NEW YORK – Weaving and turning though rush hour traffic can be a challenge in itself. Add a few hundred pedestrians to busy streets in urban areas and it could be a recipe for disaster. A recent study conducted by the New York City Department of Transportation aimed to prove left-hand turns can be some of the most deadly maneuvers on the road; not for drivers but for pedestrians.
In 2013, more than 40 pedestrians were killed after being struck by a left-turning car in New York State.
“Left turns can be difficult for drivers because there are several judgements that need to be made in a very short period of time and there can be more factors on the busy streets of New York,” car accident lawyer Ross Cellino said.
Cellino, a co-founder of the Law Offices of Cellino & Barnes, said left turn crashes outnumber right turn crashes in the city by a ratio of 3:1.
“When a driver is making a left-hand turn, they’re looking for a gap in traffic,” Cellino said. “They also know the traffic light won’t stay green forever and they can face pressure from other drivers behind them.”
According to studies, this additional pressure can force drivers to accelerate across oncoming lanes and into a crosswalk and sometimes, the driver gives little thought to the pedestrians using that crosswalk. In fact, 5 to 11 percent of drivers don’t look for pedestrians in the crosswalk at all.
New York car accident attorneys say left-turning drivers are plagued with other dangerous factors such as blind spots and traffic signals.
“Some signals have green arrows, allowing traffic to move left without having to search for that gap in traffic,” Cellino said. “At some signals, pedestrians will have a ‘walk light’ at the same time drivers are told to turn left at an intersection.”
Most vehicles have blind spots in the 10 o’clock direction called an “A-pillar.” For a moment, pedestrians crossing the street can be obscured by this particular blind spot while a driver is attempting a left-hand turn.
The maneuver is so dangerous UPS plots delivery routes in right-turning loops. The parcel delivery company encourages drivers to eliminate left turns altogether. The company claims the strategy saved 10 million gallons of gasoline and reduced CO2 emissions by 100,000 metric tons (or 5,300 passenger cars off the road for a year).
Currently, traffic safety officials are testing ways to make pedestrian crossings safer and several New York City streets are due to receive millions of dollars for safety upgrades.
BUFFALO, N.Y. – Impaired driving has long been a problem in the United States since the invention of the horseless carriage. All 50 states have enacted legislation requiring a driver’s blood alcohol level (or BAC) to be under 0.08% but when a driver is under the influence of a substance other than alcohol, law enforcement agencies are forced to use more resources to tackle the problem.
Recently, Buffalo Police reported a crash that injured three people, including the driver of the vehicle. Officers told news reporters the driver and the passengers all passed out in the car as the result of heroin use.
“Drug driving can be even more dangerous than drunk driving and police are reporting these incidents more often around the city of Buffalo,” car accident attorney Ross Cellino said.
Cellino, a co-founder of the Law Offices of Cellino and Barnes, said drug driving cases can cause severe injuries not only to the drivers and passengers under the influence of the drug but also to other drivers or pedestrians who can inadvertently get involved in a wreck.
“It is literally an everyday thing with the accident rate going through the roof,” Erie County Sheriff Deputy Simon Biegasiewicz told WKBW-TV.
In Western New York, police agencies are relying on specially-trained drug recognition experts to identify the substance an individual is high on so first responders can properly test and provide treatment for overdoses.
“These experts are often called to the scene of an accident,” Cellino said. “It can get even more complex when drivers are on multiple opiates and in many cases, they don’t have car insurance and that can leave their victims with few places to turn to pay for their medical bills.”
Current statistics show drug driving could be just as common as or even more common than drunk driving. This is due, in part, by an increased number of prescription and over-the-counter medications that often advise against the operation of motor vehicles.
NEW YORK – The trucking industry is on the rebound and the number of trucks on the road has steadily been increasing since 2010. Although the trend is still far from the industry’s peak in the 1990’s, there’s reason for optimism in the nation’s capital.
A multi-million dollar lobbying push may open U.S. roadways to bigger tractor trailers and, according to some industry watchdogs, more dangerous traveling conditions.
Currently, federal commercial vehicle standards mandate trucks to weigh-in at less than 80,000 pounds and less than 29 feet in length. However, a $55.3 billion transportation spending bill would increase the length restrictions to 33 feet.
