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Staten Island Personal Injury Law Blog

The dangers of overloaded tractor trailers

Truck accidents in New York and around the country often involve overloaded semi-tractor trailers or commercial vehicle drivers who failed to adequately control their fully laden vehicles. Loaded tractor-trailers can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds without violating state or federal safety laws, and that amount of weight traveling at highway speeds can cause catastrophic damage to passenger vehicles.

Many truck accidents involving fully laden or overloaded tractor-trailers occur when commercial vehicle drivers face an emergency situation and are forced to take evasive action. Heavy loads can shift dangerously in these situations and cause trucks to roll; rollover accidents can be especially deadly when a commercial vehicle weighing 40 tons topples onto a passenger vehicle in an adjacent lane. Accidents can also happen when cargo spills onto the roadway because loads have not been properly secured.

Falling ice during thaws could result in premises liability

The winter in New York brings with it all kinds of serious risks. The potential for motor vehicle crashes increase due to holiday drinking, as well as inclement weather that can leave roads slippery and dangerous. Sidewalks and parking lots can become risky places if ice and snow isn't cleared, resulting in slip-and-fall accidents that injure people.

One issue unique to areas with large buildings, including Staten Island and all of New York City, is the danger resulting from falling ice, especially on warmer days. Serious injuries, property damage or even death could result from falling ice or icicles.

Driving with large trucks

New York drivers may be reluctant to share the road with big rigs. Their unwieldy size and propensity for moving back and forth between lanes can make driving on busy highways and roads nerve-wrecking. However, there are some things people can do to make driving alongside the large vehicles safer and more comfortable.

When driving near large commercial trucks, practicing patience and extreme awareness is key to remaining safe on the road. It is important that drivers of passenger vehicles not take any chances when near the larger vehicles, even if it may present an inconvenience. For example, drivers may be tempted to accelerate in front of a big rig that is attempting to move over into their lane. However, doing so places all parties in danger as the large vehicle is unable to come to a stop as quickly as a passenger vehicle.

What to do around aggressive drivers

New York drivers often encounter others on the road who are aggressive or downright angry. Sometimes, offended drivers will become angry and also give in to road rage, increasing the chances that both of them will get in an accident. However, it doesn't have to be this way.

For example, drivers may notice someone trying to force them out of the way by riding close to their bumper, perhaps even honking the horn and flashing the lights. In such cases, drivers should neither slow down nor speed up, as they may accidentally block a passing lane and make the other driver angrier. They should signal for a turn and move over as soon as it's safe. It's always good to maintain personal space between other vehicles, as this could allow one to make a quick escape.

Common ways that car crashes occur

New York motorists are probably aware of the many dangers they face on the road; however, it's always good to recap since accidents still occur in large numbers. According to naturalistic driving studies, which use equipment like accelerometers, sonar, and video cameras to gather crash data, there are six common causes of car accidents.

One is when drivers make a rolling right turn at a red light. Though they may look for oncoming traffic from the left, they may neglect to see if any pedestrians or bicyclists are approaching from the right. A second common cause is drowsy driving. This causes 7 percent of all crashes and 21 percent of all fatal crashes. Even when drivers are confident that they're not sleepy, they may be subject to microsleep episodes, where the brain momentarily shuts off.

Traffic circles can help cut down on roadway deaths

Drivers and traffic engineers in New York and across the United States share a concern about how to make traffic intersections safer. The junction points for two or more roads can be some of the most dangerous areas for drivers and passengers, as cars come toward one another and intersect, often at high rates of speed, risking accidents that can lead to serious and sometimes fatal injuries. Because intersections are such a frequent site for car accidents, engineers are looking at how to improve safety at such locations.

One method that can help to cut down on deaths and serious injuries on the road is the construction of roundabouts or traffic circles. In a study of 144 urban and rural roundabouts with significant traffic volume, the Minnesota Department of Transportation found that constructing roundabouts in place of traditional perpendicular intersections had a significant impact on bodily injuries. Auto accidents involving fatalities were down by 86 percent at these intersections after the construction of roundabouts. The results weren't limited to cutting down on deaths, as serious injury crashes were cut by 83 percent and all injury crashes were down by 61 percent at single-lane roundabouts.

ELDs now mandated on all commercial trucks

A new Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration mandate now requires that all commercial trucks be equipped with electronic logging devices. ELDs are already in use among large truck carriers like FedEx and UPS; however, many trucking companies in New York and across the U.S. are protesting the change.

The reasons for the change are manifold. The FMCSA claims that ELDs will more accurately log truckers' hours and monitor truckers' activities. They will also facilitate the sharing of driver records as well as prevent cheating, which was a perennial issue with paper logs. ELDs connect with a truck's engine and can record the times that the engine is running, when the truck is in motion, and the number of miles it goes.

Tired driving is seriously risky

It's a dark and stormy night, and driving conditions are already compromised. A person just gets off of a long shift or decides to drive home for the weekend after staying up to study for a test. Despite being very tired, they decide to get behind the wheel and drive. Suddenly, a car in front of them stops short, but they are too sleepy to react correctly, causing them to crash into it.

Whether during a rainy night or the middle of the day, sleepy driving is a dangerous choice. Unfortunately, people choose to drive sleepy every year, leading to thousands of car accidents. Many of these accidents result in death or serious injuries for the victims, as well as thousands of dollars in damages.

Winter driving safety tips

During the dog days of winter, millions of U.S. drivers face treacherous weather-related road conditions. According to the Federal Highway Administration, 22 percent of all traffic accidents are the result of poor weather. However, there are several safety measures New York motorists can take to minimize risks and avoid car accidents during the winter months.

Two of the top causes of winter-related crashes are ice and black ice, which can both make it difficult for a vehicle's tires to grip the road. Black ice tends to form at night or very early in the morning, so drivers should use extra caution during those times. Drivers should also slow down, increase their stopping distance and give themselves more time to reach destinations when rain, snow or sleet is present.

Popular cellphone game linked to surge in car accidents

The augmented reality game 'Pokémon Go" may have caused as many as 145,000 traffic accidents in New York and around the country, according to a study released recently by Purdue University. Researchers studied accident data compiled in Tippecanoe County, Indiana, both before and after the game's July 2016 release. They found that the number of crashes near locations known as Pokéstops rose by an alarming 26.5 percent as the game grew in popularity.

Gamers visit Pokéstops, which are usually landmarks such as statues or monuments, to download items that they need to continue playing. According to the Purdue University study, 29,000 road users would have been injured and 250 killed if the rise in motor vehicle accidents near Pokéstops in Tippecanoe County occurred across the country. The researchers also noticed that the number of accidents blamed on distracted drivers increased sharply following the release of the game.

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Orin J. Cohen Law
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