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Drunk driving is a big problem in New York

Whether you're new to New York or have been living here your whole life, if you're not used to driving in a major city or busy traffic region, doing so might be a highly stressful experience for you. Even if you're not behind the wheel but are traveling as a passenger in someone's car, if you're not used to state roadways, you might feel a bit anxious, especially if you witness a possible drunk driving incident.

There's good reason to be especially cautious and alert while traveling on New York highways if you notice a driver who is acting suspicious. If you're able to safely exit the roadway and report the driver to 911 dispatchers, they can send a patrol officer out to check on the situation. That's not always possible, however, and there may be little to nothing you can do to avoid a collision if a drunk driver is in your midst.

Red light cameras could improve roadway safety

Red light cameras have been widely used in New York and across the country in an attempt to cut down on the number of deaths and injuries caused by cars running through traffic signals. However, the systems have also come in for criticism because one of the major effects of the cameras is to send out tickets to violators. The cameras are positioned above traffic lights and capture photos of cars that speed through red lights, including their license plates. Without ever being stopped by police in person, violators receive a traffic ticket in the mail.

Running a red light is clearly a traffic violation, and the reason for this is backed up by the statistics. Each year, around 800 people across the country are killed in motor vehicle accidents linked to drivers violating red light laws, and thousands more are injured. Critics argue, however, that the camera systems aren't meant to make the roads safer; they simply aim to increase revenue. Opponents point to the implementation in some cities where hefty fines and red light cameras were combined with shortened yellow light timing. As a result, rear-end car crashes actually went up as drivers rushed to get through yellow lights and avoid a ticket.

Ignition interlock devices causing driver distraction

A recent New York Times investigation found that ignition interlock devices could cause distracted driving. IIDs, also known as "Breathalyzer" devices, are installed in cars to prevent drunk driving. The devices require a driver to submit a breath test before they can start their vehicle, and in some cases, submit a subsequent breath test after driving for a period of time.

The 'rolling retests" that are required by some IIDs can cause a driver to become distracted while they reach for the device and blow into it. New York Times investigators found many personal injury lawsuits and accident reports involving drivers that caused crashes while complying with rolling retests. One company that sells IIDs claims that rolling retests are safe, and drivers are given several minutes to pull over if they wish to complete the test while parked.

Are distracted driving laws preventing motor vehicle accidents?

Cell phones are not new technology, but the many ways in which they have changed our lives still feels new. Though they have improved communication and other parts of modern life in countless ways, they have also presented society with new challenges. Distracted driving is one of them.

Despite knowing the potential dangers, far too many people insist on using their cell phone while driving. Many states, including New York, have responded by outright banning cell phone use behind the wheel. Some instituted partial bans, based on the driver's age or the function performed on the phone, such as texting. Though these laws aren't going anywhere any time soon, some are questioning their efficacy, especially since statistics show that many people ignore the law.

Study says 30% of New York teens admit to texting and driving

Among teen drivers, almost 30% of them report that they text and drive. Texting creates a significant distraction that increases the chance of accidents by a factor of eight according to the American Automobile Association. Although many teens in the state admit to engaging in this hazardous behavior, they have the lowest rate of texting and driving in the nation according to data collected by CarInsurance.org.

The low rate of texting and driving among teens compared to other states shows that safety advocates have made progress communicating the message that people should not use cellphones while driving. Looking down at a phone screen for even two seconds doubles a driver's risk of crashing. Taking a call while behind the wheel doubles that crash risk again.

Safety technologies may present surprising dangers

While a number of technologies are being introduced into newer vehicles to help make the roads safer in New York and across the country, some road safety advocates warn that they may contribute to distracted driving. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, technologies like adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist may make drivers more likely to feel that they can let the cars lead the way rather than staying fully aware of what is happening around them. While the foundation said that the technologies improve safety when operated correctly, it warned that many drivers fail to take proper precautions and put too much faith in automated systems to avoid a crash.

As a result, drivers' likelihood of causing a motor vehicle collision can actually increase when using these safety technologies. As the auto industry delves more deeply into technologies that could enable future fully autonomous driving, it has unveiled a number of enhancements that can make driving safer. However, today's vehicles are not self-driving cars. The human driver must remain fully aware of everything going on around them while operating a car with adaptive cruise control turned on and be ready to make decisions and take action at an instant's notice.

Drowsy driving is a common problem

Research from multiple organizations has shown that drowsy driving is an issue for motorists in New York and throughout the country. According to data from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, there are 6,400 fatal crashes each year that are caused by drivers who were tired. A poll of 2,003 drivers conducted by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) found that 45% of Americans drive while fatigued.

Those who study this issue say that the best way to prevent drowsy driving is to get enough sleep before getting behind the wheel. It is also a good idea to not drive late at night or for long distances without a passenger. Ideally, everyone in the car who can drive will do so for at least a portion of a long road trip. Drivers should know that changing radio stations and rolling down the window will not actually help them stay awake.

Seeking non-economic damages after a car accident

If you experienced serious injuries or lost a loved one in a New York car accident, you know how difficult the aftermath can be. In addition to your own physical suffering, you are also dealing with damage to your property, time away from work and bills that keep showing up in your mailbox. The financial impact is significant, and you may not be sure how you will pick up the pieces on your own.

In addition to these things, you may also find yourself suffering mentally and emotionally after an accident. A traumatic event can impact you in many ways, and while they may not be tangible, they are very real and very painful. In fact, you may be able to seek pain and suffering damages if you decide to move forward with a personal injury claim against the liable party. 

How negligence can cause car accidents

New York residents are familiar with the dangers of distracted driving. This is a form of negligence that can cause serious accidents. Individuals who are interested in driving more safely and those who wonder if they have a case against a negligent driver may be interested in learning how negligence works in car accidents.

Distracted driving is not the only form of negligence that can lead to car accidents. Driving over the speed limit, not following a vehicle at a safe distance and not adhering to traffic laws, like stopping at a stop sign, can all be forms of negligence. Drivers are expected to be in full control of their vehicle at all times. Negligence could be to blame if a person caused an accident because they did not have both hands on the wheel, they were not in a position where they could control the vehicle or they inappropriately used the vehicle.

Study shows many fatal two-car crash initiators used opioids

A study published in JAMA Network Open has revealed a possible connection between using prescription opioids and causing a fatal two-car crash. Residents of New York should know that there is an opioid crisis nationwide. In 1993, 2% of all car accident initiators were found with opioids in their system, and in 2016, that percentage was 7.1%.

Researchers analyzed over 18,300 fatal two-car crashes, determining that 1,467 drivers in all tested positive for opioids. Of these, 918 were crash initiators and 549 were not. In other words, crash initiators were twice as likely as other drivers to be found using opioids. As for the most commonly detected opioids, they were hydrocodone (32%), morphine (27%) and oxycodone (19%).

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