“Generally, the larger the vehicle, the longer it takes to stop,” truck accident attorney Ross Cellino said. “Adding more weight to a tractor trailer could make highway travel more dangerous without the proper driver training.”
In 2012, large trucks were involved in thousands of crashes, killing 3,921 people and the number of deaths has steadily increased each year since hitting an all-time low in 2009.
In addition to larger trucks, the bill would extend the suspension of the 2013 restart changesto the hours of service rule until the DOT can demonstrate the changes lead to “significant improvement in all outcomes related to safety, operator fatigue, driver health and longevity, and work schedules.”
Currently, drivers can stay behind the wheel of a large truck for up to 82 hours in eight days.
“Driving logs can be some of the first things our lawyers look at when evaluating a truck accident,” Cellino said. “If a truck driver exceeds the maximum amount of time on the road for the week, it’s not only illegal: it can also drastically increase the chances of a serious accident.”
The House Appropriations subcommittee in charge of setting the 2016 DOT budget recommended the plan to a full committee; which can make changes and/or recommend the bill for a later vote on the House floor.
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The message is clear: drunk-driving is not only dangerous, it’s often deadly. Each week, law enforcement agencies across the country attribute hundreds of deaths to drunk driving. However, the number of deadly crashes caused by intoxicated drivers has dramatically decreased since the mid-1980’s.
In an analysis published in Injury Prevention, researchers estimated the number of alcohol-fueled car crashes was cut by about 50 percent between 1984 and 2010. Researchers calculated the economic costs associated with these kinds of crashes using a complex formula that took several factors in account.
For example, car crashes can cause significant financial losses for people and companies but the research authors said it can also benefit certain businesses:
“In general, a reduction in traffic injuries benefits employers by reducing their costs, but the extra medical cost from injuries provides extra sales to the health care sector, which in turn, means more sales for industries that provide supplies and services to the health care sector.”
After crunching the numbers, the analysis revealed the reduction of deadly, drunken crashes saved the U.S. economy $20 billion and increased national income by $6.5 billion. Fewer crashes also created 215,000 new jobs and raised the gross domestic product in the U.S. by an estimated $10 billion.
“Serious crashes can take hard-working and intelligent members of society away from their families and careers. That lost time could have drastic financial impacts for cities like Rochester,” car accident lawyer Steve Barnes said. “When a serious crash can be avoided, that person saves their job and their wages; and the government can continue collecting taxes, which adds to the overall economic impact.”
Although the number of alcohol-related crashes have been drastically cut, nationwide legislation continues to aim toward a goal of having zero crashes.
The authors of the analysis concluded, “the next major step forward in the USA, now implemented in more than 10 states, is thought to be mandatory installation of ignition interlocks in cars driven by people with impaired driving convictions.”
BUFFALO, N.Y. – A car crash can be disorienting. You may be asking yourself or overhear someone say, “what happened?” Researchers have been asking that question for decades but the numbers keep changing due to an evolving American lifestyle centered on technology, weather, accurate records, and safety.
The leading cause of accidents just five years ago was speed. speeding drivers accounted for 21 percent of all car accidents, costing Americans over $59 billion in 2010.
At the time, drunk driving was also a major influence, accounting for 18 percent of the nation’s total economic loss due to motor vehicle crashes.
Since then, speeding and drunk driving accidents have taken a back-seat to a problem car accident lawyers say is just as, if not more, dangerous.
“Five years ago, we were just starting to talk about distracted driving,” said Stephen Ciocca, a Buffalo car accident attorney at the law offices of Cellino & Barnes. “Today, it’s one of the primary factors leading to car crashes.”
Before 2010, only 14 states had some type of ban on texting while driving. Five years later, 48 of the 50 states have made texting while driving illegal and many states have increased fines and patrols due to the prevalence of this distraction.
A new study from the United Kingdom suggests driver dehydration can also be a factor in thousands of crashes. Researchers at Loughborough University discovered that even mild dehydration was equivalent to being drunk behind the wheel.
