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Brooklyn New York Legal Blog

NHTSA yet to act on proposals for preventing truck crashes

The number of large truck crash fatalities in 2017 came to 4,102, which was a 28 percent increase from 2009. Of those fatalities, 68 percent were car occupants and 14 percent were pedestrians, bicycle riders or motorcyclists. New York residents should know that many truck safety groups are advocating devices like forward crash avoidance and mitigation technology on all heavy trucks as a way to reduce these numbers.

On at least 10 different occasions since the 1990s, the National Transportation Safety Board has recommended to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that these systems be mandated. If they were mandated, they might prevent thousands of rear-end accidents. While these are the most devastating of truck accidents, they're also the most easily avoidable with technology. However, the NHTSA has not even attempted to propose a regulation of its own.

Daylight saving time means greater risk for car crashes

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has some startling statistics about drowsy driving that residents of New York will want to keep in mind, especially when daylight saving time robs them of an hour of sleep. Experts recommended at least seven hours of sleep each night. Someone who misses one or two hours of sleep within a 24-hour period nearly doubles their risk for a car crash.

Moreover, the level of impairment suffered by a driver who only sleeps five hours in the previous 24 hours is about equal to that of a drunk driver. In a recent AAA survey, 95 percent of respondents said they were aware of the dangers of drowsy driving. Yet 30 percent admitted to driving at least once in the past month in a condition where they could hardly keep their eyes open.

GHSA report reveals surge in pedestrian deaths

Pedestrian fatalities in New York and around the country have risen by an alarming 51 percent over the last 10 years. The 6,227 killed in 2018 is the highest annual pedestrian death toll since 1990, according to a report released recently by the Governors Highway Safety Administration. While studies reveal that foot traffic has increased slightly in recent years, most experts put the rise in pedestrian deaths down to other factors such as the growing popularity of SUVs and the widespread use of cell phones by drivers.

Falling gas prices and low interest rates are prompting many Americans to purchase a large SUV instead of a car, and these vehicles now account for 6 out of every 10 passenger vehicles sold in the United States. This worries road safety advocates because a study published in 2018 concluded that the high front ends of SUVs and full-sized pickup trucks make the vehicles twice as deadly as cars in pedestrian accidents. The GHSA report seems to back up this conclusion as it reveals that the number of pedestrians killed by SUVs has increased by 50 percent since 2013.

Elevators pose danger for construction workers

As a New York construction worker, the elevators at many of your job sites are themselves still under construction. Consequently, whether or not your job actually includes working on or in elevators, you likely must work near them. This puts you at high risk for sustaining an elevator-related accident.

Unfortunately, 31 people die each year in the nation’s more than 17,000 elevator accidents. Construction workers comprise roughly half of these fatalities. A full 33 percent of all construction fatalities result from an elevator accident.

What to do after spotting a drunk driver

New York motorists who notice safety violations by drivers who may be drunk or otherwise impaired can report them. One of the most obvious signs is if the driver is actually drinking while behind the wheel, but there are also behaviors that are common to drunk drivers.

A motorist could be weaving or driving in the middle of the road, braking erratically, signaling randomly, turning too abruptly or widely or stopping for no reason, among other actions. To report a suspected drunk driver, people should try to give a full description, including the car's color, license plate number, make and model. The vehicle's location and in what direction the vehicle is headed should also be noted.

What drivers should document after a car crash

Car crashes can result in serious property damage and injuries. New York residents should know, then, what they are expected to do in the wake of a crash. First, it is important to keep calm, as this will allow drivers to remember vital details. They should call 911 if anyone is injured and requires immediate help.

Another thing is to move the vehicles if they pose an immediate danger. Otherwise, nothing should be moved. Everything should be documented. Drivers can take photographs of vehicle damage, any damage to things like trees and light poles, any skid marks and physical injuries. They can also make a list of missing or damaged personal items like electronic devices, glasses and items in purses and wallets.

Gas leaks pose danger at construction sites

Gas leaks in New York can be dangerous, especially when they occur at a construction site. When construction workers are installing and repairing fixtures for the use of natural gas, the danger of a leak can be elevated. The gas is highly flammable and can cause carbon monoxide poisoning to people and animals in a confined space. In addition, a leak can cause a substantially higher risk of serious fires and explosions. In case of a gas leak, it is essential not to continue construction, but to evacuate the site immediately and seek emergency assistance from the fire department or utility company.

There are some signs that could indicate that a gas leak could be present at a construction site. If hissing or whistling noises are heard near a gas line, this could point to a leak. Workers repairing damaged gas pipes should ensure that the gas is turned off; attempting to fix a pipe that is currently in use could lead to a devastating construction site accident. Other signs of leaking natural gas include an odor of rotten eggs or sulfur, bubbling water near a gas fixture or a dust cloud in the area of a gas line.

GHSA recommends ways to reduce fatal speeding crashes

Speeding is behind nearly a third of all automobile-related fatalities. Unfortunately, many drivers in New York and across the U.S. have not been properly educated on its dangers. Some even believe that speeding is culturally acceptable. A report from the Governors Highway Safety Association looks afresh at the challenge and comes up with ways to address it.

Two important methods are through better education and stricter law enforcement. In April, the GHSA and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety will be holding a forum with stakeholders in the development of a speed-reduction program. The GHSA has State Highway Safety Offices that are in a unique position to implement this and spearhead other education and enforcement efforts.

Scaffolding dangers and the New York Scaffold Law

New York City and the surrounding area have experienced a building boom in recent years, but the increase in construction has also produced an increase in accidents, injuries and death.

Construction workers who spend their days at high elevations are exposed to the possibility of falls, which is why they have legal protection under the New York Scaffold Law.

Cellphone use changes over period of four years

These days, drivers in New York are less likely to make phone calls while behind the wheel. However, they are more likely to send text messages or check their emails instead. This was the main takeaway from researchers who analyzed data from a survey taken in 2014 and again in 2018. While today's drivers may be performing riskier actions on their phones, the research did not indicate that there was an increase in distracted driving between 2014 and 2018.

Those who operate a cellphone while driving are more likely to get into an accident. This is because it can result in changes to how the driver pays attention to the road. Drivers who use a phone to make a call will likely be staring at the center of the road, but they won't be able to process what they see as quickly.

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