What are Common Causes of Car Accidents in New York and North Jersey?
Although no driver wants to consider the prospect of a car accident, it is possible that an accident could occur at any time. Car accidents are often more than unpredictable. A car accident is predicated upon several things that can be avoided or easily quantified.
Drivers need to know how to navigate the streets of New York and North Jersey to avoid accidents. People throughout the area mistakenly believe that they can avoid car accidents because they are experienced drivers who operate their vehicle safely most of the time. However, these tips indicate that certain drivers are not as safe as they once believed. It may be time to rethink how people operate and manage their vehicles.
What Constitutes Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is more than using a cell phone while on the road. Some drivers are distracted by conversations with passengers in the vehicle. Some motorists are focused on children traveling with them. Other drivers eat, drink, shave, and even apply makeup as they drive. Drivers need to make only one mistake to cause a dangerous or fatal crash.
It is important to collect evidence after an accident because there is no way to prove a driver was distracted without something that points to the offending driver’s negligence. Even if the police report does not mention distracted driving, there may be reason to believe that the offending driver was not focused on the road. Eyewitness statements, statements from other drivers involved in the accident, and even expert testimony can show that the defendant was distracted.
What are the Dangers of Rubbernecking?
Rubbernecking is a unique form of distracted driving. Even the most careful and considerate driver can be involved in a rubbernecking accident because something on the side of the road caught their attention. Drivers who slow down to see an accident may not know if the people behind them have slowed down. A driver who is maintaining focus on the road could be caught off guard and need to perform an emergency stop or evasive maneuver.
Moreover, the driver who is still watching the accident scene in stopped traffic is not paying attention to the progress of vehicles in front of them. When a driver notices that the brake lights from another car have shut off, they might wrongly assume that traffic is proceeding as normal. Unfortunately, the other driver might have only moved a few feet, and a rear-end crash will occur. It helps to leave a healthy distance between all vehicles so that everyone has space to move around. For example, someone who realizes that the driver behind them is going to rear-end them can move up or out of the way because of the space they left between them and the next vehicle.
Rubbernecking is not a harmless activity. Drivers should contact a Brooklyn car accident lawyer if someone else has clearly been negligent when focusing on an accident or incident that is off the road.
Drug and Alcohol Use
Drivers who are intoxicated when they get behind the wheel cannot focus, do not have appropriate reaction times for incidents on the road, and often do not have a good range of vision. In some cases, an intoxicated driver might simply fall asleep and run off the road.
Some people may think that drug and alcohol use is the only thing that can cause intoxicated driving. Although drunk driving causes a staggering 29 deaths per day in the United States, there is more to the story. In a 2018 report from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 12.6 million people reported driving while under the influence of drugs. Another study showed that drivers with THC in their system were approximately twice as likely to cause a deadly crash. Even drugs that seem benign can impair judgment and driving ability more than drivers might think.
Someone who is on prescription medication or even high doses of over-the-counter medication can be intoxicated. These medications are often very strong, and they come with labeling that discourages driving or operating machinery. Drivers are responsible for understanding how they respond to medication. Someone who knows they get tired after taking a substance should not be driving if they have a headache.
Additionally, drivers can ask for a ride, use a ridesharing service, or have someone else drive when they know they are not ready to drive. In certain cases, these drivers can leave their vehicles behind and pick them up the next day. This is preferable to causing an accident that could have easily been prevented.
The Importance of Avoiding Speeding
In 2018, 9,148 people died in speeding-related crashes. That figure comes out to roughly 25 percent of all crashes. Most drivers do not take speeding seriously because speed limits seem almost too slow for the pace of our everyday lives. These speed limits, however, have been created using common sense, science, and local statistics on accidents.
For example, if a driver were to speed through a tight curve at twice the speed limit, they might fly off the road because of excessive speeding. Negotiating these curves involves the handling of the vehicle, the fitness of the tires, and the skill of the driver. Because speeding is already involved in 25 percent of car crashes, these factors simply make speeding around a curve even more dangerous.
A city or county might lower the speed limit in a particular area because accidents tend to occur in that location. The city might also lower the speed limit when statistics show that a particular type of road causes accidents at the current speed limit.
Speeding on the highway often becomes the norm as drivers are passed by other motorists. The rationalization of speeding often includes the idea that everyone else is doing it. Effectively, a driver often believes they might be endangered by other vehicles if they do not speed up. Drivers in these situations could easily be pulled over as a result of enhanced law enforcement activity in the area, or these drivers might cause crashes if they are not stopped. Instead of speeding up, drivers should slow down and move out of the way.
Two vehicles do not need to strike one another for a crash to be caused by speeding. When another driver comes at a high speed toward someone else, the slower driver might be surprised, frightened, and feel compelled to get out of the way immediately. When this driver moves, they might strike another vehicle or run that person off the road. This type of situation can easily cause a multi-vehicle accident.
Speeders often do not see people on the side of the road. Motorcyclists and bicyclists are difficult to see when someone is moving down the highway at a high rate of speed, and large trucks can shake another vehicle as they pass by. Speeding might also lead to a road rage situation when the faster driver cannot pass and becomes enraged that they cannot proceed at their preferred speed. A speeding car carries more velocity into the crash, and that vehicle can cause more damage than it would at slower speeds.
What are Signs of Vehicle Defects?
Vehicle defects are most often publicized by manufacturers when a recall is ordered. The manufacturer might voluntarily recall a certain vehicle because of a defect, or the government might order the recall. Drivers should do a simple internet search at least once a month to ensure there are no recalls on their vehicles. The driver may also want to call their dealer to ask about potential recalls or faults.
