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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.

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.

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