Car accidents can occur due to a variety of reasons and challenges. Some of those challenges fall under the driver’s control—driving while distracted, for example. Others, including potentially dangerous weather conditions, might fall outside of the driver’s control. Albany drivers may face hazards on the roads, from increased traffic around the Albany Mall to potentially distracted drivers. In this blog post, we discuss common causes of Albany car accidents; read on for more information.
Cause #1: Speeding
Increasing speed by just one kilometer per hour—or about 0.62 of a mile per hour—can cause an increase of 3 percent in the risk of an accident involving serious injuries. Unfortunately, all too often, Albany drivers get in a hurry to reach their destinations. Some drivers rush to get to work—especially those who may work in New York City. With a 90-minute commute on an average day, many drivers want to cut the time spent on the road as much as possible. Others simply want to go enjoy leisure activities or to get home sooner.
Unfortunately, speeding can substantially raise accident risk and increase the severity of injuries sustained by passengers in both vehicles if the driver does cause an accident. Speeding drivers have more trouble gauging the distance between them and other vehicles around them or responding to potential threats on the road, which can make it hard for them to get out of the way.
Cause #2: Dangerous Intersections
Some intersections naturally pose a greater danger to drivers than others. One of the greatest offenders in Albany? The intersection of Nottingham Way and Westover Boulevard, which has topped the list of the most dangerous intersections in Albany for many years in a row. Six of the ten most dangerous intersections in Albany occur around the Albany Mall, where substantially increased traffic has made it difficult for drivers to pass safely through that area.
Dangerous intersections may have high levels of traffic, poor visibility, or poor traffic signs, which can all make it difficult for drivers to accurately predict the behaviors of others around them and raise the risk of causing a serious accident. Drivers may want to familiarize themselves with the dangerous intersections that appear on their daily routes so that they can avoid or at least exercise additional care in those intersections.
Cause #3: Distracted Driving
New York’s traffic laws specifically prohibit driving while using a hand-held phone or device for any reason. State law denies the use of phones, PDAs, laptops, pagers, video game consoles, or any other portable computing or gaming device while driving. Drivers can, however, use GPS devices not held in the driver’s hand. However, drivers who attempt to use these devices while driving may take their eyes, hands, and attention off of the road, all of which can substantially increase accident risk. A New York driver using a handheld device, including a cell phone, can face a fine of up to $150 for choosing to drive while distracted.
Distracted driving does not necessarily just mean using a cell phone, however. In many cases, distracted drivers may even think that they have made safer choices by choosing to put their phones down as they head out on the road. Those Albany drivers heading out on a long commute into New York City, however, may find themselves saving time in other ways: eating and drinking in their vehicles, or even putting on makeup or preparing for the workday. All of those distractions can add up to costly accident potential.
Cause #4: Drowsy Driving
Albany residents may think nothing of a long commute to work each day. However, commuting into New York City, for example, may mean a daily commute of 90 minutes or more. Added to a standard workday, that means a lot of drowsy drivers filling Albany streets, especially as those commuters get closer to home at the end of a long day.
Drowsy driving, unfortunately, can have many of the same impacts as driving while intoxicated. Drowsy drivers may have a hard time paying attention to the road around them. They may frequently behave in erratic or unpredictable ways, which can make it difficult for other drivers to avoid a potential collision. Drowsy drivers can also fall asleep behind the wheel, leaving the car with no one in control of it and substantially increasing the risk of an accident.
Cause #5: Intoxicated Driving
New York carries stricter laws than other states when it comes to drinking and driving. In New York, drivers can receive a ticket for “driving while ability impaired,” or DWAI. A driver may face DWAI charges for driving with a BAC of more than 0.05, but less than 0.07 percent. This could mean that a driver will face charges for choosing to drive after drinking just one or two drinks. A DWAI charge brings with it a mandatory fine of $300 to $500 and a license suspension that lasts for 90 days. Repeated DWAIs carry more serious consequences.
A DWAI looks a little different from a standard DUI charge. DUI, or driving under the influence, means that the driver’s BAC exceeds the legal limit of 0.08 percent. DWAI perpetrators, however, have a lower BAC, but still suffer from an impairment that could erode their ability to drive safely.
After just one drink, an individual’s judgment starts to decrease. Vision might start to blur, or the individual might feel dizzy. Decision-making, reflexes, and reason all start to go downhill very quickly. Until the body has time to process the alcohol content, the individual will suffer impairment while operating a motor vehicle. New York’s DWAI laws recognize this impairment and help prevent drivers from getting behind the wheel while impaired. While DWAI charges do not have the same consequences as DUI charges, they may help prevent drivers from engaging in dangerous behavior and lower the risk of serious accidents.
Unfortunately, these laws do not necessarily keep drunk drivers off the road entirely. Drunk drivers throughout Albany may cause serious accidents resulting in severe injuries each year. Across New York, around 1.7 million drivers generate around 31 million instances of drinking and driving each year. While these drivers often get caught quickly, they can still cause dangerous accidents that, unfortunately, other drivers can do little to avoid.
