On July 31, 2015, September 28, 2015 and July 29, 2016, we blogged on cyclists and cars, bicycle lanes and bicycle safety.  Our blog on September 28, 2015 discussed bicycle laws and how Rockland County is increasing bike lanes as well as The City of White Plains.  All agree that bike laws make it safer for cyclists and cars.  Designating a lane for bicycles separate cyclists from cars and result in less accidents.

In an article in The Journal News on October 17, 2016, by Dan Reiner entitled “New Rochelle delay bike share launch”, New Rochelle City officials anticipated a fall launch for New Rochelle.  Bike Share, a program that would allow residents and visitors to rent bicycles from locations around the City just like New York City’s Citi Bike System.  Major Noam Bramson says delays and dropping temperatures have pushed back the project to Spring, 2017.

Chris Hall from Marketing and Social Media Coordinator at the development company that heads the project said the setback in building the bike lanes is largely due to the lack of funding.  The company is seeking local businesses to sponsor the privately financed project.  At present, funding is about half way to the needed total to build the bike lanes.

Following up on our October 13, 2016 blog on electrical car sales.  In an article in the Journal News, section Putnam-Northern Westchester Express on October 6, 2016 by Matt Coyne states that in the last 4 years, 18,000 electric cars have been registered in New York State.  The New York Power Authority is in charge of charging stations.  CEO of that authority, Gil Quiniones celebrated that 100 charging stations opened in New York since 2014.

There are three charging stations in Tarrytown and others across White Plains, Cortlandt, Southeast and Chappaqua.  One is opening in Clarkstown, bring the total number of charging stations in New York to 1600. Two years ago, the number of electric vehicles in New York State was 10,000 up from 2800 in 2012.  The charging stations in Westchester & Putnam Counties have seen a hugh year increase in use.  In Tarrytown, total energy used in kilowatt hours has increased by 159%.  At the Cortlandt Metro-North station, energy dispensed jumped 303% and at the Southeast train station 169%.

Charge New York has opened 1100 charging stations across New York State with 1600 additional stations coming from private businesses.  The New York Power Authority are in talks to enter into a contract to install 300 more charging stations in New York.  The CEO of the Power Authority Quiniones, believes more charging stations will push more people to buy electric cars.  As the article states “clean transportation on rise”.

Sales of electric cars are growing and in two years, two updated vehicles will be put on the market.  Advanced technology, new game changing models and federal incentives are creating a surge in the sales of electric vehicles.

According to an article in The Westchester County Business Journal by Chris Bosak on September 26, 2016, the national drive electric week was recently held.  Two new or advanced electric vehicles will be coming out within a year.  The Bolt by Chevrolet has been made more efficient.  It is priced at $30,000 and goes a whopping 238 miles on a single charge.  The Bolt is less expensive and has a higher range than the new Tesla.   According to Ingersoll of Danbury, Connecticut, the Bolt, Chevy’s first all-electric vehicle attempts to address two main concerns consumers have, price and driving range.  Presently, EV’s are priced higher than gasoline vehicles and most current EV’s travel only 80 – 120 miles on a charge. Nissan produces the all-electric Leaf, which is one of the most popular EV models.

In 2014, Connecticut joined seven other states and revealed plans to put a combined 3.3 million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2025.  The other states are California, New York, Maryland, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island and Oregon.  In 2011, President Barach Obama declared a goal of putting 1 million EV’s on the road by 2015.  Unfortunately, that goal has not been met.  Only one-third of that goal has been reached.  According to The Electric Drive Transportation Association, as of last month, just under 500,000 plug-in vehicles has been sold in the U.S. including plug-in hybrids.  In Connecticut, there are 2700 plug in vehicles on the road as of June, 2016.

Everyone is talking about and expecting self-driving cars to be on the road by 2019.  One of the side effects of self-driving cars should be less accidents.  According to a study done by the accounting firm of KPMG, the coming technology of autonomous cars could bring an 80% reduction in accident frequency by 2040.

The accounting firms states this reduction in auto accidents will result in a potentially drastic reduction in loss costs and premiums.  However, accident expense could go from $14,000 per accident to $35,000 as the self-driving cars have more expensive technology that can be damaged in accidents.  They claim the normal insurance company business model will be flipped upside down.  Autonomous cars under Google logo crossed the million-mile logged mark.  In January, 2016, Apple registered the domain name Apple.Car.com.  Apple expects to turn out cars by 2019.  Apple has hired more engineers from 600 to 1800 for jobs related to the autonomous auto.

94% of industry survey respondents say actual policy coverage will change 52% saying property coverage will change and 71% expecting coverage to change reflecting costlier vehicle part replacement.  KPMG among the same data found competition for insurance policies will “rev up”.  Niche insurance companies will handle 42% of the market.  New providers falling to 39% of the market and consolidation in store for 29% of the providers.

