Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month is a national initiative designed to encourage drivers of all other kinds of vehicles and motorcyclists to “share the road” with each other. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)reminds motorists to safely "share the road" with motorcycles and to be extra alert to help keep motorcyclists safe. The NHTSA also stresses the importance of riding sober. Statistics show that the percentage of intoxicated motorcycle riders in fatal crashes is greater than the percentage of intoxicated drivers on our roads. Motorcycle crashes are one of the most prevalent causes of death and injury on roads. Motorcyclists are about 30 times more likely to die in a crash than passenger vehicle occupants. Motorcycle fatalities accounted for 14 percent of total highway deaths for the year although motorcycle registrations represent only about 3 percent of all vehicles in the U.S.
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Using Siri to Activate a Call Held Not to Be Same as Making a Phone Call on Cell Phone; Defendant Not Guilty
Section 1225-c(2a) of New York’s Vehicle and Traffic Law prohibits operating a motor vehicle upon a public highway while using a mobile telephone to engage in a call while such vehicle is in motion without a hands-free device. In The People v. Andrew Welch, the defendant was charged with violating VTL § 1225-c. At trial, the police officer testified that he observed the defendant drove past him with a cell phone in his hand which he held close to his chin, and was talking into it. The defendant testified and admitted that he had the cell phone in his hand and was talking into it, but asserted he was using the phone's Siri feature to activate a call. Justice Karen Morris of Brighton Town Court held that the defendant's testimony, if believed, rebuts the inference that he was engaged in a call and instead establishes that he was activating a call, an action that is not illegal. She thus found the defendant not guilty.
Study of Factors Predictive Of Outcome of Pedestrian and Bicyclist Accident Victims Shows Danger Lurks Even in Supposedly Safe Places
In 2012 in New York City, there were 274 traffic deaths, the most in four years. In 2010, 11,000 pedestrians and 3,500 bicyclists were injured by motor vehicles in New York City. A study by doctors at NYU Langone Medical Center published in the current addition of the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery shows that even sidewalk and signal-obeying crosswalk users are at risk. Six percent of pedestrians were injured while on a sidewalk. More of those injured on the street were injured while using a crosswalk with the signal (44%) compared with 23% who crossed midblock and 9% who crossed against the signal. Factors lowering the severity of injury include above-average body mass, bicycling vs. being a pedestrian, being struck by a taxi, and being struck in the crosswalk by a turning vehicle. More severe injuries were associated with alcohol, being less than 18 years of age, hearing impairment, and struck by a truck or bus.
Traffic Fatalities and Distraction-Affected Crashes Declined in 2011 But Fatalities of Large Truck Occupants Rose 20 Percent
A new analysis released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates that highway deaths fell to 32,367 in 2011, the lowest level since 1949. 2011 also saw the lowest fatality rate ever recorded, with 1.10 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2011. Deaths in crashes involving drunk drivers dropped 2.5 percent in 2011. Fatalities declined by 4.6 percent for occupants of passenger cars and light trucks, including SUVs, minivans and pickups. Fatalities increased among large truck occupants (20 percent), pedalcyclists (8.7 percent), pedestrians (3.0 percent), and motorcycle riders (2.1 percent). The number of people killed in distraction-affected crashes rose but the number of people injured in them declined.
In May of this year the New York State Department of Transportation announced a series of pedestrian safety improvements along Hempstead Turnpike, which bears the unwanted distinction of being Long Island’s most dangerous road. Much of the work is expected to begin this week. Engineering improvements include remarking and widening crosswalks, increasing pedestrian crossing times at traffic signals, reprogramming dozens of crosswalks, adding pedestrian countdown timers, relocating bus stops closer to crosswalks, and installing additional no turn on red signs. Crossing buttons will feature buttons that light up and stay lit when pushed, and raised medians where pedestrians frequently cross mid-block will be built to provide refuge from traffic.
