High Amount of Summons Issued in 2017

Amazingly, over the first four months of 2017, New York State Troopers issued 14,452 Traffic Summons! This means that everyone must drive carefully, as the state is cracking down on any offenses.

If you receive a summons for an improper turn, or an illegal U-turn, or any other moving violation, an experienced traffic ticket attorney can help you. Call us at 212-227-9008 or email us at michaelblock.law@gmail.com.

 

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New Face Reading Technology

One day, One’s car may have the ability to read one’s face. Automakers are looking to use bio-metrics and facial recognition software in an effort to anticipate the drivers wants and desire, like playing your favorite music based on your mood. This facial recognition software can also reduce the impact of an airbag based off the size of the person inside the vehicle. These new technological features may hit the road sooner than you may think!

If you receive a summons for a speeding violation, cellphone, or any other moving violation in NY State, an experienced traffic ticket attorney can help. Call us at 212-227-9008 or email us at michaelblock.law@gmail.com.

 

 

 

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For-Hire-Vehicles Out On Long Island?

A new deal would allow for-hire-vehicle companies Uber and Lyf to operate on Long Island. Governor Cuomo did not release the specifics of the deal, but informed the public last week that “we basically have an agreement [on the deal].”  The proposals that were under discussion included requiring Uber and Lyft drivers to obtain specific insurance in order to operate on Long Island. This deal comes after various polls demonstrate an overwhelming majority of New Yorkers seek better transportation opportunities, and Uber and Lyft may provide just that on Long Island.

If you receive a summons for a speeding violation, cellphone, or any other moving violation in NY State, an experienced traffic ticket attorney can help. Call us at 212-227-9008 or email us at michaelblock.law@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

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The Debate Over The Speed Limit on The Ocean Parkway

Should Ocean Parkway’s speed limit be raised? Currently, the speed limit for the Brooklyn boulevard is currently at 25 miles per hour. According to cameras, from March 5th to 11th, 91,000 motorists drove over 25 miles per hour on the Ocean Parkway. State Senator Simcha Felder, has introduced a bill that would increase the speed limit to 30 miles per hour, in an effort to move traffic more smoothly. Some residents of Brooklyn however, believe that 25 miles per hour is a safer limit, and that traffic moves fine at that speed. Many of those receiving summonses for speeding on Ocean Parkway have been lucky. If the summons is received in the mail, the Speed has been captured by camera and there are no points attached. However, if issued by a Police Officer, a conviction will lead to points on license.

If you receive a summons for a speeding violation, cellphone, or any other moving violation in NY State, an experienced traffic ticket attorney can help. Call us at 212-227-9008 or email us at michaelblock.law@gmail.com.

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How Self-Driving Cars Can Aid The Elderly

Nearly 16 million adults over the age of 65 live in areas with poor access to public transportation. This has prompted many of our senior citizens to ask how will I go to my doctor’s appointments or even the grocery store? The elderly face the question of whether or not they can safely operate a motor vehicle from point A to Point B. Some of the senior citizens point to the self-driving car, which could greatly relinquish those driving fears.

If you receive a summons for a speeding violation, or any other moving violation in NY State, an experienced traffic ticket attorney can help. Call us at 212-227-9008 or email us at michaelblock.law@gmail.com.

 

 

 

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Illegal License Plate Crackdown

New York State is cracking down on any illegal license plates. So, NY State is looking for any motorist who has blocked or covered his or her license plate. Suffolk County and State Police have been cracking down on motorists who have attempted to impede cameras from detecting the motorist’s license plate. Suffolk County and NY State have cited a loss of revenue from tolls and red light cameras as a cause for the crackdown.

 

If you receive a summons for a speeding violation, or any other moving violation in NY State, an experienced traffic ticket attorney can help. Call us at 212-227-9008 or email us at michaelblock.law@gmail.com.

 

 

 

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Self-Driving Uber Crash

Although Uber, and many have demonstrated the capabilities of self-driving cars, a crash earlier this month has demonstrated the negatives of fully autonomous cars. The car accident took place in Tempe, Arizona, and the Tempe Police Department later proved that the Uber car was not at fault for the accident. However, Uber temporarily shut down its self-driving cars in San Francisco and Pittsburgh as a precautionary measure.

If you receive a summons for a speeding violation, or any other moving violation in NY State, an experienced traffic ticket attorney can help. Call us at 212-227-9008 or email us at michaelblock.law@gmail.com.
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Uber's NYC HQ

With the increase in Uber, Lyft, and for-hire vehicles, city officials all across the United States are forced to look further into their transportation policies. Uber has invested in a luxurious center for Uber drivers to relax, use the restroom, and eat complimentary pretzels and soft drinks all in an effort to entice more drivers to use Uber. In fact, there are four luxurious Uber centers in New York City alone. Some Uber drivers however, have switched to driving for yellow cabs as Uber’s fare cuts drain the profits of Uber drivers.

If you receive a summons for a speeding violation, cellphone, or any other moving violation in NY State, an experienced traffic ticket attorney can help. Call us at 212-227-9008 or email us at michaelblock.law@gmail.com.
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Suffolk County Expected To Raise Fees for Traffic Tickets

Suffolk County’s legislature is slated to vote on raising the amount of fees a violator will pay for traffic and parking tickets. The vote will take place in late March of this year. The increase in fees will double the fines for both traffic and parking tickets. Newsday expects this fee increase to pass, and give Suffolk county an additional $5.5 Million in fees. Interestingly, like NYC, the surcharges will often exceed the fine amount. What do you think of the increase in traffic and parking ticket fees in Suffolk County?

If you receive a summons for speeding, failure to stop at a stop sign, following too closely, speeding, or any other moving violation, an experienced traffic ticket attorney can help. Call us at 212-227-9008 or email us at michaelblock.law@gmail.com.
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Important Drivers Ed Legislation

Should New York follow North Carolina and enact legislation on educating drivers on what to do once a driver is pulled over? Driver Education Courses in states like North Carolina and Illinois must include instruction on the proper behaviors a driver should partake in after being puled over by a police officer. Always remember to give the police officer what he has asked for. Make sure to talk as little as possible and give the officer no reason to remember you.

If you receive a summons for an improper signal, u-turn, speed, cellphone or any other moving violation, an experienced traffic ticket attorney can help. Call us at 212-227-9008 or email us at michaelblock.law@gmail.com.
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Troopers Issuing Tickets in NYC

Interestingly, New York State Troopers have been issuing out traffic tickets in New York City. MTA Police and State Troopers have issued over 5,000 tickets since the start of the New Year. Police are cracking down on toll bridges and issuing out tickets for toll evasion. What do you think of the increased traffic ticket presence in NYC?

If you receive a summons for an E-Z pass violation, speed, cellphone, or any other moving violation in NY State, an experienced traffic ticket attorney can help. Call us at 212-227-9008 or email us at michaelblock.law@gmail.com.
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The Race to Road Map Making

Various automakers and technology companies are competing with one another to road map the precise location of every street marking (stop sign, double yellow line, etc.) on every road across the United States. Creating a correct digital map is a vital part of creating self-driving cars. One company called Waymo, has mapped out Austin Texas, Kirkland, Washington, and Mountain View California so far. Obtaining a full three-dimensional road map of the entire United States is a difficult task, but automakers are determined to put self-driving cars on the road.

If you receive a summons for a cellphone, spill back, speed, or any other moving violation, an experienced traffic ticket attorney can help. Call us at 212-227-9008 or email us at michaelblock.law@gmail.com.
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Vision Zero Aids in Decline in Traffic Fatalities?

New York City has cut traffic deaths over the past three years. Since the beginning of the Mayor’s Vision Zero program,  there has been a 23% decline in traffic fatalities. There has been a 14% increase in traffic deaths  across the rest  of the United States. Additionally, since the inception of Vision Zero, New York City doled out 42,385 tickets for drivers failing to yield to pedestrians, which is nearly four times the annual average before Vision Zero began.

 

If you receive a summons for failing to yield to a pedestrian or any other moving violation, an experienced traffic ticket attorney can help. Call us at 212-227-9008 or email us at michaelblock.law@gmail.com.

Bus Driver Appreciation

The Law Office of Michael Block appreciates all of the bus drivers out there. Thanks to a recent article in Newsday, people will understand the importance of why bus drivers drive the way they do. The article shows how some Long Island motorists become annoyed at the fact that bus drivers fully stop at stop signs and drive the speed limit. However, bus drivers are not allowed to drive above the speed limit, as they are operating the vehicle with the safety of the children in mind! We wanted to thank all bus drivers for all of the hard work they do.
If you receive a summons for speeding, operating a portable electronic device, or any other moving violation in New York State, an experienced traffic ticket attorney can help. Call us at 212-227-9008 or email us at michaelblock.law@gmail.com.
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Increase in Nassau County Traffic Tickets?

As part of a push to keep crime low in Nassau County, Nassau police officials will add new gunshot detection services and add new license plate detection readers. Each additional device will lead to an increase in the amount of tickets given out in Nassau County, with the aim to greatly decrease crime there as well. Newsday reports that Nassau police will keep crime down by cracking down on moving violations.

If you receive a summons for speeding, following too closely, an improper signal, or any other moving violation in Nassau, Suffolk, or any New York State County, an experienced traffic ticket attorney can help. Call us at 212-227-9008 or email us at michaelblock.law@gmail.com

 

 

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Drowsy Driving On Par With Drunk Driving?

Incredibly, drowsy driving is on par with drunk driving. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, people who get less than four hours of sleep a night drive as impaired as someone with a .12 blood alcohol level! Drivers will try many different methods to avoid the feeling of drowsiness, however most of these methods are ineffective. The AAA states that a nap, or a better night’s sleep are  the only two methods to avoid drowsy driving.
Receive a summons for an stop sign, school bus, cellphone, or other moving violation? An experienced traffic ticket attorney can help. Call us at 212-227-9008 or email us at michaelblock.law@gmail.com.

"Labeling" Pre-Owned Cars

The Federal Trade Commission has lowered its rules on labeling used cars as “certified pre-owned.” Used cars formerly under recall, and without the proper repairs from that recall, can be sold as certified pre-owned. There are a few dealers who have refused to sell any recalled vehicles to their customers. However, some dealers, like Ford, are selling recalled vehicles that have been deemed “certified pre-owned,” but are not advertising them as safe vehicles.

Do you think that this practice of selling certified vehicles is ok? Let us know in the comments below.

If you receive a summons for failing to yield to a pedestrian or any other moving violation, an experienced traffic ticket attorney can help. Call the Law Office of Michael Block at 212-227-9008, or email us at michaelblock.law@gmail.com.

More traffic deaths in 2017

Bicycle and pedestrian deaths rose last year, in spite of the small decline in traffic deaths. Pedestrian deaths increased from 139 to 144 and cyclist deaths rose from 14 to 18.

Additionally, 10 New Yorkers have been killed in traffic related incidents in the first 10 days of the year, so  Vision Zero has not been as effective in the waning days of 2017.

Mayor De Blasio has looked into spending more money on capital construction projects, which will have a positive impact on reducing traffic deaths.

If you receive a summons for speeding, an experienced traffic ticket attorney can help. Contact us at 212-227-9008, or email us at michaelblock.law@gmail.com.

Failure to Yield Summons Not Enough to Deter Violators

A new York Times Article points out the limited success of NYC Mayor DeBlasio’s Vision Zero. The number of people killed in car crashes only slightly decreased last year, by 5 deaths.

Failure to yield summonses contain three points and a minimum fine of $138 in NYC. NYC and NY State share in collection of the fine money. Those who commit these infractions are often unaware of the consequences as the back of the summonses contain only information about the fine, and not the pints.

Minimum fines for most tickets have not been increased in many years (from $40 to $50). The surcharge must last increased from $80 to $88 in 2013.

Maybe fines and surcharges should be increased to deter violations. The word would spread among drivers, and social media would be buzzing.

If you receive a summons for Failure to yield or any other ticket in NY state, please contact the office at 212-227-9008, or michaelblock.law@gmail.com.

New Voice Recognition Systems in Automobiles

The automaker Ford, and the e-commerce site Amazon have teamed up to put better voice recognition systems in Ford’s cars. Auto and tech companies have been continuously thinking of ways for motorists to keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel and be able to use your cars audio system. BMW and General Motors have also begun to include new voice-recognition systems in their cars. Do you think that these new features are useful in cars?

 

If you receive a summons for speeding, an experienced traffic ticket attorney can help. Call us at 212-227-9008, or email us at mblock1214@gmail.com

Former NFL stars: Road Rage Deaths

Two incidents of road rage highlight the need to drive safely. Two former NFL stars, Will Smith and Joe McKnight were murdered as a result of road rage incidents. The Will Smith case ended two with the man who shot and killed the former New Orleans Saint facing up to 60 years in prison. The Joe McKnight case awaits a hearing Remember to drive safely and moving over if someone is tailgating you and not let the situation get out of hand. Receive a moving violation for speeding? An experienced traffic ticket attorney can help, call us at 212-227-9008 or email us at michaelblock.law@gmail.com.

Move Over Campaign Update

From November 14th to November 18th, highway patrolmen were out with the aim to protect law enforcement and emergency services personnel. The patrolmen pulled over any vehicle who failed to switch to another lane, or move over, when approaching a law enforcement or emergency services personnel. The statistics on how many move over tickets were issued are in. In total, 230 tickets were handed out in that 4 day span back in November. This shows that the police are serious about the Move Over Law. Receive a traffic ticket for failing to move over? An experienced traffic ticket attorney can help, call us at 212-227-9008 or email us at michaelblock.law@gmail.com

Mobile Services can be blocked by Smartphone manufacturers

This Associated Press Article once again demonstrates that Mobil Services can be blocked by Smartphone manufacturers. These guidelines would be used to reduce the amount of crashes caused by distracted drivers on their cellphones. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration would have the ability to block out motorists from texting and driving.

Should all cell Phone Service be prevented as a matter ofPublic Safety?
Receive a traffic ticket for operating a cellphone and driving? An experienced traffic ticket attorney can help, call us at 212-227-9008 or email us at michaelblock.law@gmail.com

Traffic Intentionally Congested?

Traffic in New York City is intentionally horrible. Can you believe it? Well some of us actually can. 

New York City officials purposefully make traffic congested in an effort to make people ride their bikes or use mass transit to commute. This policy started under mayor Bloomberg and has continued with mayor De Blasio 

How has this information not released sooner?!?! What do you think about this? 

If you receive a moving violation for speeding while commuting too or from the city, an experienced traffic ticket attorney can help. Call us at 212-227-9008 or email us at Michaelblock.law@gmail.com.

Right of Way Controversy

Last year, a cab driver attempted to challenge the constitutionality of the Right of Way Law and failed. He pled guilty to violating the Right of Way Law just a few days ago.

The Right of Way Law made striking a pedestrian who has the right of way an unclassified misdemeanor.

On a separate occasion, an NYC judge has dismissed charges against a motorist against the Right of Way Law on the grounds that it violated the defendants 5th and 14th amendment rights.

According to Section 1142 part b, Article 29 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law Laws, a vehicle entering a stop or yield section shall yield the right of way to any pedestrian legal crossing the roadway on which he is driving. A failure to yield to pedestrian in the crosswalk ticket faces 3 points and a minimum fine of $138

Do you think a motorist who accidentally strikes a pedestrian should face criminal charges?

If you receive a summons for a failure to yield to a pedestrian in the crosswalk, call us at 212-227-9008

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Cab Appreciation

I wanted to extend my thanks this past holiday of giving thanks to all of the cabdrivers in New York. I am proud to have served these fine gentleman and ladies for the past 30 years, fighting for their traffic tickets. Thank you to all of the NYC cabdrivers, who have been able to make a living here in NY, and make the city even more enjoyable than it already is. Their service to this city definitely does not go unnoticed, and I look forward to interacting and serving them in the future.

Receive a ticket? Call us at 212-227-9008

 

 

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Gridlock

A gridlock alert is in effect for NYC and will probably remain in effect until New Year’s Day. What does this mean to drivers who must travel in New York during this time?

Traffic will be heavily congested during the next few weeks. The annual Christmas tree lighting festivities, as well as Holliday Tourists will contribute to Gridlock.

New York State Law basically mandates that you cannot enter an intersection unless there is sufficient space to accommodate your vehicle on the other side of the intersection. If you get caught blocking the box, you may be issued a ticket for Spillback. The summons carries two points and a fine.

If you receive a summons for Spillback or Obstructing an Intersection or any other Moving Violation call us at 212-227-9008

Buying a Used Car? Not so Fast

Buying a used car is typically a fast and cheap way to purchase a car at an affordable price that has all of the proper functions of a brand new car. However, Buying a used car is not as convenient as we may think.

At many used car lots, safety flaws in the used cars run unattended. There is no federal requirement for sellers of used cars to fix any problem related to safety-recalls, or even tell customers of the recalls. New car salesmen must disclose recall information however.Car auctions are also one of the most unregulated fields of the car buying industry. These auctions are basically places where some dealers actually can sell defective or damaged or unsafe vehicles to other dealers who are willing to sell them to the public.

 This is unacceptable. These used cars are eluding recall safeguards, which puts motorists, and pedestrians alike, in serious danger.
Whether you are driving a used car or a new car, remember to drive safely. If you find yourself in a situation where you are pulled over for running a red light, running a stop sign, speeding, or any other moving violation, we can help. Call us at 212-227-9008.

Thanksgiving Roads Will Be Stuffed

According to the AAA, Thanksgiving roads will be stuffed. AAA predicts that travel over the holiday break could be massive due to the improving economy. AAA forecasts that 48.7 million Americans will travel, which would be the largest number of people traveling during the Thanksgiving break since 2007. Additionally, AAA expects over 1 million more people who will travel at least 50 miles from their home. The busiest days will be the Wednesday before the holiday, and the Sunday after.

With all of the traffic out on the road, we urge you to remain safe. If you do receive a summons for a moving violation, please make sure to call us at 212-227-9008, and we will help fight you fight your ticket!

Big Spike in Traffic Deaths

The biggest spike in traffic deaths in over 50 years has been linked to apps on motorist’s mobile devices. Although distracted driving is not a new phenomenon, modern applications on mobile phones make distracted driving more common. Snapchat, Waze, Pokemon Go, you name it, mobile apps impede a motorists ability to safely navigate the roads. For instance, snapchat allows users to post videos of themselves with the exact speed that they are going

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, highway deaths jumped 10.4% to 17,775 in 2016 compared to 2015. The rate of deaths from auto crashes decreased from 1975 to 2009, but the number of deaths caused by car crashes has actually increased in the last two years. Numerous cases have arose this year of people using snapchat and recording themselves driving just moments before a crash.

