A nationwide study has uncovered that distractions (including cellphones) contributed to a massive increase in pedestrian accident in New York City and elsewhere around the country. The study's authors found that in 2016, distractions directly contributed to an 11% increase in the number of people struck by cars, trucks, bicycles, and other forms of transportation here in NYC. Shockingly, this increase comes on top of the hundreds of thousands of dollars the city has sunk into pedestrian safety measures such as slow zones, redesigned crosswalks, dedicated bike lanes, and re-timed crossing signals.
Distracted driving accidents in New York have become a major concern for motorists, pedestrians, and policy makers alike. The NYPD has released statistics showing that nearly 1/3 of all auto accidents in New York City are caused by distracted drivers. That number showcases a huge danger on New York City streets.
Many expect the dangers of the New York streets to stay on the street. Unfortunately, all too often out of control drivers kill or injure innocent pedestrians when their recklessness brings the carnage onto New York City sidewalks. Just last week (November 11th) two unsuspecting pedestrians were killed on Queens Boulevard (near Broadway) when a 23-year old driving a 2014 Chevrolet Camaro at a high rate of speed jumped the curb and careened into a crowd of New Yorkers. The car, which boasts a 7 liter engine and 505 horsepower, became a fast-moving 3,700 pound unstoppable missile.
New eyewitness reports have come forth, shedding some light on the tragic death of middle school teacher, Felix Cross. Cross, 61, was struck and killed by an NYPD van driven by Officer Paula Medrano (assigned to the 88th precinct) on July 7th of this year. Cross was in a crosswalk on Hooper Street, crossing with the light, when he was hit. What first appeared to be a tragic accident now seems to be yet another New York City distracted driving accident.
Taxi cabs pose a significant danger to New Yorkers both on the street and off. In recent article in the New York Post, Maureen Callahan focused on taxi accidents in New York and showcased the danger these iconic vehicles pose for New Yorkers and even those visiting the City that Never Sleeps. Such dangers include distracted, unlicensed drivers and even operators under the influence. One of Callahan's colleagues even reported witnessing a cabdriver video chatting on a cellphone with family members while driving.
A recent nationwide poll conducted by Liberty Mutual Insurance (in partnership with Students Against Drunk Driving-S.A.D.D.) discovered that than 90% of drivers on the road are distracted at any given time. The vast majority of those distractions come from cellphone usage in the car. Either texting while driving or talking while driving (with or without a hands-free device) has the demonstrated ability to decrease a driver's awareness, their perception of the road around them, and their response time to hazards, pedestrians, and other motorists. In fact, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that texting while driving is six times more dangerous than driving while under the influence of alcohol.
Senator Patty Ritchie recently put out a call to the public to be aware of the dramatically increased number of motorcyclists on New York streets-especially in the warm summer months (unfortunately, statistics show you're 30 times more likely to die on the back of a bike than in a car.) She reiterated that it is everyone's responsibility to ensure the New York City and state roadways are as safe as they can possibly be and announced the passage of a bill she sponsored in the state senate that would help increase safety for motorcyclists statewide.
Two summers ago, an 18-year-old girl from Buffalo New York was struck and killed by a drunk driver while she was riding home from work on her skateboard. The driver, a local doctor, was speeding, texting on his phone, and driving under the influence when he hit the young girl. He then fled the scene.