Recognized as New York’s premier center for traffic safety research and evaluation, ITSMR conducts activities and studies and provides in-depth reports related to major state initiatives in highway safety and other matters of importance to highway safety organizations.
Seat belt use is one of the most effective ways to save lives and reduce injuries in motor vehicle crashes, protecting drivers and all passengers. New York’s seat belt law was first implemented on December 1, 1984. Amendments to the original law expanded the requirements of restraint use. As of November 1, 2020, New York State requires all occupants to buckle up in any seating position in the vehicle. A data-driven approach has been used to improve New York’s occupant protection program.
Impaired Driving involves the use of alcohol, drugs (legal or illegal) or a combination of alcohol and drugs. This behavior puts people at risk and is a violation of the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL 1192). ITSMR has completed a variety of studies on impaired driving issues including ADWI, Drugs and Driving and Leandra’s Law.
Motorcyclists are especially vulnerable to serious or fatal injury when a crash occurs. Study findings should be useful to the state’s alcohol and highway safety community in the development of countermeasures that address the issues.
Improving the safety of pedestrians, who are among the most vulnerable roadway users, is a priority for New York State. As with other program safety areas, the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee has provided funding for ITSMR to conduct studies on pedestrian safety.
Whether it is due to inexperience or a tendency toward greater risk-taking behavior, young drivers comprise an especially vulnerable group of drivers. Devastating fatal crashes involving young drivers continue to heighten awareness of the need to focus attention on teen driving issues.
Surveys enable researchers to capture a variety of data that might not be otherwise be available from traditional data sources. ITSMR has developed and conducted a wide variety of survey efforts, including New York State’s seat belt observational survey and driver behavior surveys.
CELL PHONES & DISTRACTED DRIVING
Recognizing the safety concerns associated with the use of a cell phone while driving, New York became the first state in the nation to prohibit the use of hand-held cell phones while driving, effective November 1, 2001, and enacted further legislation that prohibited text messaging for all drivers, effective November 1, 2009. Studies examine the effects of cell phone use and other driver distractions on highway safety.
Over the past decade, New York has made tremendous strides in reducing fatalities on its roadways. In 2018, there were 936 motor vehicle fatalities in New York State, compared to 1,148 in 2009. This is in contrast to fatalities nationwide, with 36,750 fatalities occurring in 2018, up from 33,883 in 2009.