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Autos with the latest technology can pose safety risks

Safety risks with vehicles are typically associated with some sort of defect inherent in the vehicle in question. Some part or system does not function as designed and causes a potential safety issue, and the driver, despite operating the vehicle in an otherwise safe manner and as intended, is placed at risk. Today's automobiles sold in New York are manufactured with varying inclusions of the latest technology available, but not all of these are aimed at enhancing or improving the functionality or safety of the driving experience. In fact, the issue arises whether some of these technologies should be placed in a vehicle at all.

Initially, it should be noted that what is called distracted driving has become a leading cause of injury crashes. In a AAA-sponsored study, researchers observed that the even a seemingly benign activity such as listening to the radio can, on some level, be distracting. Activities that require a combination of cognitive focus, the use of the hands and visual activity are the most distracting and cause the driver to lose focus on the task of driving for the longest period of time.

Why drunk driving is responsible for too many deaths

New York residents should know that only a few countries in the world, including the U.S. and Mexico, allow drivers a blood alcohol limit as high as 0.08 percent. There are some countries such as Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Russia where it is illegal to drive under the influence of any alcohol at all.

The fact is, drunk driving is blamed for about one-third of all motor vehicle crash fatalities. Young adults, bikers and drivers with a prior DUI record are among the riskiest groups for this behavior. It takes a healthy liver an average of about one hour to process each ounce of alcohol, but an unhealthy liver can take even more time.

External airbags: their role in side impact crashes

ZF is a car parts manufacturer that is currently developing external airbags. The safety data that it has presented may prompt other manufacturers to consider this technology. Drivers in New York who are interested in vehicle safety tech will also want to take note although it will probably be a while before external airbags become standard features on vehicles.

ZF is focusing on external airbags that protect occupants in the event of a side-impact crash. Its model goes on both sides of a vehicle and is meant to provide an additional crumple zone to absorb the shock of the collision. According to ZF, external airbags can reduce the severity of occupants' injuries by up to 40 percent.

4 city bills to regulate e-scooters and e-bikes

Proposed legislation under consideration by the City Council would legalize motorized e-scooters and e-bikes in New York City. If the four bills pass and become law, they would make it easier for people to take advantage of emerging transportation options that are environmentally friendly. They would also put more scooters on the road.

The first of the bills, sponsored by a councilman from the Bronx, would make e-scooters legal and cap their top speed at 15 mph. This is similar to the ways in which e-scooters are regulated in other parts of the country, such as San Francisco and Washington, D.C. A second bill would make e-bikes with throttles legal and cap their top speed at 20 mph. This bill would also lower the fines levied for use of unauthorized bikes to $100 from $500.

Nighttime commutes put pedestrians in danger

The end of Daylight Saving Time means that many residents of New York will be making their evening commute in the dark. The diminished visibility puts both drivers and pedestrians at a higher risk for injury. Pedestrians are especially in danger in the early stages when they are trying to adjust to distractions like the glare from headlights and streetlamps.

This comes at a time when some states are seeing a jump in pedestrian fatalities. California, for example, saw 74 deaths in 2015 but 134 in 2017. The Governors Highway Safety Association even stated in a preliminary report that L.A. County has the most pedestrian deaths in the nation.

Distracted driving laws seek to stop unsafe behavior

Drivers in New York may be worried about the impact of distracted driving on road safety. Despite warnings, public awareness campaigns and new laws, people continue to text, surf and chat on their smartphones while behind the wheel of their cars. Even public officials have been seen live streaming on Facebook while driving. However, the families of people who have been killed in crashes due to distracted driving are demanding tougher penalties and harsher enforcement for operating a vehicle while distracted.

Traffic fatalities have gone up around the United States in recent years, and many attribute at least part of that spike to the emergence of the smartphone. Many drivers struggle not to look at their phones, send texts or check social media while sitting in slow traffic or at a red light. Many states, like New York, have passed laws that prohibit the use of handheld devices while driving; any interaction with electronics must be hands-free. Similar laws have been passed in Rhode Island and Oregon. One company that monitors phone use claims that distracted driving dropped by 19 percent in the first month after the laws were adopted.

Pedestrian accidents continue to plague Great Neck Plaza

The New York State Department of Transportation has identified Middle Neck Road by Station Plaza in Great Neck Plaza as a hot spot for pedestrian accidents. A review of data from 2014 to 2016 showed that at least 20 accidents that injured pedestrians or bicyclists happened on or close to that stretch of road. Most recently, a 2007 Lincoln struck a 71-year-old man, causing him to sustain serious head injuries.

This pedestrian accident took place only days before a scheduled event meant to improve safety for pedestrians. The surviving wife of a 43-year-old man who died after being hit on that road in 2016 had organized a safety event to raise awareness about the dangers of crossing Middle Neck Road. She had become an activist for pedestrian safety and said that the accident involving the 71-year-old man represented the third person hit by a vehicle on the road in only the last month.

Drivers don't understand limits of car safety tech, says AAA

Car safety tech can cut down on crashes by 40 percent and crash-related fatalities by 30 percent, according to federal estimates. Yet it can backfire on drivers who do not understand its limitations. This overreliance on safety tech, which can be seen in many drivers across New York, is the subject of a AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety report. The results raise questions about how drivers will adapt to a future of semiautonomous vehicles.

For example, among people who have blind-spot monitoring systems in their vehicles, 80 percent overestimated its ability to detect fast-approaching vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians. Twenty percent put so much trust in the feature that they never check for oncoming vehicles when changing lanes.

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.

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