Reckless drivers endanger Albany drivers, passengers, and pedestrians every day. Reckless drivers may speed in heavy traffic on I-787, run red lights on Madison Ave, or make dangerous turns at the Broadway and State Street intersection. They may even text and drive on pedestrian- and cyclist-heavy roads that wind through the University at Albany campus.
Inevitably, Albany reckless drivers cause accidents that leave innocent victims badly injured. The toll that these accidents inflict can disrupt lives, families, and entire communities.
In this blog post, we explore the problem of reckless driving accidents in Albany and the greater Capital Region, discussing how and why these accidents happen and what victims can do when a reckless driver in Albany causes devastation in their lives.
New York law provides a succinct definition for what constitutes reckless driving in Albany:
“Reckless driving shall mean driving or using any motor vehicle, motorcycle or any other vehicle propelled by any power other than muscular power or any appliance or accessory thereof in a manner which unreasonably interferes with the free and proper use of the public highway, or unreasonably endangers users of the public highway.”
Reckless driving is illegal and punishable as a misdemeanor offense.
Unreasonableness is the touchstone for what constitutes reckless driving, and what sets it apart from ordinary traffic infractions. By definition, any driving behavior that we recognize as potentially dangerous—speeding, changing lanes unpredictably, failing to yield, and so on—can constitute reckless driving if its effect is to cause unreasonable interference with others’ use of the roads or an unreasonable danger to others on the road.
Albany Reckless Driving Accident Statistics
Reckless drivers who cause accidents in Albany do not always receive citations for reckless driving. For that reason, we can only get a sense of how many reckless driving accidents happen in the Capital Region by reviewing data on the factors known to contribute to crashes here.
According to the Institute for Traffic Safety and Management (ITSMR), which is affiliated with the University at Albany and tracks New York crash data, in a recent year, the City of Albany’s highways and byways saw 3,329 crashes, resulting in 6 fatalities and 1,077 injuries. In Albany County as a whole, 9,930 crashes resulted in 16 total deaths and 2,878 total injuries in that same year.
Police who reported to those crashes identified numerous contributing factors, including several typically associated with reckless driving, such as:
- Following too closely, a contributing factor in 2,287 Albany County crashes that year;
- Failure to yield the right of way (in 1,704 crashes);
- Passing, lane changing, or improper lane use (in 1,623 crashes);
- Unsafe speed (in 858 crashes);
- Turning improperly (in 470 crashes);
- Disregard of a traffic control device (in 339 crashes);
- Alcohol or drug use (in 197 crashes); and
- Road rage (in 42 crashes).
From this data, we can safely assume that reckless driving (as New York law defines it) likely causes hundreds, if not thousands, of accidents in the Capital Region every year, and likely leads to at least a handful of deaths and hundreds (or more) injuries. That is a heavy toll, made all the worse by the fact that reckless driving is a choice, and thus 100 percent preventable.
Contributing Factors to Reckless Driving in Albany
Why is reckless driving such a problem in and around Albany? Is there something about the Capital Region that makes it hospitable to drivers who are prone to making unreasonably dangerous choices behind the wheel?
It’s difficult to know for sure. However, we can identify factors that contribute to the decision to drive recklessly, and compare those factors to what we know about Albany and its environs.
Young Male Drivers
Traffic study after traffic study has confirmed that young, male drivers account for a disproportionate number of accidents involving aggressive and dangerous driving behaviors that might qualify as reckless under New York law. If you are young and male, then you are more likely than average to speed, drive drunk, exhibit road rage, and otherwise take unreasonably dangerous risks behind the wheel.
The countywide population in Albany does not skew heavily male or particularly young, according to Capital Region Indicators, a clearinghouse for demographic information about Albany and its environs. In the City of Albany itself, however, men between the ages of 20 and 40 make up the largest block of male residents. So, perhaps, the high number of reckless driving accidents in and around Albany stems from, at least in part, the density of young men living in the City.
Drinking and driving, in and of itself, can constitute reckless driving, simply because of how severely alcohol consumption can degrade a person’s driving abilities. At the same time, drinking before taking the wheel can also serve as a contributing factor to other reckless driving behaviors, such as speeding or joyriding, because alcohol consumption increases risk-taking and clouds a driver’s judgment.
According to the New York State Department of Health’s Community Health Indicator Reports (CHIRS), the Albany region does not compare favorably to New York as a whole when it comes to drinking and driving statistics. Over a recent three-year period, Albany County witnessed 44.6 alcohol-related motor vehicle injuries and deaths per 100,000 residents, a rate nearly 50 percent higher than the statewide tally of 29.9 alcohol-related injuries and deaths per 100,000 (and 15 percent higher than statewide rates excluding New York City). Thus, it seems apparent that alcohol consumption also plays a potentially significant role in fueling reckless driving in Albany.
Heavy Traffic and Other Stress-Inducers
Reckless driving tends to occur when drivers feel stressed and overwhelmed. Albany-area drivers face several stress-inducing conditions on their roads and in their lives that likely lead to reckless driving accidents.
