of .10, surpassing the legal limit of .08.

However, many people continue to drive drowsy. Nearly one third of respondents to a AAA survey said they have driven at least once in the past month in such a fatigued state that they could hardly keep their eyes open. There is no remedy for drowsy driving except adequate sleep: Seven hours is the minimum prescribed by the CDC. Those who get seven hours but still feel tired may have a sleep disorder that affects the quality of their sleep.

Speeding to be focus of 2019 Operation Safe Driver Week

The Operation Safe Driver Week, an annual campaign held by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, is to be held this year in mid-July. Both passenger vehicle and commercial motor vehicle drivers in New York and across the U.S. (across all of North America, in fact) will be affected.

Law enforcement will be on the lookout for drivers who call or text, are intoxicated, drive aggressively, ignore traffic control devices, make improper lane changes and not buckle up, among other signs of unsafe driving. The main focus, though, will be on speeding.

Study: fatal crash risk doubles when drivers take opioids

Approximately 7% of all fatal car crashes in the U.S. involve opioids. Drivers in Brooklyn should know that opioids can make one dizzy and sedated, taking away their alertness and slowing their reactions. Most opioid medications have warnings on their labels saying that one should not take them before driving or operating heavy machinery, but these warnings are being ignored.

With the opioid epidemic continuing unabated as 214 million opioid prescriptions are being issued every year, researchers at Columbia University said they felt motivated to conduct a study on opioid use and its role in initiating fatal two-vehicle crashes. They analyzed 18,321 driver pairs who died in two-vehicle crashes and determined which drivers tested positive for opioids in their bloodstream after death. The study was published in JAMA Network Open.

Construction’s “Fatal Four” cause majority of worker deaths

When you work on a New York construction site, or, conversely, if you are married to someone who works on a New York construction site, you may have legitimate concerns about just how dangerous these types of work environments often are. When you make your living in construction, you do so within one of the nation’s most dangerous industries; numerous hazards on most construction sites can cause serious injuries and death.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, more than 20% of all deaths that occurred in the American private sector in 2017 happened on construction sites. While one out of every five private-sector worker deaths in 2017 came from the construction industry, almost 60% of those work-related fatalities stemmed from the same four root causes.

Volvo to use cameras and sensors to combat drunk driving

Brooklyn residents know that drunk driving is a serious and widespread issue. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 10,874 people in this country died in drunk driving crashes in 2017. Every day, an average of 30 people die in such accidents in the United States. Volvo Cars has announced a plan to use new vehicle safety technology as part of the effort to reduce these crashes.

Starting in the early 2020s, the automaker plans to install cameras and sensors in its vehicles that would monitor drivers for signs of intoxication as well as distraction. The devices, upon detecting these signs, would send a warning signal. If drivers do not respond to it, the devices would then cause the vehicle to intervene by limiting speed or by slowing down and parking in a safe place.

Survey looks at cell phone use while driving

Some Brooklyn drivers may be among the 47 percent who report distracted driving is their primary concern in a survey by Root Insurance. However, many of those same drivers engage in distracted driving behaviors themselves. Root Insurance offers discounts to drivers who do not use their cell phones while they are behind the wheel.

Nearly everyone recognized that there is an issue with drivers using cell phones, with 99 percent saying it was one of the main distractions. More than one-third said they had given a low rating to an Uber or Lyft driver for using a phone while driving, and 89 percent said they would do so. Despite this, many drivers still use their cell phones, and more than one-third said spotting law enforcement is not a deterrent. Over half cited group chats as one of the main distractions offered by a phone while one-third said social media was and 18 percent cited streaming media.

Self-driving cars still have a lot to learn

Drivers in New York may be eagerly anticipating the release of fully autonomous vehicles. However, there are questions as to when that will actually happen and if it should happen in the next few years. One of the big problems has to do with whether or not people will want to give up being in control of their vehicles. There is also the question of what will happen when autonomous vehicles share the road with cars controlled by humans.

Autonomous technology will need to be able to react to a human driver's impatience or otherwise erratic decision making. Self-driving cars will also be able to learn how to account for vehicles that aren't directly in front of them. For instance, cars that have adaptive cruise control generally do a good job detecting the speed of the cars that they are following. However, they may lack the ability to account for slower vehicles that merge from other lanes.

Drivers distracted by emergency vehicles imperil first responders

First responders in New York are always in danger of being struck by vehicles when helping others on the side of the road. Already, 16 first responders have been struck and killed in the first four months of 2019. This is because drivers tend to become distracted around emergency vehicles. A new survey shows that driver distraction is more common than some might think.

First of all, 80 percent of survey respondents said they slow down to get a better look when passing emergency vehicles. This is regardless of whether the vehicle has made a traffic stop or is responding to a crash or fire. Second, 71 percent said they take photos or videos while 66 percent email someone about the incident and 60 percent post on social media regarding it.

Driving while distracted is a tough habit to break

Many motor vehicle accidents in New York are caused by distracted drivers. Whether one is texting or flipping through radio stations, distracted driving falls under the legal category known as "negligence." According to The Travelers Companies, this type of negligence is tough for some people to avoid. The insurance group recently released the results of a survey on the topic.

Distracted driving is often caused by typing texts, sending emails, posting on social media websites, recording videos, shooting photographs and performing online shopping activities. According to the Travelers survey, some drivers find it almost impossible to cease sending and reading texts while driving. A few respondents stated that they would not want to cease their online shopping activities while driving their cars. Nearly 20 percent of those surveyed said that they would continue to drive while distracted even if their actions were against the law. Businesses are often to blame because managers want employees to stay in touch while driving their vehicles.

Construction worker safety checklist

Construction sites are dangerous. This is no secret to hardly anyone, but especially to you as a construction worker. The most common hazards on construction sites include:

  • Falls
  • Scaffold collapse
  • Trench collapse
  • Failure of personal protective equipment
  • Electric shock
  • Repetitive motion injuries

You know that you encounter potentially hazardous circumstances like these every day, and the data is there to back it up. The deadly injury rate in the construction industry is higher than the nationwide average for all other industries. So, how do you stay as safe as possible while working in construction? Here is a safety checklist for construction sites to prevent on-the-job accidents.

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