October 28, 2011

Halloween: A Spooky Time for Child Accidents in New York

Halloween is a fun time for our young ones to dress up as spooky ghosts and goblins, but only by practicing a few safe Halloween tips can we avoid a serious accident on All Hallow's Eve. During Halloween, your child's risks for an pedestrian accident in New York skyrocket. As a matter of fact, your child is most likely to be involved in a pedestrian accident on October 31st than during any other night of the year.
Our New York injury attorneys and the New York State Police Department are here to offer safety tips to parents to help keep their young ones safe. Parents are urged to discuss these safety tips before heading out the door for trick-or-treating adventures this year.

Halloween Safety Tips:

-Never allow young children to go trick-or-treating alone. Children should always be accompanied by an adult.

-Make sure children are accompanied at the door of every house they trick-or-treat at.

-Children should only use homes driveways and sidewalks. Never cut across someone's yard.

-Parents should be familiar with the places that they're taking children trick-or treating.

-Children should be warned to never go inside anyone's house without parental consent.

-Children should not approach the vehicle of anyone they don't know.

-Costumes should have reflective tape adhered to them to make them more visible to passing motorists. Consider giving your child a flashlight, too!

-Children should consider using face paint instead of wearing masks. Masks can obstruct a trick-or-treater's line of vision.

-Make sure that all costumes are marked as flame resistant or flame retardant.

-Trick-or-treaters should never approach a house that is not well-lit. Only trick-or-treat at homes that have a porch light or an "outside" light on.

-Do not hesitate to report any suspicious activity.

-Teach children to scream if anyone tries to grab them or is forceful with them in any way.

-Be sure to look over children's goody bags before over the candy to them. Dispose of open candy or candy that appears to have been tampered with. Only factory-wrapped candy should be consumed.

-Consider throwing a small party for your children and their friends at your home as a safe alternative to trick-or-treating.

-Make sure children have comfortable shoes on.

-Keep jack-o-lanterns away from children and never leave them lit and unattended.

Halloween is a fun time of the year for all ages, but it can quickly turn deadly. Motorists are also asked to be cautious on our roadways during this time of the year. Be extremely cautious when driving through residential neighborhoods. As the nighttime approaches, young ghosts and goblins will be flocking the streets in search of sugary goodies. Avoid a potentially fatal accident and be on the lookout for these goblins. Have a safe and Happy Halloween!

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October 20, 2011

Chuggington Offers Safety Tips to Kids to Help Prevent Accidents in Manhattan and Elsewhere

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has recently announced the launch of Chuggington, a children's cartoon designed to help educate our young ones about how to be safe around cars. This safety campaign was designed for children ages 2- to 7-years-old. Parents can also access Chugginton's website for downloadable safety tips and activities to use to join in on the learning process to help children avoid a potentially fatal accident in New York.

This young age group is some of the most vulnerable in traffic accidents. Help them to fight against these risks with the proper safety knowledge.
"Educating children at an early age...leads to a lifetime of good traffic safety habits," said U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Secretary Ray LaHood.

Our New York child injury lawyers understand that traffic crashes are leading cause of death for children in the United States. In 2009, there were nearly 1,315 fatalities and almost 180,000 injuries that occurred to individuals under the age of 15 in the U.S. Pedestrian accidents alone accounted for a good portion of these accidents. In 2007, there were nearly 300 deaths and almost 120,000 injuries that happened among pedestrians in this same young age group. Chuggington is here to help to teach children how to be safe when riding a bicycle, when riding the school bus, when walking near traffic and when riding in a car. In all of these scenarios, children are at serious risks for accidents if they're not careful and not properly educated.

Children should be taught that they should always wear a bicycling helmet when riding a bike, that they should always look both ways before crossing the street and that they should always wear a seat belt, regardless of if they're in a child's seat or not.

Throughout the cartoon video series, children will be able to earn badges from Chuggington and his friends for learning the proper and safe behavior to practice when in each of these scenarios. Ultimately, children will be urged to obtain their "Think Safe, Ride Safe, Be Safe!" traffic safety badge, which they can get after taking the pledge to practice these safe traveling habits.

The Chuggington video series was released to coincide with National Child Passenger Safety Week. National Child Passenger Safety Week is used to urge parents to take their car and their child's seat to a certified car seat inspector to make sure that the devices are properly installed in the vehicle. In the U.S., it's estimated that about 70 percent of all child car seats are installed improperly. Parents should take their child's car seat to a certified inspector. Through numerous studies, children's seats have been shown to be effective in saving lives in the event of a traffic accident and for these devices to work, parents must know how to properly install them.

We're urging parents to get involved in Chuggington's efforts to make our children smarter and safer travelers. Let's teach our children these safe habits early to better ensure a lifetime of safe travels.

