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When Is a Vehicle Considered Totaled?

A wrecked car lays in wait after a vicious car accident. Rescue workers linger in the background.Close Up of a Broken Car WindshieldYou may have heard friends lamenting that their car was totaled. This can be a perplexing term, especially since occasions in which a car is referred to as “totaled” can range from major damage to dents or other damage that may not look that serious to the naked eye.

Insurance companies determine whether a vehicle is a total loss

So, let’s back up a minute. The term “totaled” actually derives from insurance companies. They review the amount it would cost to repair a vehicle after an accident. They will also likely consider whether repairs will allow the vehicle to pass inspection when any repairs are completed. They also consider age and other factors.

Accidents that may look relatively minor from the outside may jeopardize a vehicle’s ability to respond efficiently and consistently. Why? More and more, cars run with highly sophisticated computer equipment and within computer networks. Repairs to these are not just cosmetic. They may be very expensive to repair and may not ensure that the vehicle can pass state inspection and safety laws. If it can’t, of course, it will not be legal to drive the vehicle.

The insurance companies make an estimate of the car’s actual cash value (ACV). Essentially, that’s the amount you would receive for the vehicle were you to try and sell it to someone yourself. These values can be found on reputable sites such as Kelly Blue Book.

Then, they divide that figure by the estimated repair cost. If the cost to repair is more than the ACV, or above a threshold they have determined, the insurance will officially declare your car a total loss. You must relinquish your title and ownership.

Some states require insurers to declare a car a total loss if the damage is severe or meets certain regulations.

Common use of the term “totaled”

Some people may use the term “totaled” to refer to damage that doesn’t meet the insurance companies definition of total loss, but that will cost the vehicle owner so much to repair that, once age and safety factors are added in, it may be more cost-effective for the owner to get rid of the vehicle and purchase a newer one.

Take a situation where an individual has a $2,000 deductible on an older car, for example. It will cost the owner $2,000 before the insurance will reimburse for repairs. If the car is more than 10 years old, it may be worth less than $2,000. It is not worth it to the owner to have it repaired. The owner may use the term “totaled” even if the insurance company doesn’t officially call it a total loss.

Can your vehicle be safely repaired?

If you have been in an automobile accident that caused severe damage to your vehicle, safety is key. If the vehicle cannot be repaired safely, it is a danger to you and other drivers whether it is officially totaled or not.

The efficiency and balance of cars may be damaged by collisions. Remember that repairs are not only about restoring the look of the car. More seriously, they are about whether its safe and effective functioning can be restored.

Need an experienced car accident lawyer on Long Island?

Edelman, Krasin & Jaye have years of experiences litigating vehicle collisions and insurance payments in New York State. We can assist you in any accident. Our initial consultation is free; we will discuss your case and possible next steps. Call 1-800-469-7429 for a free consultation with an experienced New York City and Long Island car accident lawyer today.

More on what to do with your totaled car:

  1. Bonner, Marianne. “When Is Your Vehicle a Total Loss?” The Balance. November 2, 2015. https://www.thebalance.com/when-is-your-vehicle-a-total-loss-462451
  2. Kelley Blue Book. “What Is a Totaled Car?” https://www.kbb.com/what-is/totaled-car/

New York Considers “Textalyzer” Bill to Cut Down on Distracted Driving

teens driving while textingThe New York legislature is currently considering a bill that would allow police to scan motorists’ cell phones in the wake of an accident to see whether they were driving distractedly. It would allow law enforcement to use a device to access cell phone data. The device can pinpoint whether a driver was texting or talking on the phone at a certain time. It can also show whether any apps were in use.

The device, which is not currently approved for police force use, has been dubbed a “textalyzer” because, like a breathalyzer to detect alcohol on a driver’s breath, it provides a method to ascertain whether drivers in an accident or driving unsafely were breaking the law. Use of a cell phone while driving is illegal in New York State.

New York’s law applies not only to texting and talking, but other potential cell phone uses while driving, such as taking pictures or playing digital games.

Distracted driving was responsible for the deaths of nearly 3,500 people on the nation’s roads during 2015. Texting and talking on cell phones while driving is a leading cause of distracted driving.

The proposed bill is also similar to a breathalyzer because refusal to submit to a data scan of one’s phone would also carry legal penalties, just as refusal to take a breathalyzer does.

