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Staten Island Personal Injury Law Blog

Trucking fatalities and lesser-recognized factors

As the number of fatal trucking accidents on roadways in New York and other states across the country continues to rise over time, motorists may want to consider a few seldom-discussed factors that may be to blame. While the general public might suppose that all commercial truck operators are aggressive and even dangerous drivers, U.S. Department of Labor data indicates that automobile drivers cause most fatal accidents that involve a large truck.

This finding does not completely exonerate truckers, however. According to one online trucking industry publication, commercial drivers who work a regular Monday through Friday schedule are mentally and physically exhausted before the work week ends. In regard to trucker-related fatalities, fatigued driving may be the reason that Thursday is the deadliest day of the week. With Friday a close second, motorists may do well to suspect that a fatigued, stressed truck driver could easily overlook equipment checks or other important details late in the week and share the roadway with extra caution.

Device developed to keep drowsy drivers awake

New York motorists might have the opportunity to buy a device called Steer that will wake them up if they fall asleep behind the wheel. Steer is worn on the wrist and measures biometrics to determine when a person is becoming drowsy. When a person's sweat secretion and heart rate changes, this indicates that the person is falling asleep.

Initially, the team at the company that designed the device experimented with having the device deliver vibrations to the driver. However, this was not a strong enough stimulus. The team then found that a minor shock was enough to wake the driver without causing harm. The Steer vibrates when it first detects a change, and then it follows up with a shock. The shock is also supposed to stimulate the production of cortisol and other hormones that keep the driver awake until it is possible to stop the vehicle and rest.

Negligence and cost-cutting could lead to construction risks

Working in construction is a dangerous career path. Most construction workers finish their jobs without any incident, but some construction workers end up injured or killed while working. Sometimes, accidents are a result of an unpredictable confluence of events. Other times, workers are needlessly hurt or killed due to poor decision making by their employers. While accidents do happen, sometimes they are preventable. Employers should take every possible step to safeguard their workers when on a job site.

Bad weather, machinery failures or even a sudden medical event, like a heart attack, can lead to a serious construction accident. These situations are sometimes unavoidable incidents. Other accidents, however, can result from an employer deciding to cut corners, hire less skilled or trained workers, reduce costs by not buying or maintaining safety equipment or a host of other money-related decisions. When construction companies put profit above employee safety, construction workers are the ones who pay the price.

Ride malfunction turns state fair deadly

Most New York residents probably would not expect a state fair to be the setting of a tragedy, but a ride malfunction at the Ohio State Fair killed one person and injured others on July 26. The fair in Columbus opened on the same day the accident happened, which put a damper on the events as fairgoers were horrified by the fatality and rides were shut down for safety inspections.

The ride that malfunctioned is called the Fire Ball, and this ride swings and spins passengers in the air. A section of the seats broke off and sent people flying. An 18-year-old man who was going to join the Marines was killed. Seven others were injured, and three of those people were in critical condition. The victims were brought to OhioHealth Grant Medical Center and Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. Two people at OhioHealth been discharged by the next day, but the people taken to the other hospital were expected to be hospitalized for a week or longer.

Increased speed limits lead to higher traffic fatalities

New York residents who rely on their vehicles to travel may enjoy the higher speed limits as they can get to their destinations much more quickly. However, a study from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety found that increased speed limits resulted in an additional 33,000 fatalities between 1993 and 2013.

In the early 1970s, Congress passed the National Maximum Speed Limit law which threatened states with financial penalties if they posted speed limits that were higher than 55 mph. This was mostly due to fuel shortage concerns. That law was completely repealed in 1995. Since then, states have been increasing their speed limits. As of 2017, six states have speed limits of up to 80 mph. Texas became the first state to have a speed limit of 85 mph.

Looking at large truck crash data

New York residents may be interested to learn that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has released statistics for large truck and bus crashes that took place in 2015. According to the data, 20 percent of the 415,000 police-reported large truck accidents involved an injury while 1 percent of the accidents were fatal.

Of all fatal single-vehicle accidents reported in 2015, 20 percent were fatal. More than 60 percent of the fatal truck and bus crashes involved two vehicles. The majority of fatal truck and bus accidents occurred on rural roads with only about 25 percent occurring on Interstate highways. The FMCSA also found that an overwhelming number of both fatal and nonfatal accidents occurred during the weekdays. These percentages were 83 percent and 89 percent respectively.

Considering a wrongful death suit after a traffic accident

Losing a loved one in a traffic accident can be a devastating experience. It can take months or years for a family to recover emotionally, and the financial impact of this kind of loss could last a lifetime. When a family's primary wage earner gets killed in a fatal traffic accident, all kind of bad things can happen. The family loses out on wages and future income. They can also lose health insurance policies, which can add a crippling monthly expense to an already thin household budget. In some cases, the family could end up without the money to repair or replace the vehicle involved in the crash.

Many times, children and surviving spouses require counseling or therapy to process and deal with the grief that comes from losing a loved one unexpectedly. That can also represent a substantial expense. Many medical insurance policies only cover a few therapy sessions, or require that you pay out of pocket until your family deductible, which could be thousands of dollars, gets met. In cases where a driver was clearly at fault, negligent, distracted or chemically impaired, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover your losses.

Tesla may be less safe than other large cars

Car enthusiasts in New York may be surprised to know that the Tesla Model S may not be as safe as several other large and large luxury cars that are available on the market. In July 2017, it was reported that the Toyota Avalon, the Lincoln Continental and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan were the recipients of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's top Top Safety Pick Plus designations. During tests for crashworthiness, the Model S fell short, casting doubt over the automaker's claims that the Tesla is the safest car in history.

The IIHS is a non-profit organization that is funded by auto insurers. The crash tests are designed to measure a vehicle's response in the event of a collision. Each vehicle must pass five different safety tests, earn a high rating for front crash prevention and have a "good" or "acceptable" headlight rating to qualify for the top safety designation.

Independence Day is a dangerous day for drivers

The Fourth of July is a dangerous day on the roads in New York and across the United States. It's the holiday with the most auto insurance claims of all the major summer holidays, compared to Memorial Day and Labor Day. Even more, July 4 itself has been, on average, the most fatal day for drivers over the past 10 years.

The Travelers Companies Inc. reported that from 2012 to 2016, the Fourth of July weekend produced 7 percent more auto insurance claims for collisions than the Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends. The holiday isn't just a day to celebrate America, but a major occasion for social events. With parties, family travel and celebrations, there are many more drivers on the road than usual. Busy roads can easily be full of tired and distracted motorist. From texting while driving to checking a GPS, there are many distractions that can divert a driver's attention and lead to dangerous crashes.

Steps to take following an automobile accident

Most drivers in New York and around the country will be involved in an accident of some sort at one time or another. The vast majority of motor vehicle collisions involve human error, but this may not always be reflected in police reports if no road users were seriously injured and investigations were perfunctory. This can make things difficult for accident victims who wish to pursue civil remedies, so gathering as much pertinent information as possible in the immediate aftermath of a crash can be extremely important.

After injured road users have been tended to and damaged vehicles have been cleared from the road, accident victims should do their best to gather information from the other driver or drivers involved. This should include their driver's license information, their insurance companies and policy numbers and the make and plate numbers of their vehicles. Most modern cellphones feature powerful cameras, and since many have video recording capabilities, the images and footage they capture can be powerful evidence in a car accident lawsuit.

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Orin J. Cohen Law
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