We’re in the midst of one of the busiest travel times of the year, traffic in New York will peak. Bad weather this year will only hamper an already clogged New York City as folks head out to see friends and family. AAA estimates that a record-breaking 112.5 million will be traveling this holiday season. Thursday the 21st was expected to be the highest travel day, with volume maintaining until December 25th. 102.1 million are expected on the roads alone. Air travel is up 4.2% since last year, with 6.7 million folks in the skies.
Bad weather was predicted for Christmas in New York, with rains and high winds making driving conditions less than ideal for holiday travelers. For the remainder of the year, Gridlock Alert Days have been posted by the NY Department of Transportation. The MTA’s website has all of the holiday changes and updates for the buses and subways, NYC street closures can be found here.
Navigating the Holiday Traffic Rush
We’re not out of the woods yet. As folks return home, others will be heading out for the new year. With all the hustle and bustle, it’s easy to forget to be prepared when navigating your holiday travels. Here are a few tips from AAA to get you on the road prepared:
- Ensure your vehicle is properly maintained. If maintenance is not up to date, have your car and tires inspected before you take a long drive.
- Map your route in advance and be prepared for busy roads during the most popular times of the year. If possible, consider leaving earlier or later to avoid heavy traffic.
- Keep anything of value in the trunk or covered storage area.
- If you’re traveling with children, remind them not to talk to strangers. Go with them on bathroom breaks and give them whistles to be used only if the family gets separated.
- Have roadside assistance contact information on hand, in case an incident occurs on the road.
- In case of an emergency, keep a cell phone and charger with you at all times. AAA and many other companies offer smartphone applications that enable motorists to request help without making a phone call.
Obeying the Law While Driving
Make sure to have a hands-free setup for your phone to use your GPS. Cell phone usage that isn’t hands free is illegal in New York and the fines & penalties are costly. A 1st offense can cost you $50-150, in addition to a surcharge of $88-93, and 5 points will be added to your license.
In addition to points and fines, a driver convicted of a cell phone violation can also be penalized with insurance surcharges. A study by CarInsurance.com found a single ticket could raise your insurance rates by 20%. Drivers who accumulate 6 or more points in an 18-month period are subject to the Driver Responsibility Assessment Fee, a fee of $300, plus an additional $75 for each point after 6.
On your way home from any holiday event, you want to make sure you are safe to be on the road. New York has very strict laws and penalties for DWIs. More patrols are out all over New York state, with a firm focus on Driving While Intoxicated, especially on New Year’s Eve. If you are found to have a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher,you will be charged with a DWI. A BAC of more than 0.05 but less than 0.07 can yield a charge for Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol (DWAI/Alcohol). A Zero Tolerance Law can be charged to any driver under the age of 21 found to have a BAC of 0.02 – 0.07.
All alcohol and drug-related offenses carry serious penalties and fines. A 1st offense DWI yields fines ranging from $500-1000, plus surcharges, minimum loss of license for 6 months, and a raise in insurance premiums.
Do all you can to keep yourself, your family, and fellow travelers safe on the roads this holiday season.
If you have incurred a traffic violation in New York state, Michael Block can help. Contact our offices today for a free consultation.