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October 10, 2011

Teen Drivers Back to School, Risks for Car Accidents in New York Increase

As we recently reported on our New York Injury Lawyer Blawg, the new school year recently kicked off and school-aged children are gearing up to head to bus stops across the state. In addition to the bus riders, we would also like to draw attention to the number of teen drivers that will be hitting our roadways as well to make it to campus before the bell.
Teenage drivers are some of the most vulnerable drivers on our roadways. Car accidents in New York City and elsewhere continue to be the number one cause of death for teenagers. For this reason, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has been conducting numerous studies to get a glimpse into the driving habits of the young motorists to figure out exactly why they're at such high risks for accidents on our roadways. In the most recent study, AAA installed cameras into the vehicles of teen drivers in North Carolina to gather information regarding their driving habits in an attempt to create ways to help to better educate our young ones.

Our New York car accident attorneys understand that teen drivers need to be closely monitored by parents and guardians. Parents are some of the most influential people when it comes to educating young drivers. It's important for parents to get involved in their teen driver's learning process and to stay involved long after they've gotten their unrestricted license. Constant reinforcement of safe driving habits can help to reduce their risks of a potentially fatal traffic accident.

"The first six months after getting your license are the most important," said Vincent Payne of AGIC Insurance, Inc.

The recently AAA study determined that teen drivers are most at risk for an accident just 30 days after getting a full driver's license. Once a teen driver gains experience driving without supervision, their risks significantly decrease. Teen drivers are half as likely to get into an accident just a year after having unrestricted driving privileges.

Parents are urged to take hold of the following to implement with their newly-licensed teen driver:

-Practice. Practice. Practice! Teenagers can never get enough driving practice. Parents should ride along with their teen drivers as much as possible.

-Parents should limit the number of passengers that are allowed to ride with their teen at one time. The more passengers there are in a teen's vehicle, the higher the risks are for a serious accident.

-Teen drivers should be limited to their time spent behind the wheel at night. Consider setting a curfew. Teen drivers' risks for accidents increase significantly when the sun goes down.

-Create a parent-teen driving agreement to help lay down the rules of the road as a way to better enforce them in your household. Include consequences for breaking the rules in this contract.

Continue reading "Teen Drivers Back to School, Risks for Car Accidents in New York Increase" »

October 1, 2011

"Heads Up Driving Week" to Help Reduce Risks of Distraction-Related Car Accidents in New York and Elsewhere

Distracted driving has become a serious problem on roadways across the country and these distracted drivers have contributed to far too many preventable car accidents in Manhattan and elsewhere. For this reason, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has decided to dedicate an entire week to help raise awareness and to educate drivers about the dangers that come along with driver distractions. The week-long campaign is called "Heads Up Driving Week" and is taking place from September the 26th through October the 2nd. Drivers across the country are encouraged to join the campaign's efforts and take the pledge to curb the distractions behind the wheel.
According to a recent study from the University of Utah, drivers just aren't wired to multi-task behind the wheel. Statistics reveal that roughly 8,000 car accidents happen every day because of distracted drivers. Still, far too many drivers are talking on the phone, sending text messages, applying makeup, surfing the web, eating, drinking and smoking, all while trying to drive.

Our New York car accident lawyers understand that a majority of drivers, 92 percent to be exact, feel that emailing or texting at the wheel is a completely unacceptable behavior. On top of that, roughly 80 percent of drivers say that they support anti-distraction laws, according to the AAA Foundation's 2010 Traffic Safety Culture Index. Still, drivers across the country are engaging in these dangers. Researchers point to the "do as I say, not as I do" attitude for these findings.

"Driving while texting, emailing or talking on the phone aren't perceived as egregious behaviors despite overwhelming scientific evidence of the serious crash risk these behaviors pose," said AAA Foundation President and CEO Peter Kissinger.

Dangerous driving facts:

-More and 1 million people have been killed in traffic accidents during the last 25 years. Nearly 35,000 people were killed in 2010 alone.

-Studies indicate that drivers spend at least half of their time driving while engaging in distracting behaviors.

-Drivers are four times more likely to get into an accident when using a cell phone behind the wheel.

-Distractions can include changing the radio station/volume, rubbernecking, emailing, surfing the web, talking on a cell phone, sending text messages, using a road map or a GPS device, eating, drinking and talking with passengers.

-Passengers are in fact the top reported cause of distraction-related car accidents.

In 2010, there were approximately 3,100 people who were killed in traffic accidents that involved a distracted driver. These types of accidents and fatalities are 100 percent preventable. The fight against distractions starts with you!

For "Heads Up Driving Week," AAA is asking all drivers to take the pledge to put down all distractions. AAA suggests you try it just for a week, and you're sure to see the real benefits of focus, uninterrupted driving. Drivers can take the pledge on the AAA website.

Continue reading ""Heads Up Driving Week" to Help Reduce Risks of Distraction-Related Car Accidents in New York and Elsewhere" »

September 29, 2011

NOYS Hosts the 2011 Distracted Driving Summit to Help Reduce Risks of Teen Car Accidents in New York, Nation

On October 17, the National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS) will be hosting the 2011 Distracted Driving Summit. The Summit will be held in Washington D.C. and is funded through a grant from AT&T.