Textalyzer opponents cite privacy concerns

While proponents of the bill argue that the textalyzer would make the nation’s roads safer, the bill has also generated some debate. Opponents cite concerns that the device would give police too much access to a citizen’s data, including information that might indicate law-breaking, but be completely unrelated to the incident that caused police to run a scan. They also argue that cell phone records can currently be obtained through other methods, such as a warrant or court order.

Proponents of the bill counter that existing legal methods of garnering cell phone data are time-consuming and cumbersome. The use of a textalyzer, they believe, would both enhance safety and serve as a deterrent to distracted driving.

The bill is currently pending in the New York legislature.

If you need a car accident lawyer

Edelman, Krasin & Jaye have years of experience litigating vehicle collisions in New York state. We can help you in any accident. But because distracted driving law is complicated, it is prudent to consult a lawyer if you or a loved one believe distracted driving is at issue. We will fight for a fair and just settlement.

Our initial consultation is free; we will discuss your case and what the next steps could be. Call 1-800-469-7429 for a free consultation with a seasoned New York City and Long Island car accident lawyer today.

Additional “textalyzer law” resources:

  1. King, Dan. “New York ‘Textalyzer’ Bill Threatens Privacy Under the Guise of Safety.” Observer, July 13, 2017. http://observer.com/2017/07/new-york-textalyzer-distracted-driving/
  2. National Safety Council. Top Things Drivers are Doing That Threaten Traffic Safety. http://www.nsc.org/Connect/NSCNewsReleases/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=191
  3. New York State. Distracted Driving, Talking, & Texting. http://www.safeny.ny.gov/phon-ndx.htm

ER Doctors Are Treating Increasing Numbers of Cycling Injuries

bicycle car accidentThe number of emergency room visits due to bicycle-related injuries has risen sharply in recent years, according to researchers. American and Australian researchers collaborated on this injury study that was recently published in Injury Prevention, a medical journal. The alarming findings of this study throw into sharp relief the critical importance of wearing safety gear, most notably, helmets.

Bicycle-car accidents: a look at the numbers

The researchers used data available from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System. The data reflected injuries that were reported from 1997 through 2013. Separate, but related data were collected from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and its Injury Cost Model. Cross-referencing these data revealed that, from 1997 to 2013, there were 3.8 million non-fatal injuries caused during cycling. These were sustained during 9,839 bicycle accidents. These statistics only reflect bicycle accidents involving adults, not children. Head trauma was an injury of particular concern.

For the second component of their study, the researchers used the Injury Cost Model to determine that the non-fatal bicycle accident injuries during this time period cost approximately $209 billion. Another $28 billion in costs was attributed to bicycle accidents that resulted in death.

Separate evidence substantiates this survey. Earlier in 2017, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a report that indicated that the second quarter of 2016 marked a continuous increase in fatalities over the previous seven consecutive quarters.

The risks of head trauma in bicycle accidents

Bicycle crashes can result in a varied range of injuries, including facial trauma, avulsed teeth, broken bones, lacerations, and road rash. One of the most serious injuries common among cyclists is head trauma. All of these injuries are more likely and can be more severe when a bicycle accident involves an impact by a car or truck.

Traumatic brain injuries are particularly troubling because of the potential for long-term or lifelong complications. Head trauma can lead to seizures, reduced mobility, cerebrospinal fluid buildup, paralysis, cognitive deficits, personality changes, and degenerative brain diseases.

One of the most effective ways to save lives and prevent or minimize head trauma among cyclists is the consistent use of properly fitted helmets. Research indicates that cyclists are nearly 60% more likely to live through head trauma if they were wearing a bicycle helmet at the time. The National Trauma Data Bank, a service of the American College of Surgeons, collected the records of 6,267 patients who reported brain trauma from bicycle crashes. The bicyclists who were wearing helmets had a 58% reduced risk of being diagnosed with a severe, life-altering traumatic brain injury. They were also 59% more likely to live.

Legal advocacy for injured cyclists

Edelman, Krasin & Jaye have earned a sterling reputation for effective and compassionate legal representation during the 60-plus years we’ve been serving families on Long Island. We understand the challenges personal injury victims face when trying to get their lives back on track despite substantial medical debt. Our Long Island bicycle and car accident lawyers are readily accessible to answer your questions about your case. Call today to request an initial case review.