When drivers get behind the wheel, they often notice that their vehicles do not operate properly. The brakes might grind, the gas pedal might not have enough resistance, or certain gears might sound unusual. The car could sway because the steering rack is damaged, or it might stop and start on its own. Some drivers will smell exhaust inside the vehicle, or the car might shake because the body is not constructed properly.
These issues do not go away on their own. Drivers must visit a mechanic as soon as possible to rectify the problem. The manufacturer can be held liable if it has used defective parts, avoided a recall, or built the vehicle improperly. Unfortunately, some mechanics complete substandard repairs on vehicles using faulty or defective parts. Drivers should keep receipts from all their services, parts, and visits to the dealership. Owners should also have all the appropriate paperwork for the vehicle. If a recall has been issued, a car accident lawyer needs proof that the vehicle fits into the scope of the recall.
Poor Road Conditions
Poor road conditions contribute to car accidents every day, but these conditions are often considered a part of life. Anyone who has hit a pothole knows that those roads are inherently more dangerous than a smooth, new road surface. Drivers cannot get to their destinations efficiently, and vehicles are routinely damaged by poorly maintained roads. A car that is driving over potholes or constantly sitting in traffic because of bottlenecks or inefficient construction wastes fuel.
In cases such as this, the municipality or agency that must maintain the roads can be held liable for accidents caused by their negligence. Construction crews can be held accountable for debris left on the road. When inclement weather hits the area, drivers need to be aware of what is safe and what is not. A minor rain shower should be enough to get drivers to slow down to avoid hydroplaning. Major rainstorms come with high winds and low visibility. If a driver can hardly see out their window before leaving the house, they will see even less once they get on the road and deal with spray from other vehicles.
Snowstorms can leave the road surface covered with snow. The bright white color of snow will reflect light from the sun, and it can be almost impossible to see, even if the driver is wearing sunglasses. Ice can also hide under the snow, even if the road has been cleared. Motorists must exercise extreme caution when driving in these conditions.
If advisories are published asking drivers to stay off the roads, they should do so as much as is feasible. If the road makes the driver uncomfortable, they should not be driving. Most errands can wait, and even employers should be notified when the driver does not believe they can make it to work safely.
In one study, the National Sleep Center interviewed commuting adults, and half of those drivers admitted that they are often drowsy when they get behind the wheel. Even more troubling is that 20 percent said they fell asleep at the wheel in the year preceding the study and 40 percent admitted that they fell asleep at the wheel at least once in their lives.
Drivers should be honest with themselves about how they feel when getting behind the wheel. Drivers can also use a ridesharing service to get home. Someone who gets sleepy very easily might also join a carpool so that someone else is driving.
Driving after being awake for more than 20 hours is effectively the same as having a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent. A driver in this condition would be pulled over and likely arrested for drunk driving had they been drinking. Any reasonable person would think this is a completely untenable situation. Drivers must think carefully about how long they have been awake before getting behind the wheel. Drowsy driving can be avoided if the appropriate scheduling changes are made.
The minimum age for restricted licensure in New Jersey is 17. Many other states have also enacted rules that keep 14 and 15-year-olds out of the driver’s seat. Adults might also get their licenses after they turn 18. Statistics show that the rate of licensure steadily rises from the 18-year-old demographic to the 20 to 24-year-old group, and rises again in those 35 to 39 years of age. Obviously, a newly licensed 39-year-old driver is far less equipped to handle a traditional commute than someone the same age who has been driving for many years.
An adult who has gotten their license later in life might not feel comfortable driving at night or in heavy traffic. These adults have less experience driving in inclement weather, and they may have even worse reaction times if they are tired. Although parents should go over the rules of the road with their teenagers, family members or friends should speak to any new driver and offer to help.
For example, a new motorist may have to drive through inclement weather. Another driver should offer to drive home because they are more experienced when dealing with driving in the dark or rainy and windy conditions. Someone who knows they are too inexperienced for the situation could be held liable for an accident simply because they did not use good judgement.
Why Should I Hire a Car Accident Lawyer After an Accident?
A car accident lawyer is uniquely qualified to determine the true cause of an accident. Lawyers can look deep into the case to learn how the crash occurred, who is at-fault, and how the accident affected their client. A lawyer can interview witnesses, read the accident report, and file suit against anyone who may be responsible.
Multiple parties may be involved in a crash when it is clear that negligence has occurred on several levels. For example, a construction crew that does a bad job repairing potholed roads can be held liable for its shoddy workmanship, and the government agency that hired that company can be held liable for not doing its due diligence. Two drivers who have been dueling on the road could crash into a third driver, and that driver can file suit against both negligent drivers.
A lawyer must also review the case to determine the level of compensation for which the victim is entitled. Compensation can be judged based on medical expenses, recovery expenses, possible disability, loss of quality of life, pain and suffering, and even punitive damages that are awarded by the state on a case-by-case basis.
Accident victims are free to settle their cases with help from an attorney, or they may go to court to receive maximum compensation for the case. Insurance companies and offending drivers will surely have lawyers present, and the victim should be represented by an expert.
Brooklyn Car Accident Lawyers at Eaton & Torrenzano Help Injured Car Accident Victims
If you have been involved in a car accident in New York or North Jersey, reach out to the Brooklyn car accident lawyers at Eaton & Torrenzano for assistance. We can investigate your accident and determine how you should be compensated. Call us today at 718-332-7766 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Brooklyn, Staten Island, New York, and Hillsborough, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, the Bronx, Manhattan, Kings County, and Richmond County.