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.

Careless Driving Resulting in Death

We recently posed the question of whether revised hours of service (HOS) regulations promulgated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) would reduce the number of people killed by big rig trucks in the United States. If one tragic accident can be representative, the answer is no.

Joe Bell was the father of Jadin Bell, a 15-year old student from La Grande, Oregon who committed suicide after being bullied for being gay. Jadin Bell died in February of this year and after a period of soul searching, Mr. Bell set out across America to tell the story of his son and somehow deal with his grief along the way.

On April 20, Mr. Bell set out on foot with a pushcart and a backpack, bound for New York City, where his son had hoped one day to work in fashion or photography. Mr. Bell thought his walk might take two years. Chronicling his journey for thousands on social media and in newspapers as he passed through towns, Mr. Bell spoke where he could about his son, about tolerance and about his grief.

Hobbled by blisters and the ache of rebuilt knees, Mr. Bell made it to about 20 miles north of Kit Carson, Colorado. While walking down the side of a rural road on October 9, Mr. Bell was struck and killed by the driver of a tractor-trailer who had reportedly fallen asleep at the wheel. The driver was uninjured and cited for careless driving resulting in death.

Mr. Bell no longer walks for the change his son needed, nor does he struggle further with grief. Maybe we should.

Do You Travel One of New York’s Most Deadly Roads for Pedestrian Accidents?

While other traffic fatalities are declining, deadly pedestrian crashes increased in 2011. On average, a pedestrian was killed every two hours and injured every eight minutes in traffic crashes, according to the National Transportation Safety Administration.

The risk of a pedestrian accident varies by location and other factors. Urban environments, non-intersections and nighttime conditions pose the greatest threats. In New York, certain stretches of roadway are also more inherently dangerous than others.

According to the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Nassau County’s SR-24 (Hempstead Turnpike) is the most dangerous road for pedestrians in Connecticut, New Jersey and downstate New York. The report analyzed pedestrian fatalities from 2009 to 2011. Other roads in New York with high rates of pedestrian accidents included:

  • Broadway in New York County (Manhattan)
  • State Route 25 (Jericho Turnpike) in Suffolk County
  • State Route 27 (Sunrise Highway) in Nassau County
  • State Route 110 (New York Avenue, Broadhollow Road and Broadway) in Suffolk County
  • State Route 27 (Sunrise Highway, Montauk Point State Highway and County Route 39) in Suffolk County

The report highlights that road design plays a part in the accident rates on these roads. Almost 60 percent of the pedestrian fatalities in the region occurred on arterial roads, which often have at least two lanes in each direction and allow for vehicle speeds of 40 miles per hour or more. Outside of urban areas, these roads often lack pedestrian infrastructure like sidewalks, pedestrian countdown clocks, pedestrian islands or clearly marked crosswalks.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a pedestrian accident, the New York injury attorneys of Michael Sepe, LLC can investigate the cause of the crash and pursue compensation on your behalf from all of the responsible parties.