Additional “bicycle-car accident lawsuit” resources:

  1. Injury Prevention, Estimated total costs from non-fatal and fatal bicycle crashes in the USA: 1997–2013, http://injuryprevention.bmj.com/content/early/2017/04/24/injuryprev-2016-042281
  2. Reuters, Helmets prevent severe head injuries in bike accidents, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-bicycles-helmets-idUSKCN10U1LY

Drugged Driving a Threat on Nationʹs Roads

drugged driving, driving while under the influence of drugsWhile most people are aware of the effects of alcohol on driving and public safety, drugged driving attracts less attention. Drunk driving is increasingly seen as socially unacceptable and is dropping partly as a result, but there is no comparable stigma against drugged driving. Drugged driving is believed to be increasing.

Drugged driving is a threat on the nationʹs roads. Of fatally injured drivers given a test, 43% had drugs in their system, a higher rate than tested drivers who had alcohol in their system.

Twenty-two percent of all tested drivers have drugs in their system on the weekends or at night.

Drugs than can impair driving

Accidents involving driving while under the influence of drugs contain complicated issues for several reasons.

The first is the categories of drugs that may impair driving. Drivers can take prescribed drugs that are perfectly legal, but still be impaired while driving and at risk to themselves and others.

Drivers can use over-the-counter medications that are perfectly legal and still be impaired while driving.

In addition, of course, there are the categories of illegal drugs, such as narcotics, stimulants, depressants, and hallucinogens. Some drugs, like marijuana, are legal in some states and illegal in others, or legal under circumstances such as a medical prescription, and illegal under other circumstances.

Finally, substances such as paint or glue, if inhaled, can cause a drug-like reaction but are not technically drugs. They can cause driver impairment.

The second is the sheer number of drugs. It is estimated that there are 430 drugs or metabolites of drugs maintained in the national highway safety fatality database that can cause impairment.

Third, while laws generally separate alcohol and drugs in charging drivers with impairment, many national organizations charged with highway safety classify drugs as any substance that can impair driving. Under this definition, alcohol is a drug.

Under New York state law, a charge can be brought against a driver impaired by drugs, a driver impaired by alcohol, both drugs and alcohol, or multiple drugs. The charges are:

  • Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
  • Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol (DWAI/Alcohol)
  • Driving While Ability Impaired by a Single Drug other than Alcohol (DWAI/Drug)
  • Driving While Ability Impaired by a Combined Influence of Drugs or Alcohol (DWAI/Combination)

Increase in marijuana-related crashes?

Marijuana use is now legal in 29 states and the District of Columbia. Last month, West Virginia became the latest state to approve medical marijuana use, under a law that goes into effect in 2019.

While there are no conclusive data yet, it is possible that the rise in legalization and decriminalization may lead to more widespread usage, and therefore more accidents.

In one study of fatally injured drivers, 57% were tested for drugs. Of that 57% sector, more than 35% had marijuana in their system. Thirty-four percent had another drug in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System list, a national database, in their system.

If you need the advice of an attorney

Edelman, Krasin & Jaye are veteran attorneys experienced in both laws against driving while impaired by drugs and driving while impaired with alcohol. Because drugged driving situations are complicated, it is best to consult a lawyer if you or a loved one believe it is an issue in your accident. We will fight for a fair and just settlement.

An initial legal consultation is complimentary. We will give you expert advice about your case and what the next steps could be. Call today for a free consultation with a seasoned New York City and Long Island car accident lawyer today.

Additional “drug impaired driving” resources:

  1. GHSA, Drug Impaired Driving: A Guide for States, http://www.ghsa.org/sites/default/files/2017-04/GHSA_DruggedDriving2017_FINAL.pdf
  2. GHSA, Drug-Impaired Driving: A Guide for States, 2017 Update, http://www.ghsa.org/resources/drugged-driving-2017
  3. DMV, https://dmv.ny.gov/tickets/penalties-alcohol-or-drug-related-violations

Number of Car Crashes Rising at Rate Not Seen in 50 Years

The number of car crashes in the United States is rising at the fastest clip in 50 years, according to a spokesperson for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI), who spoke at a National Transportation Safety Board meeting in late April.

PCI noted that the number of car crashes rose 14% in 2014, while severe car accidents rose more than 12%. Pedestrian fatalities climbed even more in the same period, by 22%.

