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Pedestrian accident numbers can be reduced by fewer left turns

It's hard to believe that the expansive versatility of Google could be implemented to decrease the rate of pedestrian deaths in a metropolitan area like New York City. Nonetheless, that is precisely what some city policymakers and engineers are seeking in their efforts to get Google to program certain safety procedures into Google maps. It is hoped that pedestrian accident numbers will be reduced by the intended changes.

Two City Council members wrote to Google, asking the company to enhance its maps feature by creating a "stay on truck routes" option for truck drivers. They also requested the addition of a feature that allows drivers to choose a "reduce left turns" selection in order to minimize the number of left turns during a trip. The reason for the first option is to keep trucks away from congested streets as much as possible.

The second option may reduce the numbers of accidents because left turns are often involved in injuring or killing pedestrians while they are crossing in a crosswalk. This has been reported to be a problem where many people are using the streets to navigate by foot and by bicycle. In fact, 17 pedestrians and three bicyclists were killed in New York City by left-turning vehicles in 2014. That is reportedly the highest rate in the nation, and it reflects that drivers who are rushing to make left turns in congested urban traffic are less likely to be looking far ahead enough to see whether there are any potential victims in their intended path of travel.  

Consequently, the reduction of left turns in New York City traffic carries the reasonable hope that pedestrian accident numbers will be reduced. Because these kinds of accidents generally involve the negligence of drivers making left turns, the pedestrian or his estate will often have a claim for monetary damages against the driver. If the victim dies or is seriously injured due to a driver's negligence, a claim may be pursued generally for medical expenses, lost earnings, lost earning capacity and pain and suffering.

Source: citylab.com, "Two New York City Council Members Want Google Maps to Discourage Left Turns", Sarah Goodyear, July 9, 2015

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