For example, in Tampa Fl, officers are investigating a crash where a passenger in a car recorded a snapchat video of the motorist driving at speeds in excess of 115 miles per hour. This incident in Florida is just one of the numerous incidents of snapping and driving throughout the country.

The Department of Transportation outlined a plan to devise a Road to Zero strategy with the goal of eliminating deaths from motor vehicles within 30 years.

Receive a summons for operating your mobile device when driving? An experienced traffic ticket attorney can help. Call our office at 212-227-9008 or email us at michaelblock.law@gmail.com and we can assist you!

Driverless Cabs: A Reality Soon

Believe it or not, driverless cabs may soon be cheaper than Public transit. New tesla and google vehicles with autonomous features are on track to drastically lower the cost of taxi cabs.

Without having to pay a driver, taxi prices could drop 67 cents per mile by 2025. This price drop is less than a quarter of the cost in Manhattan today. 

Although this idea may sound great, there are some who are quit to point out the negatives of the driverless cars. The driverless cars and cabs could overflow cities and cause massive traffic congestion. The driverless cars could spell doom for all of the cab drivers and Uber drivers in the city

What do you think?

Receive a speeding ticket summons? Operate your portable electronic device and receive a summons? An experienced traffic ticket attorney can help. Call us at 212-227-9008 for assistance.

Driving Stats Post-Halloween

The statistics just came out for all of the tickets troopers gave last Halloween weekend from October 28-November 1. State troopers wrote out 11,497 traffic tickets during Halloween weekend. The most common tickets received by motorists were cellphone, speeding, seat belt, and distracted driving violations. 

On Long Island, troopers issued 823 traffic tickets. In central New York, troopers issued 1,270 traffic tickets. In the lower Hudson Valley, troopers issued 1,270 traffic tickets. Troopers are out there and are cracking down on moving violations.

It is also important to note that 3 people died and 227 others were injured from car crashes Halloween weekend.

Receive a moving violation for speeding, operating your cell phone, or distracted driving? An experienced traffic ticket attorney can help. Call my office at 212-227-9008 and we can assist you! 

Second Avenue Subway Info

The Second Avenue subway plans to open up the initial stages of the line on December 31st of 2016. Although construction crews did not finish all of its installations so far, the MTA believes the Second Avenue Subway will be up and running by the end of this year. The first phase of the Second Avenue cost $4.4 billion to construct.
The long awaited new subway line will clear up congestion on some of the most crowded subways in the city. The projected line goes from downtown at Hanover Square all the way up to 125th street. Also, the Q will be expanded as part of the Second Avenue Subway This is a major step towards improving the crumbling transportation infrastructure and better ensuring more New Yorkers access to the subway.
Decided to drive instead of take the subway? Get a moving violation or a cellphone ticket or a speeding ticket and a traffic summons? Don’t know what to do? We can help. Call us at 212-227-9008.

Public Safety Fee Proposal Denied

This Tuesday, the Nassau legislature approved the county’s $2.9 billion budget for 2017. However, the county legislature did not announce a decision on the $105 surcharge on traffic and parking tickets. The proposed increase would go towards funding new police hires.

The ticket surcharge more than doubles the current cost of many traffic violations would generate over $60 million. That influx of money would have gone towards hiring 150 new police officers and 81 civilian law enforcement employees.

County Executive Ed Mangano introduced this Public Safety Fee into the 2017 Nassau County Budget, however the proposal has yet to be passed. The proposal has a chance to get passed in December, but if not, it will have to wait until next year’s budget. Do you feel that it should be passed?

Receive a Traffic Ticket in Nassau County for speeding, passing a red light, using your cellphone, or any other moving violation? Call us at 212-227-9008, and an experienced, successful traffic ticket attorney can help you out.

New Addition to Vision Zero

Evening commuters must now face more dangerous conditions as the days get darker earlier. According to a study conducted by the DMV over the years 2010-2014, an earlier sunset and darkness have been linked to an increase in the total number of pedestrians killed by motor vehicles. This problem has occurred on a national level, and, in New York City as well.

According to a traffic analysis conducted by New York City, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. the hourly rate if of fatalities and severe injuries to pedestrians rose to 2.44 in Mid December, compared to the average rate of .84 in August. And, a majority of those pedestrian fatalities or severe injuries came from motorists making turns. So, remember to turn more vigilantly.

The DeBlasio administration took it upon themselves to act on this frightening statistic. The Mayor’s office will announce a new $1.5 million dusk and darkness safety campaign geared towards creating more safety during the hours of darkness. The new safety campaign is an addition to the city’s Vision Zero plan for eliminating injuries and fatalities caused by vehicles. This addition to the Vision Zero program will help aid in keeping pedestrians and motorists safe, and alive.

Interestingly, this is the first time that New York City has adjusted its traffic policy based on a seasonal factor.

Received a traffic violation summons after dark? Make an improper turn, used your cellphone, or get caught speeding and receive a ticket? We can help you fight that ticket! Give us a call at 212-227-9008.

Texting while biking in NYC, still legal?

It is still legal to use your cellphone while you are operating your bicycle on the streets of this great city. The NYC.gov provides all of the bike laws for a bicycle operator. There is no law, however, against operating a cellphone while riding a bicycle. There is merely a safety tip suggesting you don’t use your phone while biking.

A bill was introduced into city hall back in 2014, by councilman Mark Trayger, but no action had been taken. The law would have protected the lives of bikers, drivers, and pedestrians alike. The bill stated a $50 fine for the first offense, and a $200 fine for repeat violations.

We believe texting and riding a bicylce should be illegal! Have a cellphone ticket? Caught operating a portable electronic device? We can help. Call us at 212-227-9008 or shoot us an email at michaelblock.law@gmail.com

Has California Proposal gone too far?

Has California proposal gone too far? Driverless cars without the presence of a licensed driver? Is this safe? In a world where humans typically man the vehicle, driverless cars are challenging the long standing norm we are all accustomed to.

This could be a huge benefit to… California personal injury lawyers. It seems irresponsible for California and self driving car producers to allow a vehicle without a licensed driver. What do you think? Should cars be driven without someone manning the vehicle? Should people accept this reality? Let us know.

 

 

Interesting Story on Texting And Driving

Matt Rictel wrote a great newspaper article in Sunday’s N.Y. times. The article begins with the statement “Technology to block texting while driving could save lives, but it’s not being deployed.”

Society needs to do a better job of instilling values in its citizens so that drivers understand it is okay not to not be in constant communication with their friends while they are driving. The potential loss of human life greatly outweighs the loss of touch for a period of time.

NY State Drivers also need to realize that summonses for texting and Cellphone use contain 5 points. People mistakenly think that if you plead guilty, you only need to pay a fine (minimum $138). Drivers do not always know about the points. Perhaps if the minimum fines were greatly increased, drivers would try to stop engaging in such dangerous behavior.

Please contact this office if you receive a summonses for texting or any other moving violation in NY state, call our office at 212-227-9008 or email us at michaelblock.law@gmail.com

 

Self-Driving Cars: On Their Way To Becoming Reality

As some of you may already know, self-driving cars have hit the streets. Some countries are even testing out the use of self-driving cars in the form of taxis. In Singapore, the company known as nuTonomy already allowed hail free rides earlier this month. In North America, self-driving cars are on their way to becoming a real life phenomena. Take the city of Pittsburgh for example.

 

In Pittsburgh, Uber has begun to allow self-driving cars to hit the road. Interestingly, a passenger has to be located in the front seat of the self-driving Uber during Uber pick-ups at all times. This “engineer” sits in the drivers seat alongside the Uber rider at all times. If at anytime the engineer does not feel safe, he can smack a big red button on the dashboard to disengage from driverless mode. If the Uber rider feels unsafe, then he or she may ask the engineer to switch out of driverless mode. Thus far, self-driving cars have been unable to fully hit the road unmanned in the city of Pittsburgh.

 

Uber allowed for some of its more loyal members to first try out the self-driving Ubers. At first Uber considered using the Volvo XC90 as its self-driving car model in Pittsburgh. However, Uber elected to use the Ford Fusion as its first self-driving car in Pittsburgh. Uber has said that autonomous cars can reduce vehicle-related deaths (over 40,000 vehicle-related deaths in 2015).

 

One must note that the self-driving Uber cars in Pittsburgh are not your typical automobiles. Uber has installed over twenty cameras, seven lasers, and about fourteen hundred alternative parts that render millions of bits of data onto their self-driving cars.

 

Uber’s goal seems to be to eliminate the use of human drivers. Let us know what you think. Leave a comment about whether or not you think that self-driving cars will actually become a reality.

 

NYC Triathlon this Sunday- Expect Street Closures!

This Sunday, July 24th  the Annual NYC Triathlon will take place. Be aware that there will be some street closures!!!

For the full story and information on which streets to avoid see below:

Thousands of athletes will test their limits this Sunday, July 24 when they take part in the annual NYC Triathlon.

First, competitors will swim the Hudson River before biking along Manhattan’s West Side Highway and running through Central Park.

But while those athletes compete in the grueling race, motorists will be competing for space on the roads due to some street closures.

The city’s Department of Transportation has announced several street closures in the Bronx and Manhattan related to the race.

The following streets will be closed on Sunday from 5:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., according to the DOT.

Manhattan

Henry Hudson Parkway (northbound) between West 57th Street and the Henry Hudson Bridge

West 72nd Street between Riverside Drive and Central Park West

West 79th Street between Riverside Drive and the traffic circle near the West Side Highway

The Bronx

Henry Hudson Parkway (northbound) between the Henry Hudson Bridge and Mosholu Parkway

Mosholu Parkway (eastbound) between Henry Hudson Parkway and West Gun Hill Road

Off Duty NYPD Officer Kills One and Injures Three Others While Driving Drunk.

An NYPD officer is out on bail after driving drunk and killing a pedestrian and injuring three others in Brooklyn over the weekend. No matter who you are, when you get behind the wheel you should never be under the influence. Driving while under the influence can change your life and the lives of others in the blink of an eye. Always exercise good judgement and when in doubt call a designated driver or a cab home.

Please read the full article below:

Bystanders corralled a drunken off-duty cop after his speeding SUV killed a Brooklyn pedestrian and horribly injured three of his college pals in a gruesome wreck, cops and eyewitnesses said.

Officer Nicholas Batka’s vehicle was seen swerving in the seconds before impact. His runaway SUV tore the leg off one victim and left another impaled on a fence, witnesses said.

“The EMTs had to get a saw to remove the man impaled on the railing,” said witness Jaminah Kang, 35. “Another man (looked) like he took a chain saw to the knee.”

The inebriated second-year cop flashed his badge and slipped into his SUV’s passenger’s seat about 3 a.m. Saturday as the mangled victims writhed in agony on a bloodstained sidewalk in Williamsburg.

A cell phone video captured a man in a red shirt wagging a menacing finger at Batka, keeping the SUV door shut tight and the off-duty cop pinned inside.

“Don’t let him get out!” someone else shouted. “He’s going to run away!”

The sloshed cop was trapped inside the SUV — on the driver’s side by a utility pole he crashed into and on the passenger side by the enraged onlookers.

A 21-year-old man died at Bellevue Hospital after Batka lost control and the gray 2012 SUV Dodge Durango careened off Bedford Ave. just after making a right-hand turn from N. Eighth St.

Prosecutors identified the victim as Andrew Esquivel in charging documents, along with three survivors of the late night crash.

Sophia Tabachoun, 20, was listed in stable condition, while Divya Menezes, 23, was hospitalized at Bellevue in critical condition. She underwent surgery late Saturday after breaking both legs in the crash, officials said.

James Balchaunas, 24, was also hurt, but his condition was not immediately known.

Batka was charged with manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter, three counts of assault, driving while intoxicated, driving with impaired ability and driving on a sidewalk.

In a white T-shirt and blue jeans, he appeared somber with his head down at his arraignment late Saturday night in Brooklyn Criminal Court. He posted $300,000 bond, and was released. A judge ordered his driving license suspended.

Witnesses described a nightmarish scene of chaos and carnage in the darkness once the SUV jumped the curb and plowed into the group walking together along the sidewalk.

“I ran over and this girl’s leg was in half,” said Ryan Carpenter, 27, who was heading home when he spied the bloody crash scene.

“I took my shirt off and tried to stop her from bleeding while trying to calm her. She kept screaming.”

At least three of the victims were Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduates living in Williamsburg and headed for home after getting off the L train, said the sister of one victim.

“Help! Help! Help!” one anguished victim is heard howling during a chaotic six-minute video. “I don’t want to lose my leg! Help!”

An employee from the Bedford Gourmet Food store across the street rushed over with ice and towels.

“I didn’t know what to do,” said the store worker, who declined to give his name. “Everyone panicked. (The driver) was trying to back out, too, and kept going into the building. People were holding the driver from leaving.”

The shocking crash occurred just four hours before Batka was due to start a 7 a.m. shift with the Manhattan Transit Task Force following two days off, cops said.

Batka, 28, a former city correction officer, was arrested at the scene and suspended from the force, NYPD Inspector Scott Shanley told reporters at the accident site.

The officer refused to take a Breathalyzer test, sources told the Daily News. After denying he had been behind the wheel, he then asked to speak with his union rep from the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, prosecutors said.

Some other friends walking with the four victims escaped unscathed when the SUV missed them by inches.

“The other two friends were literally one step ahead of them, so they didn’t get hit,” said eyewitness Kang, who called 911. “It was unreal. It was like an episode of TV come to life.

“I wasn’t even thinking about what I was doing.”

Police sources echoed the stories of witnesses, reporting that the force of the impact led investigators to believe Batka was speeding before jumping the curb.

According to witnesses, the drunken cop first attempted to throw the SUV in reverse after the vehicle crashed — but the car instead kept lurching forward, slamming into a townhouse stoop.

Batka, who joined the NYPD in January 2015, was listed in stable condition, police said.

Batka’s aunt and uncle said there were never any indications that the young cop had a problem with alcohol — and they appeared shocked by word of his arrest.

“I know a lot of people who shouldn’t be cops … that have the wrong attitude, but Nick is mellow Jell-O,” said his uncle Walter Leonick, a retired NYPD officer. “I never worried about him doing anything wrong.”

Batka took guardianship of his niece last year when his older brother died of a heart attack, and spent time caring for his mother. His brother, just 35 years old, keeled over during a Christmas party.

Leonick knew immediately that the Saturday accident was a bad situation, saying “He’s in a lot of trouble.”

Photo: NY Daily News

U.S. Safety Agency Investigates Another Tesla Crash Involving Autopilot

Tesla is back in the news again-.there was another car crash, this time in Pennsylvania due to the operator using the autopilot mode. This isn’t good news for Tesla or for the future of self driving cars.

Read Below for the full article:

The nation’s top auto safety regulator said on Wednesday that it had begun an investigation of a second crash involving a Tesla Motors car equipped with Autopilot technology, a system designed to let vehicles drive themselves for brief periods.

In the nonfatal crash, a Tesla sport utility vehicle rolled over last Friday on the Pennsylvania Turnpike after hitting barriers on both sides of the highway. Safety officials continue to investigate a fatal Florida accident in May. The driver of the Pennsylvania vehicle told the Pennsylvania State Police that he was operating it in Autopilot mode.

The accidents have put new scrutiny on Tesla’s Autopilot system and raised questions about whether the technology, which the company describes as only an experimental “beta” test, lulls drivers into a false sense of security.

Although Tesla drivers have posted YouTube videos of themselves operating the vehicles completely hands-free — even climbing into the back seat — the company has cautioned that Autopilot is meant only as an “auto-assist” feature that requires drivers to keep their hands on or near the steering wheel at all times.

In the Florida crash, the first known fatality involving an autonomous driving system, the driver was killed when his Tesla Model S sedan struck atractor-trailer that was crossing the roadway.

An account given on Wednesday by a witness to the Florida accident seemed to indicate that the Autopilot system continued operating the car at highway speed, even after the vehicle’s top was sheared off by the impact and the Tesla went under the trailer and continued down the road.

“The car came from underneath the trailer,” said the witness, Terence Mulligan, who was named in the Florida Highway Patrol’s accident report. Mr. Mulligan, who was driving behind the tractor-trailer at the time, said: “The top was gone. It went right by me.”

Mr. Mulligan, in a telephone interview, said he turned and followed the Tesla, which did not slow down until it had left the road, crashed through two fences and hit a utility pole. His account jibed with the accident report by the Florida Highway Patrol, which said the car was traveling at 65 miles per hour when it hit the tractor-trailer.

Tesla has declined to comment on the details of the Florida crash, which is still under investigation by state and federal officials.

In a statement on Wednesday about the Pennsylvania crash, Tesla said it had “no reason to believe that Autopilot had anything to do with this accident” based on the information it had collected so far.

The Pennsylvania crash involved a Model X S.U.V. heading east on the Pennsylvania Turnpike about 100 miles east of Pittsburgh. The car scraped a guardrail on the right side of the road, crossed the roadway and hit the concrete median. It then rolled over onto its roof and came to a stop in the middle of the road.

Tesla vehicles have the ability to send data back to the company about their condition and operation. In a statement, the company said it received an automated alert from the Model X in Pennsylvania on July 1 showing that its airbags had deployed. But the company said more detailed information about the car’s operation was not received, a situation that could happen if the car’s antenna was damaged in the crash.

Details of the Pennsylvania crash were first reported by The Detroit Free Press. The Pennsylvania State Police declined to release additional details because an investigation is in progress.

The Pennsylvania driver, Albert Scaglione, said by phone on Wednesday that he had just been released from the hospital and declined to comment on the accident. “My attorneys will be releasing a statement shortly,” he said.

A passenger in the car, Tim Yanke, was reportedly not seriously injured.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on Wednesday that it was collecting information from the Pennsylvania State Police, Tesla and the driver to find out whether automated functions were in use at the time of the crash.

The federal safety agency has also sent a crash investigation team to Florida to determine if the Tesla Autopilot system was at fault in the accident on May 7, which killed Joshua Brown, a 40-year-old from Canton, Ohio.

In the Florida crash, charges are pending against Frank Baressi, the driver of the tractor-trailer that was hit by Mr. Brown’s Tesla. But no final determination on charges will be made until the inquiry is complete, Sgt. Kim Montes, a spokeswoman for the Florida Highway Patrol, said on Wednesday.

“We know the truck made a left turn, and the person going straight has the right of way,” she said, referring to Mr. Brown’s vehicle.

Mr. Baressi, reached by phone, declined to comment.

In an interview with The Associated Press last week, Mr. Baressi said he had heard a Harry Potter movie playing from Mr. Brown’s vehicle, but also acknowledged, “He went so fast through my trailer, I didn’t see him.”