Cause #6: Aggressive Driving
New York drivers, even outside New York City, have a reputation for aggressive driving. While Albany does not see the same high levels of aggressive driving often faced by drivers within New York City, it still sees a large percentage of drivers who choose to engage in reckless or aggressive driving practices. Aggressive driving may include tailgating, changing lanes unsafely, failing to yield, cutting in front of other vehicles, or even deliberately pursuing another vehicle, especially in response to a perceived slight on the road.
Aggressive drivers can also increase the frustration and stress levels in other drivers around them. Sometimes, aggressive drivers end up escalating relatively minor situations, resulting in severe injuries. In other cases, aggressive drivers may make other drivers fearful, causing delays and leading them to avoid the area.
Aggressive driving may also raise the risk of accidents resulting in severe injuries. Sometimes, aggressive drivers may travel at a higher rate of speed or get too close to another vehicle, which can make it difficult for that vehicle to stop safely. Other times, aggressive drivers may even deliberately cause an accident. Often, these aggressive habits increase the injuries suffered by passengers in either vehicle.
Cause #7: Poor Weather
Each year, Albany sees an average of 134.1 days with precipitation and gets an estimated 51.6 inches of snow. Fortunately, this does mean that Albany residents have the experience and preparation they need to drive in a variety of weather conditions, including rain, snow, and ice. Those conditions, however, still raise accident risks for drivers across the city. Familiarity with those conditions can also cause drivers to grow cocky, increasing the odds that they will inadvertently cause a serious accident.
In poor weather conditions, drivers need more room to slow, turn, or stop. Unfortunately, some drivers do not exercise adequate care, speeding to their destinations without pausing to account for the weather. Drivers may also face unexpected hurdles due to poor weather conditions, including black ice on the roads. Furthermore, poor weather conditions can interfere with visibility, making it very difficult for drivers to see what happens around them. Nevertheless, some drivers refuse to take adequate precautions for the change in weather.
Due to the prevalence of poor weather conditions in Albany, drivers may face more hazards than they do in other areas of the country.
What to Do After an Albany Car Accident
Whether you suffered a car accident in one of Albany’s most dangerous intersections, along I-87 or I-787, or on a back road, taking the right steps can help protect you and your passengers.
1. Report the accident.
Make sure you report the accident to the Albany police, who will come to the scene and create a report regarding the accident. The accident report can serve as vital evidence of exactly when and where the accident took place. Albany police may also help designate liability for the accident, which may make it easier for you to pursue compensation through an Albany car accident claim.
Give the police an accurate report about the accident and anything you saw that may have contributed to it. Make sure you note any potential factors that could have increased the risk of an accident. Do not make a statement that accepts fault for the accident in any way.
2. Seek medical care.
Following any type of car accident, always visit the hospital or an urgent care center for a full evaluation of any potential injuries. Some people walk away from car accidents not realizing that they have severe injuries, including potential spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injury. Having a doctor evaluate your injuries will both help you receive proper treatment and serve as evidence of exactly when your accident occurred.
Do you have to go to the hospital after a minor fender bender? It could prove vital. Sometimes, you may discover days or even weeks after the accident that you suffered severe whiplash or back and neck injuries that have the potential to negatively impact your quality of life and lead to considerable medical expenses in the future. If you fail to seek medical attention early after the accident, you may have trouble proving exactly when your injuries occurred.
Once you have a doctor’s advice and diagnosis, make sure that you do not ignore any instructions related to your care. Return for follow-up treatment, evaluation, and therapy. Listen to the restrictions issued by your doctor. If you ignore your doctor’s instructions or fail to follow up with needed care, you may find it more difficult to recover compensation for the full cost of your injuries.
3. Contact an attorney.
Car accidents can occur for a variety of reasons. The other driver may bear liability for your accident or, in some cases, you may find that another party shares equal liability: the employer of a driver on the clock at the time of the accident, for example. Working with an attorney can help you understand your full legal rights following an accident and increase the odds that you will know the true value of your claim. An auto accident attorney can help investigate your claim, give you information about your rights, and even help fight for you throughout your Albany car accident claim.
Did you suffer serious injuries in an Albany car accident? Whether you suffered injuries due to the fault of an aggressive driver, a driver under the influence, a distracted driver, or simply a driver who failed to follow proper precautions in dangerous weather conditions, an attorney can help you understand your rights and pursue maximum compensation on your behalf. Contact an attorney as soon after your accident as possible for a free consultation regarding your car accident.
Mr. Finkelstein is the Managing Partner of Finkelstein & Partners, LLP. He has become a noted consumer activist through his representation of injured individuals against corporate wrongdoers and irresponsible parties.
An accomplished litigator, Mr. Finkelstein has represented Plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has successfully handled dozens of multi-million dollar cases.