The blame was placed squarely on distracted driving. The spokesperson noted that smartphone ownership has doubled over the past five years, and that InsurTech, an insurance technology concern, has reported that Netflix and YouTube are two of the 10 most frequently used apps on smartphones while people are driving.

Concerns about distracted driving stemming from smartphone use has been on the rise for nearly a decade. Many states have enacted laws against it, New York among them.

In New York state, it is against the law to drive and hold a portable electronic device such as a smartphone. This is true whether you are viewing apps, texting, e-mailing, playing games, viewing images, or talking on the phone. Violations are punishable with fines and points assessed on a driver’s license.

The PIA’s assessment is not universally shared, however. A spokesperson for the Consumer Federation of America was quoted in Bloomberg BNA as blaming the rise in accidents on an economy reviving from the Great Recession, which has give people more disposable income to spend on gas and driving.

New York No-Fault Laws

New York is a no-fault state when it comes to any vehicle collision. Any medical claim, under no-fault, it generally paid by your insurance no matter who was at fault for the accident.

However, New York state does allow accident victims to step outside of no-fault if the accident has caused certain injuries or conditions. In these cases, victims could bring a suit for damages on the basis of personal injury law or liability.

The injuries and conditions are:

  1. Disfigurement that is significant
  2. Broken bone(s)
  3. An injury to a body organ or limb that resulted in permanent limitation of use
  4. An injury to a body function or system that resulted in significant limitation
  5. An injury that caused substantially full disability for 90 days

Car accident lawyers in Long Island

Edelman, Krasin & Jaye are seasoned attorneys in vehicle crash laws in New York state. We can help in any vehicle accident. But because distracted driving law is complicated, it is prudent to consult a lawyer if you or a loved one believe distracted driving is at issue. We will fight for a decent and just settlement.

Our initial consultation is free; we will discuss your case and what next steps could be. Call 1-800-469-7429 for a free consultation with a seasoned Long Island car accident lawyer today.

Additional “Traffic Safety” Resources:

  1. National Safety Council, Top Things Drivers are Doing That Threaten Safety http://www.nsc.org/Connect/NSCNewsReleases/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=191
  2. Bloomberg, CAR CRASHES RISING AT FASTEST RATE IN DECADES: INSURANCE GROUPS https://www.bna.com/car-crashes-rising-b57982087212/

April Is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month

teen distracted drivingDistracted driving has become so widely recognized as a source of injuries and fatalities on the nation’s roadways that April has been named National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. It is estimated that more than 10 million drivers across the nation are driving distractedly at any given time, whether talking on a cell phone, trying to send a text, or simply not paying attention as they drive.

The frequency of distracted driving is seen in U.S. accident and fatality statistics linked to it. In 2014, it was reported that distracted driving caused 9 fatalities and 1,060 injuries on the nation’s roads every day. That’s one death every 2.6 hours and 44 injuries per hour.

#Justdrive campaign aims to eliminate distraction

The National Safety Council (NSC) kicked off National Distracted Driving Month by publicizing the hashtag #justdrive.

The campaign is intended to call attention to the ways in which drivers need to become aware of dangerous behaviors. Distracted driving is often seen as something other people do. Some people also believe that stationary devices — those already affixed to the car — do not cause distraction. In fact, many observers believe that talking is just as distracting as trying to text.

The NSC pointed out that its data indicate 47% of drivers think that sending a text with their hands or dictating it is safe. Nearly that number — 45% — have felt pressure to multi-task while driving, performing such activities as checking e-mail.

Nearly that number, 44%, have actually crashed while driving to work or traveling for business within the last three years.

The numbers are equally sobering for teenagers. More than one-third indicate that they use social media while driving. Seventeen percent believe they drove distractedly enough to contribute to a car accident.

New York State laws on distracted driving

The laws in New York State are succinctly expressed by the state’s anti-distracted driving campaign tagline: “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” It is against the law to drive and hold a portable electronic device such as a smartphone, whether your activity is talking, texting (sending and reading), scanning online material, playing games, or sending and viewing images.

The penalty includes fines and points on a driver’s license.

Currently, it is legal to talk when a mobile telephone is hands free or attached to the vehicle. Talking on a telephone to summon an emergency vehicle is also not subject to the law above.