Heavy traffic is one contributing factor. Traffic volumes have risen steadily on Albany roads over the past few years. Drivers in the Albany area today spend nearly 50 hours of their lives sitting in traffic every year, a more than 10 percent increase during the past decade. Evening commuters have the worst time of it, with drive-times at 17 percent above normal at that time of day.
Albany’s citizens also face life stressors that can contribute to making poor choices behind the wheel. Albany’s poverty rate runs higher than the surrounding region as well as the statewide rate. Similarly, Albany suffers from a much higher unemployment rate than in the greater Capital Region. Finally, as calculated by the ALICE Project, which is affiliated with United Way, nearly one-third of Albany County households do not earn enough income to keep pace with the cost of living.
Seeking Compensation for Reckless Driving Accidents in Albany
Exploring the factors that contribute to Albany’s reckless driving accident problem might make it understandable, but they do not make it acceptable. A reckless driving accident can cause serious and fatal injuries, inflicting immense pain and cost on victims and their families.
New York law offers those victims the ability to hold reckless drivers and others financially accountable for injuries and losses inflicted by an accident. A skilled Albany reckless driving accident attorney can help injured individuals secure compensation to cover the full cost of their injuries.
Who is liable for a reckless driving accident?
An attorney can help a reckless driving accident victim in Albany by identifying all individuals, businesses, institutions, and others who may owe financial compensation to the accident victim under New York law.
Who might owe damages to victims of a reckless driving accident in Albany? The obvious answer is the reckless driver, who, almost by definition, bears the blame for harming others in an accident caused by his or her dangerous conduct. Less obviously, other parties might share that legal liability with the reckless driver.
- If the reckless driver caused an accident in a work vehicle while on the job, then the driver’s employer might face liability to accident victims.
- If the reckless driver was intoxicated at the time of the accident, then a bar or restaurant might face liability; it is illegal in New York to serve alcohol to a driver who is visibly intoxicated or underage.
- If a mechanical defect in the reckless driver’s car contributed to the cause of the accident, then the car’s manufacturer could owe damages to accident victims.
- If someone else’s unreasonably dangerous decisions or actions also played a role in causing the crash, independent of the reckless driver’s actions, then that third party might also share liability for crash victims’ damages.
These are just a few examples. The point is, even though a reckless driver almost always owes compensation to victims of a reckless driving accident in Albany, that does not mean the driver is necessarily the only party who faces liability. An experienced auto accident lawyer in Albany can assist victims in exploring who might owe them damages after a reckless driving crash.
What compensation can victims receive?
By taking legal action (usually, filing a lawsuit) against the party or parties with legal liability for damages, victims of Albany reckless driving accidents can hope to secure compensation to help them pay for:
- Past and future medical expenses related to treating a reckless driving accident injury or health condition.
- Other expenses that victims have incurred, or may incur, that they would not have had if they had not suffered injuries in an Albany reckless driving accident.
- Any wages or income that accident victims miss out on earning because of their reckless driving injuries, such as when an injury leaves victims disabled.
- The pain, suffering, and life difficulties that victims’ reckless driving accident injuries have caused in their lives.
- When a court deems it appropriate, punitive damages to punish the reckless driver’s actions.
The amount of compensation that victims might demand through legal action will generally depend on the nature and extent of their injuries and the impact those injuries have had on their lives. The amount they may actually receive will usually depend on the skill of their lawyers, the strength of their cases, and the financial resources of the parties who owe damages, especially the size of the insurance policies that those at-fault parties carry.
What an Albany Reckless Driving Accident Lawyer Can Do for You
Did you or a loved one suffer injuries and losses because of a reckless driving accident in Albany? If so, then an experienced reckless driving lawyer can help you secure compensation to cover the full cost of your injuries.
The specific actions that a lawyer might take on your behalf can vary, depending on your needs.
However, a skilled lawyer can:
- Investigate the causes of the reckless driving accident to identify all parties—not just the reckless driver—who may owe you compensation.
- Calculate the full amount of damages you have suffered, from your financial losses to your life challenges.
- Explain the range of options available to you for seeking compensation for your injuries and losses.
- Prepare, file, and litigate lawsuits and insurance claims aimed at securing you maximum compensation.
- Negotiate out-of-court settlements whenever possible to get you paid.
- Take your case to trial in front of an Albany judge and jury to prove your entitlement to compensation.
- Collect the money due to you through a settlement, judgment, or jury award.
No lawyer can guarantee a favorable outcome in your reckless driving case. However, by choosing a lawyer with years of experience representing Albany reckless driving accident victims like you, you can increase your odds of receiving the maximum amount of compensation available to you.
Contact a Skilled Albany Auto Accident Attorney Today
Reckless drivers in Albany needlessly put the public in danger. As a victim of an Albany reckless driving accident, you may have the right under New York law to receive substantial financial compensation.
Do not wait to find out about your rights. If you delay too long, you might lose your ability to seek money damages from the reckless driver and anyone else answerable for the injuries you suffered.
Take the first step by contacting a skilled Albany car accident attorney today.