A bill in the New York State senate would establish a statewide pedestrian and bicycle vehicle safety rating system, the first of its kind in the nation. According to a Bloomberg News report, Senate Bill S4307 will require the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to create a database of the safety ratings of every vehicle model sold in the state using a one- to five-star scale similar to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) 5-Star Safety Ratings program.
What the Law Seeks
However, unlike the federal regulatory agency’s program, New York would rank vehicles based on the rate and severity of collisions and injuries reported involving bicyclists and pedestrians for each model compared to the total number of registrations in the state. Special vehicle safety features such as automatic collision warnings and braking systems would also be included in the ratings. Auto dealerships would be required to display the ratings on vehicles for sale.
Legislators say the goal of this bill is to make consumers more aware of the dangers that trucks and SUVs pose to bicyclists and pedestrians due to their size, height and related visibility issues. SUVs and trucks have been identified as major factors in the increasing number of fatality rates among bicyclists and pedestrians. In 2019, 25 out of 29 New York City bicyclists who were fatally injured were struck by drivers of large trucks, SUVs, vans or buses, the bill states.
Sponsors of the bill hope this new law will educate New York residents about the potential consequences of the vehicles they buy. SUVs and pickup trucks are still wildly popular in the United States. Ford’s F-150 model pickup truck has been the most popular vehicle sold in the country since 1981. The sales of SUVs surpassed 50% market share last year. SUVs and trucks attract buyers even in densely-packed places such as New York City. In fact, SUVs have grown nearly 10% as a share of all personal vehicles in the city since 2016, according to DMV data.
Higher Risk for Pedestrians
As automakers expand the size and shape of some of these vehicles, the risks to pedestrians and bicyclists continue to surge. A 2010 research review found that pedestrians are at a 50% greater risk of getting killed when hit by SUVs, trucks or minivans than in collisions with smaller passenger vehicles. A 2020 study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) yielded similar results.
In 2020, pedestrian fatalities jumped nearly 5% over 2019 in the largest annual increase since NHTSA started keeping track of these crashes. Posts on social media showing children standing next to GMC Sierra and Ram 2500 vehicles highlight why such vehicles with towering hood heights are likely to run over pedestrians and push them over the hood on impact. These vehicles can also have significant blind zones that obscure the road ahead contributing to the risk of deadly “frontover” crashes.
It remains to be seen how the proposed New York’s pedestrian safety ratings will influence people’s decisions regarding vehicle purchases. Would posting warning labels on dangerous models of vehicles cause some consumers to think twice before they select certain models? Safety advocates say this is a good way to draw attention to the risks that vehicles pose to vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and bicyclists. Some hope this bill will trigger a national conversation about such hazards.
Protecting Your Rights
If you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle accident or pedestrian accident, or if you have lost a loved one in an auto accident caused by a negligent (careless) driver, the experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options, and also fight hard to recover just compensation for you.
Pedestrian accident victims and their families should remember that they may be able to seek compensation for injuries or losses in collisions even if the victim was not walking in a marked crosswalk and even if the driver has not been charged. Our law firm recovered the full one million dollar insurance policy for a girl who was not in the crosswalk when a motor vehicle hit her.
For nearly 50 years, our skilled accident attorneys have established a proven track record of helping injured victims get fair compensation for their losses. Our law firm recently recovered $5,600,000 for a bicyclist who was hit by a van, and $2,550,000 for another victim of a truck accident, and $3,000,000 for a pedestrian who was hit by a car, and the full $1,000,000 insurance policy for a pedestrian who was hit by a truck, and $4,625,000 for a driver who was in a car and was hit by a van, and $2,500,000 for a man who fell through an improperly secured hole. Also, one of our clients obtained a verdict for $43,940,000 and another of our clients got a verdict for $23,500,000, both in medical malpractice cases.
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