If you are ready to contact a NY car accident lawyer

Edelman, Krasin & Jaye are practicing attorneys well versed in New York State accident law. Distracted driving law is complex and it is wise to consult an attorney if you or a loved one is involved in a case where distracted driving is at issue. We will protect your rights.

Our initial consultation is free; we will discuss your case and what the next steps could be. Call 1-800-469-7429 for a free consultation with a seasoned New York City and Long Island car accident lawyer today.

Additional “distracted driving accident” resources:

  1. Halsey, Ashley III. “Distracted Driving: 9 Die, 1,060 Hurt Each Day, CDC Says.” Washington Post, February 24, 2014. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dr-gridlock/wp/2014/02/24/distracted-driving-9-die-1060-hurt-each-day-cdc-says/?utm_term=.80f9283a8f02
  2. National Safety Council. Top Things Drivers are Doing That Threaten Traffic Safety. http://www.nsc.org/Connect/NSCNewsReleases/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=191
  3. New York State. Distracted Driving, Talking, & Texting. http://www.safeny.ny.gov/phon-ndx.htm

Sleep Deprivation Linked to Increased Crash Risk Reports AAA

rear end collisionChronic sleep loss is associated with numerous health complications, from an increased risk for diabetes to higher rates of cardiovascular disease and obesity. Recent research conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety sheds new light on the potentially fatal consequences of acute sleep deprivation, which according to studies, accounts for some 21 percent of all deadly car crashes.

Individuals who do not get adequate sleep often suffer from attention deficits, memory problems and slower reaction and response times – all of which can severely hamper driving abilities. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society, adults aged between 18 and 60  should get at least 7 hours of sleep for optimal health. In reality, however, most adults are lucky to score five to six hours of restful slumber. While much attention is paid to the consequences of driving while drunk, traffic safety experts are shifting the spotlight on driver drowsiness, which elevates car crash risks substantially.

Drowsy driving elevates crash risks

An estimated 35 percent of adults get less than 7 hours of nightly sleep, and 12 percent of U.S. adults report snoozing less than 5 hours each night, says the CDC.  While these numbers may not be surprising, emerging research on sleep deprivation and crash risks may motivate motorists to be more mindful of their sleep patterns before getting behind the wheel.

AAA data shows that drivers who had slept for less than 4 hours, 4-5 hours, 5-6 hours, and 6-7 hours within the past 24 hours had increased vehicle crash rates of 11.5, 4.3, 1.9, and 1.3 times respectively.  Traffic safety officials caution that driving after only 4 or 5 hours of sleep, compared with a standard 7 hours, puts motorists at the same risk as if they were driving with a blood alcohol concentration equal to or slightly above the legal limit (.08).

“After adjustment for driver age, relation to intersection, time of day, and recent change in sleep schedule, drivers who reported having slept for less than 4 hours in the past 24 hours had an estimated 11.5 times the odds of having contributed to the crash in which they were involved, compared with drivers who reported having slept for 7 or more hours in the past 24 hours,” says the December 2016 safety report.

Severe sleep deprivation, whether in the last 24 hours or several weeks, has a causal relationship with driver impairment and accident risk. According to the National Sleep Foundation, people who have slept less than 2 hours within a 24-hour period are not fit to operate a motor vehicle of any kind.

Who is at risk?

Drowsy driving-related crashes are more common in certain age groups and demographics, particularly among commercial truck drivers who make long-distance hauls across the country.

Other people at risk for drowsy driving crashes include:

  • People with long (12-hour) shifts
  • Night shift workers
  • Younger drivers, especially males under the age of 25
  • Business travelers suffering from jet lag
  • Individuals with undiagnosed or untreated sleep apnea
  • Individuals taking prescription sedative medications

Liability issues in fall-asleep crashes

Just like victims of drunk driving crashes, those who have been injured or lost a loved one due to a drowsy driver’s actions may have a claim for legal damages. Passengers and motorists who are hurt in such an accident can hold negligent drivers liable for civil damages in a personal injury or wrongful death complaint. In order to win fair compensation, it’s crucial to align yourself with veteran personal injury attorneys with a strong record of success.

The law firm of Edelman, Krasin & Jaye boasts more than 60 years of combined experience helping Long Island and New York residents with their injury claims. To learn more about your legal options or to schedule a no-cost consultation with our firm, call today. We are available 24/7 to offer expert advice!