The study measured the number of driver errors in a lab-based driving simulator. Adequately hydrated drivers made 47 errors, according to the simulation. Drivers who were dehydrated more than doubled that number to 101 errors. Researchers estimate that’s the same number they’d expect of someone driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
“Dehydration can also lead to a loss of energy, and sleep deprivation is known to be a very common factor in many crashes too,” Ciocca said.
Although some drivers may blame an accident on their vehicle, statistics show that a vehicular malfunction was truly at fault only in extremely rare occasions.
Weather can also cause a crash, however, it’s most often a secondary factor. Car accident lawyers say there are usually many reasons for a car crash and it’s often difficult to blame a collision on just one.
“There can be more than one cause of an accident,” Ciocca said. “Defendants will often blame the weather or their car for a crash. Our argument is that they must reasonably respond and adjust to these outside influences. In the end, we’ll discover almost every accident could have been prevented if the driver would have acted in a calm, responsible manner and taken the road and weather conditions into account.”
NEW YORK – in the mid-1990s, a nationwide campaign took aim on drunk drivers. The slogan, “friends don’t let friends drive drunk” was plastered on billboards from Boston to Los Angeles. Law enforcement stepped-up sobriety checkpoints; and arrests for driving under the influence sharply increased.
Today, drinking and driving is still a common problem on the roads but it’s taken a back-seat to an issue many experts consider to be just as dangerous but much more prevalent: texting.
“When a driver looks down to view a text message, they’re putting lives on the line. Even if a driver is distracted for just three seconds, a car can travel over 300 feet without eyes on the highway in New York traffic.” accident attorney Ross Cellino said.
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office reports there was a 143 percent increase in cell phone-related crashes between 2005 and 2011. In the same time, the state reported an 18 percent decrease in alcohol-related crashes.
Statistics show New York State law enforcement officers recorded fewer than 5,000 alcohol-related crashes in 2011. The same year, officers tallied over 25,000 crashes involving at least one distracted driver, now the most common factor leading to a crash.
“It’s unfortunate these crashes continue to happen because just about every driver knows texting and driving puts their life at risk but they do it anyway,” Cellino said. “The problem is so prevalent, personal injury lawyers are requesting cell phone records every day as part of discovery to prove a defendant was texting behind the wheel.”
Local and state officials are very cognizant of the texting trend and New York State is leading the charge in the battle against texting and driving.
Statewide, the number of texting while driving citations increased 35 percent in one year. In 2014, officers handed out more than 75,000 tickets, up from 56,000 in 2013.
As part of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “Vision Zero” campaign, the city has been a hotbed for texting citations, which increased by almost 50 percent to 48,000 tickets issued in 2014.
“A driver can get fined up to $200 and get five points against their license, if caught texting and driving,” Cellino said. “They’re taking a tough stance in the city because there’s so much foot traffic and pedestrians are getting hit because drivers aren’t paying attention.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2013 saw more than 3,000 people get killed in crashes involving a distracted driver and another 425,000 were hurt.
New York law enforcement officers warn the only true way to avoid a texting citation is to turn your phone off and put it out of sight so you’re not tempted to shift your focus off the road.
So far, the AAA study surveyed thousands of drivers and logged their driving habits between May 2013 and May 2014. Researchers found that, on average, Americans drive about 30 miles every day or 10,658 miles per year.
The data, when combined with crash statistics will allow AAA and other organizations to conduct unique and timely studies of crash rates and locations. Results of these studies could lead to more effective safety plans and countermeasures to improve motor vehicle safety nationwide.
“This type of on-going survey gives us very recent data to work with and compare. We can use these statistics to show what roads are safer for motorists and why and even draw conclusions about current driving habits in cities like New York,” car accident attorney Steve Barnes said.
The first-year data found Americans drive the most during the summer, averaging over 30 miles per day. It also discovered that drivers between the ages of 30 and 49 years old drive an average of 13,140 miles each year, the most of any age group.
“Even if you’re the safest driver in the world and you’re always aware of your surroundings, the more time spent on the road can increase your risk of getting into an accident simply because you’re behind the wheel more often.” Barnes said. “It’s a numbers game, every minute you’re in a car, there’s a chance an accident will happen.”
