New York Traffic Fatality Prevention Laws Ahead of the Curve

January 22, 2013

A newly-released national report analyzing traffic crash prevention laws puts New York State ahead of most - a testament to the actions of a progressive legislature and a body of citizens who stay involved. brooklynbridgeatnight.jpg

The state was given a "green light" rating for its traffic safety laws - the highest available ranking and a designation given to only 13 other states.

Still, our New York City personal injury lawyers know we can't stop there - particularly when we stand to gain monetary incentives through the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21).

Indeed, with 1,170 traffic fatalities logged in New York in 2011 - costing the state some $19.5 million in economic losses - there is still much work to be done. (That figure represents the third-highest annual losses in the nation, behind only California and Texas.)

Specifically, the two areas identified as lacking in the state are tougher graduated driver's license laws that would beef up cell phone restrictions among young drivers, and requiring drivers to be at least 18 years-old in order to obtain an unrestricted license.

Already in the state, we have:

  • A minimum age of 16 for learner's permits;

  • A six month holding period;

  • A requirement of 30 to 50 hours of supervised driving for new drivers;

  • Nighttime driving restrictions for youthful motorists;

  • Passenger restrictions.

It's not enough. The fact is, between 2006 and 2011, nearly 1,140 people lost their lives in New York crashes involving drivers between the ages of 15 and 20.

Throughout the country in 2011, nearly 5,000 people were killed in crashes involving young drivers. Of those, nearly 2,000 were drivers and another 1,200 were passengers. The rest were bicyclists, pedestrians and other drivers and passengers.

We know that fatal crashes, per miles driven, are double for 16 year-olds what they are for older drivers between the ages of 18 and 19. We have already seen reductions in our teen traffic fatalities due to the measures already passed (our teen driver fatality rate is lower than in states of comparable size that lack such laws).

But further limiting cell phone use among youthful drivers could lower those rates even more. A 2007 survey by Liberty Mutual Insurance Group and Students Against Drunk Driving revealed that nearly half of all teens admitted to texting behind the wheel - despite the fact that nearly 40 percent conceded it was either very or extremely distracting.

Plus, researchers analyzing crash data for drivers between the ages of 15 and 17 learned that states that had a lower age requirement for unrestricted licenses had a higher rate of fatal crashes among those drivers. Essentially, the sooner young drivers are given the privilege of driving with an unrestricted license, the more people are dying.

MAP-21 funding allows for incentive grants to those states who implement stricter GDL laws, so there is no reason at all these stipulations can't be passed in 2013.

The Law Offices of Nicholas Rose, PLLC offers free consultations. Call 1-877-313-7673.

Additional Resources:
The 2013 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws, 10th Annual Edition, January 2013, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety,

More Blog Entries:
New York City DMV Motor Vehicle Crash Data Released, Dec. 15, 2013, New York City Personal Injury Lawyer Blog