The number of texting tickets in New York continue to increase in 2015.  According to an article in The Journal News on April 11, 2016 by Joseph Spector, state and local police issued 84,720 tickets for texting while driving in 2015, an 11% increase from 2014.  Distracted driving tickets and talking on a cellphone while driving were down 10% in 2015.  The number of cellphone tickets fell 20% to 132,000 in 2015.

Since taking office in 2011, Governor Cuomo and New York legislators have increased fines for texting and penalties and made cell and texting use a primary offense.  The state last year increased the penalty for texting and cellphone use from 3 points on your license to 5 points and increased the fines to $200 on the first offense.  Drivers under 21 with junior licenses can get their license suspended for a first offense.  These changes and increased law enforcement has led to a surge in tickets.  The article points out that in 2013, the State issued 56,000 texting tickets, a 52% increase.  In Westchester, the tickets issued for texting increased by 14%.  In Putnam County, the tickets issued increased from 319 to 368.

We previously blogged on two prior occasions on April 21, 2015 and December 24, 2014 about texting and cellphone use.  In an article published in The Journal News on September 4, 2016 by Denise Lavoie discusses phone use in the U.S.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates nearly 3500 people were killed in crashes involving distracted drivers, up from 3200 in 2014.  The number of deaths from cellphone distraction rose from 406 in 2014 to 476 in 2015.  The article points out that accidents, as a result of cellphone use, are vastly under reported.

Much has been made of professional football players and head injuries.  The NFL paid millions to retired players who sustained concussions and brain injuries.  Many articles deal with college football players’ head injuries.  However, in The Journal News on May 3, 2016 by Lindsey Tanner, deals with youngsters who suffer head injuries.  Younger football players return to the field less than a day after suffering a concussion.  10% of young players who had a concussion resumed football within a day. A sports injury researcher Zachary Kerr states more sideline medical supervision and better recognition of concussion syndromes are needed.  Mr. Kerr directs an injury surveillance programs at Datalys Center for Sports Injury Research and Prevention, an independent group.  He states younger kids struggle to describe their symptoms and concussion may not show up right away.  The study also found differences in concussion symptoms depending on the players’ age.

The study involved injuries reported by athletic trainers during practices and games from 2012 through 2014.  The data included more than 200 programs at youth high school and college levels.  Youth teams involved players aged 5 – 14 in Pop Warner and USA football programs.  A total of 1429 concussions were reported during the three seasons.   The rate of 2 per 1000 games among youth players and 2 per 1000 among high school players.

An average of about six symptoms occurred with concussions in college and high school players.  Youth players had slightly fewer symptoms and were less likely to lose consciousness although, blackout were rare.  Dizziness, headaches and loss of balance were among the most common symptoms amount youths.  Time away from the sport varied by age.  High school players were sidelined for at least one month, about 20% versus 16% of youth players and 70% of college players.  The point of the article is that concussions among youths are not recognized.  The youths are not sidelined for enough time.

Since January, 2016, The Journal News has published a number of articles dealing with abandoned properties where the legal owner has left property because the property is underwater meaning, the property is valued below the mortgage that is in effect.  The owner leaves the bank that holds the mortgage, starts foreclosure proceedings and the property lays abandoned falling into disrepair and a magnet for children to play in the property or even squatters move into the property.

In an article on Monday, January 18, 2016 in The Journal News by Nick Muscavage and Jon Campbell entitled “Zombie Homes Hurt Values”, bank foreclosed properties have racked up 178 violations and caused surrounding properties to lose an estimated $9.2 million in values.  The report from the State Senate Independent Democratic Conference and Mayor Richard Thomas of Mount Vernon examined 82 bank owned properties finding 64 properties having at least one violation or complaint filed against them by their municipality.

In an article on Wednesday, January 20, 2016 by Akiko Matsuda in The Journal News “Zombie Homes Send Chills Through Lo Hud Communities”.  The article refers to the above article and State Senator Jeff Klein and Mount Vernon Mayor Rich Thomas stated properties across Westchester assessed a nearly $20 million was lost in neighborhood home values.  “It becomes not only an eyesore in the neighborhood, an abandoned house is a magnet to vandalism”, according to Haverstraw Town Supervisor Howard Phillips.

We previously blogged about bicycle lanes on September 28, 2015 and the errors both drivers of cars and cyclists make.  A recent article in The Sunday Journal News on July 24, 2016, was published and written by David McKay Wilson revisits bicycle accident and fatalities.  It was announced that officials in Rockland County were moving forward with construction of a quarter mile bypass along Route 303 to keep cyclists off the narrow four lane road.  This is at a spot that Robert Carl Pinchert died when a truck hit his bicycle.  The author of the article visited sites of cycling deaths throughout the lower Hudson Valley.  He wanted to see whether road conditions had improved by the death sites.  He also wanted to see about bike safety as cycling remains a popular recreation pursuit.