  1. AAAFoundation.org, Acute Sleep Deprivation and Crash Risk https://www.aaafoundation.org/acute-sleep-deprivation-and-crash-risk
  2. AAAFoundation.org, Acute Sleep Deprivation and Risk of Motor Vehicle Crash Involvement https://www.aaafoundation.org/sites/default/files/AcuteSleepDeprivationCrashRisk.pdf

Spike in Traffic Deaths Caused by New Technologies, Distracted Driving

teens driving while textingAlthough U.S. deaths in traffic accidents had been dropping steadily for decades, they have recently jumped dramatically. In the first six months of this year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that deaths on U.S. highways climbed to 17,775, an increase of 10.4% over the number registered in the first half of 2015. That’s more than 296 deaths per month.

The figure comes on top of a rise in 2015, which was the worst year for increases in traffic fatalities in half a century.

Distracted driving fueled by new technologies

Many observers believe that the disturbing increases are caused by widespread distracted driving, fueled in turn by new technologies.

Ten years ago, distracted driving concerns centered around cell phones and text messages. Because these required handheld cell and smartphones, many people — law makers included — focused on keeping drivers from calling or texting, and keeping their hands on the wheel. New York State law, for example, prohibits holding a portable electronic device and talking, texting, or playing games.

However, experts in highway safety think that more recent technology patterns have actually contributed to the spike in traffic deaths. That pattern is the increasing trend toward vehicle WiFi that allows use of the internet and of apps in the car, without hands or devices necessarily having to be in direct contact.

New vehicles come equipped with software that connects to smartphones. As a result, drivers and passengers can, without taking their hands from the wheel, make phone calls, send texts, and use apps, from Pokémon Go to music services.

But the focus on hands-free assumes that motorists can participate in all these activities while driving without losing any focus or concentration. And that assumption is far from universally shared.

Deborah Hersman, president of the National Safety Council and former chair of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, believes that it may in fact foster more expanded use of smartphone functions while driving, which in turn leads to more distractions as drivers concentrate on the apps and the activities instead of driving.

Social media apps cause unsafe driving habits

Recent news indicates that use of social media while driving causes accidents, and unsafe driving habits that contribute to accidents. A Georgia suit claims a teenage driver in a September 2015 accident attained speeds of over 100 miles per hour while simultaneously using popular social media app Snapchat.

In late October, a crash killed five people in Florida. The Florida Highway Patrol is currently investigating, but preliminary reports show that one passenger made a Snapchat video showing the speedometer at 115 miles per hour.

Legal advocacy in Long Island

Here at Edelman, Krasin and Jaye, the frequency of auto accidents on Long Island and throughout New York is a source of concern. Auto accidents may result in serious injuries and death. The injuries may result in loss of ability to work and to intensive physical therapy and medical interventions.

Our experienced car accident attorneys are all too familiar with the psychological trauma of losing a loved one in a traffic collision, particularly one caused by negligence such as distracted driving. Given the multiple variables affecting claims and the changing nature of laws concerning technology, it is highly important to consult a law firm with expertise in car accident litigation and New York’s no-fault insurance.

With convenient office locations in Long Island and the Bronx, our attorneys stand ready to assist. For a complimentary case review, please call us today at (800) 469-7429.

Distracted Driving Awareness is a Year-Round Need

cars in trafficApril, the designated month for distracted driving awareness, may be nearly over but the need to educate drivers about the hazards of distracted driving continues year-round.

The attorneys at Edelman, Krasin & Jaye would like to remind drivers that distracted driving takes the lives of hundreds every year, and is one of the top preventable causes of death and serious injury in the U.S. today.

Defining distracted driving

There are many different activities drivers might participate in while behind the wheel that would fall under the category of distracted driving. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines distracted driving as any activity that takes a driver’s mind off the driving task, eyes off the road or hands off the wheel. By this definition, distracted driving might include eating and drinking, adjusting music devices, typing a destination into a navigation system or personal grooming like combing hair or applying makeup.

One of the biggest culprits in distracted driving today is cellphone  use. Drivers may use the phones to have conversations, send and receive texts or emails or even watch videos. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, around 660,000 drivers may be using cellphones or other electronic devices while behind the wheel at any given time.