Sergeant Montes said, “We don’t know if that’s accurate,” adding, “We may never know, obviously, given the damage of the vehicle. In a very violent crash, there’s not going to be a lot left inside a car that could be playing.”

A DVD player and a laptop computer were recovered from Mr. Brown’s vehicle after the crash.

Questions have been raised about why neither Tesla nor the federal safety agency notified the public sooner about the May 7 accident, if only to caution other drivers about using Tesla’s Autopilot feature.

When the federal investigation of Mr. Brown’s accident was disclosed last week, Tesla released a statement saying it had informed the agency of the crash “immediately after it occurred.”

But in a statement on Tuesday, Tesla said it did not tell the federal agency about the accident until nine days later.

The Florida Highway Patrol contacted Tesla, seeking help in downloading data from the car’s so-called black-box recorder, seven to 10 days after the crash.

The company said in a statement that it was obligated to notify the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on a quarterly basis when it became aware of a fatal accident involving a Tesla vehicle.

“As part of its regular ongoing communication and not as part of any formal process, Tesla told N.H.T.S.A. about the accident while it was still in the process of conducting its investigation,” Tesla said. “This happened on May 16.”

Brooklyn Man Charged with Killing his Friend in DWI crash

I can not stress this enough, please talk to your children about driving drunk. This crash happened very close to my home and I have children who are the same age as these young men involved. Males aged 18-26 are the most expensive to insure because they are the most dangerous drivers. We must make sure our kids know that if they’ve been drinking they need to have a designated driver, or take an Uber or a cab home. This is a travesty! Don’t let it happen you!

For the full article read below:

A Nassau jury on Thursday found a Brooklyn man who didn’t attend his own trial guilty of killing his friend in a high-speed, drunken-driving parkway crash on Thanksgiving in 2014.

Bilal Hassan, 24, now faces up to 25 years in prison for the wreck that prosecutors said happened after he drove while highly intoxicated and at 133 miles an hour.

The crash ended the life of Malih Takkouche, 24, of Brooklyn, as the friends headed home from a nightclub.

Authorities said the early-morning holiday wreck happened after Hassan sped past a state trooper’s car while driving with a revoked license and without an ignition interlock device he had been ordered to use after a previous drunken-driving conviction.

State troopers found Hassan’s crushed and burning Infiniti Q50 in a ravine near ramps for the Meadowbrook State Parkway and Southern State Parkway, with both occupants heavily entrapped.

“A 24-year-old man is not going back to his family, so there are no winners today, only justice,” prosecutor Michael Bushwack said of Takkouche, while reacting to Thursday’s verdict.

Takkouche had been studying nursing at Kingsborough Community College and was on the honor roll, an attorney for his family said.

Jurors found Hassan guilty of all counts against him, which included aggravated vehicular homicide and manslaughter charges.

Prosecutors had told jurors that tests had shown Hassan’s blood-alcohol content had been 0.16 percent, or twice the legal threshold for intoxication.

 They said Hassan lost control of the Infiniti while trying to exit the Meadowbrook before the car hit a big tree head-on.

Authorities also said Takkouche spent the last moments of his life bracing for a deadly impact — suffering injuries that included multiple arm fractures — as if he’d had his arms up in front of himself.

“They are very satisfied that he’s held accountable by this verdict, but of course no verdict can bring back their son, their brother,” said Gregory Grizopoulos, an attorney for Takkouche’s relatives, who he said are planning a lawsuit.

Before the verdict, defense attorney Christopher Devane told Nassau County Judge Philip Grella that his client, who was in a cell elsewhere in the courthouse, didn’t respond when he told him the jurors had made their minds up.

Officials have said Hassan, an inmate at Nassau’s jail, has publicly declared that he doesn’t recognize the court’s authority.

“This is one-way justice,” Hassan’s father said after the verdict, while adding that he was sorry for the victim’s death.

Devane said he would file an appeal and declined to further comment.

The judge set Hassan’s sentencing for Aug. 4.

Photo: Newsday

Traffic App Waze is Working to Help Avoid Traffic Accidents

Waze is a great app for getting directions and navigating traffic. But there have been complaints of the app navigating drivers to take risky left turns. Waze is rolling out a feature in certain cities that will assist in safer driving that will still get you to your destination on time!

For the read below for the full article:

For many drivers, the relationship with the Waze traffic app is a lot like a romance. At first, it’s all love songs and clear sailing, and amazement at the fast, traffic-free routes that the voice of your choice sends you on.

“I never knew life could be like this,” we thought as we sailed down a service road at 55 mph, laughing at the stalled drivers on the parallel stretch of Long Island Expressway a few hundred feet away. Or, “I never even knew this road existed, Waze, and I’ve lived here all my life. Waze, I love you!”

But soon enough, little cracks appeared in the relationship, just as they do in our romantic bondings. For one thing, Waze does not care how hard we work for our money. It thinks nothing of telling me to take two expensive toll bridges to get from Long Island to the Upper East Side of Manhattan, like the Throgs Neck and then the Triborough, when the 59th Street Bridge could have done the same work for free.

“You don’t care how much I spend, do you?” I mumbled to Waze.

“I was trying to save you time, you cheapskate,” I imagined hearing it shout back.

Many of us would gladly pay the extra tolls if we knew this odd and expensive route was going to save an hour in traffic, but what if it cut our travel time by only 90 seconds? Was Waze just throwing our money away like it grows on trees? Does Waze not know how hard we work for every dollar?

And she (mine is set to voice a British lass, Kate) does this one other thing that can crimp the relationship, too. She tries to kill me. But the company, which is owned by Google, says that’s going to stop. At least in Los Angeles and New Orleans.

One of the ways Waze tries to save drivers’ time is by telling it to take left turns that, if we thought about them beforehand, we’d realize were very risky. But what happens is, you don’t realize until you’re already at the intersection that Waze’s long-term plan for the trip has you taking a left against the most horrendous oncoming traffic in town, a move that should only be tried on a reality TV show called “Not This Time, Loser.”

And then, as people behind you honk, and you scream, “How is there not a left-turn lane and signal here? It’s like a form of human sacrifice,” you can either try to get over and make a whole bunch of rights, or you can just go for it.

It’s a real problem, and not just at particularly busy intersections, or only in Los Angeles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 60 percent of all traffic accidents involve a vehicle turning left. In New York City, Waze is particularly enamored of left turns against oncoming traffic onto Second Avenue in midtown that are only possible at midnight, and only then in an armored personnel carrier.

But now, Waze has introduced a setting that will let Los Angeles drivers prioritize traffic safety over travel time. That setting will keep them away from dangerous left turns, even if it means taking a somewhat longer route to do so.

That’s smart, and given how Waze works, easy. The program figures out which way users ought to go by determining how fast other users are going, and how many of them there are. It stands to reason that if an intersection has thousands of people an hour coming through it going straight, and no left-turn signal, a driver doesn’t want to try to turn in front of that herd.

The company says the feature that allows drivers to avoid dangerous lefts will be rolled out in New Orleans soon. Hopefully, Long Island and New York City won’t be far behind.

We’re busy enough trying to kill each other on the roads here without having computers take sides in the battle.

Photo: Newsday

How Does Never Driving Again Sound to You?

Autonomous cars are getting mixed reviews. Older drivers aren’t ready to give up the wheel, while younger more technologically savvy drivers welcome the idea.

See below for the full article:

The technology to make autonomous cars a reality may be ready, but American drivers don’t seem to be.

From smartphone-addicted teenagers to researchers designing the next generation of self-driving vehicles, there’s a fair amount of skepticism among consumers when it comes to letting go of the wheel and allowing a car to do the driving, several surveys over the last year have found. Even engineers have some qualms.

“I have no problem letting a car take control,” said Jeffrey Miller, an associate professor of engineering practice at the University of Southern California. “But having a car take my kids to school? You’re talking about people who don’t have the ability to take over if something goes wrong. I’m not that comfortable with it.”

That sentiment was echoed in a survey of over 400 respondents by IEEE, the professional engineering organization, that grew out of a round table that Professor Miller took part in. On a scale of 1 to 5 — with “very comfortable” being a 5 — more than two-thirds of the experts in the study said they weren’t ready to have a robotic car play nanny, giving the concept a 3 or lower. Not exactly a ringing endorsement from engineers of the state of the art in self-driving cars.

“It’s not the technology. It’s user acceptance that’s holding us up right now,” Professor Miller said.

This is not to say experts and consumers don’t see potential benefits.

Scott Fischer, 55, the chief executive of a privately held recruiting firm in Chicago, foresees a variety of situations in which autonomous vehicles would be a major advantage. “I’m not skeptical at all,” Mr. Fischer said.

Mr. Fischer, who took part in a study of older drivers conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s AgeLab and the Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence, part of the insurance company The Hartford, said autonomous cars could give him more peace of mind about his two daughters, who are in their 20s and have limited driving experience. “They don’t drive as much they take Uber,” he said, “so I see the safety aspects.”

For his father, who is in his early 80s and facing driving challenges because of vision issues, an autonomous vehicle would be a way to get around on his own, Mr. Fischer said. And for his own part, Mr. Fischer would let the car take over when he was tired on a long drive or needed to read email.

“But I want to see proof of concept that the technology actually works,” he added.

Joseph Coughlin, director of the M.I.T. AgeLab, said that for the study’s participants, who ranged in age from 50 to 69, there was no reflexive aversion to technology-assisted driving. “If they see it as useful or enhancing safety,” he said, “they’re willing to pay for it.”

Jodi Olshevski, a gerontologist and executive director of the Hartford Center, said that, in general, people over 50 expressed the most interest in technology that alerts drivers to vehicles in their blind spot, said “It was naturally appealing to them since there’s often a reduced range of motion” in older drivers, Ms. Olshevski noted.

Still, even older drivers were hesitant to give up total control. In the M.I.T. study, most were less likely to accept automatic parking and cruise assistance systems, worried that they would become overly reliant on the technology at the expense of their driving skills.

There’s also the Route 66 romanticism many older Americans still have with the automobile. “Baby boomers have a love affair with the car,” said Raj Rajkumar, an engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University and a longtime researcher on autonomous vehicles. “On the other hand, the current generation would rather be Snapchatting, and they are a lot more receptive to technology.”

And in the autonomous-vehicle age, established automakers may be on an equal footing with technology companies. A Nielsen automotive study of over 1,100 participants 8 to 18 years old found there was an equal interest in buying a self-driving car from a technology company, such as Google or Apple, as there was from purchasing one an automaker like Ford or General Motors.

According to a 2016 Autotrader Car Tech Impact Study, about two-thirds of consumers would switch brands to get the technology they want. “But completely brand agnostic, I don’t think people are shopping that way yet,” said Brian Moody, executive editor at Autotrader.

More telling, perhaps, is that roughly two-thirds of the consumers in the Autotrader survey acknowledged that they still would not feel confident enough in a self-driving car to take their eyes off the road.

Even the young participants in the Nielsen study seemed reluctant to take their hands off the wheel, especially high school students with licenses. Roughly three out of four drivers of high school age would prefer to drive themselves, according to the Nielsen study. And one-third said self-driving cars were unnecessary.

That may reflect the fact that those with freshly minted driver’s licenses may be particularly reluctant to give up their newfound independence, says Mike VanNieuwkuyk, vice president, automotive, at the Nielsen Company. Mr. VanNieuwkuyk also noted that younger drivers have not yet logged hundreds of annoying hours stewing in traffic or had to suffer through the daily ritual of monotonous commutes.

“And yet young people are the ones who are going to be the potential beneficiaries of this technology,” Mr. VanNieuwkuyk said. “The youngest have more acceptance; they’re already passengers and they’re more engaged with technology.”

The various studies also reflect a sharper divide between those who love to drive and those who find it a stressful activity.

“There are people who want to hop into the back seat and go to sleep,” said Ken Washington, vice president of Ford’s research and advanced engineering division, “and others who say, ‘No robot is going to drive my car.’”

Most of the researchers and automotive experts say driver attitudes will shift as more advanced safety and semiautonomous systems are introduced into new models. Education about how the systems work and their benefits will also help.

“And just think of being stuck in a traffic jam,” said Professor Rajkumar of Carnegie Mellon. “Then you start to see the light.”

Photo: NYTimes

We Stand with Gay Americans

The Law Office of Michael Block stands with Gay Americans.

Check out the full article below:

Some of June’s gay pride celebrations happened last weekend, but many are still ahead. The one in Louisville, Ky., is among them. There’s a parade scheduled for Friday.

That’s your state, Mitch McConnell. You should go.

If you’re not comfortable marching, mingle on the sidelines. If parades aren’t your thing, make an appearance at one of the other pride events in Kentucky in coming days.

Just show up. And by doing so, show that the absence of “gay” or “L.G.B.T.” in your statements immediately following the Orlando massacre — and in the statements of so many other prominent Republicans — isn’t because you place us and our concerns behind some thick pane of glass with a Do Not Touch sign that stays up even when blood and tears pool beneath it.

For more than 48 hours, Paul Ryan also seemed to avoid any mention of the kind of nightclub that the Orlando gunman chose and one of the reasons its revelers were marked for death.

On Tuesday morning that silence finally ended, as Ryan told journalists in Washington that he wanted to “be clear.”

“Members of the L.G.B.T. community were the targets,” he said. “They were simply attacked for who they are.”

He thus joined his 2012 running mate, Mitt Romney, who sent out a tweet midday Monday offering “a special prayer for the L.G.B.T. community that was the focus of this attack.”

Ryan also joined Donald Trump, who mentioned L.G.B.T. Americans repeatedly in his formal remarks on Monday afternoon, expressing “solidarity with the members of Orlando’s L.G.B.T. community” and asserting that the gunman wanted “to execute gay and lesbian citizens because of their sexual orientation.”

But more conspicuous than what Romney and Trump said was what so many other Republicans didn’t.

Bemoaning the carnage, they justly condemned the Islamic State and violent extremists. They rightly paid tribute to “first responders.”

But this specificity didn’t extend to the lives and loves of the people killed. Even Rick Scott, the Republican governor of Florida, initially sidestepped the subject, failing to emphasize that many of them spent their final terrified minutes in a place where they had sought precisely the comfort and belonging that they didn’t always feel on the other side of its walls.

We still have much to learn about the exact mix of the gunman’s motives. There are reports that he cased other locations. His unhinged diatribesapparently extended to women, blacks and Jews as well as gays.

His past behavior and his call to 911 demonstrated an overarching hatred of America, with its celebration of diversity and individual liberty. The revelers in Pulse epitomized that liberty, and what happened to them is part of a bigger story and a bigger struggle that affect all Americans.

But that doesn’t preclude an acknowledgment of their sexual orientations, and it doesn’t excuse any reluctance to discuss that.

Roman Catholic leaders, too, shied away. Statements by the bishop of Orlando and by the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops said nothing about a gay nightclub or gays.

Such omissions so troubled the Rev. James Martin, a best-selling Jesuit author, that he posted a video commentary about them on Facebook on Monday afternoon. Twenty-four hours later, it had been viewed about 700,000 times.

“If the murders had happened, God forbid, in a church of a particular Christian denomination, Catholic leaders would decry the murders and then naturally express their solidarity with members of that denomination,” he said in the video, adding that for the most part, “this was not done for the grieving L.G.B.T. community.”

He told me on Tuesday that there were exceptions, including Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, Fla., who wrote a blog post in which he conceded that religion, including Catholicism, “often breeds contempt for gays, lesbians and transgender people,” and that this contempt can lead to violence. Lynch stressed that the Orlando victims “were all made in the image and likeness of God.”

“We teach that,” Lynch wrote. “We should believe that. We must stand for that.”

“We” includes leaders of both parties. If Ted Cruz can mourn Orlando as an attack on gay people — which, in fact, he did — then every other Republican can, too.

This is one of those moments, in the wake of terror, when we find the most apt and evocative ways to underscore our oneness and renounce our fear. When we make grand gestures. When we make pointed ones.

So Majority Leader McConnell, pick your rally. Speaker Ryan, accompany him. Governor Scott, attend the funerals of gay victims. Other Republicans and Democrats, recognize L.G.B.T. Americans with both your words and your presence at gay pride celebrations.

You want to show our enemies what America stands for? Then stand with us.

Memorial Day Crackdown yields nearly 12,000 tickets

During the Memorial Day Weekend holiday, police issued over 12,000 tickets! Now more than ever motorists should be extremely mindful of traffic laws.

Read the full article below:

State Police issued nearly 12,000 tickets in a Memorial Day weekend crackdown on drunken driving and other traffic violations, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said.

More than 600 of those tickets were issued on Long Island, officials said.Troopers increased patrols from Friday through Monday in an effort to curb drunken and distracted driving, speeding and other infractions, the governor’s office said in a June 1 news release.

Cuomo commended the efforts of the troopers and other law enforcement agencies for “their continued vigilance against this reckless behavior and their ongoing efforts to keep New York’s roadways safe.”

The 96-hour enforcement campaign was funded by the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, as State Police also conducted sobriety checkpoints and targeted speeding and aggressive drivers.

Of the 11,946 tickets written, 224 were for drunken driving, Cuomo’s office said.

Troop L, headquartered in Farmingdale, issued 613 tickets during the holiday weekend, including 18 for drunken driving and 131 for speeding.

A breakdown of tickets issued by troop is at on.ny.gov/1XQ8KHl.

County police agencies also cracked down on drunken driving over the holiday weekend.

Fifty drivers in Nassau County were arrested between 7 p.m. Friday and 7 a.m. Tuesday, police said.

Suffolk County police said patrols from 7 p.m. on Friday to 7 a.m. Tuesday resulted in 44 DWI arrests, including a sobriety checkpoint Friday night to Saturday morning in North Patchogue that resulted in a dozen arrests on the north service road of Sunrise Highway.

Photo: Newsday

Speeding Tickets and The Hamptons Don't Mix

Summer vacation/weekend getaway season is finally here! Many New Yorkers will be spending their weekends driving out to the Hamptons for long weekends and quick getaways from the busy City. Drivers should pay attention to all Vehicle and Traffic Laws. We can anticipate that speeding laws will be strictly enforced when heading to the Hamptons and The North Fork of Long Island. Police are aware that motorists are out enjoying themselves and that when on vacation people may forget about the rules of the road. They still apply and you must still obey them! Always be aware and stay informed of the ever-changing speed limits. For example, the Speed limit on Route 114 in Sag Harbor has just been lowered from 40 mph to 35 mph. Changes like this are made frequently. You must always stay informed.

Speed limits and speeding tickets on Long Island can add 3-11 points onto your license. The number of points you receive depends on how much you exceed the speed limit. Take a look at our Violation and Points chart below.