Rockland County is a known area that is a growing mecca for many New York City cyclists.  Commuters are also using bikes to get to work or to get to the train station.  Many Latinos use bikes to get to work in Rockland County or a sole means of transportation.  According to the League of American Bicyclists, the number of bicycle commuters in the US grew 62% from 2000 – 2013.

The author got involved in bike advocacy for a dozen years while on the Westchester Cycle Club.  He also led the Bike Walk Alliance of Westchester & Putnam Counties from 2008 – 2012.  His group installed ghost bike memorials at Route 119 & Aqueduct Road in memory of Merrill Cassell, 66 of Greenburgh.  She was sideswiped by a Westchester County Bee Line bus.  These bike memorials are painted white and serve as a reminder about the dangers of bike riding and signify places that cyclists died.

Medical errors are the third leading cause of deaths in the United States after heart disease and cancer.  According to an article by Steve Sternberg entitled “medical errors are third leading cause of death in the U.S.” published on May 3, 2016 at www.aol.com article.  2016 medical errors caused at least 250,000 deaths every year.  Dr. Martin Makary, a professor of surgery and health policy at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine stated “its medical care gone awry”.  The magnitude of the death toll, 10% of the U.S. deaths annually is striking in an era dominated by efforts to reform the health care system.  Patients’ safety efforts has failed to gain traction because there is no systematic effort to study medical errors.  Dr. Makary states “medical errors leading to a patient’s death is an unrecognized epidemic”.

Two decades after “to err is human”, a report published by The Institute of Medicine, a quasi-public think tank made up of leading scientists, estimated that 44,000 to 98,000 people die in U.S. hospitals each year.  A new estimate is drawn from more recent studies that shows the number may be much higher.  A report published in The Journal Health Affairs in 2001 that just over 1% of hospital patients die each year because of medical errors.  35 million people are hospitalized each year would translate into 400,201 deaths per year, more than four times the original.  The IOM estimate of 44,000 to 98,000 people die in US hospitals.

The John Hopkins team used evidence from their studies that analyzed medical death data from 2000 to 2008 using this data they were able to calculate a mean death rate for medical errors in US hospital which calculated that 251,454 deaths resulted from medical errors.  Dr. Makary and Dr. Daniel of John Hopkins called for reform that would improve the reporting of medical errors.  These two doctors in a letter of May 1, 2016 have asked The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention to rank medical errors on the list of leading causes of death in the U.S.  They also asked The CDC to alter death certificates so doctors and medical examinations and coroners can routinely report medical errors that contribute to a patient’s death.  The letter to the CDC also stated “it is time for the country to invest in medical quality and patient safety”.  The CDC acknowledged that errors are under reported and that there are ways to capture the data using death certificates to report medical errors.  Dr. Makary concludes that medical error research is “underfunded and under reported” and this prompted him to embark on an analysis that would elevate fatal mistakes to their proper place near the top of the list of all causes of death.

In 2015, there were 51 million automobiles recalled by their manufacturers.  In an article in USA Today in January, 2016 by Nathan Bomey, he points out that a recall of 51 million plus vehicles in 900 separate recalls in 2015.  These statistics was published by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, NHTSA.  These recalls edged the previous record of recalls in 2014.  The NHTSA announced a yearlong digital advertising campaign dubbed “safe care save lives” to encourage consumers to get their recalled cars fixed quickly.  The new record, according to the article, followed a series of industry scandals including the General Motors ignition switch defect, The Volkswagen emissions cheating and Takata’s exploding air bags.  The NHTSA has made major efforts in the last year to improve the process for identifying vehicle defects according to Rosekind from NHTSA.  He also expressed concerns for potential and significant increase in roadway deaths in 2015.  The number of deadly accidents rose in 2015 after hitting an all-time low of 32,675 death in 2014.

One of the most recalled vehicles was as a result of Volkswagen emissions scandal according to an article published in USA Today by Nathan Bomey on September 23, 2015.  This initial article  about the emissions scandal claimed it affected 11 million vehicles worldwide and early estimates indicated the recall would cost $7 billion.  The emissions scandal qualifies as one of the most expensive automobile scandal.  This scandal undermined Volkswagen’s diesel engineering although, Volkswagen’s transgression did not kill anyone, it has created distrust   among consumers.  Investors crushed Volkswagen’s stock driving shares down 20% and lead to the CEO of Volkswagen, Michael Horn’s resignation.  Volkswagen brand sales fell 10% from September, 2015 through February, 2016.

In an article in USA Today Money on April 23, 2016 by Nathan Bomey, claimed the estimated cost of VW’s emission scandal had escalated to more than $18 billion more than double the amount Volkswagen estimated in September, 2015.  Volkswagen had recorded a one-time charge of $18.2 billion in 2015 to cover the cost of the diesel scandal including “pending technical modifications and customer related issues”.  Volkswagen swung from a 10.8 billion euro profit in 2014 (about $12.4 billion) to a 1.8 billion loss in 2015.