Tag Archives: AAA New York

What to do if your car is sinking in water

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of resqme Inc.

Only hours apart and blocks away, two cars, each carrying five passengers, plunged into the waters of Astoria last weekend. In the first accident, a vehicle overturned into Steinway Creek and four people died. The next morning, on Saturday, April 5, a car went through a fence and ended up in the East River near 20th Avenue and Shore Boulevard, according to police. Everyone in the second car survived.

Though it isn’t certain what measures could have helped the passengers in the first vehicle safely escape, with the right tips and tools, others can avoid a similar fate.

About 400 people die every year in North America from drowning after becoming trapped in their vehicles, according to resqme Inc., a company that manufactures portable auto rescue tools.

Resqme, with the help of Professor Gordon Giesbrecht of the University of Manitoba, who has conducted hundreds of experiments involving cars submerged in water with their passengers, offers the following “steps for survival”:

1. Breathe deeply.

2. Stay calm. It is during the floating phase that you need to escape from your car.

3. Do not use your cell phone.

4. Seat belt: Detach it or, if jammed, cut it with a tool if you have one.

5. Side window: Open it or, if blocked, protect your eyes and break it with a special tool if you have one.

6. Children: Detach their seat belts, or, if jammed, cut seat belts and let the children out from oldest to youngest.

7. Exit: Swim until you reach the closest bank.

The company makes two products that can be used for vehicle submersion or in other emergency escape situations — the LifeHammer and the smaller resqme, which attaches to a key ring. Both can cut seatbelts and break windows.

When a tool isn’t available and the windows won’t open, it’s better to wait until the pressure is equalized in the car before trying to open the doors, according to AAA New York’s spokesman, Robert Sinclair Jr.



Drivers pay with shorter yellow lights

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Billy Rennison

More city motorists may be getting tickets because of shorter yellow lights at the city’s red-light cameras, the New York Post reported.

AAA New York, through recent random surveys, found that at intersections with the cameras that catch drivers running reds, yellow lights were “shorter by as much as 15 percent compared to the city standard.”

According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), at the average 30 mph intersection, yellow lights are supposed to be three seconds long, but AAA found that at intersections with red-light cameras, yellow lights were 2.53 seconds, the Post reported.

In the city, there are 170 red-light cameras at 150 intersections, said the Post.

According to the paper, AAA is planning on using these findings to prevent the red-light program from expanding.

“Municipalities must remember that public support for the programs will remain only if the programs are fair and target deliberate red-light running, not drivers trapped by short “yellow” (amber) times,” said AAA New York on its website.

But the DOT is refuting AAA’s findings.

“This ‘study’ is bogus and the real victims here are the New Yorkers who have lost their lives in red-light running crashes. Red-light cameras save lives and deter dangerous driving, and we should dedicate resources to dangers that are killing people instead of false ‘gotcha’ claims. Two of the locations in this ‘study’ don’t even have red-light cameras and the other two—out of nearly 12,500 signalized intersections citywide—are properly timed. New York’s red-light cameras operate with a .3-second delay so that any minor variations don’t result in violations. Even though there is no legal requirement, all signals citywide are timed to the same standard regardless of whether there are cameras,” said DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.

AAA tested the yellow lights at four Manhattan intersections: First Avenue and 125th Avenue; Madison Avenue and 96th Street; Amsterdam Avenue and 110th Street; and Amsterdam Avenue and 96th Street.