Speed Violation chart

Be aware, the higher the speeding violation, the more points you will receive. An easy way to calculate how many points your ticket is worth is to subtract your travel speed from the posted speed limit. For example, if you are pulled over for going 60 mph in a 40 mph zone, subtract 60 – 40. That leaves you with 20, and puts you in the 4 point ticket category.

If you are unsure of the speed limit or cannot find a posted speed limit sign then reduce your speed! You can look online on at www.ecode360.com to find out the speed limit in each town. Very rarely will an officer accept the excuse of “I’m from out of town” when pulled over for speeding.

In addition to watching your speed, it is imperative that you never drive while intoxicated or even after consuming just one drink, even at your summer rental in the Hamptons. According to the law, buzzed driving is still drunk driving and New York Police are on alert to reduce roadway fatalities caused by impaired driving. This past Memorial Day Weekend, according to Gov. Cuomo, state police issued nearly 12,000 summonses for Speeding, DWI and other moving violations. More than 600 of the summonses were issued on Long Island.

Don’t let speeding tickets ruin your summer fun. Let me fight your speeding tickets for you. If you receive a speeding ticket in East Hampton,West Hampton,South Hampton, Hampton Bays or Bridge Hampton please contact your New York Traffic Ticket Attorney at 212-227-9008 or at michaelblock.law@gmail.com

Two People Die After a Crash on the LIE

Earlier this week two young people were killed on the Long Island Expressway in Old Westbury. They had just been involved in a car crash and were in the HOV lane where they were fatally struck.

Read below for the full article and for tips on how to stay safe if you ever in a similar situation:

Two people were killed and two others injured after the car they were traveling in crashed, then was struck by an SUV as it sat in the HOV lane of the Long Island Expressway during a teeming rainstorm Monday night in Old Westbury, police said.

The crash took place just minutes after the initial accident on the westbound expressway between exits 40 and 39, at about 11 p.m., said Nassau Det. Sgt. James Skopek, of the Nassau Homicide Squad, which investigates traffic fatalities.

Nassau police Tuesday would not identify the SUV driver, who they said was not going to be charged criminally. But law enforcement sources identified him as an off-duty NYPD highway patrol officer. When contacted by phone, he had no comment.

The car that was struck, a BMW, with four young people inside, had crashed into a guardrail, careened across the lanes of traffic, struck the median and came to a stop in the HOV lane, Skopek said.

The four people in the BMW then got out of the car, Skopek said, and then the SUV driver, in a 2016 GMC Yukon, struck the two victims who died and the BMW. The two other victims were hospitalized with minor injuries.

The Yukon driver, 33, had minor injuries and was taken to the hospital for treatment, police said.

It was not immediately clear what role the weather might have played in the accidents. The investigation into the cause of both crashes is continuing.

But Skopek described the conditions as “terrible, terrible weather, the rain, limited lighting, very dark in that part of the expressway.”

Skopek said “some of the lights may have not been illuminated. Is that a regular thing or is the weather condition that caused that, I don’t know.”

He added: “It was bad last night. It was nasty.”

Skopek stressed there was no apparent criminality.

“We conferenced this with the district attorney’s office,” said Skopek. “There was a rep from the district attorney’s office there. There is no indication at this time that there was any criminality at all — nothing.”

The BMW driver, a 20-year-old man from Queens, was thrown over the median and was found in the far eastbound side of the expressway and pronounced dead at the scene, Skopek said.

An 18-year-old upstate woman, who was a BMW passenger, was transported to Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow, where police said she was pronounced dead.

The two surviving BMW passengers, an 18-year-old woman and a 19-year-old man, were taken to the hospital with minor injuries, Skopek said. One is from Brooklyn and the other is from Queens, he said.

Police said the identities of the victims have been withheld pending notifications of next of kin. The vehicles were impounded for safety checks, police said.

“It’s a tragic, tragic accident for these two young people and our hearts go out to the families,” said Skopek, who asked any witness to the crashes to contact police.

The crash closed the eastbound lanes of the LIE until 3:30 a.m. Tuesday and the westbound lanes until 5:15 a.m.

Skopek advised anyone in an accident to stay inside their vehicle, to try to move to a safe place and put on their hazard lights.

With John Valenti and Anthony M. DeStefano

Safety tips

Here’s what to do if your vehicle becomes disabled in a high-traffic area:

-Turn on your vehicle’s hazard lights.

-If possible, safely move your vehicle off the road away from traffic.

-Stay inside your vehicle once it is off the road and make all passengers stay inside, too.    Keep doors locked.

-If you’re unable to get off the roadway, get out of the vehicle and stand in a safe place  about 60 feet away from the rear of it. That way the traffic sees you before they see your  car.

-Don a reflective vest, raise the vehicle’s hood, tie a white cloth to a door handle or use      reflective triangles or flares.

-Set triangles or flares up behind the disabled car to alert approaching motorists.

-New York’s “move over” law requires motorists to move away at least one lane from fire,    road repair and other emergency vehicles when safe.

-The stats: 67 pedestrians were killed on Interstates in New York from 2010 to 2015; about  one-third of those deaths can be attributed to vehicle breakdowns. The equivalent figure    for the nation is 2,449.

Source: AAA New York, New York State law

Should New York State Seat Belt Laws Change?

In New York State there are no laws requiring adults over the age of 16 to wear a seat belt in the backseat. Regardless of your age, wearing a seat belt is vital for safety, even in the seemingly safe backseat. The rate of death from not wearing a seat belt is ridiculously high and especially between the ages of 16-24.

Read the full article below and comment your opinion on the lack of a seat belt law.

Nassau and Suffolk had about one-fifth of all state fatalities in car crashes in one category: backseat passengers 16 or older who had not buckled up, the AAA said Tuesday.

Suffolk had the worst record in the state, with 88 such deaths from 1995 to 2014. Nassau ranked third, with 70 fatalities, just one fewer than in Queens.

In all of New York State, 886 back-seat passengers in this category were killed.

Unlike 28 other states and the District of Columbia, New York does not require anyone older than 16 who is riding in the backseat to belt up, according to the nonprofit’s survey.

“What is particularly shocking to me is that we were the first state with any seat belt law,” said Alec Slatky, policy analyst, AAA Northeast chapter.

Despite heated opposition, then-Gov. Mario Cuomo in 1984 enacted the nation’s first seat belt requirement; only in 2000 was it expanded to include children aged 10 to 16 who sit in the backseats.

Noting deaths jump once teenagers no longer must belt in, Slatky said the AAA supports bills the legislature is considering requiring anyone 16 or older to wear seat belts if they ride in back.

Back-seat passengers from ages 16 to 24 “had by far the lowest rate of belt usage and accounted for more than half of the fatalities,” the survey said.

“This is a major problem … If you look at just Long Island, it’s about 8 adults a year killed in the back seat of a car while not wearing a seat belt,” Slatky said.

Though people sitting in the back might feel they are at less risk of being ejected than those in the front, they are twice as likely to kill front seat passengers — becoming a “bullet” in the AAA’s parlance — than if they were wearing seat belts, it found.

Unbelted back-seat passengers are three times more likely to be killed and eight times more likely to be seriously injured than if they were buckled in.

Pondering why back-seat passengers, especially young adults, are not buckling up, Slatky said:

“I think part of it’s people think they are safer in the back seat; part of it is just bravado.”

And for young adults riding in cars driven by their peers, “the social norms in such a situation may discourage restraint,” the survey said.

These kinds of fatalities rise with the number of people who live in an area and how much driving they do, the survey found.

All of New York City’s five counties had 190 deaths — about twice the number in Suffolk.

Don't Call it an Accident!

Advocates are working to change what we call car collisions. Rather than call them car accidents, they think they should be referred to as car crashes. Especially with distracted driving (due to texting, social media and other variations of cell phone) use being the main cause of many auto- related deaths.

For the full article read below:

Roadway fatalities are soaring at a rate not seen in 50 years, resulting from crashes, collisions and other incidents caused by drivers.

Just don’t call them accidents anymore.

That is the position of a growing number of safety advocates, including grass-roots groups, federal officials and state and local leaders across the country. They are campaigning to change a 100-year-old mentality that they say trivializes the single most common cause of traffic incidents: human error.

“When you use the word ‘accident,’ it’s like, ‘God made it happen,’ ” Mark Rosekind, the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said at a driver safety conference this month at the Harvard School of Public Health.

“In our society,” he added, “language can be everything.”

Almost all crashes stem from driver behavior like drinking, distracted driving and other risky activity. About 6 percent are caused by vehicle malfunctions, weather and other factors.

Preliminary estimates by the nonprofit National Safety Council show deadly crashes rose by nearly 8 percent in 2015 over the previous year, killing about 38,000 people.

Dr. Rosekind has added his voice to a growing chorus of advocates who say that the persistence of crashes — driving is the most dangerous activity for most people — can be explained in part by widespread apathy toward the issue.

Changing semantics is meant to shake people, particularly policy makers, out of the implicit nobody’s-fault attitude that the word “accident” conveys, they said.

On Jan. 1, the state of Nevada enacted a law, passed almost unanimously in the Legislature, to change “accident” to “crash” in dozens of instances where the word is mentioned in state laws, like those covering police and insurance reports.

New York City adopted a policy in 2014 to reduce fatalities that states the city “must no longer regard traffic crashes as mere ‘accidents,’ ” and other cities, including San Francisco, have taken the same step.

At least 28 state departments of transportation have moved away from the term “accident” when referring to roadway incidents, according to Jeff Larason, director of highway safety for Massachusetts. The traffic safety administration changed its own policy in 1997, but has recently become more vocal about the issue.

Mr. Larason, a former television traffic reporter, started a blog called “Drop The A Word” and has led a campaign to get major media outlets to stop using the term. Last year, he enlisted supporters to join with grass-roots groups in urging The Associated Press to clarify how reporters should use the word “accident.”

In April, The A.P. announced a new policy. When negligence is claimed or proven in a crash, the new entry reads, reporters should “avoid accident, which can be read by some as a term exonerating the person responsible.” (The New York Times’s style guide does not take any position on the terminology.)

But use of “accident” has its defenders, as Mr. Larason discovered in 2014 when he posted his thoughts on the word in a Facebook group popular among traffic reporters.

“Why can’t human error be an accident even if the error is preventable,” one person wrote. “What is being solved by having this debate? What injustice are we correcting?”

And when Mr. Larason suggested to officials at the Virginia Department of Transportation that they stop using “accident,” he received a note saying that drivers are familiar and comfortable with the word. Virginia officials also wrote that drivers might not consider a minor incident to be a “crash,” and so the change could be confusing.

Mr. Larason counters that accident is simply the wrong word. “I’m betting it’s one of the most commonly used words that is used inappropriately,” he said.

On Facebook, he posted a Merriam-Webster definition that describes accident as “an unexpected happening” that “is not due to any fault or misconduct on the part of the person injured.”

The word was introduced into the lexicon of manufacturing and other industries in the early 1900s, when companies were looking to protect themselves from the costs of caring for workers who were injured on the job, according to Peter Norton, a historian and associate professor at the University of Virginia’s department of engineering.

The business community even developed a cartoon character — the foolish Otto Nobetter, who suffered frequent accidents that left him maimed, immolated, crushed, and even blown up. The character was meant to warn workers about the risks of inattention.

“Relentless safety campaigns started calling these events ‘accidents,’ which excused the employer of responsibility,” Dr. Norton said.

When traffic deaths spiked in the 1920s, a consortium of auto-industry interests, including insurers, borrowed the word to shift the focus away from the cars themselves. “Automakers were very interested in blaming reckless drivers,” Dr. Norton said.

But over time, he said, the word has come to exonerate the driver, too, with “accident” seeming like a lightning strike, beyond anyone’s control. The word accident, he added, is seen by its critics as having “normalized mass death in this country,” whereas “the word ‘crash’ is a resurrection of the enormity of this catastrophe.”

These days, the pressure to change the language stems partly from aggrieved families using social media like Facebook clubs and Twitter to lobby for change.

Safety advocates often post Twitter messages to journalists and policy makers, urging them to stop using “accident” to describe a crash.

When New York City changed its policy in 2014, it did so partly in response to such grass-roots efforts, including from a group called Families for Safe Streets. The group is led by parents like Amy Cohen, whose son, Sammy, was run over and killed in Brooklyn in 2013.

She helped start a campaign called “Crash Not Accident,” and said that the drivers in deadly wrecks should not be given the presumption of innocence just because they have lived to tell their side of the story.

“Whose story do you have at the time of the crash? The driver! The victim is dead,” Ms. Cohen said. “The presumption should be to call it a crash, which is a neutral term.”

Image: NYTimes

More Women Are Behind the Wheel Driving Cabs in New York City

More and more women are behind the wheel and driving Taxis, Uber and Lyft. With safety not being such a major concern any more, many women are taking on jobs with TLC and e-hailing car services.

Check out the full article here:

More women are behind the wheel – and getting paid.

High crime and dangerous streets have pushed many women out of the industry since the 1970s. But as the city, and services like Uber and Lyft, have beefed up safety measures through new technology, more women are opting into the profession.

Women first became part of New York’s taxi force in the 1940s, according to 2014’s “Taxicab Fact Book.” By the 1970s several thousand women were a part of the city’s yellow taxi fleet, but that figure shrunk to a few hundred by the 1990s, said Allan Fromberg, a spokesman for the Taxi and Limousine Commission.

“There was definitely a mass exit of many female cab drivers in the 1970s due to the wave of crimes,” Fromberg said. “When crime was brought more under control and the city was a significantly safer place, starting in the ’90s, unfortunately women did not come back in those numbers.”

But that’s changing now.

About 349 women were registered as active medallion taxi drivers in 2015, 63 more than 2010, and 1,375 women were working in the for-hire vehicle service industry in the city.

Companies such as Uber and Lyft have made the profession more attractive for women, since they track client information and allow their drivers to make up their own schedule.

“I never thought that I would drive a taxi,” said 53-year-old Bronx resident Adalgisa Sanchez. She started driving with Uber three years ago, after leaving her job as a graphics designer to take care of her daughter. “I didn’t want anybody getting in my car without knowing who they are, and I didn’t want to handle money in my car.”

Uber has about 76,000 women drivers nationwide, about 19% of its fleet. About 30% of Lyft drivers are female.

Women make up about 4% of New York City’s for-hire operators and 1% of medallion drivers.

The flexible scheduling offered by for-hire services has helped make them more attractive for women, especially mothers, compared to working as medallion drivers, who often work set shifts because the vehicle or medallion is shared or rented, according to Bhairavi Desai, founder of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance.

“Most women (medallion) drivers I’ve known through the years tend to be driver-owned vehicle operators because they own the vehicle and have more control (over their schedules),” Desai said. “In the same way that women could organize their schedules or sense of control being in the DOV model, that’s similar to how people would view the Uber model.”

Taxi drivers had the highest number of deaths due to violence compared to any other occupation from 2006-2013, according to data from Bloomberg News. And the Bureau of Labor has classified the profession as one of the most dangerous jobs in the country.

But Fromberg said that the statistics reported by the BLS don’t accurately reflect the industry in New York City. “There is no question in my mind that New York City has skewed the national take on the dangers of being a cab driver.”

Melissa Plaut, a 40-year-old yellow cab driver since 2004, found that being a female cabbie was filled with other pressing concerns outside of the realm of danger.

Plaut who is also a student at Hunter College and the author of “Hack: How I Stopped Worrying About What to Do With My Life and Started Driving a Yellow Cab,” said that the biggest hurdle for her and many other female cabbies was breaking from a shift to use a restroom.

“(It’s) hardest thing about being a female cab driver,” Plaut said.

“Having to look for parking every day and using a restroom somewhere gets expensive. Almost all of the guys I knew circumvented that.”

Photo: AmNY/ Melissa Plaut

Melissa Plaut is the author of “Hack: How I Stopped Worrying About What to Do With My Life and Started Driving a Yellow Cab.”

Self Driving Big Rigs Might be the Future of Commercial Driving

As technology continues to advance rapidly so has the production and creation of driver-less trucks and cars. Engineers say that first type of driver-less vehicle to be commercially viable will be big-rig trucks. These self-driving trucks will allow truck drivers to rest while the truck itself continues the journey, saving time and money and maybe even decreasing the number of accidents involving trucks. As this new technology progresses the truck driving industry worries about job loss and small towns that thrive off of it. With advancement comes change, and we are going to see this change within the next few years with the introduction of driver-less vehicles onto commercial roads.

What are your thoughts on these new driver-less trucks?

Read the rest of the article below:

SAN FRANCISCO — Imagine you are driving on a highway late at night when a big-rig truck closes in behind you. You relax because it is keeping a safe distance and seems to be obeying the speed limit. Now imagine that truck is driving itself.

Despite Silicon Valley’s enthusiasm for self-driving cars, it could be years before there are many of them on the road. But autonomous 18-wheelers? One start-up is betting that is a different matter.

Otto, led by 15 former Google engineers, including major figures from the search company’s self-driving car and maps projects, is aiming at the long-haul freeway driving that is the bread and butter of the commercial trucking industry.

The engineers think that automating trucks rather than passenger vehicles could be more palatable financially and to regulators. Nationally, trucks drive 5.6 percent of all vehicle miles and are responsible for 9.5 percent of highway fatalities, according to Department of Transportation data.

Adding self-driving technology — at least as it stands now — into regular passenger cars could make them absurdly expensive for anyone without the cash of a Silicon Valley mogul. Until recently, the laser sensor used on the Google car project cost $75,000.

Those costs are coming down, but it will be some time before they have a realistic price for consumers. But a new, big tractor-trailer truck can easily cost more than $150,000, so the added cost of robotic features could make more sense.

In addition, it could make trucking more efficient, allowing, for example, a human driver to rest in the sleeper cabin while the truck takes the wheel.

Still, automating commercial driving is controversial and — potentially — a job killer.

There are more than three million truck drivers in the United States, according to the American Trucking Associations, and about one in every 15 workers in the country is employed in the trucking business.

There is concern that if commercial trucking is completely automated, it would be economically devastating for small towns in America that thrive from supporting the long-haul trucking industry.

“The removal of truckers from freeways will have an effect on today’s towns similar to the effects the freeways themselves had on towns decades ago that had sprung up around bypassed stretches of early highways,” wrote Scott Santens, an independent researcher, in a blog post last year.

Autonomous vehicles have in recent years become one of the tech industry’s favorite projects. Uber sees them as a way to stop dealing with its pesky drivers. Tesla, along with other car manufacturers, sees autonomous technology as an important safety feature to help human drivers.

Even Apple is thought to be working on some sort of self-driving car tech.

Google, in particular, has aggressively advocated and developed autonomous vehicle tech, and its self-driving cars are regularly seen on Bay Area roads. The company also announced a deal earlier this month with Fiat Chrysler to install its technology in a fleet of minivans.

