Monthly Archives: May 2012

“Safety Sweeps” in 13 States to Keep Buses Safe

Federal inspectors are running roadside bus inspections to ensure passengers are kept safe this summer as travel picks up. The inspections come as a result of several recent bus accidents and glaring violations and questionable practices among these bus companies.

According to USA Today, the sweeps began earlier this month when the National Transportation Safety Board released their findings in an investigation into the deadly casino tour bus crash last year.

The inspections are designed to keep both unsafe buses and unsafe drivers off the roads. They are focusing on 13 states including New York and New Jersey as well as Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

These buses have become more and more popular in recent years as travelers look for more inexpensive modes of transportation.

The inspections focus on mechanical problems on the actual buses and on the drivers, checking to make sure their paperwork is up to date, they are working the right number of hours to remain safe, and that they are “medically fit.” Continue reading


Who Is To Blame for NYC Accidents?

Who can we blame for the majority of accidents in the city? That question was asked of New Yorkers in a recent poll from NY1 and Marist. What they found is that opinions vary and many cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians are quick to point the finger at someone else.

The vast majority, when presented with the question, “Who causes New York City Accidents—bicyclists, pedestrians, or motorists?” said that drivers were the ones to blame. Sixty-eight percent, in fact, said that those driving cars are at fault for most accidents. Seventy percent of men attributed accidents to motorists, while the number was slightly lower (65%) for women.

Coming in a distant second was the people who thought bicyclists contributed to most accidents, with 19%/ Finally 13% of respondents attributed accidents to pedestrians.

But what does this mean? Well, for one, that NYC is crowded and everyone plays a role in avoiding accidents and two, not everyone agrees on who is to blame.

Some of those surveyed admit to their own shortcomings, things that they might do that could increase the likelihood of an accident. One pedestrian, interviewed by NY1, said that he is often oblivious to the traffic around him because he, like many others these days, is usually wearing earphones and can’t hear what’s going on around him. Continue reading


In Brooklyn-Queens Expressway Fatal Bus Accident, Driver & Company Had Prior Safety Problems

Investigative documents were released last week in the case of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway bus accident last year that killed 15 people and injured several others. According to the documents, as reported by Bloomberg Businessweek, this wasn’t the first problem for the bus company or the driver.

The accident occurred on March 12, 2011 as a bus full of passengers was returning from the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut. The bus flipped on the Expressway, hitting a post which sheared off the roof of the bus.

According to initial investigations, the driver said that a tractor-trailer veered into his lane and ran the bus off the road. But investigators said they couldn’t find any evidence of this claim.

The National Transportation Safety Board found in their investigation that the driver had his license suspended 18 times in past years and had been fired from two previous transportation jobs. At the time of the accident, he was shuttling passengers to and from casinos multiple times daily, catching sleep when he could. On the morning of the tragic accident, he reportedly slept on the bus from midnight to about 3:20 a.m.

The company behind the bus was given an “unsatisfactory” rating by the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration after the accident and has since shut down. Continue reading


Two Fatal Hit & Run Accidents in Queens, NY Raise Legal Questions

A Queens man was hit early Mother’s Day morning while crossing Liberty Avenue at 108th Street, according to Police are still searching for the vehicle responsible for his death as his family grapples with the sudden loss.

Forty-seven year old Rohan Singh was struck by a dark-colored sedan as he crossed the street. The vehicle sent him into a metal girder, according to reports. His brother, who had to identify the body, pleaded for people to come forward if they saw anything.

Ironically, another man is facing charges for killing a pedestrian on Greenpoint Avenue in Sunnyside. The suspect was driving drunk when he jumped the curb and hit 24-year old Gabriel Hernandez. He allegedly tried to walk away from the scene before witnesses stopped and detained him.

Hit and run cases pose unique challenges to accident victims, and their families when they are killed. Continue reading


NYC Trees Are Accidents Waiting to Happen

The trees in Central Park and around the city are beautiful—they add a bit of nature to an otherwise cold, concrete world. But the trees are responsible for numerous accidents and even a few deaths over the past several years. The N.Y. Times reports the city is unable to keep up on tree maintenance, making them far more susceptible to breakage and tragedy.

