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Rochester Legal Issues Blog

Are you recovering after a New York collision?

Whether you were on your way to work, running errands or taking a road trip on the day another vehicle hit you, you no doubt recall the sound of metal clashing and the fear you felt upon impact. Then again, if you wound up unconscious or suffered other severe injuries, you might not have any recollection of the collision at all. Many collisions occur in New York every year, and how swift (or arduous) an accident victim's recovery is depends on several factors.

In addition to physical injuries, you may have experienced emotional trauma when another vehicle collided with yours. Especially if the other driver was distracted at the wheel or driving under the influence of alcohol, you may even have felt frustrated or angry, knowing that it was likely a preventable accident were it not for someone's negligence.

Does "buzzed driving" cause motor vehicle accidents?

The consumption of alcohol is a common way for people to celebrate or relax. Generally speaking, there is nothing wrong with New York adults of legal age having a few drinks with friends. The potential for problems happens when someone who has been drinking gets behind the wheel of a car. Many people assume that if they've only had a drink or two, they're perfectly safe to drive, and their blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, may even test below the legal limit. However, a new study suggests that even low amounts of alcohol in the bloodstream may contribute to motor vehicle accidents.

The study looked at crash statistics for a period of 16 years, amounting to more than 600,000 collisions. In over a third of those crashes, at least one involved driver tested positive for alcohol in the bloodstream. When considering those crashes alone, 15% of them had a driver with a BAC below the legal limit. What's even more troubling is that over half of those crashes resulted in the death of someone besides the driver who had consumed alcohol. Furthermore, young people were more likely to die in these types of crashes.

Is the rate of motor vehicle accidents in NYC increasing?

Getting into a car accident seems to be a fact of life for most people. The hope is that if it happens, it will be minor and no one will get seriously injured. Unfortunately, motor vehicle accidents can result in someone's death all too often. Though safety experts and industry leaders are always working to improve the chances that people can survive a car crash, fatalities still happen. One recent study even found that they may be on the rise in New York City, one of the busiest areas of the entire nation.

The study was conducted by a website that specializes in listings for places to live. It looked at public accident records for last year and assigned rankings to different neighborhoods in New York City depending on the frequency of fatal accidents. The study showed that fatal traffic accidents went up by almost a third in Manhattan. Brooklyn had the highest number of casualties; percentage-wise, its fatality rate went up by 24%. Some areas, such as one Staten Island neighborhood, saw a drop in overall collisions but a rise in fatalities.

New York ranks number 1 for teen traffic fatalities

As a parent, you may feel like you constantly repeat yourself when it comes to the rules you want your teenager to follow. This is a crucial time in your children's development, and they tend to push the envelope as they strive for independence and to figure out who they are.

Once they start driving, you may have mixed feelings about it. You are proud of your teen, but also scared since the second most common cause of death for teenagers is auto accidents. You may continually warn your teen of driving dangers, but you never quite know if you are getting through to him or her. You just continue to hope he or she listens to you and comes home safely.

Risk factors in drunk driving crashes

In New York, as elsewhere, it's illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 grams per deciliter or higher. Drunk driving, though, is widespread and leads to an alarming number of car crashes. In 2018, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one person was killed in a drunk driving crash every 50 minutes.

The following are some factors that increase the risk for drunk driving crashes. The first is age. Twenty-seven percent of drunk drivers in 2018 were between 21 and 24, and 26% were between the ages of 25 and 34. These were the two most prominent age groups that year. Teens are also at a high risk. Car crashes are the number one killer of teenagers, and about a quarter of these are caused by underage drinking. Also, there are four times as many male drunk drivers as there are female.

How DST leads to spike in fatal crashes every year

The journal Current Biology has published a study saying that daylight saving time contributes to a 6% increase in fatal traffic accidents every year in the week following the change. New York residents should know that this amounts to more than 28 fatal crashes a year. The effect of the DST transition is seen most especially in the early morning hours and in those areas that are further west in a given time zone.

Researchers looked at the fatal crashes recorded in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System for the years 1996 to 2017 and found a consistent spike in them in the first week of the springtime change. That spike even moved from April to March in 2007, which was the year that the Energy Policy Act pushed the change forward from the first Sunday of April to the second Sunday of March.

Senior drivers face various cognitive and physical challenges

For most seniors in New York, driving themselves instead of relying on others symbolizes independence, but they all reach a stage when they can no longer take it for granted. If you are a senior driver, you will know that changes take place that affect your vision, hearing, cognitive and physical abilities. Like most other senior drivers, you might be more diligent about observing speed limits, driving sober and wearing seat belts than younger, inexperienced drivers. However, some senior drivers struggle to cope with advancing technology in vehicles.

Medications are available to help seniors cope with the aging process, but some medicines can adversely affect your driving abilities. It is always a good idea to check with your doctor about the side effects of prescribed medications, not forgetting to mention any over-the-counter medicines you use because combining them with prescribed medicine could be dangerous.

Early school start times may factor into teens' negligent driving

The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine published a study suggesting a link between school start times and the rate of car crashes involving teen drivers. Parents of teen drivers in New York should know that the later school starts, the less risk there likely is of teens losing sleep and becoming drowsy behind the wheel.

The study looked at the change in teen car crash rates over a two-year period in Fairfax County, Virginia. The county had changed school start times from 7:20 a.m. to 8:10 a.m. in the fall of 2015, and researchers compared crash rates in the year before that change with rates in the year after. There was a decline from 31.63 to 29.59 crashes involving 16- to 18-year-old licensed drivers per 1,000 drivers.

Technology not yet able to overcome car accidents

Many people in New York look forward to the development of autonomous vehicles, hoping to remove the issue of human error from roadway safety. However, current technology has not yet reached the stage where cars can truly operate on their own. Partially autonomous innovations have led to safety options like lane-change alerts and collision detection, but auto accidents still continue to pose a major danger on the road. For Americans aged 15-29, car crashes are the leading cause of death. Over 3,000 people lose their lives in motor vehicle accidents every day, and many more are seriously injured as a result.

While technological development aims at avoiding car accidents, other electronic innovations have made the roads even more dangerous. With the rise of the smartphone as an ever-present companion, distracted driving poses a serious threat. When people text while driving, they take their eyes off the road, mind away from driving and hands off the wheel, giving them less control and time to respond in case of an emergency situation. Thousands of serious motor vehicle collisions are caused each year due to distracted driving. Of course, mobile phones are not the only culprit; drivers can even be distracted by the built-in entertainment systems in many modern vehicles.

Why are fatal pedestrian accidents increasing?

Car manufacturers have made amazing progress in creating safer vehicles. Rates of fatal traffic accidents have dropped in recent years. Unfortunately, this isn't the entire story.

Although fewer people die in traffic crashes, that only holds true for people inside of vehicles. The rates of fatal pedestrian accidents have been steadily climbing. Since 2009, pedestrian fatalities have gone up by 53%, and there is no sign of that rise stopping. In the first week of this year, New York had four pedestrian fatalities. What is behind this rise, and more importantly, how can it be stopped?

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