Since the Google car and map veterans, Anthony Levandowski and Lior Ron, founded Otto in January, the company has expanded to 41 employees and has been test-driving three Volvo trucks, logging in more than 10,000 miles.

Over the weekend, Otto tested a self-driving truck in Nevada.

Mr. Levandowski achieved some celebrity in 2004 while he was an industrial engineering graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley. He designed a self-driving motorcycle, stabilized by a gyroscope, that was entered in the Pentagon’s first autonomous vehicle contest. Later, his start-up, 510 Systems, was acquired by Google when it began its self-driving car project.

He said that he had decided to leave Google because he was eager to commercialize a self-driving vehicle as quickly as possible.

“Google is very focused on doing what they’re doing and I felt that it was time to see something come to market and I really liked the idea of bringing trucks to market,” he said.

Mr. Ron, Otto’s co-founder, is also a veteran Google software engineer. With a background in Israeli Army intelligence, he was originally the lead engineer for Google Maps.

He also worked in the company’s Motorola mobile phone business for three years and then in its secretive robotics research effort.

But start-up life isn’t like working for Google on its bucolic Silicon Valley campus.

Otto has set up shop in a rickety auto garage, close to a freeway entrance in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood. But the new office has enough space to house the firm’s three new Volvo trucks, which have been equipped with cameras, radars, and spinning laser sensors known as Lidar.

It is basically the same sensor array used on prototype vehicles being developed by Google, Nissan, Baidu and others. But Mr. Levandowski said that costly commercial trucks gave his designers more freedom to add high-quality sensors.

Otto will offer its technology as an upgrade that a long-haul truck owner could purchase, or perhaps as a service a trucking operator could subscribe to.

“Initially there will be certain roads that we know we can drive more safely,” Mr. Levandowski said. “On those roads we’ll tell the driver, ‘You’re welcome to go take your nap or your break right now.’ If that’s 500 miles, that’s 10 hours, so he gets his full rest.”

The co-founders declined to reveal how much has been invested in the new company so far. They also would say only that they intend to “demonstrate commercial viability soon.”

Even as their technology progresses, Otto still faces a regulatory maze and plenty of competition.

A Silicon Valley start-up called Peloton is focusing on truck convoys for fuel efficiency. Last year, Daimler Trucks North America demonstrated a selfdriving truck in Nevada. Volvo and other truck manufacturers have alsoheld autonomous freeway driving demonstrations in Europe.

California motor vehicle regulations prohibit Otto’s vision of a truck traveling on the freeway with only a sleeping driver in the cab, for example. But many states would permit that technical advance.

“Right now, if you want to drive across Texas with nobody at the wheel, you’re 100 percent legal,” said Mr. Levandowski, who as a Google engineer, helped write draft legislation that permitted self-driving vehicles, which later became law in Nevada.

The company is initially aiming for the owner-operators market — truck drivers who own their own rigs and would be able to increase their productivity by sleeping during long-haul trips and dispensing with the need for a second driver.

“It will take a very long time to transition three million people,” Mr. Levandowski said, referring to the number of truck drivers in the United States. “However, it’s also the nature of progress. There used to be elevator operators in New York City and there are not anymore.”

 

Nassau County Officials Remind Drivers to Share the Road with Motorcyclists

It is important that we remember to be mindful of motorcyclists and share the roads with them. For more information and tips on how to keep the roads safe for all drivers, see the full article below:

With warmer weather ahead, drivers should recognize they share the roadway with motorcyclists, Nassau County officials say.

Climbing temperatures are sure to prompt an increase in motorcycle use, so County Executive Edward Mangano and acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter in a news release stressed some safety guidelines for drivers.

Lacking such safety devices as seat belts and air bags, motorcyclists can be more prone to injury in crashes with passenger vehicles, the Friday news release said.

And because of their size and mobility in traffic, motorcycles often are undetected by other motorists — until it’s too late.

With that in mind, Mangano and Krumpter offered some safety rules for drivers:

Check blind spots. Motorcycles can easily slip into a driver’s blind spot — especially when they attempt to pass. Before changing lanes, check your blind spots. Use your mirrors.

Follow the four-second rule. Increase your driving distance when you’re behind a motorcycle. Maintain a cushion of at least four seconds.

Respect Mother Nature. Inclement weather, including strong winds, is even more hazardous for bikers than for drivers. Bad weather conditions reduce visibility and may make motorcycles more difficult to see. Drivers need to give themselves more space when in traffic with motorcycles.

Look before turning. A whopping 44 percent of fatal motorcycle accidents in 2013 were the result of a car trying to turn left while the motorcycle went straight, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Initiate your turn signal sooner than you normally would when you know there is a motorcycle nearby.

Night riding. Nighttime hours can be treacherous for motorcycle drivers. Motorists should increase their following distance and ensure that their high-beam lights are turned off. Also, when motorcycles are approaching, motorists should refrain from passing.

Be extra cautious. Winds generated by a passing truck or car can make a motorcycle unstable. Maintain an adequate following distance and a safe lane of traffic. Keep several car lengths between vehicles.

Photo: Newsday

NYPD is Working Overtime to Protect Bike Riders

The weather is getting warmer and New Yorkers are opting for bike riding instead of driving or taking the subway. This week Mayor DeBlasio is cracking down on motorists who drive or idle in stop lanes.

Read below for the full article:

The NYPD is cracking down on road hogs blocking bike lanes.

All 77 Police Department precincts will take part in a week-long crackdown that started Monday specifically targeting motorists blocking bike lanes or idling in no-standing zones. It’s part of a new Bicycle Safe Passage initiative to promote Mayor Bill de Blasio’s goal of Vision Zero.

“We believe in protecting everyone on our streets,” de Blasio said in a statement. “This targeted initiative will make sure New Yorkers on bikes have clear bike lanes and safe conditions as more and more people take to the streets.”

Launched during Bike Month, the NYPD wants to correct bad behaviors as summer cyclists hit the street.

“We see, as the weather gets better, more cyclists in New York City and we want to make sure they can utilize the bike lanes in a safe manner,” said NYPD Transit Chief Thomas Chan at a press conference Monday.

Since 1990, daily cycling trips in the city have increased by 320 percent, according to a Department of Transportation report released in May.

As more cyclists ride in the city, safe streets advocates have questioned the NYPD’s commitment to Vision Zero.

At March’s Vision Zero Conference, Police Commissioner William Bratton told the crowd that the idea of reaching zero traffic deaths would “probably remain elusive.”

“We are focusing on violations that can endanger our city’s cyclists, and making sure New Yorkers can safely travel on bike lanes throughout the five boroughs,” Bratton said in a statement supporting the initiative.

Chan said that the NYPD has remained dedicated since the mayor launched the initiative in 2014.

“In 2014…we actually reduced the number of traffic deaths by 15 percent and last year, in 2015, we reduced the number by 9 percent,” Chan said. “So we’ve been working towards the goal of reducing the total number of fatalities and injuries that are occurring on the streets of the city of New York.”

The enforcement blitz will run through Friday. Chan said that a focused, week-long window can be more effective than extending crackdowns longer. The NYPD hasn’t ruled out more crackdowns under the initiative, but will wait to see how the results turn out this week.

Photo: AmNY

Cops on Long Island Give Out Hundreds of Summonses in April

Suffolk County had a distracted driver initiative last month and issued almost 1,000 citations for various distracted driving infractions.

Read the article below:

You know who you are: Drivers who got busted last month in Suffolk County for texting or cellphone chatting, instead of paying full attention to the road.

As part of a monthlong distracted driver initiative, held in conjunction with state and local police, county police officers issued more than 930 citations in April for distracted driving — a 117 percent increase over the same time last year, according to Suffolk County police.

Correspondingly, county police responded to 11.75 percent fewer crashes — 3,320 of them — than in April 2015, police said in a news release issued Thursday.

During the crackdown, State Police on Long Island issued 810 citations, with 470 of them tickets for cellphone use, 314 of them for texting, and 26 for move-over law infractions, the release said.

There’s a “strong correlation” between such distracted driving violations and the number of motor vehicle crashes, police said.

Funding for the initiative, which was statewide, came from the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee.

Uber is attempting to make your Commute Easier with $5 Carpools

Uber is editing their carpooling system. They are offering $5 rates during a pilot program for using UberPOOL, but there are a few catches.

Check out the full article below:

Uber will now offer flat $5 carpool rides in Manhattan during peak hours, but there are plenty of catches.

Commuters must be picked up and dropped off in Manhattan below 110th Street and they’re going to have to walk to get to their driver. The deal is part of a new pilot program that will reshape UberPOOL service to more closely resemble that of a local bus: instead of heading to a customer’s specific location, UberPOOL drivers will be picking up and dropping off customers along corners of their route.

The e-hailing app hopes that this will help streamline UberPOOL routes to provide cheaper and more efficient peak service, according to a blog post the company published on Sunday. It’s the first time the company is implementing the concept.

“By making it easier and more affordable to carpool, we’re working toward our goal of getting more people into fewer cars,” read the blog. “Corner pickups and drop-offs make driving routes more direct, so you’ll save time and arrive at your destination faster.”

The service will be in effect from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Mondays through Fridays. To take advantage of the deal, commuters need to download latest version of the Uber app. Select “POOL” and Uber will direct commuters to the nearest corner to be picked up. Riders will be dropped off at a corner near their destination.

Uber did not specify an end date for the pilot.

Photo: AMNY

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L Train Shutdown or Service Change Talks Have Begun

MTA has begun discussing plans for the L Train’s upcoming 18-month construction to repair damage from Hurricane Sandy in 2012. They will either close the subway line or reduce service during the construction period. Either way this change in service will cause delays and increase traffic from Brooklyn to Manhattan.

Please read the rest of the article below:

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is considering two proposals to shut down the L train tunnel between Manhattan and Brooklyn that would close the subway line under the East River or reduce its service by 80 percent, officials said on Wednesday.

The proposals that will be outlined at a public meeting in Brooklyn on Thursday are closing the entire tunnel for a year and a half to repair damage from Hurricane Sandy, or closing one tube at a time over a three-year period. Any shutdown — a growing source of anxiety among people who live along the crowded subway line — would not begin until early 2019, officials said.

If one tube remained open, trains would run every 12 to 15 minutes, up from the current interval of three to four minutes during the morning rush, officials said at a briefing for reporters. Trains could carry about one-fifth of the 225,000 riders who currently take the L train under the river each day.

The agency has ruled out making repairs only during nights and weekends because the complex work could not be done in such a narrow window, said Veronique Hakim, the president of New York City Transit, which runs the subway and buses. Building a subway tunnel under the river, as some residents have suggested, would be expensive and take too much time, Ms. Hakim said.

Under either proposal, the authority might run extra buses over the Williamsburg Bridge and add ferry service between Manhattan and Brooklyn. Riders could be directed to other nearby subway routes, including the G and M lines, which would have additional trains to handle more passengers.

The authority’s chairman, Thomas F. Prendergast, and Ms. Hakim planned to present the two options on Thursday during the meeting at the Marcy Avenue Armory. A second public meeting is scheduled for May 12 at the Salvation Army Theater in Manhattan.

The subway crossing, known as the Canarsie tunnel, was flooded during the 2012 hurricane. Officials said the tunnel required major work to fix crumbling walls and to repair tracks and cables.

Despite the damage, Mr. Prendergast said that the tunnel was safe for riders, and that the agency had conducted regular inspections to look for problems. After receiving input from residents and businesses, the agency plans to decide which option to pursue within three months.

Asked whether he would rather close the whole tunnel at once, Mr. Prendergast said the agency was committed to hearing from the community before making a decision. But he noted that when people learned more about the plans, they often favored a full closing.

“I think there is an ‘Aha’ moment they have in their minds, like, ‘Geez if it’s only one in five people you can carry, maybe it would be better to have two tracks,’” Mr. Prendergast said in reference to closing the tracks in both tubes, the more efficient of the two options.

The Canarsie tunnel work could cost $800 million to $1 billion, with the federal government covering much of the project, Mr. Prendergast said.

The briefing was the first time that officials from the authority discussed the plans in detail. Under plans for a full tunnel closing, no L trains would run between the Eighth Avenue stop in Manhattan and the Bedford Avenue stop in Brooklyn. The line would continue to run throughout the rest of Brooklyn.

If one tube were closed at a time, the L line would run in two separate segments: reduced service between Bedford Avenue and Eighth Avenue and nearly regular service between the Lorimer Street and Canarsie-Rockaway Parkway stops.

Asked whether buses might have a dedicated lane over the Williamsburg Bridge so they would not get stuck in traffic, Mr. Prendergast said the idea would be considered. To add capacity to the G line, Ms. Hakim said the agency would add cars to its trains, which are known for being shorter than their platforms.

New York Attempts To Crack Down on Texting and Driving With The Textalyzer

Texting and driving is a growing issue, especially among young drivers. In an effort to catch drivers who were pulled over or in an accident due to texting New York Lawmakers are pushing for a Textalyzer. This device would be able to confirm if the driver was texting prior to the accident.

Read more on the Textalyzer below:

Over the last seven years, most states have banned texting by drivers, and public service campaigns have tried an array of tactics — “It can wait,” among them — to persuade people to put down their phones when they are behind the wheel.

Yet the problem, by just about any measure, appears to be getting worse. Americans confess in surveys that they are still texting while driving, as well as using Facebook and Snapchat and taking selfies. Road fatalities, which had fallen for years, are now rising sharply, up roughly 8 percent in 2015 over the previous year, according to preliminary estimates.

That is partly because people are driving more, but Mark Rosekind, the chief of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said distracted driving was “only increasing, unfortunately.”

“Radical change requires radical ideas,” he said in a speech last month, referring broadly to the need to improve road safety.

So to try to change a distinctly modern behavior, legislators and public health experts are reaching back to an old strategy: They want to treat distracted driving like drunken driving.

Harvard’s School of Public Health, for example, is developing a new push based on the effective designated driver campaign it orchestrated in the United States beginning in the late 1980s. Candace Lightner, the founder of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, has helped found a new group this year,Partnership for Distraction-Free Driving, which is circulating a petition to pressure social media companies like Facebook and Twitter to discourage multitasking by drivers, in the same way that Ms. Lightner pushed beer and liquor companies to discourage drunken driving.

The most provocative idea, from lawmakers in New York, is to give police officers a new device that is the digital equivalent of the Breathalyzer — a roadside test called the Textalyzer.

It would work like this: An officer arriving at the scene of a crash could ask for the phones of any drivers involved and use the Textalyzer to tap into the operating system to check for recent activity.

The technology could determine whether a driver had used the phone to text, email or do anything else that is forbidden under New York’s hands-free driving laws, which prohibit drivers from holding phones to their ear. Failure to hand over a phone could lead to the suspension of a driver’s license, similar to the consequences for refusing a Breathalyzer.

The proposed legislation faces hurdles to becoming a law, including privacy concerns. But Félix W. Ortiz, a Democratic assemblyman who was a sponsor of the bipartisan Textalyzer bill, said it would not give the police access to the contents of any emails or texts. It would simply give them a way to catch multitasking drivers, he said.

“We need something on the books where people’s behavior can change,” said Mr. Ortiz, who pushed for the state’s 2001 ban on hand-held devices by drivers. If the Textalyzer bill becomes law, he said, “people are going to be more afraid to put their hands on the cellphone.”

If it were to pass in New York, the first state to propose such an idea, it could well spread in the same way that the hands-free rules did after New York adopted them.

Ms. Lightner said the intensifying efforts around distracted driving “are the equivalent of the early ’80s” in drunken driving, when pressure led to tougher laws and campaigns emphasizing corporate responsibility.

Distracted driving “is not being treated as seriously as drunk driving, and it needs to be,” she said.

“It’s dangerous, devastating, crippling, and it’s a killer, and still socially acceptable,” she added.

The safety administration plans to release the final fatality numbers as early as Thursday but previously announced that the numbers appeared to be up sharply.

Jay Winsten, an associate dean and the director of the Center for Health Communication at Harvard’s School of Public Health, said, “We’re losing the battle against distracted driving.”

Dr. Winsten is developing a distracted-driving campaign based on designated-driver efforts that were ultimately backed by major television networks and promoted by presidents, sports leagues and corporations.

He said the new campaign would urge drivers to be more attentive, rather than scold them for multitasking, and would encourage parents to set a better example for their children.

The campaign, though still in development, has already garnered support from YouTube, which has agreed to recruit stars on the website to create original content involving the message. Dr. Winsten said he had also been in talks with AT&T, Nascar, a major automaker and potential Hollywood partners.

Dr. Winsten said the new campaign could be a kind of carrot to encourage better behavior by drivers, but he added that a stick was also needed.

While the Textalyzer raises potential privacy concerns, it might help enforce texting bans that have so far proved ineffective, he said.

“Right now, we have a reed, not a stick,” Dr. Winsten said, adding that the Textalyzer would “make enforcement that much more credible.”

Now, the police can obtain a warrant for cellphone records, but the process takes time and resources, limiting the likelihood of investigation, Mr. Ortiz said. But those protections are there for good reason, according to privacy advocates, who oppose the New York bill.

“It really invites police to seize phones without justification or warrant,” said Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the New York chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

A unanimous decision by the Supreme Court in 2014 ruled that the police could not search a cellphone without a warrant, even after an arrest, suggesting an uphill fight on the New York legislation.

But the bill’s authors say they have based the Textalyzer concept on the same “implied consent” legal theory that allows the police to use the Breathalyzer: When drivers obtain a license, they are consenting in advance to a Breathalyzer, or else they will risk the suspension of their license.

Matt Slater, the chief of staff for State Senator Terrence Murphy of New York, a Republican and a sponsor of the bill, said the constitutional concerns could and should be solved. “It’s monumental if we can get this done,” he said.

Mr. Slater said he hoped it could happen this session, which ends in June, but, he added, it may take several tries and may require broader public support.

“We’re facing the same hurdles we faced with drunk driving,” he said. “We’re trying to make sure safety and civil liberties are equally protected.”

Fourteen states prohibit the use of hand-held devices by drivers, and 46 ban texting, with penalties ranging from a $25 fine in South Carolina to $200 fines elsewhere, and even points assessed against the driver’s license.

A handful of states have strengthened their original bans, including New York, which in 2014 adopted tougher sanctions that include a 120-day suspension of a permit or a license suspension for drivers under 21, while a second offense calls for a full-year suspension.

Deborah Hersman, the president of the nonprofit National Safety Council and a former chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said she liked the Textalyzer idea because it would give the police an important tool and would help gather statistics on the number of crashes caused by distraction.

She said the Textalyzer-Breathalyzer comparison was apt because looking at and using a phone can be as dangerous as driving drunk.

