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Staten Island Personal Injury Law Blog

Report identifies daydreaming as major road safety hazard

Road safety experts often blame New York distracted driving accidents on the popularity of cellphones and other mobile electronic equipment. However, a study released by Erie Insurance to coincide with Distracted Driving Awareness Month suggests that daydreaming may actually be an even greater hazard for road users. Researchers studied accidents in the United States that claimed 172,000 lives over the last five years, and they determined that 61 percent of the distracted driving crashes involved a motorist who was lost in thought.

While accidents caused by distracted drivers accounted for one in 10 of all road deaths during the period studied, only 14 percent of the motorists involved were using a cellphone at the time, according to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System database maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. However, the reliability of this information has been questioned by road safety advocates. The NHTSA tracks accident statistics to provide crucial information to the public and government agencies, but much of the data is gathered from police reports and based on interviews conducted at accident scenes.

Autonomous vehicle makers questioned over forced arbitration

Lawmakers including New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand have asked companies involved in the development of autonomous vehicle technology to clarify their positions on forced arbitration agreements. Questions have been asked about the safety of self-driving cars in the wake of an accident in Arizona involving an autonomous Uber SUV that claimed the life of a pedestrian. Media reports suggest that Uber's terms of service would prevent individuals injured in such a crash from pursuing civil lawsuits.

Manufacturers favor arbitration clauses because they avoid costly litigation and prevent plaintiffs from filing class action lawsuits, but advocacy groups say that these provisions unfairly favor big business. Legislation currently being considered in Congress would allow companies like General Motors, Tesla and Google to sell up to 80,000 autonomous vehicles in the United States each year, but the bill does not address the issue of forced arbitration.

Dog bite disasters: Tips for treating dog bites

Every time you ride your bike in your neighborhood, you see a local pet who barks at you. The dog always seemed a little aggressive, but you never thought that it would hurt you.

That was in the past, though. Today, you were riding and the dog got loose. It chased you down, tackling you off your bike by grabbing your leg in its jaws. You were bitten several times and need medical care.

Reducing human influence could improve driverless cars

While a number of issues related to self-driving technologies are debated in New York and across the United States, many hope that autonomous vehicle technology could help to cut down on car accidents and make the roadways safer. However, autonomous vehicles do not have an accident-free record; because of the nature of self-driving cars, crashes involving these vehicles tend to receive widespread publicity. When looking at how to improve the safety of autonomous cars, one professor notes that human influence itself could be responsible for autonomous vehicle accidents.

A professor of engineering at Arizona State University said that driverless vehicle technologies are being developed by companies like Uber and Google in order to replicate the human experience of driving. Therefore, the vehicles' programming is based on the same human knowledge that leads to car accidents in traditionally driven cars. The use of a human reference means the involvement of human fallibility as well.

Conversations, cell phones both distracting to drivers

For some New York drivers, even having a conversation in the car might be a distraction. A meta-analysis that appeared in the journal Human Factors looked at experimental studies on driving and distraction but no epidemiological reports or surveys. The analysis examined more than 100 experimental situations using more than 4,000 drivers and came to several conclusions.

It found that both hands-free and hands-on cellphone use resulted in a diminished scanning of the environment and a slower reaction time and identification of hazards. However, conversing with others in the vehicle affected reaction time, speed, distance from other cars and lane position. The more engaging the conversation, the more likely it was for distraction to occur. Both cellphone and regular conversations led to more collisions.

Common injuries caused by drunk driving crashes

Drunk driving is responsible for around one-third of all traffic-related deaths in New York and the rest of the United States. Certain people, including drivers and passengers under the age of 24, motorcyclists and those with prior DUIs, are at greater risk of dying in a drunk driving crash.

There are numerous fatal injuries that can occur during an alcohol-related car accident. One of the most common is a traumatic head injury, which can happen when someone hits the steering wheel, dash or some other part of the vehicle's interior. A head injury can also occur if the top or sides of a vehicle are crushed in the collision. Many car crash victims also suffer severe soft tissue lacerations and/or damage to their internal organs, which can cause them to bleed to death.

Drowsy drivers and daylight saving time

With one less hour to sleep after daylight saving time goes into effect, many drivers across New York undoubtedly suffered from drowsiness on their morning commutes. A recent AAA study found that instances of drowsy driving increase after daylight saving time, so the organization gives drivers several tips on how to prevent getting into an accident.

Drowsy driving account for nearly 10 percent of all car crashes in the U.S. If possible, drivers should get to bed earlier the night before. This is the first and most important step because nothing outside of rest can cure drowsiness. Drivers should also be extra careful when changing lanes. They should double check for cars and use their turn signals at all times to alert others who may be drowsy.

Uneven sidewalks could be risky for bikers, joggers and others

When people think about sidewalk injuries, they probably think about pedestrian accidents with motor vehicles or perhaps a snow-related slip-and-fall incident. However, the potential risks of sidewalks are not limited to only the winter months. The sidewalks themselves can cause injuries and even deaths to unsuspecting people who are just going about their daily lives.

Uneven sidewalks can be caused by crumbling cement, encroaching roots, frost heave or ground settling. Property owners and business managers should pay close attention to the condition of their sidewalks and make repairs when necessary. Failing to do so result in serious injuries and potential premises liability claims.

Tennis player achieves settlement after slip-and-fall accident

Several years after a slip-and-fall accident at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City caused her a serious head injury, a Canadian tennis player has settled a premises liability lawsuit with the United States Tennis Association. Eugenie Bouchard, once ranked as one of the five top female tennis players around the world, slipped and fell at the 2015 U.S. Open tennis tournament. A wet locker room floor led to the incident, which caused a head injury that prevented her from playing out the remainder of the tennis season.

Following the settlement, Bouchard noted that she was happy with the terms that had been reached. While her world ranking has fallen dramatically since her injury, leaving her ranked 116th in the world, she has also achieved significant success as a fitness model. As part of the case, her lawyers argued that the head injury had done irreparable damage to her tennis career.

Keeping highways safe with state governors' participation

America's roads are becoming less and less safe. In 2016, 39 states reported an increase in the number of traffic fatalities. Nationwide, the fatalities rose by 5.6 percent. A total of 37,461 drivers died in New York and across the U.S. that year. It is known that road safety conditions in America are inferior compared to those of other developed countries.

Drivers may be wondering who can lead the way in pushing and implementing improvements. This is where a new report from the National Governors Association comes in. The organization states that state governors have a key role to play in keeping highways safe. They can coordinate efforts between different state agencies, such as the highway safety agencies, and they can review existing efforts to improve safety.

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