NOYS is a firm believer that teen-led and teen-informed programs are an effective way to raise awareness, educate drivers and prevent distracted driving-related teen car accidents in New York and elsewhere. The Organization uses its resources to empower, convene and train youth leaders to effectively address distracted driving among teen drivers.
NOYS reports that there were roughly 3,000 teens aged 15 to 19 that were killed in traffic accidents in the U.S. in 2009. The Organization estimates that another 350,000 individuals in this age group were injured in these types of incidents. While the deadliest months for teen car accidents (May through August) are over, parents, teachers and guardians are urged to refresh teen driving habits and skills as teens head to back campus to refresh their academic knowledge for the new school year.

Our New York car accident attorneys understand that car accidents are the number one cause of death for teens in the United States. The main reason for these fatal accidents is that these young drivers have much less driving experience than adult drivers.

For this reason, parents are urged to keep safe driving habits as a frequent topic of conversation. Parents are some of the most influential people in a young driver's experience behind the wheel. Even though this young age group only represents less than 15 percent of the population in the U.S., fatal accident involving these individuals account for roughly 30 percent of the total costs for traffic accidents. These accidents cost the U.S. nearly $30 billion every single year.

The 2011 Teen Distracted Driving Summit will consist of the following:

  • Presentations from key national leaders from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

  • The announcement of the new NOYS Teen Distracted Driving Prevention Team (TDDPT) for the 2011-2012 year. This Team consists of 40 youth leaders and 10 advisers.

  • There will be TDDPT training workshops, which will be conducted by some of the top traffic safety experts.

  • Organizations and companies will be offered an opportunity to showcase products, programs and other resources that address distracted driving among teenage drivers.

Teens make up the age group that is most likely to be involved in a distracted driving-related car accident. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were nearly 200 teenagers killed in traffic accidents in New York that reported the involvement of a teen driver.

We can all do our part to help reduce the risks of these types of accidents by talking to the teens in our lives and helping them to understand the dangers of distracted driving and the importance of safe driving habits.

Continue reading "NOYS Hosts the 2011 Distracted Driving Summit to Help Reduce Risks of Teen Car Accidents in New York, Nation" »

September 21, 2011

Pedestrian Accidents in New York City Account for more than 50 Percent of all Fatal Traffic Accidents

Pedestrian accidents in New York City accounted for more than half of all fatal traffic-related accidents from 2005 to 2009, according to the New York City Department of Transportation.
The rest of the country is experiencing alarming rates of fatal pedestrian accidents as well. According to a recent study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety that looked at of 7,000 reports of accidents that resulted in serious injury or death to pedestrians, there were more than 4,000 pedestrians that were fatally injured in 2009 because of traffic-related accidents in the U.S. Close to 60,000 pedestrians were injured in these types of incidents.

The AAA study concluded that the risk of an accident is directly correlated with the speed of the vehicle. Therefore, the study has concluded that reduce the speed of motorists is one way to help decrease the risks of these serious accidents.

Our New York pedestrian accident lawyers understand that the New York City Department of Transportation is looking into ways to reduce these types of accidents as well. One of the ways that the DOT is approaching is the Pedestrian Safety Report and Action Plan. This plan started with the analysis of more than 7,000 accident reports in an attempt to find the underlying causes. The DOT is then using this information to find ways to make roadways safer for everyone.

Important findings of New York City's Pedestrian Safety Report and Action Plan:

  • Traffic accidents in the City cost the local economy nearly $4.5 billion a year.

  • Pedestrians are about 10 times more likely to be killed on our roadways than an occupant of a motor vehicle in the event of an accident.

  • Driver inattention was a top contributor in nearly 40 percent of accidents in which a pedestrian was seriously injured or killed.

  • Nearly 30 percent of fatal pedestrian accidents were the result of a driver failing to yield.

  • Pedestrian-vehicle accidents are about twice as deadly as any other type of accident.

  • Pedestrian accidents are about 70 percent deadlier on major street corridors in comparison to smaller local streets.

  • Most drivers in New York are unaware of the 30 mph standard speed limit.

  • Roughly 80 percent of pedestrian-car accidents that seriously injure or kill pedestrians involve a male driver.

  • Nearly 80 percent of serious or fatal accidents that involve a vehicle and a pedestrian involve a private vehicle, not a bus, a truck or a taxi.

  • Manhattan has four times more serious pedestrian accidents per mile than any of the other four major boroughs.

  • More than 40 percent of pedestrians who were killed in Manhattan were residents of other boroughs or lived outside of the city.