“Why are we making a distinction between a substance you consume and one that consumes you?” Ms. Hersman said.

The Textalyzer legislation has been called Evan’s Law for Evan Lieberman, who was asleep in the back of a car on June 16, 2011, when the vehicle, driven by a friend, lost control.

Mr. Lieberman, 19, died from his injuries, and his father, Ben Lieberman, spent months trying to gain access to phone records, which ultimately showed that the driver had been texting.

Ben Lieberman became an advocate for driving safety, and in December, looking to develop the Textalyzer concept, he approached the mobile forensics company Cellebrite, which was involved in helping the government find a way into a locked iPhone, and which works with police departments around the country.

Jim Grady, the chief executive of Cellebrite U.S.A., said that the Textalyzer software had not been fully built because it was not clear what a final law might require, but that it would not be too technologically challenging.

“I hope it will have the same effect as the Breathalyzer,” he said.

Villages in Long Island to get Speed Radar Signs

If you live in North Hempstead, Long Island be aware that there are 16 villages that will be installing speed radar cameras to enforce speed limits. There will be 29 signs installed and they’re being funded by New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services.

Check out the full article below:

Speed radar signs will be installed in 16 villages and unincorporated parts of North Hempstead in an effort to slow down motorists.

The electronic signs display how fast an oncoming driver is going and what the legal speed limit is on that road. The signs are to be dispersed throughout the villages and parts of North Hempstead. The project is funded by a $100,000 state grant, officials said.

Twenty-two of the 29 signs are portable and officials said they would consider moving them around based on community concerns. Two of the signs are affixed to trailers. Five can be permanently secured to poles or other structures.

“Every once in a while, we’re having a really tough time and there’s not enough police enforcement,” Supervisor Judi Bosworth said Monday. “If you put up a speed radar sign, it raises people’s consciousness as to how fast they’re going.”

Villages where the signs will be used are East Hills, East Williston, Flower Hill, Great Neck, Great Neck Plaza, Lake Success, Manorhaven, Mineola, New Hyde Park, Port Washington North, Roslyn, Roslyn Estates, Roslyn Harbor, Saddle Rock, Westbury, and Williston Park.

State. Sen Jack Martins (R-Old Westbury), who secured the grant, said he had “heard from a number of communities” about speeding.

“We went to the town and told them about our concerns and asked if they would coordinate for the entire town,” Martins said Monday.

The funding comes from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. Town officials said they expect to approve the funds at Tuesday’s town board meeting.

The grant requires the town to purchase the devices for the villages. Officials from the town’s highway and public safety departments are to identify potential sites for the speed signs in North Hempstead, with the coordination of Martins and village leaders.

Bosworth said spots where the trailers would be most effective include sections of Roslyn Road and nearby Roslyn High School.

Gov. Cuomo Announces "No Empty Chair" Safe-Driving Initiative for Teens

Governor Cuomo announces the “No Empty Chair” Initiative for teens during prom and graduation season. These are milestones to be celebrated in every high school students’ life but it’s important that they arrive alive!

Check out the full article below:

A weeklong safe-driving initiative aimed at teenagers during their prom and graduation season gets under way Monday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office said.

The “No Empty Chair” teen driving safety education and enforcement campaign launches Monday with law enforcement statewide focusing on drivers who speed in school zones.

Each day this week law enforcement will target specific infractions, while also enforcing all other vehicle and traffic laws, according to a news release from Cuomo’s office.

The target days are as follows:

** Monday: Speeding in school zones.

** Tuesday: Seat belts and child restraints.

** Wednesday: Cellphone use and texting.

** Thursday: Operation Safe Stop, which promotes school bus safety.

** Friday: Underage drinking and impaired driving.

The idea is to raise awareness of highway dangers during prom and graduation season by combining the efforts of state and local law enforcement with those of school administrators, local traffic safety partners, and other community stakeholders, officials said.

Raising awareness means saving lives and helps to ensure there are no empty chairs at prom and graduation this season, officials said.

The Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee started the initiative on Friday, at West Genesee High School in Camillus with several speakers and a mother who lost her teenage son in a crash.

“Nearly every year, communities across New York state experience the tragic deaths of high school students in traffic crashes,” Department of Motor Vehicles executive deputy commissioner Terri Egan said in a statement. “We want to eliminate crashes, especially during prom and graduation season, and make sure every teen is in their seat on graduation day.”

Egan said a part of the initiative’s goal is to keep police officers from making “that dreaded knock on the door to parents waiting for their teens to return home.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens.

The Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research said between 2012 and 2014 11 percent to 13 percent of all motor-vehicle fatalities in New York occurred in crashes involving drivers ages 16 to 20.

Drivers ages 16 and 17 involved in fatal and personal injury crashes in New York were more likely to be driving with passengers than drivers in all other fatal and personal injury crashes — 43 percent versus 29 percent in 2014.

Photo: Getty Images

Nassau County Woman arrested for DWAI with Young Children in the Car

A Nassau County woman was arrested for DWAI/ Drugs;Driving While Ability Impaired by a Drug other than alcohol, with her children in the car. You never should NEVER drive while taking medicines that were prescribed to you. Prescription pills can impair your driving the same way that drinking and driving can. Pay attention to the caution labels on your pills!

Check out the full article below:

Nassau County police arrested a Long Island woman Monday for driving her two young children around while she was allegedly impaired on prescription drugs —  then crashing her car into another vehicle.

The incident happened around 1:40 p.m. in Merrick.

Kathryn Naccari, 37, was driving a 2013 Honda Accord southbound on Babylon Road and making a left turn onto Merrick Road  when she crashed into a 2010 GMC Arcade that was traveling east on Merrick Road, police said.

Naccari’s 4-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son were secured in car seats at the time of the accident, according to police.

The driver of the second vehicle, a 62-year-old woman, suffered back injuries and was taken to a hospital for treatment. Naccari and her children were unharmed, and the kids were released to a family member at the scene.

Naccari was charged with DWAI drugs, two counts of aggravated DWI-with a child passenger less than 16 and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, police said.

She will be arraigned on Tuesday in First District Court in Hempstead.

Catch the Train of Many Colors to the Mets' Opening Day

On Friday, April 8, the vintage “Train of Many Colors,” consisting of 11 cars built between 1948 and 1964, will leave 34th Street-Hudson Yards at 11:30 a.m. and make express stops to Flushing-Main Street for the Mets home opener at 1:30 p.m. against the Philadelphia Phillies. The varying colors on those cars mark different eras in subway history.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said riders to all Yankees game should use the Yankee Stadium station, which serves the B, D and 4 lines, which is right in front of the stadium at the corner of 161st Street and River Avenue.

The subway’s Mets-Willets Point station, served by the 7 train, is in front of Citi Field on Roosevelt Avenue near 126th Street.

After weeknight and weekend games, New York City Transit provides special super-express 7 trains timed to depart after the last out.

After leaving the game, these trains make only six stops — 61st Street-Woodside, Queensboro Plaza, Court Square, 42nd Street-Grand Central, 5th Avenue-Bryant Park, and Times Square-42nd Street

The Long Island Rail Road provides direct service to the Mets-Willets Point station all season long via the Port Washington Branch, about 19 minutes from Penn Station. Citi Field is about 17 minutes from Great Neck and 27 minutes from Port Washington.

Fans traveling from Long Island on other branches can reach Citi Field by changing to Port Washington Branch trains at Woodside, about a five-minute ride from the stadium. Regularly scheduled Port Washington Branch trains will make stops at the Mets-Willets Point Station throughout the regular season for all games, and the LIRR will operate extra trains for each weekend game.

Check out the full article from NY Daily News

 

 

Get your Metro cards ready! Some NYC Streets to shut down on Earth Day.

On Earth day parts of Manhattan will be closed to vehicular traffic. This act is part of the #CarFreeNYC initiative and the goal is to reduce New York’s carbon footprint. It also will give New Yorkers the chance to take advantage of all the various forms of mass transportation available in the city.

Check out the AMNY article below for more information:

Parts of Manhattan will be shut down to car traffic on Earth Day to help lower New York’s carbon foot print and a city councilman wants the Big Apple drivers to ditch their rides to join in the effort.

Councilman Yndanis Rodriguez said the #carfreeNY initiative would go a long way for reducing New York’s carbon footprint and lowering the number road accidents.

Too many people are riding in cars by themselves instead of taking advantage of the various mass transits options available, according to the councilman who chairs the transportation committee.

“We have a responsibility to our environment, to our residents and to ourselves to have a frank conversation about the inefficiencies of car use,” he said at a news conference at NYU’s Kimmel Center Wednesday.

As part of the initiative, Broadway between the Flatiron Building and Union Square, Wadsworth Avenue from 173rd to 177th streets and the roads surrounding Washington Square Park will all be shut down April 22. Rodriguez hopes New York drivers will take up the pledge and find alternative ways of traveling, including carpooling, subways and buses.

He acknowledged that some communities, like southeast Queens, Staten Island and the Rockaways are “transit deserts” but said that the initiative will help highlight their plight and push the city to take more action.

“It clearly speaks to the need for investment in mass transit in these communities as imperative to social mobility, especially for the many New Yorkers who are unable to afford a car in this expensive city,” he said.

 

Just Some Thoughts from a Traffic Ticket Attorney: Final Four Dilemma

I have a rooting dilemma in the NCAA tournament. If the North Carolina wins, I will win second place in an attorneys’ bracket contest (and a very small amount of money).

 On the other hand, two of my nieces went to Syracuse and my associate Scott is a Syracuse Alum. And of course I want them to be happy.

Just Some Thoughts from a Traffic Ticket Attorney: NY Mets

Will the NY Mets end my personal drought of 30 championship-less years?

They look great “on paper” but that often doesn’t translate into success on the field. They should feature great young starting pitchers, an awesome closer and a good, but not great offense.

I don’t fear the Cubs or Nationals but I think the main threat will come from the Giants, Pirates and the always-present Cardinals.

Let’s Go Mets!

Happy Purim to all those who celebrate!

Purim is a holiday that commemorates a brave woman’s effort to save the Jewish people from being wiped out. Queen Esther was married to a King who had no knowledge that she was Jewish or that Haman was plotting to destroy all the Jews.

Thankfully she persuaded the King to defeat the plot.

 So bravo Queen Esther and all other brave women of the world!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

If you are going out in New York to celebrate please be careful! Always take public transportation or any taxi and car service available.

DO NOT get behind the wheel.

Too many people lose their driving privileges or worse, kill or hurt themselves or others because they drove drunk.

Don’t forget to wear your green and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Getting A Speeding Ticket In The Village of North Hills, NY

Speeding tickets contain 3 to 11 points; receiving these points may result in an increase of insurance premiums. The fine for a speeding ticket mainly depends upon the severity of the violation. Along with the cost of the ticket, there’s an $88.00 NYS surcharge and a $100.00 annual driver assessment fee if you’ve accumulated six or more points within an 18-month time period.

If you receive a ticket on Long Island it’s important to understand the area that you were summoned. Long Island is made up of two counties, Nassau and Suffolk and within each county there are towns and villages. Even though the villages are small they may have their own Police force and Courthouse. Summonses issued in the Village of North Hills are issued by Nassau County’s 6th precinct.

If you are pulled over and given a ticket within the town of North Hills, a court appearance will be at the North Hills Village Court.  For example, if you are stopped by the Police on Stonehill Drive, you would report to North Hills Village Court, not the  Traffic and Parking Violations Agency (TPVA) in Hempstead. The court location will always be on your ticket if you are ever unsure.

Be aware of these speed limits and rules in the town of North Hills:

  • Except as otherwise provided herein, no person shall drive or operate a motor vehicle or motorcycle on a highway, street or private road at a speed in excess of 45 mph.
  • No person shall drive on Shelter Rock road between the flashing signs at a speed higher than 30 mph.
  • You also are not permitted to drive on the North Hills section of I.U. Willets Road at a speed in excess of 30 mph.
  • No person shall operate a vehicle or motorcycle on Searingtown Road in the Village of North Hills at a speed in excess of 35 mph
  • No person shall drive or operate a motor vehicle or motorcycle on Hollow Lane in the Village of North Hills at a speed in excess of 35 mph

If you plead not guilty to a charge of speeding, it is possible you will receive a reduction in points. The following comprehensive guide will allow you to understand the point system for speeding tickets at a TVB—Traffic Violation Bureau or at a village court like the North Hills Village Court.

First determine how many points your offense carries.

Violation Points
Driving 1-10 MPH over the speed limit 3 points
Driving 11-20 MPH over the speed limit 4 points
Driving 21-30 MPH over the speed limit 6 points
Driving 31-40 MPH over the speed limit 8 points
Driving over 40 MPH over speed limit 11 points

Remember that the DMV can suspend your license for accumulating 11 points or more within 18 months (regardless of violation type). Also, simply receiving three convictions for speeding tickets in an 18-month period will result in a six month revocation of your license. Even two tickets within an 18-month period can have dire consequences. If you have received a second speeding ticket within an 18-month period or any violations in the Village of North Hills, feel free to call our office at 212-227-9008 or email us at michaelblock.law@gmail.com right away for a free consultation and assessment of your license.

When you retain my office, we will attend court on your behalf and manage all communication with the court. You will not be required to attend court. We will always update you about your court dates and results as well as answer any questions you have about the process.

 

MADD is against requiring Uber to operate under same laws as Taxis

In an effort to hold all car companies to the same standard, Southampton Town has proposed legislation requiring Uber, Limousines and Livery cabs to adhere to the local taxi law. This includes paying the same fees as cabs: $750 for a town license, $150 per car and $100 per driver.

Requiring Uber to follow these requirements might drive the popular car service out of town. MADD thinks this is a major issue because it limits options for people to get home after a night of drinking. In 2013 more than 10 percent of the state’s alcohol related crashes took place Suffolk County. Clearly there is a need for multiple options when it comes to getting people home safely.

Check out the full article below:

The New York State executive director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving is urging Southampton Town officials not to pass proposed legislation requiring Uber, limousine and livery cabs operating in Southampton to adhere to the local taxi law.

MADD is part of a coalition that supports statewide regulation for the app-based ride-sharing service. The group feels the service offers a safe alternative to keep drunken drivers off the road.

A letter from MADD’s Richard C. Mallow dated March 8 and sent to Supervisor Jay Schneiderman and members of the town board urged them to revoke the proposal.

“There is a clear need for affordable and reliable transportation options in the area,” the letter stated.

Citing a report last year by the nonprofit Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research, Mallow noted that in 2013, more than 10 percent of the state’s total alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes occurred in Suffolk County. He said the institute, which is based at the University at Albany, found that between 2011 and 2013, “Suffolk County had more alcohol-related accidents than anywhere else in New York State.”

The more options for a safe trip, the better, Mallow said.

“We have to make sure we give people as many options as we can to get them home safely,” he said in an interview Monday.

If the amendment to the existing taxi law is adopted, Southampton would become the second East End town to adopt measures to regulate Uber operations locally.

Councilman Stan Glinka, the board’s liaison to transportation, is proposing the measure, which is set for a March 22 public hearing. He said MADD’s letter will not change his plans. Schneiderman was not immediately available Monday for comment.

Uber spokeswoman Alix Anfang has called the proposal an attempt to protect local cabs from competition. The company stopped doing business in East Hampton Town last year when officials required Uber drivers to have a local business address to obtain a taxi license.

NYC to receive 15 miles of bike lanes this year

Mayor Deblasio announced that there will be 15 miles of protected bike lanes installed in the five boroughs by the end of 2016. These additions are a continued effort of Deblasio’sVision Zero” initiative to reduce traffic deaths.

Check out the rest of the article below:

Bike riders throughout the city can feel a little safer this year.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Department of Transportation announced Thursday that they will install 15 miles of protected bike lanes throughout the five boroughs by the end of the year.

De Blasio said this is three more miles than were built last year and it’s a key component of his “Vision Zero” initiative that aims to reduce traffic deaths.

“Even after the safest year ever recorded on our streets, our Vision Zero efforts will expand the network of protected bike lanes even farther, so we can have safer streets for all our people,” he said in a statement.

A protected bike lane has a barrier from road traffic.

There will be 10 sections of road that will get the bike lanes in four boroughs and one bridge. Manhattan will get the lion’s share of the protected sections in four locations: Amsterdam Avenue between West 72nd and 110th streets; Chrystie Street between Canal and 2nd streets; 6th Avenue between West 8th and West 33rd streets and; 2nd Avenue between East 105 and East 68th streets.

Three sections in Queens will get the lanes: 20th Avenue between 37th Street and Shore Boulevard; Hoyt Avenue North between 27th and 19th streets; and Shore Boulevard between Ditmars Boulevard and Astoria Park South.

A protected lane will also be installed at the Bruckner Boulevard between Hunts Point and Longwood avenues in the Bronx, the Marine Park Connector between Avenue U and Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, and the Pulaski Bridge.

Don't Let This Happen To You, Call A Cab!

Two people in Long Island are heading to jail because they drove drunk. A 24-year-old woman is facing 4 years for driving drunk and killing her friend in 2013. And a 29-year-old man was sentenced and will serve a minimum of 5 years for driving dunk and causing a crash that killed a Nassau County Police Officer.

With all of the resources available today like Uber and Lyft, there is no excuse for drunk driving. If you’re leaving a party or event and have been drinking you SHOULD NOT get behind the wheel.

The price of a cab or an Uber is nothing compared to going to jail or knowing that someone lost their life. Please be safe.

Watch Out Uber, Yellow Cabs May Be Making a Comeback!

Thanks to this mobile app, taxis and black cars may be back on top. Karhoo, a London based mobile app works like a search engine for taxis and black cars and plans to have 30,000 cars at launch. Karhoo is set to launch in New York City within the next six weeks.

Karhoo-Feature-Image1-e1451935298981

Check out the full article below:

Karhoo — a new mobile app that works like a search engine for taxis and black cars — says it will be bigger than Uber when it launches in the Big Apple next month.

The deep-pocketed startup has cut a deal to add 66,000 cabs across 60 US cities, casting itself as a high-tech savior for old-school cab companies that are pitted against Uber in a battle for survival.

London-based Karhoo said it aims to go live in New York within the next six weeks, when its users will instantly have access to 14,000 yellow and green taxis as well as 17,000 other licensed and regulated cars, according to the company.

Those numbers would dwarf the Gotham ranks of Uber cars, which last year numbered 16,000 by some estimates.

“We’ll have more than 30,000 cars out of the gate, and that puts us in a very strong position,” Karhoo founder and Chief Executive Daniel Ishag told The Post.

The fleet-by-fleet growth strategy — as opposed to Uber’s driver-by-driver approach — is poised to put 1 million cars on Karhoo’s platform worldwide by the end of 2016, Ishag says.

