For some drivers, operating a motor vehicle is an absolute joy. Maybe you are one of them, one who finds driving relaxing or cathartic or enjoys it for the peace and quiet you may have only when you are alone in your car.
For others, driving is a chore, a stressful task, or an opportunity to take out their frustrations at life on both the road and other drivers. For people who are the latter of these two types, there will be a whole lot more restrictions put on them.
On January 24, 2012, the New York Senate approved a bill (§3452) that increased the penalties for reckless driving, making violations such as driving in the wrong direction and aggravated reckless driving, also known as “road rage,” a felony. It awaits final approval from the Assembly and could have a major impact on roadway safety among drivers.
After all, driving is a privilege, but there will always be some that take advantage of it, which is when and why accidents occur. Even though successful drivers should be confident in their abilities to get from point A to point B safely, getting behind the wheel of a car should be at least a little daunting to all drivers because of the potential dangers that lie ahead. With more than 90% of car accidents a result of human error, predominately reckless driving, highways and roads are more dangerous than ever.
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Top Causes of Fatal Car Accidents
Everyone does certain things while they are driving that they may not even realize pose a risk to other people sharing the road. Many people apply a full face of makeup on their way to work, eat messy foods that spill and create distraction, talk or text on a cell phone, or even “bend” the rules of the road by blowing through a yellow light at a busy intersection, rolling through a stop sign, or not waiting their turn at the entrance of a traffic circle.
Though it may not seem so risky to touch up your lipstick in the mirror or tailgate that slowpoke in front of you going under the speed limit, there is always a chance that the other drivers on the road are also not paying attention. So what happens then?
According to some aggressive driving facts and statistics reported by Insurance Information Institute, Inc., 56% of fatal crashes from 2003 through 2007 were due to aggressive driving. Among the top causes were:
- Tailgating/following too closely behind a driver
- Changing lanes erratically or passing someone illegally
- Failing to yield to traffic that had the right of way
- Racing with another vehicle on the road
- Driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs
- Ignoring traffic/speed signs or traffic lights
- Erratically operating the vehicle so as to disturb or aggress against another driver on the road
When people read these reasons, the first reaction is generally “well, of course, those actions would cause an accident!” However, it is frightening how many drivers actually do these things without realizing it. So, the next time you are in a rush to work and are wanting to beat traffic by changing lanes every few miles or you are considering getting into your car after a happy hour at your local bar, think twice and consider if the risks are worth the rewards.
What Will This New Bill Do to Reckless Driving Offenders?
The legislation behind this bill proposes a new driving offense called aggravated reckless driving. As worded in the bill, violations that comprise aggravated reckless driving include:
- Drivers who drive the wrong way, against the flow of traffic, either knowingly or because they are intoxicated
- Drivers who drive more than 30 miles an hour over the speed limit while intoxicated or impaired
- Drivers who drive more than 30 miles an hour over the speed limit while racing, pursuing other vehicles, or excessively weaving in and out of traffic
The bill makes aggravated reckless driving a class E felony, punishable by a prison sentence of up to four years. The bill also reclassifies reckless driving as a more serious offense, changing it from an unclassified misdemeanor (maximum 30 days in jail) to a Class A misdemeanor (maximum prison sentence of one year). The hope of this bill is that citizens will take driving much more seriously and consider their actions before hopping in behind the wheel of a car.
For more details about §3452 see the New York State Senate website.
Relevance for Car Accident Claims
If you have been in an accident because of someone else’s reckless driving, you are probably frustrated, stressed, and possibly in pain depending on the extent of the injuries you may have sustained in the crash. It is not your fault that you are forced to deal with medical bills and auto insurance bills, so why not seek out justice for your injuries and inconvenience?
The aggravated reckless driving category may offer an advantage for accident victims seeking compensation. The legal change made by the 2011 bill acknowledges how serious reckless driving is and that it indicates a greater degree of negligence. In extreme cases, aggravated reckless driving may lead to case rulings that allow plaintiffs to obtain punitive damages.
At Rosenberg & Gluck, LLC, our car accident attorneys have seen it all – from hit and runs and rear-endings to major accidents caused by a reckless or intoxicated driver, we know how to build the strongest cases for victims who simply want their lives back. If you are in need of someone to help you receive the compensation you deserve, call our team of experienced professionals today. We will go over your case with you and stand by you every step of the way.