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Causes of Car Accidents in New York City

By Dansker & Aspromonte

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According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, most car accidents, including those in New York City, can be traced back to the motor vehicle operators themselves in the form of driver negligence or operator error.

According to the New York City Police Department as of March 19, 2019, there have already been over 17,500 accidents in the city. These include motor vehicle drivers, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

The most common causes of car accidents in New York City, according to the New York City Police Department are:

Distracted Driving: Driving while distracted is negligence and can lead to serious injuries and death.  New York driving laws regarding distracted driving generally address handheld devices such as cell phones, tablets, or music devices.  In the State of New York, distracted driving regulations state:

  • A driver cannot talk, text, look at images or messages, play games, or read on any electronic device while driving.
  • A driver cannot hold or interact with any portable device while driving.

Many other states allow drivers to use cell phones for voice communication, but New York restricts all devices held in your hand. These regulations apply to every driver in New York, except if they are stopped in traffic.

Additionally, New York regulations do permit the use of certain devices, and may grant you permission to use a handheld device in the following situations:

  • Hands-free devices may be used if the driver can use them without using either hand.
  • If your handheld device is attached to your motor vehicle by a mounting platform, cable, or connection, such as a GPS, you may use that device.
  • If for some reason you need to contact emergency services, any device will be allowed.

Texting in New York is a primary offense. This means that the police can pull you over if they suspect you of texting even if you haven’t committed any other traffic violation. The New York texting and driving laws were enacted in 2009 and make it illegal to text while your motor vehicle is moving.

Tailgating in New York City

A driver must maintain a safe distance when traveling behind another vehicle.  Generally, the rule is one car length for every 10 miles per hour.  So if you are traveling 50 miles per hour, you must be five car lengths behind the vehicle ahead of you. If you follow the vehicle in front of you too closely and that car or truck stops suddenly, and you do not have enough room to stop, you were tailgating.

Tailgating is considered a form of aggressive driving in New York.

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Driving under the Influence of Drugs And/Or Alcohol

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including prescription drugs causes many accidents in New York City every year. You would think that by living in a city with a variety of public transportation that driving under the influence wouldn’t be much of a problem.  The truth is that in one month in New York City recently there were 187 fatal and injury car accidents due to driving under the influence of drugs, including prescription drugs, and alcohol.


One of the leading causes of car accidents in New York City is speeding or driving at a speed unsafe in conditions such as fog, ice, and heavy traffic. When you are driving too fast, you won’t have the proper reaction time to stop or take any evasive action to avoid being in a car accident. If you’re involved in a car accident while speeding, the likelihood of significant and serious injuries to you, your loved one, and others increases dramatically.

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Disregarding Stoplights and Stop Signs

In today’s fast- moving society, there are many drivers who speed up at stoplights and have a total disregard for stop signs.  Not only are these drivers a hazard on New York City streets, their behavior can cause devastating injuries should they be involved in a car accident.

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Driving While Fatigued

The New York City Police Department reports that many preventable car accidents are caused by drivers who are tired, drowsy, and/or fell asleep at the wheel.  Driving while fatigued slows down your reflexes and reaction times.  Additionally, if you are driving fatigued, you may experience the lack of capacity to make the right decisions that are required to drive safely.

Other Causes of Car Accidents in New York City

In some cases, a New York City car accident may occur due to a failure of a motor vehicle. It could be defective tires, brakes, airbags, or other automobile parts.

In other instances, the road may be partially responsible for your New York City car accident due to it being improperly maintained, having bad road design, improper or defective traffic control devices, potholes, and other conditions such as icy roads.

In these instances, a “third party” other than the drivers could be found to be liable for your or your loved one’s injuries. That could be an automobile company, government, or contractor that is responsible for your New York City car accident.

In addition to all of these causes, hundreds if not thousands of car accidents may be caused by dangerous or inexperienced driving such as:

  • Improper turning
  • Failure to yield the right of way to a driver
  • Backing up improperly
  • Lane changes and improper passing
  • Cutting off another driver

Whatever the cause of your New York City car accident, after you seek immediate medical care, you should contact a New York City car accident attorney to help you receive all the compensation you deserve.

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