One reason that cellphone use remains a common problem among motorists appears to be a lack of awareness about just how dangerous this practice can be. Some cellphone users argue that it only takes a matter of seconds to read a brief text. However, even five seconds with your eyes off the road when traveling 55 miles per hour is the equivalent of driving the full length of a football field blindfolded.

Others argue that hands-free devices keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road, making them a safer option than handheld devices. However, research has indicated conversations using hands-free devices may cause drivers to miss important visual or audio cues that could help prevent an accident.

Impact of distracted driving

Despite the perception that some types of cellphone use might be safe while driving, the statistics indicate otherwise. According to the Official U.S. Government Website for Distracted Driving, 3,179 people were killed in accidents involving distracted driving in 2014. Another 431,000 were injured. The CDC reports that in 2013, nearly one of every five injury accidents that occurred involved distracted driving.

Every day, Americans lose loved ones in cell phone related accidents. Some of the victims that are injured in these accidents may end up with catastrophic, life-changing injuries that affect their ability to function and earn a living to support their families. The medical bills, lost wages and other financial impacts of these accidents can also take their toll on the victim and family.

If you or someone you love is injured or killed in a distracted driving accident, do not try to navigate the complex legal process alone. An attorney experienced in these types of accidents can help you understand your rights and pursue all of the compensation you might be entitled to.

The personal injury attorneys at Edelman, Krasin & Jaye help victims of New York distracted driving accidents every day. To arrange a free case review, please call our offices at 1-800-469-7429.

  1. National Safety Council, April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, http://www.nsc.org/learn/NSC-Initiatives/Pages/distracted-driving-awareness-month.aspx
  2. Distraction.gov, FAQs, http://www.distraction.gov/stats-research-laws/faq.html
  3. Huffington Post, April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joel-feldman/april-is-distracted-drivi_b_9743162.html
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Distracted Driving, http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/distracted_driving/

2016’s “Most Wanted” List of Traffic Safety Improvements

Traffic Safety

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) wants you to be better protected on the nation’s roadways. It has released its 2016 Most Wanted list of what the agency considers to be the most pressing safety concerns for drivers and passengers.

The list places a great deal of emphasis on the evolving use of technology to reduce the number of vehicle accidents and save lives. More effective enforcement of seatbelt use, better child restraint systems, and improved rail safety are other items on the agenda of the NTSB.

Proposed safety improvements

One of the proposed initiatives, if implemented, would increase the availability of collision avoidance technology in new vehicle models. The NTSB calls for making this technology come standard in commercial and personal vehicles.

Another pressing concern of the NTSB is occupant safety. The agency states that it has investigated countless accidents in which better occupant safety systems could have saved lives and prevented serious injuries. Seatbelts and child restraints could be designed better, states the NTSB, in a way that “ensures ease of evacuation” in the aftermath of a crash.

Like the NTSB’s 2015 Most Wanted list, the 2016 list calls for an end to distracted driving. The agency suggests that a “cultural change” is necessary for drivers and commercial operators to not only follow the laws regarding distractions while driving, but to “embrace” them with the understanding that distraction-free driving saves lives.

Looking ahead to future safety improvements, the NTSB has also called for the expanded use of recording devices in all trains, ferries, buses, and aircraft. This basic technology is essential for accident reconstruction, which in turn allows investigators to pinpoint safety improvements that are needed in the future.

Limitations of the Most Wanted list

Traffic safety is a constantly evolving issue. Although the list of proposed safety improvements by the NTSB is a good start for 2016, there are still far too many lives being lost to preventable accidents each year. By the time the NTSB is ready to release its Most Wanted list for 2017, countless families will be grieving the loss of their loved ones and many others will have sustained serious car accident injuries and costly property damage.

Prevention is key, but so too is understanding one’s legal rights and options. Those who have been affected by car accidents may have the option of filing a lawsuit against the insurance carrier or against the negligent party to recoup the cost of medical bills, car repairs, and other losses.

Legal advocacy from Edelman, Krasin & Jaye

The personal injury attorneys of Edelman, Krasin & Jaye have recovered millions in compensation for those who have suffered injuries as the result of someone else’s reckless or negligent actions. Although our law firm applauds the NTSB for taking the initiative to make the roads safer, far too many people are still being affected by negligent drivers.

If you’ve been in an accident, call 1-800-469-7429 to schedule a free case review and put our firm’s resources to work for you.