The New York State Department of Health estimates that car accidents kill over 1,000 New Yorkers each year, accounting for the death of 5.6 out of every 100,000 residents. Additionally, thousands of people are hospitalized and sent to the emergency room with injuries related to motor-vehicle crashes. Motor vehicle traffic injuries are routinely one of the leading causes of death, hospitalizations, and emergency room visits each year. Many of these injuries and deaths are preventable, caused by driver error.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), for over 20 years, speeding has been a contributing factor in nearly one-third of all traffic fatalities. As noted by the NHTSA, speeding is a form of aggressive driving behavior that affects your ability to control the vehicle, come to a safe stop, and increase the potential for serious injuries.
Research conducted by the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research (ITSMR) showed that New York law enforcement issued nearly 200,000 tickets for cell phone violations, including texting and talking on a handheld device. NHTSA estimates that distracted driving is responsible for 9 percent of all fatal crashes and hundreds of thousands of traffic-related injuries in a single year. While texting and cell phone use are some of the most common forms of distracted driving, it can happen anytime a driver diverts their attention from the road, including while eating, speaking to passengers, or adjusting the radio.
A person is killed every 50 minutes by an alcohol-impaired driver, according to the NHTSA. Millions of people admit to driving while being impaired each year, putting everyone on the road at risk of injury or death. In a single year, over 10,000 people were killed in drunk driving crashes. While it is unlawful for a person to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or higher, alcohol can still affect a person’s ability to drive at nearly any level. An ITSMR study found that in New York, there were over 4,600 impaired driving crashes resulting in personal injury or death in 2018.
Car occupants followed by pedestrians are most likely to be killed in motor vehicle accidents, as documented by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. When a driver fails to yield to a pedestrian, the results can be catastrophic. Drivers who fail to observe marked crosswalks, traffic signals, and stop signs account for a large percentage of traffic-related pedestrian fatalities. The New York Department of Health estimates that 1.6 of every 100,000 New Yorkers are killed due to a motor vehicle traffic-related pedestrian injury.
Drivers running red lights or failing to observe traffic signals is a chronic problem in New York and across the United States. A program review of New York City’s Red Light Camera Program found that when motorists run red lights, they are more likely to cause right-angle collisions. Right angle collisions can be extremely dangerous because “the sides of vehicles have relatively little space to absorb the force of impact and shield occupants.” Right angle collisions are also more likely to cause a vehicle to spin out of control or rollover. Accidents of this nature are more likely to cause serious, life-threatening injuries.
In New York, following someone too closely is not only a fineable traffic offense, but it is also a major contributing factor in many car accidents. Following too closely can lead to rear-end collisions and cause erratic driving. Following someone too closely in inclement weather or when road conditions are poor can increase the chances of an accident.
New York’s Highway Safety Plan for 2020 found that passing or unsafe lane change was a contributing factor in 18 percent of all fatal crashes involving speeding drivers. Failing to conduct a proper lane change or looking before passing another vehicle, particularly at a high rate of speed, can cause significant injuries and property damage. Unsafe lane changes and improper use was also a top contributing factor for motorcycle-involved traffic accidents, according to the study.
Too often, New York’s congested streets can make it difficult to back up safely. When a driver fails to look before backing up, not only are other drivers at risk but so are pedestrians and bicyclists. While driver assistance technology such as backup cameras, automatic rear braking, and rear cross-traffic alert features are becoming industry standards in many vehicles, numerous are still not equipped with any of these safety features.
Driver fatigue is a growing problem across the country; it is particularly common for commercial drivers who have increased pressure to get goods to consumers quickly. Driver fatigue can decrease a person’s reaction time, impair their judgment, and increase the likelihood that they engage in unsafe driving behaviors.
Auto manufacturers and regulatory agencies such as the NHTSA recall millions of tires, airbags, vehicles, and car seats every year because of safety defects. Manufacturer defects and unsafe road conditions caused by negligence can cause irreparable damage and harm to unsuspecting victims.
Insurance companies may be quick to settle a claim without considering the full extent of a victim’s injuries or losses. According to White Plains car accident lawyers at Injured 914, many victims who are injured in car accidents do not receive sufficient compensation even when the accident is caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing.
Increasing awareness and targeted campaigns have been an effective method of reducing the number of car accidents in the state. Law enforcement agencies have teamed up with state and federal agencies to reduce the number of drunk drivers on the road and those who drive distractedly. These efforts, in conjunction with increased safety features on vehicles, maybe the turning point in decreasing the number of people killed each year in preventable traffic accidents.
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