Homicide Conviction and Jail Time for Texting While Driving Motor Vehicle Accident Sounds Shocking But Probably Won't Deter It
A Massachusetts teen was convicted Wednesday on charges of vehicular homicide, texting while driving and negligent operation of a motor vehicle as a result of texting while driving. He was the first driver to be charged and convicted of motor vehicle homicide by texting under Massachusetts law. The accident occurred when his vehicle crossed over a center line and fatally injured the driver of the oncoming vehicle and seriously injured a passenger in that vehicle. He was sentenced to two and a half years on the vehicular homicide charge and two years on the texting and causing injury charge. He will serve one year concurrently on both charges and the balance of both charges is suspended for five years. His license will be suspended for 15 years. Prosecutors say he sent 193 text messages the day of the crash, including some just a minute or so before impact and dozens more after it.
Fatal Bronx Bus Accident Continues to Lead to Tough Actions by FMCSA Including Shut-Down of 26 Bus Companies and Release of SaferBus Mobile App
This past Thursday the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ("FMCSA") shut down 26 discount bus companies declaring them imminent hazards to public safety. The shutdowns affected dozens of routes out of New York City’s Chinatown. In addition, FMCSA ordered 10 individual bus company owners, managers and employees to cease all passenger transportation operations, which includes selling bus tickets to passengers. The carriers had multiple safety violations, including using drivers without valid commercial driver's licenses (CDLs), failing to have alcohol and drug testing programs, and operating vehicles that had not been regularly inspected and repaired. Drivers also had serious hours-of-service and driver qualification violations. Earlier this year, FMCSA released the SaferBus mobile app to give travelers a quick way to view a bus company's safety record before buying an interstate ticket or booking group travel.
Recent Court Decision Highlights Need to Reform No-Fault Motor Vehicle Insurance Law to Include â€œSurgeryâ€ Within the Definition of â€œSerious Injuryâ€
In 1975 New York enacted a “no-fault” insurance plan that in theory was designed to keep small cases involving motor vehicle accidents out of court in exchange for relatively immediate payment of expenses for hospital and medical bills and reimbursement of lost earnings without the injured party having to prove that the other party was at fault for the accident. One would think that needing to undergo surgery to repair injuries sustained in an accident would not be considered too small of a case to be allowed to proceed, particularly where the surgeon states that the injuries he observed during the surgery would result in a permanent limitation of motion and other problems. Wrong. In Ramkumar v. Grand Style Transportation Enterprises Inc., 2012 WL 1164882 (April 10, 2012), the Appellate Division, Second Department in Brooklyn dismissed just such a case.
Auto-Lobbyists Successfully Argue Worth of Child Warrants Delaying Regulation Requiring All Vehicles Include A Rear Backup Camera
On Monday of last week it was reported that Federal regulators planned to announce this week that automakers will be required to put rearview cameras with in-vehicle display in all passenger vehicles by 2014 to help drivers see what is behind them. By Wednesday the plans were put on hold to allow more time for “study and data analysis”. Auto-lobbyists estimated that the required cameras would cost the auto industry $2.7 billion annually, or $160 to $200 a vehicle. They suggested car manufacturers be able to add expanded mirrors instead of the cameras. If that would be good enough and economically feasible, where has the auto industry been all this time?
Social Hosts Held To Not Have Duty to Control Manner in Which Intoxicated Guest Drives Off Their Premises
In the Court of Appeals decision Martino v. Stolzman, the defendant attended a New Year's Eve party at a friend’s home where he consumed alcohol. At approximately 12:30 A.M., the defendant left the party and got into his truck, with another party guest in the passenger seat. The defendant backed his truck out of the home’s driveway onto the main road and collided with an oncoming vehicle driven by the plaintiff. Following the accident, a test revealed that the defendant had a blood alcohol content of .14 percent, nearly twice the legal limit. He later pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated. The Court of Appeals found that the hosts were no longer in a position to control the defendant when he entered his vehicle and drove away, and that they had no duty to assist the defendant as he pulled out of their driveway. The Court of Appeals also conclude that the hosts had no duty to assist the defendant as he pulled out of their