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Brooklyn resident struck and killed by hit-and-run driver

Police in New York are searching for the driver of a private sanitation truck that struck and killed a woman in Brooklyn's Bensonhurst neighborhood during the early morning hours of Jan. 16. The 67-year-old local resident was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency responders. Accident investigation specialists from the New York City Police Department are said to be scrutinizing security camera footage to identify the truck and its driver.

The fatal accident took place at the intersection of Bay Parkway and 86th Street at approximately 4:00 a.m. Local residents say that cars and trucks frequently go through the intersection at high speed as it is very close to a highway entrance. The City Council member who represents the district says that he plans to call a meeting to discuss requiring trucks and buses to be fitted with sensors that would alert their drivers about nearby pedestrians and cyclists. A regulation requiring the sensors could be implemented by 2024 according to media reports.

Safety devices could actually cause car accidents

When people are convicted of drunk driving, they may be mandated to have ignition interlock devices installed in their vehicles. These machines are a form of an in-car breath test that requires drivers to blow into them before they can start their vehicles. Some urge that they may be used even by people with a clean driving record. Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has endorsed ignition interlocks, saying that people are 70% less likely to repeat drunk driving behavior if the devices are installed.

However, others point to dangers associated with the devices. Even while they are intended to prevent car accidents, some motor vehicle crashes have been linked to distractions caused by ignition interlocks. While some of the mechanisms require people to blow into the device only when they start their vehicles, others require "rolling retests." In this case, people must continue to blow into the device at random intervals while driving, intended as a mechanism to prevent people from recruiting another person to allow them to start their cars. If the driver does not blow into the device during a retest, the car will not stop, but it will repeatedly honk or flash the lights until the driver pulls over, stops the car and tests again.

All new cars may soon detect alcohol on drivers' breath

Alcohol detection technology is beginning to show signs of success when it comes to preventing drunk driving. Drivers in New York should be aware that drunk driving crashes claim the lives of some 30 people every day in this country. However, if a certain bill is passed, it may help to reverse this trend. In fact, lawmakers say it could save 7,000 lives a year.

The bill is called the Reduce Impaired Driving for Everyone Act of 2019, and it proposes to fund the research and development for a new alcohol detection system. The bill would also mandate that this new system be installed on all new vehicles by 2024. As for how this new system will be developed and implemented, the details are not yet clear. For example, development teams may or may not work off of existing tech.

Study reveals how common distracted driving has become

Pedestrian deaths in New York and around the country have reached levels last seen 30 years ago, and most road safety experts believe that an epidemic of cellphone use by drivers is the reason why. In April 2019, the driving data company Zendrive published its third annual report on distracted driving in the United States, and the figures suggest that about one out of every 12 motorists finds it impossible to look away from their smartphones even when traveling at highway speeds. This is particularly dangerous as vehicles traveling at 50 mph cover hundreds of yards every few seconds.

The Zendrive study contains some even more alarming findings. The data reveals that the number of drivers distracted by cellphones has doubled in just 12 months, and there are times of the day when between 60% and 80% of the cars, pickup trucks and SUVs on the nation's roads have a driver behind the wheel who is looking at a screen. Zendrive researchers also determined that drivers who use their cellphones are distracted about 28% of the time.

How to avoid drowsy driving accidents

Drowsy driving continues to be a deadly hazard in New York and across the country. In fact, federal statistics show that as many as 6,000 Americans are killed in fatigue-related crashes every year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that drowsy driving is more likely to occur when individuals don't get adequate sleep, have untreated sleep apnea or other types of sleep disorders, are taking certain medications, have been drinking alcohol or are doing shift work. Some of the most common warning signs for fatigue-related driving include yawning, frequently blinking, having no memory of driving the last few miles, drifting from the traffic lane, hitting the rumble strip on the shoulder of the road and missing exits.

How drivers can try to ensure an accident-free winter

The winters in New York can lead to motor vehicle accidents. Ice and snow on the road, after all, cause tires to lose traction and make it more likely for a car to spin out of control. While motorists cannot keep out of all accidents, they can at least practice safe driving themselves. This is assuming that they go out on the road only when absolutely necessary.

The first safety tip is to slow down. This will keep the tires from losing more traction than they already have. Next, drivers are to keep a greater distance from the vehicle in front. This should be a distance of at least five to six seconds. It's the ideal distance in any season, in fact, and will help to prevent rear-end collisions.

Safer roads for drivers, more dangerous for pedestrians

New York residents might be surprised to learn that while roads are becoming safer for drivers, they are actually more dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists. According to the statistics released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for the year 2018, these trends are a concern.

The NHTSA stated that traffic deaths were down by 2.4% in 2018, dropping for a second year. On the other hand, the report stated that pedestrian fatalities and deaths of cyclists and others riding pedaled vehicles were up, 3.4% and 6.3% respectively. Additionally, deaths from car accidents involving large trucks were up slightly by less than 1%, but those deaths had increased 46.5% over the last decade. The pedestrian deaths were also at the highest in 28 years, increasing 53% since 2009.

IIHS crash tests: newer pickups neglect front passenger safety

After testing the front passenger side safety of several new pickups, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported that passengers in these vehicles run a higher risk of injury and death than the drivers do in the event of a crash. Pickup owners in New York should know that the IIHS has been conducting driver-side small overlap frontal crash tests since 2012, adding tests for the passenger side in 2017.

The IIHS report provides a score from "good" to "poor" for both the driver and passenger side of 11 modern pickups. The Toyota Tundra fared the worst with its passenger side failing to maintain its structure when crashing into another object. After that came five vehicles with "marginal" performance: the Nissan Frontier, Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon and GMC Sierra 1500.

Fall driving can be dangerous in New York

The weather in New York can be highly unpredictable in the fall. A balmy morning can turn into a frigid afternoon, dense patches of fog often cling to the roads well into the morning and clear skies can quickly become darkened by heavy rain clouds. Rapidly changing weather conditions can make driving more hazardous at any time of the year, but sudden storms and fluctuating temperatures can be particularly perilous in the fall.

The leaves that litter New York's roads in October and November can become as dangerous as a sheet of ice after a thunderstorm, and they may also conceal road markings and potholes. The state's abundant deer population also become far more active in the fall, which can make already treacherous roads even more dangerous. Other fall driving challenges include rush-hour sunsets, school buses and early-morning frost.

NHTSA on how alcohol affects driving

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found that drunk driving kills over 10,000 people every year in New York and the rest of the U.S. Every day, about 30 people in this country are dying in drunk driving crashes. It's important to understand, then, what kind of effect alcohol can have on drivers.

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant and can impair one's thinking and muscle coordination. With a blood alcohol concentration of 0.02, drivers will experience some loss of judgment as well as a diminished ability to track fast-moving objects and do two things at the same time. With a 0.05 BAC, drivers will find it harder to respond to emergencies and control their steering.

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