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How hydroplaning drivers can avoid a crash

Hydroplaning is a common hazard whenever it rains in New York. Drivers probably know the basics behind it: a thin layer of water, pushed under by the pressure in the front of the vehicle's tires, develops under the tires and causes the vehicle to float above the road. The thicker that layer becomes, the more the tires lose their traction and increase the risk for uncontrollable skidding and sliding.

Cautious driving will usually prevent hydroplaning. Drivers should slow down and avoid large puddles. They must also exercise greater caution in the first 10 minutes of rainfall as this is the time when the water mixes with the oily residue on the road and forms a slippery surface. Later, the water will wash away most of the residue.

Study focuses on perceptions of distracted driving

New York drivers may be intrigued by the results of a study conducted by Volvo and the Harris Poll about distracted driving, how many people engage in it and how they perceive it. It is broken up into two studies involving 2,000 participants in the U.S. More than 50 percent, regardless of age, felt that they need to refocus because they find they are more distracted than they were five years ago.

Most of the participants asserted that distracted drivers, not intoxicated drivers or speeding or aggressive drivers, posed the greatest threat on the road. Approximately 90 percent agreed that there are more distractions today than there were five years ago with 43 percent citing cellphones as the biggest distraction, followed by 11 percent saying children and 9 percent saying other passengers.

Roundabouts reducing accident severity in rural areas

Roundabouts can be an effective deterrent to car accidents in rural areas, especially as compared to straightaways with stop signs. New York readers who drive long distances or frequently drive in rural areas might be interested to learn that more roundabouts are being implemented. Roundabouts force drivers to slow down, reducing the severity of accidents. They may be more effective than red, yellow and green traffic signals.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation has been installing roundabouts at intersections in the rural parts of the state and estimates that one roundabout will save the state $2.5 million per year by lowering injury and accident costs. The department plans to continue building roundabouts at intersections in rural areas. It is part of the Vision Zero initiative, a program that involves educators, engineers, emergency workers and law enforcement with the goals of zero traffic fatalities and safer roads for everyone.

Teen drivers more dangerous after getting their license

In New York and around the country, all teenagers must drive under adult supervision before going for their license. One might think that teen drivers pose a greater threat to others on the road before, not after, they obtain their license. A study from the National Institutes for Health and Virginia Tech University, however, came to the opposite conclusion.

The study involved 90 teen and 131 parent participants in Virginia. Researchers analyzed driving behaviors from the time when they obtained their learner's permit to the time when they had been driving for one year as licensed drivers. They found that teens are eight times more likely to get in a crash or near-miss in the three months after obtaining their license than in the three months before.

HLDI data shows what new vehicles generate most insurance claims

Collision avoidance systems, multiple in-car airbags and other advanced features are making cars safer than ever in New York. However, as long as there is a human factor behind the wheel, accidents will happen. The Highway Loss Data Institute has some data regarding 2014 to 2016 vehicle models that can be eye-opening to some.

Using this data, Forbes compiled a list of the 10 vehicles that have generated the most personal injury insurance claims. The Mitsubishi Lancer was at the top, generating 215 claims every year. This is double the industry average of 100. This was followed by other models from automakers like Kia, Nissan and Chevrolet.

New study shows latest bike helmets reduce injury

Researchers from Virginia Tech and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have conducted what has been called a first-of-its-kind study, and it should be of interest to bicyclists in New York. According to this study, bicyclists who wear urban-style helmets, with their solid design and lack of ventilation, are more than twice as likely to suffer injury in an accident.

To achieve their results; researchers used some of the latest techniques for simulating head injuries and tested various helmets. They developed twelve scenarios to test each helmet's effectiveness from every angle, simulating everything from glancing blows to direct hits.

Fourth of July weekend: the safety risks

New York residents who plan to live it up on the Fourth of July should keep that many accidents take place on during the holiday. The greatest risk is on the roads; both Esurance and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety state that 40 percent of all highway deaths between 2007 and 2011 occurred because of drunk drivers over the extended July Fourth weekend. During this several-day period, there are approximately 200 highway deaths every year.

Indeed, of all the days of the year, Independence Day is the worst for fatal crashes. Besides alcohol, another factor is that there are more drivers traveling during the holiday weekend. AAA estimates that this year, 37.5 million Americans will be traveling 50 miles or more from their homes to partake in festivities.

New tech may help prevent distracted driving

Many drivers in New York and throughout the U.S. may be open to devices that could help them break away from their smartphones when behind the wheel. It may seem ironic that technology would solve a problem that it initiated, but there are several new devices that could help reduce the number of car accidents attributed to distracted driving.

For example, a Colorado-based company has developed a device called Groove that plugs into a vehicle, links the driver's phone to a cloud and allows the phone provider to block all incoming and outgoing communications. The product is currently undergoing a pilot program in the U.S. and in Australia. Incoming messages will appear after the car is turned off. Though it does not automatically turn off navigation and music streaming, this can be customized.

Comparing drowsy and drunk driving

New York motorists who drive drowsy could have a similar experience to those who drive drunk. Driving after staying awake for 24 consecutive hours is similar to driving with a blood alcohol content of .10 percent. That is above the .08 percent threshold states use to determine if a driver is legally drunk. One difference between tired and drunk drivers is that a drunk driver may try to drive slowly and avoid obstacles.

Drowsy drivers may simply go to sleep while driving at a high rate of speed. Those who are in a vehicle with a drowsy driver should learn the signs that someone is too tired to operate it. Those signs include heavy eyelids, drifting out of the proper lane and constant yawning. If those signs are apparent, the driver should be asked to pull over.

Increase in SUVs may be a factor in rise of pedestrian deaths

Although there has been a concerted effort in New York City and numerous other cities and towns across the U.S., the number of fatal pedestrian accidents has remained high. While many factors have been blamed for the increase, including smartphone use and marijuana legalization, a study showed that SUVs might be a major part of the problem.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, there was an 81 percent increase in fatal pedestrian accidents that involved SUVs from 2009 to 2016. Further, SUVs reportedly became the number one cause of death for pedestrians in 2014. This makes sense as the number of SUVs on the road have increased over the years. Because these vehicles are heavier and bigger, they can be more dangerous than sedans if they strike a pedestrian.

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