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Brooklyn New York Legal Blog

Car crash deaths rise on 4/20

April 20 is a self-proclaimed holiday for all marijuana users in New York and across the U.S. Because of the increased use of marijuana on this day, many hospitals see an increase in the number of visits from marijuana users suffering from vomiting and intoxication. However, a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine suggests that the effect is more far-reaching.

Researchers analyzed the rate of fatal car crashes across the U.S. from 1992, when the 4/20 holiday was already widespread, to 2016. They found that on that date, fatal car crash rates increased by 12 percent on average.

New study shows how drowsy driving is a big risk

Researchers from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety have released a new study that may be of interest to drivers in New York. It claims that drowsy driving, while not as dangerous as distracted or drunk driving, is nevertheless a major risk.

U.S. government statistics show that 1 to 2 percent of all accidents involve drowsiness, but the numbers may actually be much higher. There are several reasons for the discrepancy. Drivers may not admit they were drowsy or even know they were or die in the accident. Police also have no way to measure drowsiness like they do with alcohol. This is why data other than what's provided in police reports, such as in-vehicle camera footage, is badly needed.

Avoiding distracted driving is a safety priority

New Yorkers taking to the roadways are right to be concerned about the prevalence and danger of distracted driving. As smartphones have become more popular, they have been accompanied by a range of apps that provide easy and tempting distractions for drivers behind the wheel. In recent years, there has been a continuous rise in the number of car accidents that cause fatalities, and a number of researchers have connected this growing risk with the rise of smartphone communication.

In general, even distracted drivers know that this behavior is dangerous and should be avoided; however, when behind the wheel, sitting at a red light or stuck in traffic, drivers continue to succumb to distraction. One study conducted by Consumer Reports indicated that half of the licensed drivers with smartphones indicated that they text, email, use apps or play music on their phones at times while operating their vehicles.

Brooklyn gas station could pose risk to schoolchildren

Brooklyn pedestrians are facing danger when they walk along the streets, according to some local parents concerned about the traffic near a gas station on Fourth Avenue. The service station is located near an elementary school in the Sunset Park neighborhood, and parents say that children and families walking to and from the school a block away often must dodge cars racing to get gas. Many times, the cars actually drive up on the sidewalk in violation of traffic laws.

Parents have expressed their concern that children walking by themselves are especially at risk for motor vehicle accidents caused by cars that drive in reverse to exit the station or that suddenly pop up on the sidewalks. Some families have complained that there has been insufficient action from the gas station and even the city in order to prevent potentially dangerous accidents. There are, for example, no concrete barriers, poles, blocks or even painted lines that clearly differentiate between the gas station parking lot and the public sidewalk. This lack of signage or blockades makes it easy for cars to enter and exit via the sidewalk.

Study shows speeding to blame for increase in traffic deaths

Many New York residents may already be aware that traffic deaths across the U.S. have continued to increase over the last few years. However, many traffic experts are not entirely sure why. While some may theorize that the overall increase in driving and the use of smartphones by both motorists and pedestrians are to blame, another study has determined that speeding is the major factor.

The study, which was conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board, analyzed passenger vehicle crashes that occurred from 2005 to 2014. Although the number of traffic fatalities decreased throughout the 10 years the study looked at, the percentage of fatalities that were attributed to speeding remained relatively constant. Ultimately, it was determined that 31 percent of all traffic fatalities, which came out to about 112,580 deaths, that occurred during those 10 years were attributed to speeding. Comparatively, 112,948 people were killed in drunk driving accidents during the same time period.

When people should report accidents in New York

Each year in New York, thousands of motor vehicle accidents happen. When people are involved in accidents, they might wonder whether they are required to report them or if they can instead handle them on their own without police involvement. It is important for drivers to understand their requirements for reporting accidents.

Under New York law, motorists who are involved in accidents must immediately report them to law enforcement if anyone is injured or killed. If there is property damage that exceeds $1,001, all of the drivers who were involved must file motor vehicle accident report forms with the Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days of the accident. If they fail to file these reports, they may have their drivers' licenses suspended.

The benefits of wearable technology on risky job sites

Wearable technology may help keep New York workers safe while also reducing insurance costs. A tool developed by Triax Technologies is designed to be worn on a worker's tool belt, and it tracks that person's location wherever he or she goes. Those who are responsible for job site safety stay updated about a worker's whereabouts through a mesh internet system.

If a worker falls or otherwise gets hurt, the device can send out a notification with important details about the accident. For instance, it can help safety personnel determine how far a person may have fallen and if others may have witnessed it. Wearable technology may prove useful in stopping accidents from happening or lessening the impact of those that do. This is how technology, such as that developed by Triax, may keep insurance costs down.

Third-party lawsuits in the construction industry

The construction industry is notorious for being one of the most dangerous jobs in America. Workers face everything from falls to exposure to toxic chemicals and harsh weather. In 2015, over 21 percent of all employee deaths were in construction alone, and fatalities in this sector increased by nearly 6 percent in 2016, records the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Most of the time, these job site accidents result in workers' compensation claims. Sometimes, however, they may also lead to third-party lawsuits for maximum compensation. Know the laws ahead of time so you can prepare in case you sustain an injury at a construction site.

OSHA to promote female construction worker safety

While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is known for upholding safety regulations among all sorts of industries, it sometimes partners with other organizations to take on specific problems in high-hazard industries. In New York and elsewhere, the construction industry is considered one of the most dangerous, and this is especially true for female workers. In response to this, OSHA has renewed an alliance with the National Association of Women in Construction.

Founded in 1955, NAWIC provides over 4,000 female construction workers nationwide with the resources they need to further their education and professional development. Its alliance with OSHA will continue for five years, during which time they will raise awareness of certain issues. They involve topics like sanitation and the selection of personal protective equipment. They will also tackle the issue of workplace violence, which includes not just physical violence but also harassment and intimidation.

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