Other cities launching in the coming months include London, Singapore, Chicago and San Francisco.

In New York, the three-year deal with Verifone, a mobile transaction middleman, includes yellow cabs that have also gone live on the Way2ride and Curb mobile apps. Black car companies being added to Karhoo’s platform include Carmel, Dial 7, Elite and La Puma.

“I love the whole concept,” says Berj Haroutunian, CEO of Vital, which operates 300 black cars in the metro area. “It goes through us in central dispatch,” instead of directly to drivers like Uber does.

Karhoo’s search engine finds and ranks traditional taxis and car services according to real-time proximity, like Uber. Drawing on a wide variety of cab dispatchers, it can also sort by name and price, much like travel sites find and rank flights and hotels.

The app charges a commission of about 10 percent a ride, while Uber charges between 25 and 30 percent.

Karhoo has raised upwards of $250 million to fund its expansion, sources said. Ishag anticipates the total will reach $1 billion over the next 12 to 18 months.

Karhoo’s ambition to serve as a “universal platform” for the patchwork of legacy taxi companies could make the difference, says Matthew Daus, a former commissioner of the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission.

“Uber never would have gotten any traction if all these cab companies were on the same platform,” Daus said.

An app promising immediate access to cars without surge pricing is a powerful idea, he added.

“If they do the advertising correctly and get the word out it’s going to be what Coke is to Pepsi,” he said.

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World Trade Center Transit Hub Finally opens

A portion of The World Trade Center’s new $4 billion transportation hub opened today.

The Oculus, is a huge pristine white hall that will stop you dead in your tracks.

WTC inside 2

The architecture has many New Yorkers staring in awe or shaking their heads. Architect Santiago Calatrava designed it to look like a dove, but many have compared it to angel wings or bones.

Most importantly, it will serve as another memorial for those lost in the September 11th attacks.

The hub will connect 11 subway lines, the PATH system, and Battery Park City Ferry terminal. It will allow access the 9/11 memorial and World Trade Center buildings. Retail stores and restaurants will be occupying spaces in the months to come. Paul Bergen, northjersey.com

World Trade Center Oculus

With the opening of the Oculus, the rest of the memorials and the daily bustle of commuters coming into the city from New Jersey one can only imagine the increase of pedestrian traffic on the surrounding streets.

If you are a cab or Uber driver please be mindful and obey all traffic rules by World Trade Center. And if you receive a ticket in that area I can help you fight it! Call me at 212-227-9008 or email MichaelBlock.law@gmail.com with any questions.

Photo: NY Times

If You Commit a Minor Crime You May Not Be Arrested

The New York City Police Department and Manhattan district attorney announced a policy shift on Tuesday. People who commit minor crimes such as drinking in public or riding between subway cars will receive summons instead of being arrested. This shift was announced in an effort to reduce a backlog of cases pending in criminal court.

“Officials estimate the changes will result in about 10,000 fewer cases being prosecuted in Manhattan Criminal Court each year, freeing up police officers, prosecutors and the court to focus on more serious crimes.” Ashley Southall, NYTimes.com

Arrests will only be made if the offense is seen as a threat to public safety. Also, if the offender has any open warrants they will be taken into custody to handle the summons.

Certain moving violations are considered criminal, if you commit a criminal violation the summons will look like this:

Summons

If you are caught driving in New York without a license, driving under the influence (DUI) or while intoxicated (DWI) you will receive a summons. Its great news that they aren’t arresting most offenders but it’s imperative that these summonses are taken care of.  If you receive a criminal summons I can help you fight it. Call me at 212-227-9008 or email me at michaelblock.law@gmail.com with any questions.

Fed Up Uber drivers protest the App during the Super bowl

Fed Up Uber drivers protest the App during the Super bowl in an effort to slow down business and get corporate headquarters attention on one of the busiest Sundays of the year. Tired of price cuts, no benefits for full time drivers and all around poor treatment, the driver partners led by fellow Uber driver Abdoul Diallo are in the process of creating their own e- hailing app that would better benefit employees.

Check out the full article from the New York Times below:

On Super Bowl Sunday, a few hundred Uber drivers met in the cold in a public park in Queens, plotting to disrupt the app that thousands of New Yorkers were about to use to get in place to watch the big game. Gathered angrily on rows of wooden benches were Uzbeks, Tajiks, Russians, Kenyans, Serbs and Bangladeshis, many of them waving handmade signs. Their yellow placards attacked the ride-hailing service in the innumerable languages of polyglot New York. “Shame on Uber!” one announced in Spanish. “Uber Broke Our Hearts!” said another in Tibetan. Then in English: “We Made You Billionaires!” and “We Are Not Slaves!”

“We want to show Uber that without us full-time drivers, they won’t have any cars on the road,” Abdoul Diallo shouted from atop a concrete stage. Mr. Diallo, a Guinean immigrant who has emerged as a leader of the strikes, was holding up his own sign: “No Drivers, No Uber — It’s That Simple.”

“This is the formula!” he hollered to the crowd.

It has been nearly five years since Uber arrived in New York City. With its Randian philosophy and proprietary algorithms, the company promised to reshape the driving industry, and in many ways that promise has come true. A million New Yorkers have become accustomed to making cars materialize by pulling out their smartphones — and not just in Manhattan, but also in the other boroughs, which have long been underserved by for-hire providers. In part as a result, taxi owners have seen their profits crumble, taxi lenders are slowly going under and taxi unions are scrambling to protect their members’ jobs.

More recently, however, Uber’s indomitable rise has been clouded by an insurgency from a small but vocal portion of its own drivers who say they feel neglected, even used. From spring 2014 to spring 2015, the company quadrupled its business in the city, and for nearly a year it has been signing up new customers at a rate of 30,000 a week. The drivers argue that such dynamic growth would not have been possible without them: They, after all, supply the cars that keep the network liquid. Drawn to the company by advertisements that promised decent wages, many now contend that they are victims of a corporate bait-and-switch. As Uber has obtained a solid foothold in the market (and a $60 billion valuation), the drivers are complaining that it has slashed its prices in an effort to destroy the competition and to finance its expansion on their backs.

“In the beginning, your company was great for both drivers and customers,” Mr. Diallo and his partners wrote this month in a letter to the service. “You treated drivers well and we loved you for that. Little did we know that it would be a short-lived momentary ecstasy that you used to lure us in in great numbers, just so that you can execute your plans and strategies toward world domination.”

Uber, mostly through the voice of Josh Mohrer, the 33-year-old general manager of Uber New York, has said it is pained by the grievances of the drivers, who, while not employees of the service, are known as “driver-partners” in the company’s jargon. Like most tech operations, Uber has a data set for everything, and Mr. Mohrer said his numbers proved that January’s price cut, like a steeper one two years ago, increased the demand for rides and therefore led to larger driver paychecks.

“It’s not intuitive to think that lower fares will mean more money, but that is the reality,” Mr. Mohrer said. He added that he understood why the drivers might be anxious. “It’s a big ask to say, ‘Just trust us.’”

And yet there are underlying reasons for the drivers not to trust him. Uber, like other players in the gig economy, has a tenuous relationship with those who make a living from its software. Its drivers — 34,000 in New York — are independent contractors who buy their own cars, pay for gas and maintenance, and provide their own insurance. Although they get no benefits, they remit to Uber 20 to 25 percent of what they make as a fee to use the service. And unlike its competitors like Lyft, Uber does not permit tipping through its app, but it still reserves the right to “deactivate” its drivers, sometimes for little more than a subpar rider rating.

Two years ago, Travis Kalanick, Uber’s chief executive, said in an interview about the company’s plan to field a fleet of driverless vehicles that a reason the service was relatively expensive was that customers were paying for “the other dude in the car.” As the company’s ridership explodes and the investor class anticipates a potential public offering, the drivers say they often feel like just some other dude: a frictional human substance that gets in the way of an idealized experience of seamless digital travel.

“Uber treats its drivers however it wants,” Mr. Diallo said. “But we’re the ones who do everything except provide the technology.”

A former import-export trader who studied for a business degree, Mr. Diallo, 29, has been driving for the company for three years in a $50,000 Chevrolet Suburban. At first, he said, the job was great: He could afford his lease and still make money because he was taking in as much as $5,000 a week.

But in 2014, Uber cut its rates by 20 percent and not long after that it increased its commissions. Last year, it forced new drivers working for its luxury arm, Uber Black, to pick up passengers through its less expensive option, UberX. On top of this, Mr. Diallo claimed that Uber’s aggressive hiring has flooded the city with too many drivers chasing too few fares.

The price cuts last month were the final straw that set off the rebellion. Most of the drivers learned about the change through a company email, whose lack of warning and remoteness were softened by the fact that Uber promised, for a month, to guarantee an hourly wage at pre-cut levels. Within days of the announcement — and despite the guarantees — Mr. Diallo and two other drivers, Fabio Krasniqi and Farrukh Khamdamov, decided on a strike. Calling themselves the Uber Drivers Network, they created a Facebook page, designed a flier and paid for nearly 20,000 copies at a print shop near La Guardia.

“People can’t make a living,” Mr. Diallo said on the phone after a meeting to coordinate the New York actions with others in London and San Francisco. “They’re picking up $8 fares. They’re driving their cars into the ground. Collectively, there’s a lot of money coming in, but no one individual is making much.

“It’s gotten to the point,” he said, “where it’s literally unbearable.”

Uber likes to say that its drivers, not its riders, are its customers. And while the company might not give its customers health care or a pension, it does provide them access to high-tech support centers, modeled on Apple’s Genius Bars, where they can ask questions about commercial licenses, receive free medical exams or get a can of soda. Uber also helps its drivers negotiate leases with car dealers.

The conflict over the price cuts has been especially vexing for the company, which is adamant that the lower rates have been a boon to both the drivers and its own bottom line. Shortly after the strikers wrote to Uber, Mr. Kalanick posted a memo onto his Facebook page showing that the previous cuts had increased the average driver’s gross hourly wages from $28 to $37. On Tuesday, Mr. Mohrer released numbers indicating that from the three weeks before the last round of cuts to the three weeks after, drivers’ wages went up by 17 percent.

Uber also disputes the claim that there are too many drivers in New York. There are still more taxi riders that the company could woo, and, according to Mr. Mohrer, after the recent cuts were made, trips in the Bronx and Queens, where many drivers live, went up by nearly 25 percent.

But if all this data has the weight of scripture for Uber executives, it has been less persuasive to the drivers, who say the statistics do not fully describe the experience of working for the company. Though lower prices might increase their workload and thus their gross, they say, the increased revenue will be eroded by a corresponding increase in expenses.

At the Super Bowl rally, a driver named Mustafa, who declined to give his last name because he feared reprisals from Uber, said he expected to make about $40 an hour after the cuts. But that was before he paid for higher costs of maintenance, gas and washes; for his car lease, insurance and sales and income taxes; for emissions inspections and the 2.5 percent of earnings he gives each year to the Black Car Fund, a drivers’ trade group, for workers’ compensation; and, of course, for his commissions.

“When you put it together, the numbers don’t add up,” Mustafa said. “I’m taking home less than minimum wage.”
And beyond money, culture matters, too, the drivers say. Some mentioned a photograph that Mr. Mohrer posted on Twitter during his early days at Uber, which showed him smiling with Mr. Kalanick above a message that read, “Jamming with @travisk and plotting city domination.” Others pointed to their own support of Uber this summer when the company went to war with Mayor Bill de Blasio, who wanted to cap its growth, ostensibly to lessen road congestion. During the fight, which it won when Mr. de Blasio dropped his plan for the cap, Uber mobilized millions of dollars and an all-star team of political tacticians, but it also made use of the sympathetic image of hard-working immigrants telling City Hall that Uber put food on the table for their families.

“We stood behind them,” said Ronnie Paulino, a driver who has worked for Uber for a year. “Then they turned around and cut our pay.”

After speaking this month to an economics class at New York University, Mr. Mohrer acknowledged that when he first came to Uber, there were fewer drivers and stronger bonds between them and his management team. But as the fleet has grown, he said, he has tried to remain responsive to the drivers, who, on average, work 30 hours a week — or triple the rate of their peers in smaller cities.

“They’re more vested and engaged in Uber, so we take a more careful approach here,” Mr. Mohrer said. He added: “It’s a deeper relationship.”

But deeper doesn’t necessarily mean easier. A few weeks ago, Mr. Mohrer met with the leaders of the strikes at his office on West 27th Street in Chelsea’s gallery district. He said they had a frank discussion about the rate cuts, which could be rescinded if the cuts do not achieve their goals. While he was not explicit about what those goals might be, he insisted that the conversation had been useful. “I want to do this regularly,” he said. “Giving drivers the opportunity to speak to me and my staff can result in more rapid change.”

The strikers found the meeting less successful. “It was a joke,” Mr. Diallo said. “They treated us like jokers.” From his perspective, Mr. Mohrer offered no concessions on the cuts and was firm on only one position: that there would never be a tipping option on Uber’s app.

And that was the message Mr. Krasniqi delivered to the crowd in Queens on Super Bowl Sunday. Cupping his hands to his mouth, he reported on the meeting, then told the drivers to call their friends and relatives who also worked for Uber and urge them to stop driving.

“That’s how we built them up — with our friends and families,” Mr. Krasniqi roared. “And if we built them up, we can destroy them!”

It is hard to tell at this point just how serious the threat to Uber from sustained unrest would be. The challenges of organizing a work force composed of men and women of disparate ethnicities and languages loosely connected by a cloud-based app are significant. “If the drivers can come together in a block causing problems, they might get something,” said Evan Rawley, a professor of strategy at the Columbia Business School who studies the taxi industry. “But this is not West Virginia coal miners who all grew up together in the same small town.”

Uber has been somewhat clumsy in dealing with the problems with its fleet. In a stroke of unfortunate timing, Wired magazine published a 3,000-word treatise on Uber’s new corporate logo one day after the drivers went on strike outside its New York office. It was an inadvertent study in tech-world navel-gazing: as hundreds of immigrants were splashed across the Internet attacking Uber, Wired described how Mr. Kalanick had been working for two years on the logo, immersing himself in organic color schemes and kerning.

There is a potential wild card: Class-action lawsuits have been filed against Uber, including in the federal courts in Brooklyn and San Francisco, which seek to make the drivers full employees. If the suits are successful, they could cripple Uber’s business model, though some legal experts have said they are skeptical that the drivers could prevail when they use their own vehicles, and decide themselves when and whether to pick up passengers.

That leaves the traditional route of union organizing, which, in the case of the strikers in New York, has become chaotic. About a year ago, the Uber Drivers Network approached Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, one of whose organizers has been helping them plan rallies and collect union cards. The New York Taxi Workers Alliance, an advocacy group for yellow cabdrivers, claims to have signed up nearly 5,000 Uber drivers in the city. And on Feb. 2, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 1430, filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board asking to represent another 600 Uber drivers who work at La Guardia.

Mr. Diallo and his team have been working on a secret weapon: a driver-owned app to compete with those from Lyft and Uber, those from other ride-hailing companies like Gett and Via, and the taxi industry’s own two e-hailing systems, Way2Ride and Arro. The drivers designed the app themselves and have hired a company called Swift Technologies to build it. It could be ready as early as next month.

“The solution is not to stay with Uber,” Mr. Diallo said. “The solution is to have our own platform — to build a real partnership and really be partners.”

For now, however, they are still planning strikes, even if the one on Super Bowl Sunday was of questionable effectiveness. The drivers celebrated the action on their Facebook page, posting a screen shot of Uber’s app that night — accompanied by the hashtag #SHUTDOWNSUPERBOWL — that showed a wait time at Kennedy Airport of 72 minutes.

But the very next morning, Uber sent an email to its drivers announcing that the day before, it had broken its record for the most trips on a Sunday.

“Thanks to you, our driver-partners,” the email read, “hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers moved safely around the city this weekend.”

photo credit: nationofachange.com

US Attorney General’s Daughter Arrested after Failure to Pay Her Uber-T Fare in Brooklyn

The stepdaughter of U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch found herself in trouble with the law after failing to pay a cab driver in Brooklyn, police sources said Sunday.

Kia Absalom was taken into police custody and placed in a holding cell at the 69th Precinct stationhouse in Canarsie after she couldn’t cover her $20 fare about 3:30 p.m. last Monday, according to police sources.

Hassan Almaweri drove the cab that Kia Absalom, stepdaughter to U.S. Attoney for New York Loretta Lynch, allegedly couldn’t pay for.

Hassan Almaweri drove the cab that Kia Absalom, stepdaughter to U.S. Attoney for New York Loretta Lynch, allegedly couldn’t pay for.

The cabbie, Hassan Almaweri, 58, said Absalom, 21, told him she thought she’d paid with an app and didn’t have cash.

 

“I asked her to pay me,” Almaweri told the Daily News.

“She said, ‘No, I paid by the app.’”

“What do you mean, the app?” Almaweri says he responded.

 

Almaweri is a taxi driver signed up for UberT — Uber’s taxi hail option, according to a spokesperson for the app. For a $2 fee, riders can use Uber to book a yellow or green cab and then pay with cash or credit, not through the app.

Absalom, whose father, Stephen Hargrove, married Lynch in 2007, said she didn’t have any credit cards on hand but had credit card numbers, which the driver refused to accept, police sources said.

“So I drive her to the police station,” Almaweri said. “I go to the police and say, ‘This lady doesn’t want to pay me.’”

A sergeant who was involved with the dispute said Absalom never made mention of her relationship to Lynch.

After Absalom was placed in a cell, her boyfriend came and paid the fare, the cabbie and police sources said. Police voided the arrest, and Absalom was released without ever being fingerprinted or processed, sources said.

Later that day, a lieutenant at the precinct notified the department of the arrest and an internal review was launched, police sources said.

The cabbie, Hassan Almaweri, 58, said Absalom, 21, told him she thought she’d paid with an app and didn’t have cash.

The cabbie, Hassan Almaweri, 58, said Absalom, 21, told him she thought she’d paid with an app and didn’t have cash.

On Thursday, Absalom’s father, along with FBI agent John Robison, visited the precinct to make sure that Absalom didn’t get preferential treatment and that the incident was handled properly, sources said. They even verified that Absalom’s shoelaces were removed after she was placed in a cell, just like anybody else in custody, sources said.

Lynch was sworn in as attorney general in April.

Article Originally Featured on NY Daily News

*Photo Credit: “Loretta E. Lynch Addresses the CERD Committee” By: United States Geneva’s Photostream/Source: Flickr

NY Traffic Ticket Lawyer|2 Point Disobey Device Reduced to 0 Points in Nassau

Another happy client had 2 points dismissed on a disobey traffic device reduced to 0 points in Nassau County!