Department of Transportation officials have analyzed the data and have a few different ways that they think they can help to reduce the risks of these serious accidents:

-Fix up approximately 60 miles of New York City streets and engineer them with more pedestrian-safe features. The selection of these areas will correspond with specific accident data.
-Pedestrian countdown signals will be installed at roughly 1,500 intersections.
-Twenty intersections will be reconstructed to increase safety for pedestrians.
-Pilot programs will be conducted to test out 20 mph speed limits in specific neighborhoods.
-Pilot programs will be conducted in an attempt to improve the visibility of left-hand turns for those along avenues in Manhattan.

According to Transportation for America, New York's most dangerous metro areas for pedestrians are as follows (from 2000 to 2009):

-New York/Northern New Jersey-Long Island: 3,485 deaths.
-Buffalo-Niagara Falls: 163 deaths.
-Rochester: 122 deaths.
-Syracuse: 93 deaths.
-Albany-Schenectady-Troy: 92 deaths.

Continue reading "Pedestrian Accidents in New York City Account for more than 50 Percent of all Fatal Traffic Accidents" »

September 14, 2011

Back to School Safety Awareness Can Reduce Child Injuries in New York City School Zones

The Garden City News Online reports that the police department will be doing a four-part back-to-school safety series for children and parents. Students in New York have already returned to class, but there is never a bad time for parents to remind children of some of the dangers involved in walking, biking or riding a bus to school and steps that can be taken to avoid child injuries in Manhattan, Westchester and elsewhere in the state.

New York injury lawyers know that school accidents are common among young children but school systems have a responsibility to take necessary precautions to keep children safe on the school bus, in school drop off zones, on the playground, or elsewhere on the premises. Children spend a good amount of time at school throughout the year so safety should always be a priority.
The first part of the Garden City Police Department series is on safe driving practices. School zones and drop off areas can be loaded with pedestrians, bicyclists, school buses, and cars so motorists need to use extra caution when they travel on roadways near schools and busy neighborhoods.

The morning and afternoon hours when school resumes and ends for the day are especially hectic so parents, children and motorists are all urged to practice some of the following safety tips offered by the department:

-Children contain two-thirds of the peripheral vision of adults and have trouble determining the origin of sounds so motorists should slow down when they see a child pedestrian or young bicyclist because they may have a difficult time determining speed and distance of a vehicle from where they stand or sit.

-From 2002-2004, 69 injuries and one death occurred from passing a school bus while the bus was stopped. When following a school bus or approaching one from the opposite direction, never pass when the red lights are flashing. Come to a full stop and remain idle until the flashing lights are turned off and it is safe to move your vehicle.

-If a school zone speed limit is 15 mph, nothing states that you can't slow down even more, especially in poor visibility conditions like heavy rain, fog, sleet or darkness.

-Every school system has routine traffic patterns that follow a daily schedule. Motorists should take the time to learn the pattern on your preferred route in order to avoid conflict.

-Leaving a child alone in the vehicle is never a good idea because they could suffer from heat exhaustion or dehydration which can result in serious or fatal illness.

-Avoid making U-turns or turning around in neighborhood driveways or in school zones because children may be hidden in your blind spot which makes it nearly impossible to see them.

-It is against the law to leave a vehicle parked or idling in a school drop off area, even if for only a minute.

-Signs posted 'no parking' at crosswalks provide a buffer that makes crossing the street safer. Stopping in the middle of a crossing zone makes it dangerous for pedestrians and should always be avoided for the safety of everyone using the intersection or crossing area.

-Never double-park, block traffic, park or wait in a red zone or school bus loading zone.

-Instruct children to open car doors on curb side rather than into the street where traffic is passing by.

-When picking children up from school, wait on the same side of the street or find a nearby lot to park in that they can walk to safely.

-The chance of injury or death can be reduced by 30 percent if children under 12 are fastened in by a belt in the back seat. Have children ride in the back seat rather than the seat next to you in front.

Other future articles to look for in the back to school safety series by Garden City Police Department include school bus safety, bicycle and pedestrian safety and stranger danger.

Continue reading "Back to School Safety Awareness Can Reduce Child Injuries in New York City School Zones" »

September 7, 2011

Revamped Emergency Procedures Could Help Reduce Tour Boat Injuries Involved in Waterway Accidents in New York

Recently, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) suggested that Ride the Ducks International go over its safety program to make sure their workers obey emergency procedures to prevent a repeat of last July's fatal crash on the Delaware River.

Duck boat accident lawyers and New York injury lawyers Peter Ronai and Holly Ostrov Ronai find it unacceptable for authorities to permit these boats to resume operations even though they are calling for a more thorough review.
It is irresponsible for operations to resume until the case has been heard and all safety concerns addressed. A lawsuit is pending against the tug boat operator, the duck boat company and the City of Philadelphia.

Last month, the tug boat's first mate pleaded guilty to the maritime-law equivalent of manslaughter. He also agreed to have his Coast Guard issued mate license revoked. Sentencing will be November 1, when he will face between 37 and 46 months in prison.

