Sideswipe Collisions Should Never Take Place in the Bronx

A sideswipe collision is just what it sounds like—one vehicle moves and makes contact between its side and another vehicle’s side. These types of accidents often involve an aggressive driver attempting to avoid traffic congestion. Sound familiar? Then you might live in the Bronx.

Sometimes Bronx side-swipers are anxious commuters rushing to or from work. To force their way through or control traffic, these drivers make poorly-timed lane changes. Problems arise when they expect surrounding traffic to stop or get out of their way, and that doesn’t end up happening. Even safe drivers find it difficult to avoid sideswipe accidents in heavy Bronx traffic. Aggressive and bad drivers simply make traffic problems worse.

While some sideswipe accidents are minor, causing only aesthetic damage to the vehicles, others may cause devastating injuries. The potential for catastrophic trauma and fatal injuries rises dramatically under certain circumstances. When a sideswipe collision involves a larger vehicle, a speeding vehicle, or an impaired or distracted driver, the impact is often more serious and the damage and injuries more severe. Read on to learn more about sideswipe accident in the Bronx.

Bronx Sideswipe Statistics

If you drive in the Bronx, you’ve likely seen a sideswipe accident or two. Based on the statistics published on the NYPD Traffic Stat website, sideswipe accidents occur more frequently than any other type of accident. The site shows the following Patrol Borough numbers for accidents occurring to date in 2021.

From March 2020 to March 2021, there were nearly 300 vehicle collisions in the Bronx, nearly 120 of which were side-swipe accidents. Of these, nearly all were same-direction sideswipes. By comparison, south Manhattan had 88 vehicle collisions, 26 of which were side-swipe accidents.

Besides demonstrating that the Bronx has more accidents, these statistics show that side-swipe accidents are more likely in the Bronx, with such accidents constituting around 40 percent of all accidents in the Bronx while such accidents constitute less than 30 percent of all accidents in South Manhattan.

What Causes Bronx Sideswipe Accidents?

Research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides insight into why sideswipe accidents occur in lane-changing crashes and near-crashes.

The study highlighted the following interesting findings about sideswipe accidents

  • Sideswipes occur during the day in clear conditions; poor weather and night driving did not appear to increase the likelihood of side-swiping.
  • Drivers, on average, took 1.5 to 2 seconds from the time they signaled to execute a lane-change.
  • Driver’s who caused sideswipes or near-sideswipes inadequately monitored their surroundings.
  • Even when drivers checked their surroundings, they sometimes failed to notice when an adjacent vehicle accelerated or decelerated.

These findings suggest that, while a lane change may seem like a simple maneuver, it can often result in sideswipe accidents. A lane-change requires a driver to successfully divide his attention to achieve multiple tasks at once. A lane-changing driver must monitor the roadway ahead and pay attention to his surroundings. They must also engage signal indicators, steer the vehicle, and regulate their speed.

The NHTSA determined that this multitasking degrades performance when a driver feels the need to change lanes immediately. And it doesn’t take long for these accidents to happen; as the research found, once a lane-change has been initiated, drivers have little-to-no time to avoid a sideswipe accident. In a place like the Bronx, even with crowded streets and heavy traffic, sideswiping is always avoidable.

The Aggressive Driver

An improper lane change is usually the initiating event for sideswipe accidents. Many other factors may contribute to sideswipe accidents as well. Drivers get distracted, or become ill or drive while taking medication. Some drivers drift into another lane because they’ve had too little sleep and become drowsy while driving. In the city that never sleeps, and with plenty to be distracted by, it’s no wonder that sideswipe accidents are especially common in the Bronx.

But, in many cases, sideswipe accidents simply take place because of aggressive driving. Those who drive aggressively, zip in and out of traffic without paying attention to the spaces they are zooming into. When they make their move, the aggressive driver expects you to stop or get out of their way. The aggressive driver isn’t a composite bad guy created to add a thrill to evening newscasts.

The Psychology Today article, “Outta My Way“ links aggressive driving to narcissistic tendencies. Narcissists lack empathy and feel entitled, and believe that the rules don’t apply to them. Such tendencies create the perfect breeding ground for developing habits like aggressive driving. Prior studies attribute aggressive driving to younger people. Men also engage in aggressive driving behaviors more than women.

If you drive in the Bronx, you’re probably familiar with aggressive drivers and their dangerous behaviors. Aggressive driving may take the form of speeding, swearing, horn-honking, yelling, and many other behaviors as aggressive driver standards, all of which seem to be daily-fare in Bronx traffic.

Types of Sideswipe Accidents

Sideswipe accidents are not as simple as they might seem. In the Bronx, these accidents often occur during lane change maneuvers, but sometimes other circumstances cause sideswipe crashes. Frequently, a sideswipe impact is the result of two vehicles taking action to avoid a more dangerous crash.

A sideswipe crash is often the less damaging option when two vehicles attempt to avoid a head-on collision. One or both drivers take evasive action but not enough to avoid contact. Vehicle sideswipes may occur at intersections when one vehicle makes a turn in the other vehicle’s path. Their sides sometimes collide during an attempted evasive maneuver.

Drivers cause sideswipes when they swerve to avoid a problem in traffic or a car that suddenly stops ahead of them. Drivers sideswipe parked cars next to them while pulling in or out of a tight parking space. Some people cause sideswipe collisions when they misjudge an oncoming car’s speed and make an indecisive maneuver trying to avoid a crash. Because sideswipe accidents come in many kinds, determining fault may be challenging, as it may involve more than one fault party, and might not even be the fault of the driver of the vehicle that sideswiped.

