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Rochester Legal Issues Blog

Distracted drivers a threat to emergency responders

If New Yorkers are like many American drivers, they tend to gawk at emergency vehicles when they encounter accident scenes on roadways. Unfortunately, this type of behavior places first responders at risk of injuries that can sometimes be fatal.

According to a survey by the National Safety Council and the Emergency Responder Safety Institute, 80 percent of U.S. drivers admit that they slow down when they drive past emergency vehicles attending an accident scene. In addition, 71 percent of drivers say they take photos or videos of emergency vehicles responding to accidents, 66 percent say they send emails about seeing emergency vehicles and 60 percent say they post information about accident scenes on social media outlets.

Autonomous cars may still need billions of miles of test driving

Automakers have been touting self-driving cars as the solution to traffic congestion and high auto accident rates, yet a report from the Rand Corporation suggests that manufacturers are neglecting safety in their rush to introduce the cars to the public. New York residents may remember how an Uber self-driving car struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona in March 2018. The vehicles have yet to completely prove their reliability.

The report states that it may take millions or billions of miles of test driving before autonomous vehicles prove their readiness for the road. For the existing fleet of such vehicles, it may take decades or possibly centuries to complete rigorous testing.

Myths about New York car accidents

Car crashes can impact anyone, including famous celebrities. A stolen vehicle crashed into Taylor Swift's home on April 3, and fortunately, the singer was not inside her house at the time. 

If a car accident occurs to you, then you need to take prompt action. Many people lose out on money they qualify for because they make a mistake during the claims process. Most of the time, this mistake is due to a persistent myth surrounding motor vehicle accident claims. 

Distracted driving continues to be a pervasive problem

Distracted driving continues to be a problem in New York and across the nation. Despite educational campaigns and laws that prohibit texting while driving, many people continue to use their smartphones while behind the wheel.

According to the 2019 Travelers Risk Index that was prepared by a leading insurer, nearly 80 percent of respondents reported that they talk on the phone while they drive. Another 30 percent of respondents reported that they have been almost involved in accidents because of distracted driving. The researchers surveyed more than 2,000 consumers and business executives.

New bill may allow "textalyzer" use among police

Distracted driving resulted in 3,450 deaths in 2016 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It is a widespread trend as well as an underreported one since drivers involved in a crash do not want to admit distractions to the police. In 2017, the New York legislature proposed a bill allowing for the use of "textalyzers" to find out if drivers were using their phone before a crash. That measure failed, but Nevada is considering one like it.

Textalyzers are devices made by the Israel-based company Cellebrite that scan for any phone activity. They have yet to undergo field testing and are not being used by any law enforcement agencies. If the Nevada bill passes, they will most likely be tested. However, controversy surrounds the measure.

4 reasons car accidents occur in school zones

Whether or not you are a parent, you understand the importance of keeping children safe around their schools. After all, motor vehicles are significantly larger than school kids. If a car hits a child, the resulting injuries may be quite severe. 

While school zones keep kids safe, they are often hazardous for drivers. School zone accidents are not uncommon in New York. In fact, according to a recent study, the Empire State ranks 33rd in school zone traffic safety. When driving around a school, you must understand why accidents tend to occur in school zones. Here are the four most common reasons: 

Car smashes into light in Brooklyn, leaves one dead

A one-car crash in Brooklyn on March 11 left one man dead and another in critical condition. Around 3 a.m., a vehicle was traveling Kings Highway when it collided with a light pole near Tilden Avenue in East Flatbush. Police say that the vehicle was so mangled that it was barely recognizable as one.

A security camera from a nearby home shows the car erupting in flames upon impact. A good Samaritan was able to extinguish the fire. The vehicle occupants, the 26-year-old driver and his 30-year-old passenger, were trapped inside the vehicle until first responders got them out, whereupon they were sent to Kings County Hospital in critical condition. There, the 30-year-old was later pronounced dead.

Daylight saving time raises risk for car accidents

Drivers in New York should be sleeping the recommended seven hours every night, or else they run the risk of becoming drowsy behind the wheel. This is a particular danger after daylight saving time since drivers lose a crucial hour of sleep. For this reason, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recommends that all drivers adjust their sleep schedules beforehand.

If drivers miss one to two hours of sleep in a 24-hour period, they nearly double their risk for a car crash according to AAA. The safety organization also compares drowsy driving to drunk driving: Those who sleep only five hours in the previous 24 hours will be as impaired as a legally drunk driver.

Truck driver safety

Tractor-trailers make up a fair amount of traffic in and around Rochester. Their larger size, especially at highways speeds, is intimidating to people in smaller vehicles.

To keep their commercial driver's license, truck drivers have to obey special rules set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. These rules intend to keep truckers from getting into accidents. Do these regulations work or do truckers find their way around them?

Many malpractice errors are avoidable

Doctors are sometimes thought of as miracle workers when treatment goes well, and the patient responds as hoped for and proceeds to a speedy and complete recovery. In other instances, a doctor may make heroic efforts, but the situation is clearly beyond hope, and nothing can be done. However, when a New York doctor makes a mistake that, perhaps, didn't have to happen, questions naturally follow. Surprisingly, errors are often made on routine matters rather than in performing procedures that require great skill and extensive training.

Medical experts report that nearly half of all medical errors involve surgery, and most of those can be traced to failures directly in the operating room. That seems intuitive because of the complexities of surgery, but some surgical errors involve what could only be described as careless behavior, such as leaving a surgical sponge in a patient, and then closing the incision.

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