Though he was remorseful, his actions lead to the deaths of Dora Schwendtner, 16, and Szabolcs Prem, 20, both were Hungarian tourists. He was distracted by a family emergency and it remains a mystery why the first mate did not ask crewmates to relieve him from his duties.

Not only was the first mate distracted by his cell phone, he left the upper deck of the tug boat to go to a lower level to use a laptop. Even worse, it was learned that he had turned down the volume on the tug boats radio so no one on the vessel heard the distress calls from the disabled duck boat.

As lawyers for the victims, we appreciate that the first mate is taking responsibility for his role in this tragic accident. We are appalled that K-Sea Transportation and Ride the Ducks aren't acknowledging their roles. A K-Sea representative says the company has apologized to the victims families. A Ride the Ducks spokesperson says the blame falls to the first mate of the tug boat for being distracted and not asking for relief from his duties.

Though the NTSB held the first mate of the tug "primarily responsible" for the accident, officials did not completely let the Ride the Ducks company off the hook. Their contribution to the crash was the missing surge-tank pressure cap.

Since a mechanic failed to replace the cap, this caused smoke to fill the boat, making the captain think there was a fire on board. This event made the captain shut off the engine stranding the duck boat in the shipping channel.

We frequently post on our New York Injury Lawyer Blawg about the dangers of distracted driving. Multi-tasking is a way of life these days, but using a cell phone while operating a vehicle -- and in this case guiding a large boat -- is a recipe for disaster. A second of distraction can lead to a lifetime of regret.

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August 25, 2011

Federalizing a GDL Law Could Mean Reducing Teen Car Accidents in New York

Not only are members of Congress looking to standardize Graduated Driver's License Programs nationwide with the proposal of STANDUP Act 2011, but so are two former U.S. Department of Transportation secretaries, reports WFLX.

Two former Transportation Cabinet Officials, Elizabeth H. Dole (1983-1987) and Norman Y. Mineta (2001-2006) prepared and signed letters to Congressional leaders urging enactment of the Safe Teen and Novice Driver Uniform Protection Act as part of a movement to reduce teen car accidents in New York and throughout the country. Creating consistency statewide would ensure young and novice drivers are being trained and gaining knowledge about safe driving behaviors before they venture out on roadways alone.
New York personal injury lawyers know that more than 5,000 deaths occur every year and thousands more are injured in car crashes caused by a teen driver. Not only are teens at risk but so are the passengers who ride with them, other motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists.

As committees of the House and Senate are busy preparing their versions of multi-year transportation legislation authorizing funding for surface transportation programs, they are urged to consider the following points of the STANDUP Act as part of their proposal:

  • GDL laws have proven to be successful in reducing teen car accidents in states with strong programs but some states are missing key components that would improve teen driver safety.

  • Similar to the commercial driver's licensing law, 21 minimum drinking age law, zero tolerance BAC law for underage drinking, and .08 BAC law mandated from state to state, the STANDUP Act can reduce young driver accidents and reverse the negative threat these accidents have on our families and communities nationwide.

  • All states would be required to impose three stages of licensing: a learner's permit, intermediate phase and the final full licensure stage.

  • No young driver would be permitted to get a full license before age 18.

  • Many teen-related crashes occur at night or with another young passenger in the vehicle so unsupervised driving in the dark and teen passengers would be restricted until a full license is acquired at age 18.

  • No teen would be permitted to start the learner's permit process until age 16.

New York State Department of Motor Vehicles offers lots of useful information for parents and teens starting the learning to drive process. From regional restrictions to parental involvement to age requirements, everything you need to know about getting a driver's license in New York is at your fingertips.

Parents and teens can also obtain detailed facts and information for young drivers at Keys2Drive AAA Guide for Teen Driver Safety.

Studies have shown that 89 percent of teens respect their parent's involvement and influence during the process of learning to drive. Teach your teen to be a safe driver in order to reduce the risk of an accident when they start to drive solo.

Continue reading "Federalizing a GDL Law Could Mean Reducing Teen Car Accidents in New York" »

August 17, 2011

Lost Elderly Drivers Can be at a High Risk for New York City Car Accidents

Most of us can only hope that as we get older our driving skills don't diminish too rapidly. Senior citizens are often involved in car accidents in New York City because they either don't see a hazard or can't react to a dangerous situation quick enough.

New York is a state that doesn't take your license away as you get older unless there is due cause that driving privileges should be taken away. According to New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, the driver re-evaluation program gives older drivers the flexibility and freedom to continue driving, no matter what their age, as long as another motorist, a doctor, or a police officer don't find a 'specific reason' related to driving performance to report to NYDMV.
Our Manhattan personal injury lawyers know that as drivers age, they can often become directionally challenged or have memory lapses on how to get to what used to be familiar territory. Aging drivers can become stressed or confused quite easily which puts them at a high risk of being involved in a car accident.