In the past ten years, the city has paid millions in damages to residents who were injured or killed by falling branches. The risks are increased now, as the city struggles to afford the recommended maintenance and inspections necessary for trees of their age.

Currently, park employees are required to inspect trees every two weeks, looking for risk factors that may indicate a sick or dying tree. But, as the Times reports, employees aren’t always trained on how to identify these risk factors, and may miss signs that a branch is about to fall. Continue reading


Electronic Gate Crushes Brooklyn Boy – Landlord Liability Suit?

A 12-year old boy was killed this week in Brownsville when he and others were playing on the electronic, roll-up gate that secures the apartment complex they live in. Some are questioning why the gate continued to rise despite him hanging on, saying it should have detected the extra weight.

According to NBC New York, the kids frequently played on the gate, despite some residents telling them to stop. But with nothing else to play on, according to those who live there, the kids continued to ride the gate up and down as it operated.

The 12-year old Brooklyn boy was doing just that when he became trapped. He was riding the gate and became scared to jump down as it got higher, according to one child-witness. As it reached the top, he became pinned in the frame. Continue reading


Bronx River Parkway Crash Raises Road Safety Concerns

The van carrying seven family members that died in last week’s Bronx Zoo crash was traveling with traffic. It may have been going 68 mph in a 50 mph zone, but that’s how fast traffic moves in that area. The accident has raised safety concerns among officials and New York motorists alike, bringing attention to the “aging highway system,” according to the Washington Post.

“The Bronx River Parkway is a glaring example of the deficiencies we see on area roadways,” said Robert Sinclair, a spokesman for the American Automobile Association. “These roads were never envisioned as being the commuter arterial roadways that they are now. The roads are twisty. They are hilly. The lanes are narrow. There are no breakdown lanes. The on-ramps are too short.”

Despite these facts, the roads of New York City are said to be far less deadly than other systems throughout the country. The Department of Transportation says that 243 people died in NYC accidents in 2011, the least amount in over 100 years. North Carolina, a state with about the same number of people as NYC, averages around 1,300 fatalities per year.

Experts say that rural roads or those without much traffic are the deadliest. Continue reading


Equipment Owner Acquitted in Fatal 2008 Crane Accident

James Lomma was acquitted last week by State Supreme Court Justice Daniel P. Conviser on charges including manslaughter for his alleged role in a deadly crane accident. Lomma is the owner of the crane that collapsed in 2008, killing two construction workers. Prosecutors alleged that he knowingly took a shortcut in getting the crane repaired, putting everyone at a substantial risk.

Though the judge did not expand on his reasons for the acquittal, Lomma’s defense attorneys argued that repair work done on the crane was not to blame for the accident.

The accident happened as the crane began work on the 14th floor of what was going to be a 32-story building. As the crane lifted a load, “the top portions came off,” hitting a building across the street before falling.

Crane operator Donald C. Leo was killed when the crane nearly decapitated him. Twenty-seven year old Ramadan Kurtaj was also killed. Continue reading


2010 Staten Island Ferry Accident Blamed on “Malfunction”

The National Transportation Safety Board released the findings of their investigation into the crash of a ferry in Staten Island two years ago. The crash didn’t prove fatal, but injured 50 people, three of them seriously.

According to CNN, the NTSB found the accident was caused by the malfunctioning solenoid, a part in the propulsion unit. This malfunction made one of the propellers unresponsive to the commands of the ferry’s pilot.

Unfortunately, the malfunction wasn’t recognized until seconds before the crash, when it was too late to take evasive action, making the crash “unavoidable.”

“The pilothouse crewmembers were unaware of the loss of propulsion control until seconds before the accident,” said the report from the NTSB, removing any blame for the accident from the crew.

This wasn’t the first ferry accident for the boat known as the Andrew Barberi. In 2003 it was involved in another crash. This time it hit a pier in Manhattan, killing 11 people and injuring 70. Continue reading