Going Up: Traffic Fatalities

In May, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) published early projections of motor vehicle fatality rates for 2012. For the first time since 2005, fatality figures went up and, while reasons are not entirely clear, there are some good guesses.

According to NHTSA, a fatality is included in their data if a collision occurred that involved the death of a vehicle occupant within 30 days of the accident. For 2012, that means a 5.3 percent increase in fatalities from 2012.

Keeping yourself and your family safe from harm on any roadway is not always easy. Consider these tips:

  • Do not drive distracted and be aware of those who do. Next time you are out, take note of drivers talking on cell phones or texting (even though it is against the law). They are driving distracted and could make a fatal error at an intersection near you.
  • Impaired driving is more than just drunk driving. Like distraction, fatigue affects driving in ways similar to drinking alcohol. When you are tired, reaction time, decision making and physical coordination is impaired. Business trips and jet lag add to the problem.
  • Remember the rules of the road. Rules of the road standardize the flow of traffic. Those who drive outside those rules, like those who drive recklessly or speed, kill almost 10,000 people annually. Observe the speed limit and drive more slowly in inclement conditions. If you notice someone speeding, fall back and stay out of the way.

It seems simple — buckle up and arrive alive — but staying safe on the road is not easy. If involved in a serious motor vehicle accident, speak to an experienced New York injury lawyer.

Cell Phone and Texting Update

The next session of the New York State Legislature provides for consideration of a bill that will totally ban the use of cell phones while driving. The only exemption would be for calls in an emergency. This bill would be among the first in the nation to be considered. New York has a history of being in the forefront of distracted driving issues, having passed the first ever ban of handheld cell phone use while driving.

According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data for 2009, drivers who are texting or using handheld devices are on the rise while cellphone use (driver holding the phone to the ear) has stayed the same. About 674,000 drivers were holding phones to their ears while driving at any given moment in 2010.

There is no doubt that distracted driving kills and seriously injures many people. More than 3,000 people were killed in distracted driving crashes in 2010 and 387,000 were injured in crashes involving distracted driving.

Other bills that the legislature will be considering include the following:

  • Assembly bill 2668 bans the display of video in the front seat area of a vehicle, within view of the driver.
  • Assembly bill 1961 requires the police to list on accident reports whether a cell phone was in use when the accident occurred.
  • Assembly bill 3718 requires that texting and handheld cell phone laws apply when vehicles are stopped at stop signs, traffic lights, railroad crossings or due to heavy traffic.

Persons who cause accidents while engaging in distracted driving may be the subject of a lawsuit.