Drivers in rural areas were also found to travel further on average than drivers in urban areas. The research also polled education levels and their correlation to driving distances; AAA found that individuals with a grade school or high school education were on the road for an average of 32 minutes per day. On the other hand, drivers with a college degree spent nearly twice as much time behind the wheel, averaging 58 minutes of driving in a 24 hour period.
The American Driver Survey is an ongoing study based on telephone interviews and aims to identify specific driving patterns and evaluate American road safety.
“This is a drastic improvement. Safer cars and graduated-licensing programs are really making a difference and after ten years, it’s finally showing in cities like New York,” car accident attorney Ross Cellino said.
Researchers believe a variety of factors contributed to the slash in the number of teen fatalities and new licensing programs were found to be an important contributor.
In many states, graduated licenses can restrict driving times for teenagers and the number of individuals in the car. The CDC believes programs like these reduced the crash rate by 20 to 40 percent among teens.
Personal injury attorneys believe a variety of other factors also played a role in the declining number of teen fatalities.
“Cars are much safer today than they were in 2005,” Cellino said. “Most cars now have standard side-impact air bags and electronic stability systems, which are proven life-saving safety features.”
More drivers and passengers use seatbelts today than ever before, Cellino said. His New York-based law firm, Cellino & Barnes, estimates 90 percent of all drivers in the Empire State regularly buckle-up when they’re behind the wheel.
Researchers suggest economics may have also played a role in cutting the number of teen driving fatalities in half. The study examined deadly crash statistics between 2004 and 2013, which many economists considered the height of the economic recession.
The report surveyed high school students in several states and also found that three out of four high school students over the age of 16 indicated they drove to school at least once a month. In rural areas, the percentage was higher while in cities, where urban transportation is more easily accessible, the percentage was slightly lower.
The study’s findings aim to raise awareness to the programs that work to keep teen drivers safe while behind the wheel.
“Sleepy drivers cause about 100,000 accidents each year and those crashes result in over $12 billion in lawsuits and other monetary losses,” said Mike Lovecchio, a Buffalo car accident lawyer from the Law Offices of Cellino & Barnes. “That shows that if you get enough sleep, it can save you a lot of money too.”
A compilation of studies compiled by the American Time Use Survey consistently make the same conclusions: the more money a person makes, the less sleep they get.
“These statistics are extremely concerning because, generally speaking, these are the same people who can afford cars and they often live further from work,” Lovecchio said. “That means they spend more time behind the wheel than almost any other economic class and they’re driving after getting just a few hours of sleep.”
Some daily activities like long commutes, nighttime television habits, and even prescription medication have been shown to remove vital minutes or even hours of sleep from a person’s night, increasing their risk of an accident the next day.
“The goal here is to hopefully avoid a workplace or car accident before it happens,” Lovecchio said. “The absolute best way to do that is by getting a restful night of sleep.”
Researchers believe living closer to work and avoiding the television before bed can improve sleep patterns and allow a person to get the most rest.
BUFFALO, N.Y. – Distracted driving is the number one reason accidents happen in New York State. Driver inattention accounts for nearly 20 percent of all crashes, resulting in thousands of injuries. Although distractions like texting and driving are still a top cause of accidents, statistics show strict laws prevent some of these crashes from happening.
Most states, including New York, have bans on texting and driving and new research has found how important these laws are. Car crash hospitalizations dipped in states that have strict bans on texting and driving between 2003 and 2010.
Researchers found that overall, the number of those hospitalized in these states declined by 7 percent, compared to states without a texting ban.
“Clearly, texting and driving bans are extremely difficult to enforce but these laws have consistently shown they can help curb the number of injuries in places like Buffalo,” car accident lawyer Ross Cellino said. “In states with strict bans in place, drivers will at least think twice before picking up the phone.”
Currently, 45 states and the District of Columbia ban drivers from texting. However, five of those states do not completely ban the dangerous activity. Several places only restrict teenagers or those with driver permits from texting behind the wheel.
“It’s not just teenagers who are texting and driving,” Cellino said. “Adults do it too and it’s just as dangerous.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nine Americans are killed every day by a distracted driver. Researchers hope their findings can influence more states to include primary enforcement of texting and driving to the law books and improve highway safety nationwide.
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