Different Vehicles, Different Results

Some sideswipe accidents in the Bronx aren’t so destructive. When two same-sized cars crash into one another they cause damage and sometimes injuries. The destruction and injuries increase as the disparity in vehicle sizes increases.

Pickup Trucks and SUV Sideswipes

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety finds that, while smaller/lighter vehicles have become safer over the years, car occupants of smaller/lighter vehicles have a higher chance of injury as compared to larger vehicle occupants. Passengers in smaller cars are more likely to sustain severe injuries as compared to occupants in a van, SUV, pickup, or light pickup. When an SUV sideswipes a smaller car, the weight and size can more easily cause significant damage.

During a sideswipe collision, steel-reinforced compartments and bumpers of a larger vehicle impact a smaller vehicle’s side windows, upper doors, and roof. Metal sometimes intrudes into the passenger compartment. That’s why passengers sitting closest to the point of impact often sustain serious injuries.

In response to this problem, vehicle manufacturers have started redesigning SUVs. Newer SUVs sit lower to the ground and have body styles designed to reduce the risk of damage. Newer SUVs also include more safety features that protect passengers from injury during a crash. Also, more buyers are choosing SUVs as their family cars. This reduces the problem somewhat.

If another vehicle hits your vehicle, the two are more likely to sustain similar damages. As many older, bigger SUVs are still on the road, vehicle size differences are still a factor in vehicle damage and injuries.

Motorcycle Sideswipes

Some Bronx sideswipe accidents involve motorcycles. As with cars and large trucks, when a motorcycle ends up in a sideswipe collision with any larger vehicle, the motorcyclist has the disadvantage. Given their open-air exposure, motorcyclists often end up on the pavement, leading to serious injuries. Even when the motorcyclist manages to stay on their bike, they might sustain injuries to their side or legs being crushed between the mass of the motorcycle and the other vehicle.

Large Trucks Sideswipes and Side Underrides

The stakes in a Bronx sideswipe are highest when a commercial truck is involved. When a large truck sideswipes a smaller vehicle, the smaller vehicle and its occupants often endure extreme consequences. Depending on its load, a commercial truck weighs between 10,000 and 80,000 pounds. When a commercial vehicle sideswipes a private passenger vehicle, its weight and mass poise it to cause extensive damage and catastrophic injuries.

When a private passenger vehicle’s side connects with a rig’s tractor section, the impact usually causes severe side damage, and occupants often sustain severe injuries. Even more dangerous, when a smaller vehicle connects with the trailer’s side, the vehicle might ride underneath the truck. Depending on the smaller vehicle’s height, this type of side underride impact has the force to damage, crush, or shear off its roof. When an underride accident occurs, passengers often sustain serious, catastrophic, or fatal injuries.

The underride issue is a problem during both rear-end and side impacts. Recognizing this fact, federal transportation codes, Title 49, § 571.224 Standard No. 224, have mandated rear trailer guards for more than two decades. The Congressional effort to implement a similar side guard standard has been in limbo since 2019. New York’s Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand has introduced S.665 – Stop Underrides Act. If implemented, the Act would mandate side underride guards for most trailers. This would minimize or eliminate the side underride problem. The trucking industry has fought against the proposed law, insisting that it would create an undue financial burden for transportation companies.

Bronx Sideswipe Accident Injuries

While vehicles in movies sideswipe with no consequence, sideswipes in real life frequently lead to serious injuries. Sometimes a sideswipe is a simple crash. But, as discussed, many circumstances can increase the chances of more severe injury, from whether or not a motorist is distracted and fails to take an evasive maneuver, to size disparity between the vehicles.

Bronx sideswipe accidents may lead to:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Fractures
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Soft tissue sprains and strains
  • Internal organ damage
  • Fatal injuries

Safer Vehicle Compartments Have Not Addressed Sideswipe Vulnerabilities

Manufacturers have improved vehicle construction to protect occupants during sideswipe accidents. Based on recent research, NHTSA determined that newer vehicles protected passengers better than older models. Designs include stronger passenger compartments, reinforced doors, and roof crush strengthening. Upgrades in child safety seats and optional side airbag curtains help protect rear and front-seat passengers when an impact occurs. Still, these improvements are not enough to protect passengers when another vehicle hits their side of the car. They’re often too close to the impact to completely avoid injury.

What About Assist Technologies?

Technology is a big factor in new car safety improvements. Many new vehicles now include lane departure warning technology. It helps drivers overcome the human factors that often contribute to Bronx sideswipe accidents. Lane departure warning systems release an audible signal when a vehicle begins drifting into an adjacent lane. Assist technologies help, but Bronx drivers must acknowledge the limitations of these technologies and maintain vigilance to avoid sideswipe accidents.

Some aggressive drivers use inappropriate lane changes to intimidate and control other drivers. A warning won’t necessarily make them stop. If a person is speeding, it takes mere seconds from lane departure to crash. That’s not usually enough time to take evasive action. Some drivers make sudden moves because they’re under the influence, drowsy, and/or falling asleep. They’re often physically capable of responding to a warning in time to avoid an accident.

Some manufacturers now equip their vehicles with a three-function system that helps drivers stay in their lanes. Along with emitting an audible warning when a driver drifts toward another lane, these systems assist the driver via automatic brakes and steering that help them stay in their lane. A driver alert detects repeated lane drifts and reminds the driver to stop driving for a while.

Contact a Bronx Car Accident Attorney

If you sustained an injury in a sideswipe accident in the Bronx, consult an experienced car accident attorney Bronx as soon as possible. When you meet with an attorney for a case evaluation, you can share information about your accident and your injuries and learn more about your legal options for recovering damages. Such case evaluations are usually free, and you get to decide if and when you want to file a claim for damages.