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White Plains New York Legal Blog

Brake Safety Week to take place September 15 to 21

Brake Safety Week is an inspection spree that the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance holds every year across North America to enforce brake safety regulations among CMVs, especially big rigs. CMV drivers in New York will want to mark September 15 on their calendar because this will be the start of the 2019 Brake Safety Week. Inspections are held at random, and those who are caught violating regulations will be put out of service until the issue is fixed.

The 2019 inspection spree will focus especially on brake hoses and tubing: components that are essential to a functioning brake system. If these have leaks or are damaged, improperly attached or inflexible, then they will compromise the performance of the brakes. Everyone knows that bad brakes will increase a vehicle's braking distance. This makes rear-end collisions more likely.

Keeping away from distractions while on the road

Distracted driving is behind thousands of fatalities every year around the country, so it is important that New York motorists know what to do to avoid it. It begins with knowing what constitutes a distraction, which can include everything from the use of phones and navigation systems to basic activities like eating, drinking and talking. Parents should also ensure that their teen drivers know this.

Drivers should keep clear of all phone use even when the phone is a hands-free device. If they absolutely must call or send a text message, they should pull over to do so. Next, they should try and limit the number of passengers they carry. This will keep conversations from becoming distracting. Drivers can also have passengers assist them with things like using the radio and navigation system.

External airbag technology could reduce injury risk

External airbags might soon be more common on New York roads. A company that designs and manufactures the airbags, ZF, has released research indicating that external airbags can reduce the severity of crash injuries by as much as 40%. The airbags are designed to inflate on the outside of the vehicle immediately before a collision and act as an extra buffer or crumple zone, reducing the force of the impact.

The largest challenge for the external airbag industry is making deployment happen as intended. The vehicle safety systems must first detect that a crash is about to occur, then deploy the external airbags immediately before. Some vehicles already use sensors and technology to make adjustments before a crash, but these adjustments are generally limited to factors like suspension corrections and seat belt tightening. A large airbag exploding on the side of a vehicle is more drastic.

Victims of discrimination may receive a financial award

Employees in New York and throughout the country have legal protection against discrimination and harassment in the workplace. In many cases, individuals who are harassed or discriminated against could be entitled to compensation from their employers.

Compensation may include reimbursement for attorney fees, the cost of hiring an expert witness or costs associated with finding a new job. It may also be possible to be compensated for emotional distress caused by improper treatment at work.

One-third of misdiagnoses lead to death or disabilities

Medical malpractice has led to permanent disability and even death for many patients in New York. According to researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, one-third of all malpractice cases ending in death or a disability involve either a misdiagnosis or a delayed diagnosis. Every year in this country, there are between 40,000 and 80,000 hospital patients who die because of a misdiagnosis.

Researchers arrived at the conclusion after analyzing 55,000 claims in the Comparative Benchmarking System, a national database of malpractice claims. Nearly 75% of the worst diagnostic errors were linked to three conditions: the misdiagnosis of cancer, vascular events and infection. The individual percentages were 37.8%, 22.8% and 13.5%, respectively.

Feds set to relax trucker hours-of-service rules

New York readers may be concerned to learn that the Trump administration is preparing to ease federal regulations that limit the number of hours commercial truck drivers can be on the road each day. The move has long been urged by trucking industry lobbyists, including the American Trucking Association.

Under current rules, long-haul truckers are allowed to be on duty a maximum of 14 hours per day. Of those hours, they can only spend 11 driving a truck. The rules also mandate that drivers take specific rest periods, including a half-hour break during the first eight hours of their shift and 10 straight hours off between shifts. These regulations are supposed to ensure that drivers are well-rested and do not become too fatigued to safely operate their vehicle.

Study examines asset forfeiture laws, impact on crime

People in New York who are accused of drug trafficking may have some of their property seized, but according to a study by the Institute for Justice, there is no correlation between the proceeds law enforcement receives from forfeiture and a drop in drug use or a rise in solved crimes. The study also found that when economic conditions worsened, forfeitures increased, and it suggested that economic gain and not crime reduction is behind law enforcement's use of the law.

The study's author said there were civil liberties concerns around forfeiture. Under forfeiture laws, law enforcement is permitted to seize property, including homes, cars and cash. The property may be forfeit even if the owner is never charged or convicted, with profits split between law enforcement and prosecution.

Surgeons' behavior may influence chances of patient complications

The way that surgeons behave in the operating room will influence the chances of a patient developing post-operative complications. The more often a surgeon is reported by co-workers for unprofessional behavior, the higher the risk. This is the conclusion, New York residents should know, of a study just published in JAMA Surgery.

Researchers examined the reports made about 202 surgeons and then analyzed a group of 13,653 patients for complications. Out of these patients, 1,583 had experienced complications. Compared to surgeons who were not reported in the 36 months prior to surgery, those with one to three reports were 18% more likely to leave patients with a complication. Among surgeons with four or more reports of bad behavior, the risk went up 32%.

The benefits of advanced driver assistance systems

Automakers use the term Advanced Driver Assistance Systems to refer to any vehicle safety features that actively help in preventing vehicle damage and accidents. Car owners in New York who have such features are probably the best judges of their effectiveness, but they should know that most are satisfied with the features, according to a study from J.D. Power.

More than half said that ADAS helped prevent a crash within the first 90 days of owning the vehicle. In particular, 49% claimed that the blind spot alert helped them avoid a collision. This feature is made up of sensors that warn a driver when a vehicle is in a blind spot. These sensors also warn against traffic when drivers are backing up.

Proposed New York law would ban hair-related discrimination

The New York City Commission on Human Rights released guidelines in February that made targeting individuals based on the way they wear their hair in the workplace, at school or in public areas a form of racial discrimination in situations where the hairstyle involved is associated with race. A bill introduced in Albany on May 20 by two New York City Democrats would extend this protection to all Empire State residents. The California Senate unanimously approved a similar law in April.

The bill expands the definition of race to include ethnic background and ethnic group identification traits such as hairstyles and hair textures. If the bill is passed, employers in New York could face racial discrimination complaints if they fire or demote workers or refuse to hire job candidates because of hairstyles that are traditionally associated with race. Company policies that require workers with such hairstyles to cut or restyle their hair would also be prohibited.

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