Posts Tagged ‘Buffalo car accident lawyer’

Distraction a Common Factor in Buffalo Collisions as New York Weighs Options

Buffalo auto accident attorneyStates including New York are considering regulation of a device called Google Glass, which looks like a pair of glasses and allows users to surf the Internet, take photographs, check-email and even watch videos – all with a blink.

The technology is pretty amazing – but perhaps not so much while driving. State lawmakers have requested direction from the department of motor vehicles on how a behind-the-wheel ban on the devices might be enforced.

Buffalo accident lawyers at The Law Offices of James Morris recognize that as it stands, distracted driving is a major factor in automobile collisions.

How many accidents are caused by distracted drivers?

The issue of driver distraction may be even more serious than previously anticipated. New research indicates that many crashes caused by distraction are instead categorized simply as “careless driving” in traffic citation records.

There may be some instances wherein drivers are cited for prohibited use of a handheld device (New York state bans texting and the use of all handheld cell phone devices while driving), more often than not, distraction can be difficult to prove.

For one thing, it’s not like drunk driving, where a test can determine whether drivers were negligent at the time of a crash. Phone records, witness statements and other evidence may be used to piece it together, but there is often no definitive determination.

Plus, there are more forms of distraction today than ever.

Let’s start with cell phones. In May of 2011, 35 percent of Americans owned a smartphone. By May 2013, 56 percent of people owned a smartphone.

Then there are devices like Google Glass. While it offers features like navigation, these elements have proven distracting to the person behind the wheel. But again, it can be tough to prove. A woman in California was pulled over and cited by a state trooper for “having a TV screen visible while driving.” Some 37 states and the District of Columbia have laws against it. However, the ticket was eventually tossed because there was a lack of evidence to prove the device had been enabled while she was driving.

Studies shed light on dangers of in-dash vehicle technology

More than ever, technological devices are coming standard-issue with the latest models of vehicles in the form of “infotainment” centers build right into the dash. Common features include GPS mapping technology, hands-free dialing and speech-to-text, Internet searches and even videos and games.

While car manufacturers have promised that these systems are safe and will actually help to reduce distractions, the research that is emerging suggests those assertions fall short of the truth.

For example, a recent AAA study indicates that speech-to-text phone or e-mail systems, the kind that are common in the latest infotainment offerings, are even more dangerous than listening to the radio or using a handheld cell phone.

Where companies are working on ways to integrate even more speech recognition software into vehicles, AAA warns that this will make the roads inherently more dangerous.

Anytime your hands are off the wheel or your eyes and attention are off the road, there is a danger. It need not be technologically-driven. Distraction comes in many different forms, be it your children in the back seat, the pets in your lap or the Google Glass on your head.

For the most part, whatever it is can wait until the car is in park.

Contact a Buffalo accident attorney at the Law Offices of James Morris at 1-800-477-9044.  Attorney advertising.

Buffalo Teen Car Accident Risks on the Rise

Buffalo auto accident attorneyOne 15-year-old was killed and her 13-year-old sister critically injured recently in a New York car accident, when their 19-year-old brother reportedly struck another vehicle while making a U-turn.

After the initial hit, investigators say the older teen struck several parking meters and then a utility pole. The youngest of the three was ejected. The 15-year-old was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

At The Law Offices of James Morris, our Buffalo car accident lawyers haveseen far too many cases where young lives were lost prematurely due to negligence on the roads. We don’t yet know the cause of this crash – that’s still under investigation. What we do know is that with prom and graduation right around the corner, it’s imperative that parents initiate a conversation with their teens about safe driving.

Other Teens Remain a Significant Distraction for Young Drivers

One of the biggest issues for teens to overcome is distraction. One of the greatest distractions? Other teens.

When a young driver has a group of peers in the vehicle, the risk of a crash rises with each additional passenger. In fact, most teens who are killed in auto accidents are passengers in vehicles driven by other teens, according to the New York State Department of Health.  This is particularly relevant as we approach spring, with formal dances and graduation parties galore. Arranging for a professional driver (a limousine for formal event, maybe a taxi for informal events) may alleviate your fears regarding this issue.

Bear in mind too that as of February 2010, it’s been illegal in New York State for a junior licensed driver to have more than one passenger under the age of 21 in his or her vehicle absent a parent, guardian or driving instructor.

As a parent, you may consider extending that rule until your child reaches the age of 18.

The other biggest distraction, of course, is the cell phone. Research from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development indicate that teens who text and drive are nearly four times as likely to crash as a teen who isn’t texting. Dialing a phone was even worse, making teens 8.3 times more likely to crash than peers who weren’t dialing. (Compare that to experienced drivers, whose risk was 2.5 times greater than their non-dialing counterparts.)

Those same researchers, whose work was recently published in The New England Journal of Medicine, learned that teens start out very cautious when they begin to drive. However, as time passes, they start to engage in riskier and riskier behaviors, like texting, talking to passengers and eating. Specifically, during the first six months of having a license, teens were far less likely than experienced drivers to engage in secondary tasks. However, between months 7 and 15 of having a license, teen drivers matched their older counterparts in secondary tasks. During months 16 through 18, they had exceeded more experienced drivers in distractions.

In other words, their sense of confidence behind the wheel quickly becomes inflated.

New York has one of the toughest cell phone laws on the books, banning all drivers – not just teens –  from using handheld phones and texting behind the wheel.

The other major issue for teen drivers, particularly around prom and graduation, is drinking. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2011, 32 percent of drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 who were killed in crashes had been drinking.

Parents should make sure their teens understand that there will  be zero tolerance for such actions, but also that your teen can call you without retribution to come get him or her and avoid either driving drunk or riding with a drunk driver.

Contact the Law Offices of James Morris in Buffalo today for a free consultation. Call 800-477-9044 or visit www.jamesmorrislaw.comAttorney advertising.