Some states offer a Silver Alert program which can help track a senior citizen while they go about their merry way on roadways. The Sun Sentinel reports that as many as 44 lost seniors have been found in Florida with the success of the Silver Alert program. There are also several new technologies being offered which can locate a lost or confused senior driver.

The Alzheimer's Association Comfort Zone offers several devices that can be installed or placed in vehicles to keep track of your elders. Families can automatically be alerted on an elderly's whereabouts when they have traveled outside a pre-determined area.

One device is called the CalAmp which is permanently installed, sells for $244 (with activation included) and charges a monthly fee of $39.99. This device can track an elder driver's vehicle within 2 minutes. The Sendum, which retails for $299 plus $45 activation, is a portable device that can locate a vehicle within 15 minutes. This device requires a monthly service fee of $44.95.

Cheaper models with fewer bells and whistles can also be purchased. For instance, the inGeo has a monthly fee of $14.95 and retails for less than $100, locates your loved one once a day. The device can be handheld or placed in a vehicle.

The New York State Office for the Aging offers the following tips to elders who venture out on roadways:

  • Get routine vision tests and always wear your glasses as needed.

  • Read labels on medication if you plan to drive after taking a dose. Never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

  • Stop and stretch every 90 minutes on long trips.

  • Make sure seat location and mirrors are comfortably adjusted before you start the engine.

  • Travel at non-peak times and know your directions before you leave.

Tracking devices and Silver Alert programs can be beneficial in keeping track of your elder on roadways but if you suspect danger, offer to drive them in order to reduce the risk of a car accident.

Continue reading "Lost Elderly Drivers Can be at a High Risk for New York City Car Accidents" »

August 8, 2011

Tugboat Pilot Admits to Misconduct in Philadelphia Duck Boat Accident Which Killed Two Young Tourists

Reuters recently reported on the court appearance of the tugboat pilot that pleaded guilty to a criminal charge in the July 2010 Duck boat crash that left two Hungarian tourists dead in Philadelphia.

Our New York injury lawyers and duck boat accident attorneys Peter Ronai and Holly Ostrov Ronai are representing the families of Hungarian tourists.
"The families are gratified that Federal prosecutors have acted to hold one of the responsible parties accountable in this tragedy that should have been avoided," they said. "They continue to have faith in the American justice system and expect the corporations who were involved to acknowledge their roles and act accordingly."

In court, the 35-year-old tugboat pilot admitted to the U.S. District Court judge that his misconduct lead to the accident that caused the deaths of two Hungarian tourists Szabolcs Prem, 20, and Dora Schwendtner, 16. They both drowned in the Delaware River after being thrown into the water after the crash.

The tugboat pilot could be sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in prison and three years of supervised release. In addition, he faces a fine of up to $250,000 when he is sentenced in early November. He did leave the court room with his wife because he was able to post the $10,000 bond.

"Those who operate transport vessels on our waterways have a clear duty to ensure that proper sightlines are maintained at all times, and to obey all other rules of seamanship, so that the risks to others on the water are minimized," said U.S. Attorney Zane Memeger. "When that duty is breached and causes death, the Seaman's Manslaughter Statute allows the federal government to seek criminal sanctions against the vessel operator."

The tugboat pilot was in charge of navigating the boat while the captain was sleeping. But he failed to pay attention and pushed a 250 foot barge into a disabled Duck boat, throwing 35 passengers and 2 crew members into the Delaware River.

It was later discovered that he had been distracted by his cell phone and the Internet. He had been communicating repeatedly with his wife regarding the health of his young son.

The pilot had gone to the tug's lower wheelhouse where it was less noisy to continue his conversations. The lower wheelhouse however has less visibility and contributed to the pilot not seeing the disabled Duck boat.

Attorneys agree that the pilot is very sorry over what happened but he should have woke up the captain and gotten his help until his family emergency had been taken care of. The families of the victims are suing both the Duck boat tour company and the tug company.

Continue reading "Tugboat Pilot Admits to Misconduct in Philadelphia Duck Boat Accident Which Killed Two Young Tourists" »

August 5, 2011

State to State Teen Safety Plan Aimed to Reduce the Risk of Young Driver Accidents in New York City, Nationwide

New York Senator Kristen Gillbrand has been advocating the need for uniformity nationwide when it comes to teen safety and young drivers learning safe driving skills. WAMC reports she has finally been heard by a key Senate committee and Gillibrand's Safe Teen and Novice Driver Uniform Protection (STANDUP) Act is moving ahead.

Much attention continues to be given to teenagers because this age group causes and are victims of more car accidents in New York than any other age group.
New York City car accident attorneys know that a teen driver safety plan is exactly what our state needs to keep roadways safer for all motorists. Politicalnews.me reports that from 2005-2009, 46,000 people were injured and 280 deaths occurred in New York car accidents involving a driver that was 16 or 17 years-old. Since 2000, 81,000 deaths have occurred nationally in car accidents involving a teen driver between the ages of 15 to 19.

