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Why aren't pedestrians safe from accidents?

When cars and pedestrians collide, the pedestrian always loses. Even a slight tap from a moving vehicle can send a pedestrian sprawling onto the pavement and lead to serious injuries.

Many pedestrians don't even survive their run-ins with vehicles. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, 2018 was the worst year in nearly three decades for pedestrian safety. There were a total of 6,227 pedestrians killed that year -- and thousands more injured.

Drivers with expensive cars less likely to yield to pedestrians

The Journal of Transport & Health published a study in March 2020 analyzing the various factors that may or may not encourage drivers from yielding to pedestrians. New York residents should know that one factor was the vehicle as drivers of more expensive vehicles were less likely to yield to pedestrians. Researchers believe that those with expensive cars may feel superior to others while those of a lower socioeconomic status may more readily empathize with pedestrians.

Regardless of vehicle type, though, drivers, in general, were found to be less likely to yield for men than for women and for racial minorities than for whites. Previous field experiments in Portland, Oregon, and in Las Vegas have shown that drivers would yield less to blacks than to whites.

Distracted driving and advanced auto safety features

Traffic accidents continue to pose a major safety threat in New York and across the country. In fact, they are the top cause of death for people between the ages of 15 and 29. Because of the high toll taken by car accidents, reducing collisions and increasing safety is a primary target for regulators and the auto industry. Many people are hopeful about the potential for autonomous cars to minimize the danger posed by collisions.

Technology has not yet advanced to the point where truly self-driving cars are available. Nevertheless, a number of features, including adaptive cruise control, lane-change alerts and collision detection, aim to make driving easier, safer and less stressful. However, some experts warn that excessive reliance on these features could actually lead to more car accidents rather than safer roads. These are not fully autonomous systems and require drivers to remain consciously active and in control of their vehicles, which some motorists fail to do.

Single mother killed in New York collision

A 39-year-old New York woman was killed in a car accident on Feb. 1 as she drove her 7-year-old son back to their home after they left a family birthday party. Her car crashed into a tree alongside Meadowbrook Parkway in North Merrick after another driver rammed into the back of her car, forcing the nurse off the road. A 26-year-old woman, the driver of the other vehicle, was arrested and charged. According to police, she was speeding before the crash.

The 26-year-old driver is facing charges of assault, vehicular manslaughter and DWI. Police say she was driving drunk during the late-night crash. The accident victim was a single mother; the 7-year-old is her youngest child, while her older children are adults. The boy was injured and had surgery on his arm to repair the damage. He is hospitalized, but his family members expect his release in the coming days. The boy looked for his mother's phone to call 911 after the motor vehicle crash. Car accidents can be devastating for an entire family, especially when fatalities are involved.

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.

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For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer at The Law Offices of Eric H. Green and Associates, call 212-532-2450 or send us an email. We serve the New York areas of Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx.

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