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Brooklyn New York Legal Blog

Small car drivers more likely to be injured

Car accidents in New York can be dangerous and painful no matter what kind of vehicles are involved. There is an escalating fatality rate due to motor vehicle crashes across the country despite the advances in safety features that have been developed by auto manufacturers. New vehicles often feature 10 airbags around the cabin in an attempt to avoid injuries as well as backup cameras, lane detection technologies and other systems that aim to prevent crashes from taking place.

However, despite these features, motor vehicle accidents continue to occur and are on the rise in many places. These crashes are often caused by dangerous or negligent driving and can be influenced by weather issues or even mechanical problems. The vehicle that a person is driving also affects how protected he or she is in case of an accident. In general, personal injury claims are the most frequent in smaller and lighter cars. In many cases, the drivers of these vehicles are not at fault for the crash, but they may suffer more severe injuries than those in larger vehicles like SUVs or pickup trucks.

Travelers warns of more distracted drivers in summer

In the summer, as most drivers in New York are aware, more people are on the road for vacations and holiday celebrations. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that drivers travel 20 percent more miles in summer than in winter. It also states that the months of June, July and August see 29 percent more deaths on America's roads than the months of December, January and February.

June, July and August also happen to be the months when drivers look most at their phones rather than the road, according to a study by TrueMotion. Using sensor data from their distracted driving mobile app, the smartphone telematics platform analyzed the behavior of more than 20,000 drivers during the trips that they took from January 2017 to May 2018. It found that in the summer, drivers are distracted for an average of 15 minutes per hour, which is 10 percent more than in the rest of the year.

Which is safer, cars or public transportation?

In general, it is safer for you to hop on public transportation rather than get behind the wheel of a car. Sure, bus, ferry or airplane crashes generate the most headlines, but cars are the ones to worry about.

What about the transit stations themselves? Say a bus or subway stop is in a sketchy part of town. Are you at serious risk of a mugging? If the area is isolated, you could be. However, you could be at risk in isolated parking lots as well. Alternatively, suppose that you are standing on the bus, someone brushes by you, and the next thing you know, your wallet is missing. Yes, theft on public transportation does happen, and things can get dicey if you catch on in the middle of the theft and try to challenge the perpetrator.

Distracted driving poses a growing threat

Distracted driving is on the rise in Brooklyn and across the country. There are a number of factors that can play a role in the proliferation of distraction on the road, but one of them could be the built-in entertainment and guidance systems that are featured in many of today's most popular vehicles. Because these systems are much more full-featured than the car radios of the past, they present a comparatively greater potential for distraction. A study by the AAA's Foundation for Traffic Safety indicates that this could undermine safety on the roads.

The increase in distracted driving is also tied to the rise of the smartphone, which has become a ubiquitous accessory. Vehicle entertainment systems often contain some of the same features and a similar appearance to popular smartphones and tablets. Since 2014, the number of highway fatalities rose over 10 percent to 37,150 in 2017. While it is not clear that distracted driving is to blame for the entire jump, it is widely considered to be a significant factor.

Large percentages of deceased drivers test positive for drugs

New York motorists may be interested to learn that according to a report from the Governors Highway Safety Association, 44 percent of drivers who were killed in car accidents in 2016 tested positive for drugs. Of those, 38 percent tested positive for marijuana, 16 percent tested positive for opioids and 4 percent tested positive for both.

Alcohol was found to be present in 38 percent of drivers killed in accidents in 2016. This was a decrease from 41 percent in 2006. While it was noted that some of the strategies that have been used to reduce drunk driving could potentially be used to reduce drugged or impaired driving, there are certain challenges. For example, there is no nationwide method that can test drivers for drug impairment. Furthermore, not all drivers who have drugs in their system are driving impaired.

Independence Day is among the most dangerous holidays

New York drivers might already be making plans to travel over the Fourth of July holiday. However, they should keep in mind that this holiday is the deadliest of the year. During the weekend leading up to July Fourth, more people are on the road and there is lots of drinking and partying. All of these factors combine to increase the number of serious and deadly accidents.

Each year, tens of millions of people drive over 50 miles to celebrate the nation's independence. With so many people on the road, motor vehicle accidents, increase and often become deadlier. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 40 percent of all highway deaths between 2007 and 2011 were caused by drinking and driving over July Fourth weekends. That means that over 200 deaths from car accidents happen annually during the Independence Day holiday.

Disabling cellphones may prevent distracted driving

Technology is one reason why people drive while distracted. It could also be the reason why drivers in New York and throughout the country start focusing more on the road. A tool called Drive ID allows passengers to use their phones while a vehicle is moving. However, the driver is unable to send or receive text messages or phone calls. If the driver were to become a passenger, that person's phone would regain its full functionality.

The app can also send reports to a teen driver's parents or other administrators. These reports provide insight into how a well a person drives and what can be done to improve as a driver. Mobile providers themselves offer a variety of products that stop a person from sending or receiving messages or otherwise using their phone while driving. This may be the best way to reduce distracted driving until the day comes when driverless cars become available.

Recent crash raises doubts about Tesla's Autopilot

Drivers in New York who keep up with the advances made in semi-autonomous vehicle technology may remember an accident that occurred in Utah back in May. The driver of a Tesla Model S turned on Autopilot, a driver-assist program, and took her hands off the wheel for 80 seconds to use her phone. She then collided with a parked fire truck.

One positive is that the driver suffered only a relatively minor injury when she was, in fact, traveling at 60 mph. However, the accident may have confirms some suspicions that Tesla's Autopilot is making drivers dangerously complacent. Tesla has continually warned that the program requires driver monitoring, and the software itself gives visual alerts on the dashboard to serve as reminders.

Are construction workers trained adequately?

While many construction workers are trained well, others are not. This can be especially true for nonunion workers because some might be hired without undergoing apprenticeships where they learn valuable safety skills.

In fact, a new worker, no matter the type of industry he or she is in, can be at higher risk of sustaining an injury on the job. This holds especially true for construction workers, who can be seasonal and change job sites often. So, what can construction employers who hire nonunion workers do to ensure that their workers receive adequate training to stay safe?

What to do after a car accident occurs

For many New York residents, getting into a car accident is an experience to avoid. However, motorists are always at risk for being involved in motor vehicle accidents no matter how carefully they drive. Therefore, all drivers should be aware of the basic steps to take if one does occur.

Once a car accident occurs, no matter how minor, motorists should stop as there are consequences for fleeing the scene. It's also wise to avoid admitting any responsibility until an investigation can be completed. Motorists should always first check to ensure that no one is in need of any immediate medical care. If there are any minor to severe injuries, call an ambulance. Police should also be notified. If possible, the vehicles shouldn't be moved unless they are causing a major traffic backup.

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