The Senate Commerce Committee is including the STANDUP Act as part of the Motor Vehicle and Highway Safety Improvement Act, which will then be taken up by Congress later this year as part of the Transportation Authorization package proposal.

"For teens, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death in every state. Every year, more than 5,000 people die in crashes involving teen drivers," said Jackie Gillan, vice president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. "Fortunately, a comprehensive Graduated Driver Licensing or GDL law is an effective vaccine that can help prevent teen crashes, yet not all states are using it."

The STANDUP Act proposes federal mandating of the following:

  • Age 16 would be the minimum age to obtain a driver's license and age 18 would be the minimum age for an unrestricted license nationwide.

  • Drivers with a learner's permit or restricted license would not be permitted to text or use cell phones while operating a vehicle unless it was an emergency situation only.

  • Restrictions for driving at night would be placed on 16 and 17 year-old drivers.

According to saferoads4teens.org, if the STANDUP Act is passed, New York's current GDL program would need to make the following improvements to comply with the new law:
-Remove the exception that teens who complete driver education can obtain full licensure without a minimum age requirement.
-Prohibit the use of hands-free cell phones during the learner's permit and intermediate stages of learning to drive to accentuate the ban of non-emergency cell phone use.

Parents and teens should be familiar with the GDL program in New York by learning what to expect, what the law is and how to proceed when a teen becomes of age. For more information about the minimum age requirements in New York, visit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety online.

Continue reading "State to State Teen Safety Plan Aimed to Reduce the Risk of Young Driver Accidents in New York City, Nationwide" »

July 21, 2011

Enforcement and Awareness of Distracted Driving Laws Reduces the Risk of Car Accidents in Manhattan, Elsewhere

Our Manhattan car accident attorneys know that New York City is one of the greatest tourists spots in the country but when tourists visit and are unaware of distracted driving laws in our state, and local residents ignore the law it creates a high risk for car accidents in New York City.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, New York is one of only 9 states that considers driving with a handheld cell phone a primary offense and motorists can be ticketed without other cause.
New York also prohibits text messaging by all drivers. Knowledge of state laws and awareness that you can be ticketed are key components in reversing what has become a public health threat in our country with an average of 15 deaths caused by distracted driving every day.

A pilot study in New York and Connecticut has provided positive results in reducing the number of distracted driving accidents occurring in Syracuse and Hartford. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration advertising, public awareness through campaigning and heightened law enforcement throughout the two cities has shown a reduction in cell phone-related accidents throughout the four phases of the program.

Each program was provided $300,000 in state and federal funding to resource towards enhancing law enforcement throughout the city as well as using public address announcements and other forms of advertisement to sway motorists from talking on their cell phone while driving. The "Phone in One Hand, Ticket in the Other" slogan was campaigned throughout each city to drive the point home to motorists that if they chose to talk or text they would be pulled over.

The New York results:
-High visibility enforcement resulted in a decline of one-third less handheld cell phone use and texting practices while driving.
-9,587 violations were cited to drivers during the four phases of the program.

"The success of these pilot programs clearly show that combining strong laws with strong enforcement can bring about a sea change in public attitudes and behavior," said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. "We applaud the work of the men and women of the Syracuse and Hartford police forces, and call on state legislatures, law enforcement and safety advocates across the nation to follow their lead."

GHSA reports no state bans all drivers from using cell phones completely, meaning prohibiting both handheld and hands-free use of devices while behind the wheel. Instead, each state has addressed cell phone use and texting allowances on an individual basis.

This could all change very soon. According to an article in Auto Trends, the proposed Safe Drivers Act of 2011 is a bill that would call on the government to federalize banning cell phone use while driving nationwide. The only exception under the proposed bill would be to call for emergency help.

The downside if passed is that cognitive distractions would still exist because hands-free devices located in the vehicle would still be permitted. Once the Safe Drivers Act of 2011 is passed, states would need to mandate and comply with enforcing the law within two years or else risk losing considerable federal funding provided to the state.

A call for consistency is definitely needed to help motorists understand that distracted driving is not tolerated no matter where you live or where you visit. Finding a way to reduce deaths and injuries caused by distracted drivers using a cell phone is necessary and an important step in our future.

Continue reading "Enforcement and Awareness of Distracted Driving Laws Reduces the Risk of Car Accidents in Manhattan, Elsewhere" »

July 13, 2011

Increase in Registered Motorcycles Increases Risk of Motorcycle Accidents in Manhattan, Throughout New York

New York personal injury lawyers know that the popularity of motorcycle riding is on the rise, which increases the risk of injury in a Manhattan motorcycle accident. We understand how significant injuries from a motorcycle crash can be to the rider and his or her family, so we urge motorists to be aware that riders are out there and may show up seemingly out of nowhere.

