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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.

Millennials most likely to text while driving

Millennials in New York and across the U.S. are more likely than other age groups to use their cellphones while driving, according to a recent multi-national study. The study, which was conducted by researchers at Liberty Mutual, surveyed approximately 8,000 drivers in the U.S. and Western Europe about their driving behaviors.

The researchers found that 67% of U.S. drivers who participated in the study said they use their cellphones while on the road, compared to 60% of drivers from Western Europe. They also discovered that millennials are the age group most likely to use their phones behind the wheel. For example, 86% of U.S. millennial drivers admitted they use their phone while operating a vehicle, and 73% of Western European millennials admitted the same. Meanwhile, 79% of of U.S. millennials said they text and drive, compared to 65% of millennials from Western Europe. Finally, 53% of millennials from the U.S. admitted to emailing while behind the wheel, compared to 33% of Western Europeans in the same age group.

How drivers can avoid or deal with drowsiness

Drivers in New York may feel compelled in some cases to drive even when they are tired. It should be kept in mind, though, that drowsy driving is a serious issue and can lead to crashes. According to a 2018 AAA study, some 9.5% of all crashes are caused by drowsy drivers.

Not getting the minimum seven hours of sleep can affect drivers in much the same way that alcohol does. The National Sleep Foundation says that being awake for 24 straight hours is like having a blood alcohol content of .10. Remember that the legal limit is .08. In addition to sleep deprivation, prescription sleep aids can play a role in drowsy driving with some ignoring the direction to sleep seven to eight hours before going out.

Pedestrian deaths on the rise in New York

Pedestrian fatalities in New York and across the country spiked in 2018 according to data from the Governor's Highway Safety Association. The organization reports that New York had the sixth highest number of pedestrian deaths last year.

More than 6,200 pedestrians were killed on and around U.S. roads in 2018, which is the highest total since 1990. According to traffic safety experts, two of the major reasons for the increase are smartphones and in-vehicle infotainment systems, which distract both drivers and pedestrians. For example, a police officer in Colonie told a media outlet that he routinely tickets drivers for texting behind the wheel, and he frequently issues citations to pedestrians who fail to use crosswalks because they are texting and walking. There were 33 pedestrian accidents in the town last year, and one person was killed.

Car crash injury rate higher among women than men

As early as 2011, automotive safety advocates began noting a worrisome trend that drivers in New York should be aware of -- women are more likely than men to be seriously injured in a car crash. At that time, advocates put the blame on seat belts. It turns out that most women harmed in crashes are short in statute and that other factors, including seating posture, prevent them from getting the best protection from their seat belts.

However, a new study from the University of Virginia has pinpointed another cause for the trend: skewed crash test data and a resulting lack of safety measures and devices that take women's biological and physiological distinctions into account. Researchers calculated that women are 73% more likely than men to be seriously injured or die in a crash.

Cyclist, pedestrian fatalities on the rise

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released estimates indicating that the number of bicyclist deaths increased by 10% in 2018. Cyclist and pedestrian deaths are on the rise in New York and across the country, with each of those statistics likely to hit its highest total in decades. Meanwhile, cars and trucks are getting safer thanks to new technologies.

When the statistics are finalized, the number of cyclist deaths in 2018 is likely to be the highest it has been since 1988. The number of pedestrian fatalities rose by 4% and is likely to be the highest it has been since 1990. The number of traffic fatalities overall dropped by 1%. Several automakers have introduced bicycle and pedestrian detection systems tied to their automatic braking technologies. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has said it will require car makers beginning in 2020 to include pedestrian detection systems as standard features in order to be considered for the ranking of Top Safety Pick Plus.

New technology could prevent drunk driving

According to the NHTSA, drunk driving accidents account for 29% of all traffic fatalities. In 2017, 11,000 people were killed and a further 200,000 were injured in New York and throughout the country by drunk drivers. However, there may be technology available that could help prevent those who are impaired by alcohol from operating a motor vehicle. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says that implementing this type of technology could prevent 7,000 deaths per year.

In the future, there could be auto systems that use both touch and a person's breath to measure blood alcohol content. If a person's blood alcohol content is more than .08%, the car would not be able to start. Systems using breath monitoring tools are being tested in Virginia and could be available for wider use starting in 2020. Volvo has plans to use sensors and cameras in an effort to prevent drunk driving.

Roundabouts can help avoid fatal car crashes

Road design can have a major impact on the severity of car accidents in New York. For example, some road crossings are marked only by stop signs, especially in rural areas. This can even be true when each road has a high speed limit of 55 mph. While these roads receive relatively low traffic volume, these types of crossings may mean that the car accidents that do occur are far more likely to lead to severe injuries or fatalities. Cars and trucks on rural, sparsely populated roads may be more likely to run stop signs or even miss them due to brush or other obstructions in the way.

One of the methods that can help cities and towns reduce the risk of severe car crashes is the installation of roundabouts. When drivers approach traffic circles, they are forced to slow down. In some ways, they can even be more effective than the traditional approach to reducing dangerous crashes by installing traffic lights. There are fewer accidents at intersections with posted traffic lights. However, the crashes that do take place are often serious and involve catastrophic injuries. On the other hand, roundabouts do not decrease the number of accidents as significantly, but car accidents are far less likely to be severe.

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