The law defines disobeying a traffic control device as violating any sign, marking, or device (placed by authority) that regulates, warns and guides traffic.  This means that disobeying any marking on the pavement and any traffic signs (such as a STOP or YIELD) are considered a “traffic device” offense.  The fine for disobeying a traffic control device starts at $138 in New York City.

If you are ticketed for disobeying a traffic device, we can fight for you.  Call for free legal advice at (212) 227-9008 or email us at MichaelBlock.law@gmail.com.  A  Disobey Traffic Device lawyer is waiting to help you.  New York Traffic Ticket Law can be very damaging to your driving record.  My advice is: don’t pay that traffic ticket.  Take a moment now to share a few details about your ticket here.  We always work for the best possible outcome.

We fight tickets all over New York, including: Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, and Long Island.

  1. shaquana brent  |  

    Hi, need a lawyer, pulled over or driving without insurance. I just need this ticket reduced, so i cman get this job with mta.

Speeding Man in Long Island had License Suspended 88 Times

If the first 88 times you don’t succeed…

Suffolk police busted a Pennsylvania man speeding through the Long Island Expressway on Sunday afternoon, after the driver was zooming at 86 mph.

When cops pulled over the speed demon, he gave the officers his Pennsylvania license, in an attempt to hide his litany of driving misdeeds, officers said.

Police learned that Eric Dunbar, 43, racked up 88 suspensions on his New York State license on 25 different occasions after trying to dodge traffic tickets, records showed.

Dunbar, of Tafton, Pa., amassed a series of license suspensions through multiple charges per ticket, Suffolk police told the Daily News.

He was charged with aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, speeding and unlawfully having more than one unexpired driver’s license.

He is expected to be arraigned at the First District Court in Central Islip on Monday.

 

Article Originally Featured on the NY Daily News

*Photo Credit: “Speed of Sound” By: Ana Paticia Almeida/Source: Flickr

 

GM Invests $500 Million on Lyft while Planning Self-Driving Car Network

–General Motors Co. will invest $500 million in Lyft Inc., giving the hailing startup a valuation of $5.5 billion and a major ally in the global battle against Uber Technologies Inc.–

The investment, part of a $1 billion financing round for Lyft, is the biggest move by an automaker to date when it comes to grappling with the meteoric rise of the ride-hailing industry.

GM and Lyft said they will work together to develop a network of self-driving cars that riders can call up on-demand, a vision of the future shared by the likes of Uber Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick and Google-parent Alphabet Inc. More immediately, America’s largest automaker will offer Lyft drivers vehicles for short-term rent through various hubs in U.S. cities, the companies said in separate statements on Monday.

GM President Dan Ammann, who is joining Lyft’s board as part of the deal, expects the automotive industry to “change more in the next five years than it has in the last 50 and we obviously want to make sure we’re at the forefront of that change.”

Global Alliance

Ammann called the investment an “alliance” with Lyft. Rather than stay neutral in the battle between Uber and Lyft, GM invested because of the “level of integration and cooperation that will be required, particularly for the longer term nature of this,” he said in a phone interview.

Uber’s Kalanick, whose company has been investing aggressively in self-driving cars, has said that it could take between 5 and 15 years before such vehicles are meaningfully deployed around the country.

GM is open to working with some of Lyft’s international partners, which include Didi Kuaidi in China, Ola in India and GrabTaxi in Southeast Asia, Ammann said.

“We certainly see an opportunity to work together through those relationships,” Ammann said. “The U.S. is our home market and it continues to be our largest market and we think this is the right place to begin the journey.”

The partnership is a blow for Uber, which has fought to overwhelm Lyft, its only substantial U.S. competitor. Sidecar, another American rival, announced in December that it would shut its network.

Uber has raised more than $10 billion in financing and is spending aggressively to grow. Its last round of financing valued the company at $62.5 billion.

Doubling Financing

Ford Motor Co. is experimenting with its own ride-sharing initiatives: the company last year started offering a network of shared cars in London to tap the growing market for on-demand driving. Fontinalis Partners LLC, the venture firm funded by Ford family heir Bill Ford, has previously invested in Lyft.

Lyft’s latest financing round nearly doubles the three-year-old startup’s total financing. Since 2013, Lyft has raised more than $2 billion, the company said. Bloomberg previously reported that Lyft had filed to raise $1 billion as part of this financing round. Its latest $5.5 billion valuation is post-money, meaning it includes the value from raising its latest $1 billion.

Saudi Arabian billionaire Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal’s Kingdom Holding Co. invested $100 million as part of the round and existing investors Janus Capital Management, Rakuten Inc., Didi Kuaidi and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. also participated, according to the statement.

Lyft lost $127 million in the first half of 2015 on $46.7 million in revenue, according to fundraising documents obtained by Bloomberg. It said in November it has gained share in key markets such as San Francisco, and has a gross revenue “run rate” of $1 billion. Lyft has said it’s operating in more than 190 cities.

Article Originally Featured on Bloomberg Business

*Photo Credit: “LYFT” By: Alfredo Mendez

Drunken Female Real Estate Agent Stole Yellow Cab in Manhattan

A drunken female real estate agent swiped a taxi when the cabby stopped at a Manhattan police station to report her boozed-up misbehavior — grabbing the wheel and taking off as he spoke to cops inside, authorities say.

Kinga Tabares, 27, who works for the Douglas Elliman agency, acted so wildly during the ride in the wee hours of Nov. 13 — even allegedly refusing to pay — that cabby Ronald Desir took her and a pal to the 13th Precinct station house, sources said Tuesday.

The 50-year-old driver picked up the women at Washington and Little West 12th streets, but their boozy buffoonery forced him to make the pit stop at the East 21st Street station house, according to the sources.

Tabares “was so drunk, she didn’t know where she was going,” Desir told The Post, adding that her friend was the “normal” one of the two.

While he was inside the station house asking for help, Tabares allegedly got in the driver’s seat and drove off.

“When I came back outside, they were taking off,” Desir said. When cops caught Tabares in Chelsea, she was vomiting out the driver’s window, the sources said.

The broker was charged with grand larceny, unauthorized use of a vehicle and DWI.

She was taken into custody and transported to Bellevue Hospital, where she allegedly refused to take a breath test.

When asked by The Post about the bust, Tabares — who is also taking classes at NYU — claimed that details about her stealing the cab were “completely false” and that “there’s more to this story.”

“I’m not speaking about it until there’s further investigation,” she said.

Tabares’ lawyer, Sean Parmenter, refused to comment any further and added that he was still looking into the case.

Article Originally Featured on the New York Post

*Photo Credit: NYC Taxi by Vinoth Chandar/Source: Flickr

2 Point Disobey Device and Aggravated Unlicensed Reduced to 0 Point Violation in Rockland County

Another happy client had 2 points dismissed on a disobey traffic device and no criminal charges for aggravated driving unlicensed!

The law defines disobeying a traffic control device as violating any sign, marking, or device (placed by authority) that regulates, warns and guides traffic.  This means that disobeying any marking on the pavement and any traffic signs (such as a STOP or YIELD) are considered a “traffic device” offense.  The fine for disobeying a traffic control device starts at $138 in New York City.

Aggravated Driving Unlicensed carries no points but is considered a misdemeanor criminal offense.  If you are pulled over by a police officer for a traffic violation, such as speeding, and the police officer realizes that your license is suspended or revoked, you can be charged for aggravated driving unlicensed.   In our client’s case, we were able to reduce the misdemeanor to a no-point traffic violation.  As a result, our client has no points and no criminal record!

If you are ticketed for disobeying a traffic device or have an aggravated unlicensed violation, we can fight for you.  Call for free legal advice at (212) 227-9008 or email us at MichaelBlock.law@gmail.com.  A  Disobey Traffic Device lawyer is waiting to help you.  New York Traffic Ticket Law can be very damaging to your driving record.  My advice is: don’t pay that traffic ticket.  Take a moment now to share a few details about your ticket here.  We always work for the best possible outcome.

 We fight tickets all over New York, including: Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, and Long Island.

A New York Woman Says Her Body is a Brewery, and Beats Drunk Driving Charges

A New York judge has dismissed a drunk driving charge against a woman who took steps to prove her body works as a brewery, using excess intestinal yeast to turn ordinary food into alcohol, resulting in breathalyzer readouts that generally would indicate life-threatening intoxication.

The excuse may sound bogus, but The Buffalo News reports elected Hamburg town Judge Walter Rooth found the woman’s claim compelling after she spent $7,000 working with a specialist to show her body sometimes meets the legal definition of drunkenness without actual alcohol intake.

“I would say it is not safe to drive a car if you are in an auto brewery syndrome flare,” Dr. Anup Kanodia of Ohio, an auto-brewery syndrome expert who monitored and tested the woman, told the News. “But it’s a brand new disease and we’re still trying to understand it.”

Kanodia told the paper, which did not name the woman, that he believes between 50 and 100 people have been diagnosed with the disorder, and that it’s likely upward of 95 percent of sufferers don’t know they have the condition.

Rooth dismissed the charges Dec. 9, but his decision has been slow to attract news coverage. The local prosecutor’s office plans to appeal Rooth’s decision, The News reports.

Spokespeople for the judge and the head of the Erie County District Attorney’s Office’s drunk driving division did not immediately return U.S. News requests for comment.

Flare-ups of Auto-Brewery Syndrome evidently are triggered in part by diets high in carbohydrates. Kanodia said he advised the woman to eat differently, alleviating her symptoms.

Though not widely known, the syndrome is beginning to attract media attention, with sufferers reporting bouts of goofiness after eating french fries and false accusations of alcoholism.

The BBC reported earlier this year that the condition may be connected to long-term antibiotic use and in at least two other cases appears to have been treated successfully with anti-fungal drugs and reduced consumption of carbohydrates and sugar.

The New York woman who shed — at least temporarily — her drunk driving charge is a 35-year-old teacher. Last year, she was arrested after a 911 tipster reported she was weaving. She reportedly was found driving on a flat tire with “glassy-bloodshot eyes and slurred speech.” She said she had three cocktails, but a breathalyzer found her blood alcohol content was .33 percent.

“Her tire was flat, and she felt she was close enough to home that she could drive the rest of the way,” the woman’s attorney, Joseph Marusak, told The News. “She can register a blood alcohol content that would have you or I falling down drunk, but she can function.”

Article Originally Featured on US News

Photo Credit: “Breath Test” by Oregon Department of Transportation/Source: Flickr

Uber May Expand to Upstate NY: Rochester, Buffalo and Syracuse

Lawmakers returning to Albany for the usual debates over taxes and spending will also take on an issue even more basic to many New Yorkers — the options for getting home from the train station, the airport or a long night out on the town.

Uber is hoping lawmakers approve statewide regulations during the 2016 legislative session that will allow the app-based ride-hailing service to expand into upstate cities including Buffalo, Albany, Rochester and Syracuse.

The service is now legally permitted to operate only in the immediate New York City area. The company, whose smartphone-based service allows users to quickly order car service, has expanded rapidly throughout the country in recent years. Josh Mohrer, Uber’s New York general manager, said rules allowing Uber to operate have been passed in 27 states.

“People really want this, being able to push a button and get a ride,” he said. “Buffalo is now the largest American city by population that doesn’t have Uber. My goal is to go where we’re not.”

The company has assembled a large coalition of local mayors, drunken driving activists, state lawmakers and even clergy who support the expansion. Aside from a new transportation alternative, Uber promises to create thousands of flexible driving jobs throughout upstate.

But the taxi companies aren’t giving up without a fight. The industry warns that Uber’s expansion will threaten the jobs of dispatch operators and other back-room employees who aren’t necessary for Uber’s web-based business model. They’ve also questioned the effectiveness of background checks on Uber drivers and said the company’s vehicles are required to be accessible for the disabled.

Bill Yuhnke, president of Buffalo’s Liberty Yellow Cab, said Uber doesn’t want to abide by the same rules — taxes, fare regulations, insurance — that have long applied to the taxi industry. He noted his company has long offered an app that allows riders to order a car.

“It’s not a level playing field. If they played by the same rules I wouldn’t have any problem,” he said, noting that Uber sets its own fares while taxi fares are closely regulated. “You can’t be half pregnant. You’re either a taxi or not. We’ve been doing this for years. We have standards in place.”

Lawmakers are expected to consider various options that would allow Uber — and rival Lyft — to expand throughout the state. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in October that he is in favor of a statewide licensing system.

“You can’t do Uber city by city,” he said.

Syracuse-area resident Donna Keeping hopes to be one of Uber’s first upstate drivers. The 61-year-old already has a job at a hospital but said driving for Uber part-time could help her cover college tuition for her children. Uber drivers are responsible for maintaining their own vehicles but get to set their own hours, an idea that appeals to Keeping.

“I haven’t found the right scenario for work,” she said. “I’m social. I love to drive. I’m ready to roll as soon I can.”

New York City taxi driver Ayman Ahmed said Uber may be a good fit for people looking for part-time work, but not for full-time taxi drivers. Ahmed left the taxi business to drive for Uber for six weeks, only to find it a disappointment. He said it doesn’t pay as well as driving a cab.

“Uber hires anyone. It might work if you need a few hours. But this is the only job I have,” he said. “I have rent, kids, a wife.”

Article Originally Featured on NY Daily News

*Photo Credit: “An UBER application is shown as cars drive by in Washington, DC. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images)” By Mark Warner/Source: Flickr

NYC Traffic Ticket Lawyer | How to Avoid Traffic this Christmas

A record-breaking 100 million Americans are expected to travel over the four-day Christmas holiday period, and Christmas Eve will be the worst day to travel in New York City.

The lowest gas prices since 2009 and a stronger economy are fueling the surge of people traveling 50 miles or more during the holiday, according to AAA.

The worst day to drive in New York City over the holidays will be Thursday, according to data from the smartphone app Waze.

The company relies on crowdsourced information from drivers, and is used by 1.9 million motorists in New York City, as well as 50 million people nationally. It also shares information from the NYPD on road closures for major events.

On top of congestion on Christmas Eve, there is a 42% increase in car crashes, and an almost 30% boost in hazard reports in New York City compared with an average from the two weeks before the holidays and after, the company’s data shows.

Hazards locally include potholes, vehicles stopped on the road, construction, and objects on the road such as a tree branch or fallen sign.

Nationally, the worst day to travel during the week of Christmas is Wednesday, Waze says. Drivers typically hit the roads for holiday travel around 11 a.m. Congestion peaks that afternoon between 3 and 6 p.m. as more motorists leave work for holiday travel.

Sunday — the end of the holiday weekend — is also a nightmare on the roads, with a combination of heavy traffic congestion, traffic crashes, and other police alerts.

If drivers can take Monday off from work, it’s a much smoother day to drive home.

Flyers can also expect New York City metropolitan area airports to be mobbed. Between Dec. 17 and Jan. 1, almost 6 million passengers will fly through the JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark airports.

JFK will see 2.5 million flyers, and 1.6 million people will travel through LaGuardia. Another 1.7 million will fly to or from Newark.

Airfares are down 6%, an average of $174 a flight roundtrip compared with last year, according to AAA. Hotel and car rental prices are up, however.

More than 90% of Americans who take trips will drive, or more than 91 million people. AAA says they expect almost a million drivers will be stranded and call the association for help, due to flat tires, dead batteries, and motorists locked out of their cars.

Another 5.8 million people will fly, and 3.5 million travelers will take buses, trains, and cruises.

Article Originally Featured on AM New York

*Photo Credit: “Northbound I-405 rush hour” By: Oran Viryincy/(Source: Flickr)

 

NY Traffic Ticket Lawyer: Crackdown on Drunk Driving Starts Today

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — State troopers and law enforcement across the state will be taking part in this year’s national “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign, which begins Friday and runs through New Year’s Day.

Motorists will notice more patrols along highways and sobriety checkpoints during the campaign, state police said. Those are paid for by the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee.

Troopers will be using marked and unmarked vehicles to curb distracted driving, seat belt violations and people violating the Move Over Law.

“Traffic safety will be a top priority this holiday season,” New York State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D’Amico said. “If you’re celebrating, please do so responsibly. Don’t drink and drive, and if you are drinking, designate a sober driver or plan ahead for a ride home.”

Last year troopers issued more than 49,000 tickets during the crackdown. That included 17,000 tickets for speeding, 1,700 for distracted driving and about 700 for Move Over Law violations.

State police said more than 700 people were arrested for DWI and 13 people were killed in car accidents.

The state police offered the following advice to motorists during the holidays:

–Plan a safe way home before the celebrating begins
–Before drinking, designate a sober driver
–If you’re impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation
–Use your community’s sober ride program
–If you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, don’t hesitate to contact police
–If you know someone who is about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements

Article Originally Featured on Syracuse.com

Photo Credit: “Breath Test” by Oregon Department of Transportation/Source: Flickr

NYC Traffic Ticket Lawyer: Cell phone use increases in drivers despite risk and law enforcement

Every year thousands of Americans die in accidents caused by distracted driving.

And while a new survey found that most people know texting and checking email behind the wheel is dangerous, a growing number do it anyway.

Steff Demaya engaged with a cellphone on the road, and now she is learning how to walk all over again.

“That’s where they cut it,” she said.

Her leg was injured and later amputated after she crashed her car. She admitted that she was distracted, and reaching for her ringing cell phone.

“I reached down to grab it on the floor board, just that quick,” she said.

Even though many drivers recognize how distracting cell phones can be behind the wheel, and support measures to crackdown on using them, new data shows that the problem is only getting worse.

“If you know this to be distracting, why are you doing it? These additional activities are troubling,” said Chris Mullen director of technology research at State Farm.

A new State Farm survey found the number of people texting while driving has remained relatively stable since 2009, but it found that more than twice as many drivers surf the internet. Reading emails and checking social media accounts while driving are also up.

A Colorado man has created a device that could stop the problem. It’s called The Groove, it’s a small box that plugs into almost any modern car.

The Groove blocks the driver’s phone from sending or receiving data. Phone calls will go through, but no texts, emails, or social media. The system won’t deliver them until the car is turned off.

It also means that mobile networks need to cooperate, something that, despite years of successful testing and demonstrations hasn’t happened.

“You cannot imagine how frustrating it’s been. And I can’t watch the public service announcements because we’re standing on something that can stop that. It’s hard to watch them and know that you’re in the middle of something and you want it to be out there,” Scott Tibbitts said. “Being a parent, I cannot imagine getting a phone call that says there’s been an accident.”

While mobile companies may be hesitant to work with the device, its creators said it works with any phone and any car made after 1996.

Groove does not require an app.

While 98 percent of drivers surveyed believe that texting while driving is dangerous, 66 percent admit to doing it.

Article Originally Featured on CBS New York

*Photo Credit: “texting and driving” By: frankieleon/Source: Flickr