A recent national report by the Governors Highway Safety Association showed that motorcycle deaths were down nationally 2 percent from last year. But in 2009, New York reported 136 motorcycle fatalities between January and September. In 2010, there were 180 during that same time period.
The message to motorists from state officials gathered at the Crossings Park in Colonie was to always be aware of motorcycle riders especially during the summer. Sharing the road is the best way to keep our highways safe.

"Motorcycling is more popular than ever," said state Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Barbara Fiala. "With this popularity comes an increase in crashes, injuries and fatalities." She also commented that motorcycle riders have the same right to the road as other motorists.

New York State during the past 10 years has seen a 28 percent rise in licensed motorcycle riders and a 76 percent growth in registered vehicles. There are currently more than 655,000 licensed riders in our state, according to an article in the Times Union. Sadly motorcycle riders are 37 times more likely to die in a crash than a motor vehicle driver.

Earlier this month in a span of about a week there were eight fatal motorcycle crashes throughout the state. The manager of the state Motorcycle Safety Program, Chris Connelly, shared these tips:

-Beginner riders should take advantage of educational programs and it doesn't hurt experienced riders either.
-Riders should wear protective gear at all times.
-Riders should never ride under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
-Motorists should be aware of their surroundings looking for riders. They should never drive while distracted.
-Motorists should give riders plenty of room and they should never tailgate a motorcycle.

A lieutenant from the State Police, who is an avid motorcycle rider, demonstrated several ways riders can make themselves safer. He suggests wearing neon-colored clothes, an approved helmet and having a five-light array on your motorcycle offers the most visibility.

Mike Kuban, president of the local American Motorcyclist Association district commented that the leading cause of motorcycle accidents are drivers turning left into the path of the rider. Stanley Gee, executive deputy commissioner for the state Department of Transportation, cautioned riders to be careful in work zones where uneven surfaces can make riding difficult. He added that 20 percent of motorcycle accidents are caused by distracted drivers.

Continue reading "Increase in Registered Motorcycles Increases Risk of Motorcycle Accidents in Manhattan, Throughout New York" »

July 5, 2011

Philly Duck Boat Accident cited as High-Profile Example of Operator Distraction

The one-year anniversary of the tragic July 7, 2010 Duck Boat accident is almost here. On that day, 35 passengers (and 2 crew members) boarded a Duck Boat for a scenic tour of historic Philadelphia. What the passengers didn't bargain for was being hit by a barge, pushed by a tug boat whose operator was distracted by a cell phone.

Our New York injury lawyers and duck boat accident attorneys are representing the families of Hungarian students Dora Schwendtner, 16, and Szabolcs Prem, 20, who were killed in this horrific accident. They have sued the City of Philadelphia, the duck boat company and the tug boat operator.
"They're in shock, as to how so many colossal mistakes were made by two very large corporations and their employees," said Peter Ronai, a lawyer for the families.

According to The Boston Globe, the National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) met in Washington to discuss making distracted driving as forbidden as drunk driving.

"Many people continue to think it's just going to take a moment (to call or text)," NTSB Chairwoman Deborah Hersman said. "How do we change that mindset? Not just the NTSB, but all of us?"

On that fateful July day, an engine problem on the duck boat left the boat stranded in the Delaware River. The helpless boat was hit by a 250-foot barge being pushed by a tugboat whose pilot was distracted.

Investigators said the K-Sea Transportation Partners tug pilot had made and received 21 cell phone calls in the 2 ½ hours prior to the crash. He had also been on a laptop surfing the internet. The pilot had also moved from the upper to the lower wheelhouse on the vessel to do his calling and internet activities.

Though the lower wheelhouse gave the pilot a quieter atmosphere, it made his ability to see the disabled 33-foot duck boat extremely difficult. It was learned the pilot had been on his cell phone for 10 of the 12 minutes prior to the crash. The stalled duck boat was in the tug boat's blind spot for the final nine minutes leading up to the crash.

"Distraction is becoming the new DUI," NTSB member Robert Sumwalt said. "This is going to reach epidemic proportions."

Society is going to have to view distracted driving similar to how they view not wearing seat belts and drinking and driving.

"It takes a generation or two to change it, but change is needed," Sumwalt said.

A federal criminal investigation into the crash is currently under way. Crews from both vessels tested negative for drugs or alcohol. Though both companies, K-Sea of East Brunswick, N.J., and Ride the Ducks of Norcross, Ga., had strong safety cultures, their training standards were not always followed.

The NTSB felt that creating safety policies aren't worth anything if they are not followed. Recently, the NTSB has investigated an accident where a tug pilot, while texting, ran his vessel in ground in the Baltic Sea, and in another case Northwest Airline pilots were using laptops in the cockpit and flew 150 miles past their destination.

"At what point do we say it's too much ... it has to stop, we can't do this anymore as a society?" Hersman asked.

Continue reading "Philly Duck Boat Accident cited as High-Profile Example of Operator Distraction" »