Tag Archives: auto technology

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.




Photo via VisualHunt

This Social Media App Could Kill Your Kids

Technology is constantly evolving and new forms of social media are being created every day. Snapchat is the newest and most popular social network; just about everyone has it on their phone or knows someone who actively uses it. It’s a combination of a video and photo app complete with the ability to add and write captions, filters and even a speedometer filter. Users, who are largely made up of teens are living in the super connected age; they never want to miss a thing, so they’re always logged on. This means snapping while in school, out with friends and even in the car. The biggest problem with this app is that users are “snapping” while behind the wheel.

According to Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students against Destructive Driving (SADD) a survey that was taken of 11th and 12th graders across the country proved that teens are using snapchat more than any other form of social media when driving. Out of all other possible digital distractions, Snapchat ranked highest at 38%. There are an alarming number of car accidents and fatalities being caused by users that were snapping while driving. The speedometer filter is also a major factor in users snapping while driving. There have been reports of teens in car accidents who were snapping while their speeds were maxing over 100 MPH.

snap and drive

It’s important that parents have conversations about distracted driving and the consequences of using Snapchat and other social media apps while driving.  With Snapchat’s growing popularity and constant updates making it even more enticing to use whenever and where ever; teens need to know that it’s okay to put the phone down. In New York, lawmakers are pushing for Text and Driving/Distracted Driving tickets to be treated like DWIs. A conviction may result in license suspension. Snapchat’s core users are under the age of 24 and new drivers cannot afford a five point ticket (Improper use of Portable Electronic Device).

Make sure you speak to your children about their phone usage while behind the wheel. Remind them that it is against the law, can cost them (or you the parent) money, points on their record or even worse, their life. If you or someone in your family has received a summons for using an electronic device while driving, please do not hesitate to contact me. Young drivers should not have any infractions on their records, and as an experienced New York Traffic Ticket Attorney I can fight for them. Contact me at 212-227-9008 or via email at michaelblock.law@gmail.com


Photo: NY Times 

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

New Technology and Apps Shaping the Way We Hail a Cab

Hailing a cab in the city is officially high-tech, and these are the apps that are currently being ushered.

The Taxi and Limousine Commission approved a yearlong pilot program to let New Yorkers hail one of the city’s more than 13,000 yellow cabs from their smartphones, the first time anything other than street hails will be allowed. Similar programs have existed in cities around the world and across the United States.

Most of the apps follow the same general format: The app will use your phone’s GPS to find you or you enter an address; you then tell it to ping nearby cabbies; and then a driver in the area who gets the request will come pick you up. Most of the apps allow live GPS tracking of the driver, as well as automatic payments (in addition to cash).

The drivers need to have the cabbie version of the apps activated for them to work.

“It’s the TLC’s job to represent passengers, and when new technology comes along, we want to make sure it’s available to them,” TLC Commissioner David Yassky said when the program was approved. “New York City is known for embracing innovation, and we’ve certainly done that today.”

Traditional caller and dispatch cab companies have also had to make some changes throughout the years.  Rafael, owner of Delancey Car Service for over 30 years, informed us that they have had to incorporate new technologies as.  Their current website allows clients to schedule a cab pick-up or drop-off.  On the site they’re also able to pay and specify specific needs or requirements that a cab company may have.  They are currently working on a mobile app that should be available within a year.

Here are four of the apps that will launch or have already launched:

  • Hailo

One of the biggest international cab-hailing apps, Hailo has enormous footprints in London, Toronto, Tokyo, Ireland and other locations. It was started by three London cabbies and three entrepreneurs, and launched in the United States in October in Boston, followed by Chicago in November.

Founder Jay Bregman said the city took a “huge step in the right direction” by allowing smartphone hails.

“The market is really inefficient; people find it difficult to get a taxi,” he said. “We create efficiency. . . . We want to bring the tech we know to help solve some of the fundamental problems.”

Technology: iOS apps you need right now

 He added: “It’s really just the natural evolution of a hail.”

Price: Riders pay $1.50 per hail, more during rush hour

Features: After hailing a cab, you can watch the cab’s progress throughout the city in real time; users can enable automatic payments so they can jump out of the cab when they reach their destination.

Platforms: iPhone, Android


  • Uber

Uber has become the best-known name in the country for its car services, and has launched in dozens of cities including Philadelphia, Chicago and Los Angeles. Its app has already been active for livery cabs in New York for some time, but faced trouble when it launched a hailing program for yellow cabs in September, which it shut down after about a month.

Still, Uber’s reach is undeniable, and its already massive foothold in the city gives it a leg up on competitors.

“Only Uber has a proven record in New York City, successfully connecting drivers and riders thousands of times and delivering more money for drivers,” spokesman Stu Loeser said.

Price: Unconfirmed, but in the ballpark of $1.50 to $2.50 per hail

Features: Has an existing infrastructure in the city with its livery cab service, so if no yellow cabs are available, users can easily get a sedan, town car or SUV; users can keep credit card info on file.

Platforms: iPhone, Android, Web app and SMS


  • TaxiMagic

One of the oldest apps in the car-hailing space, TaxiMagic this month is marking its four-year anniversary. Some 25,000 cars in 51 U.S. cities are on its network, including San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles and more, making it one of the largest such apps in the country. It has long had its eye on the city, but only now has the chance to swoop in.

“This is just going to be a huge opportunity. New York is the most iconic taxi market in the entire world,” said TaxiMagic spokesman Matt Carrington. “This has become such a hot start-up space with a lot of momentum; we’re just really excited to be able to move in and show off our capabilities.”

TaxiMagic already serves New York with its sister app SedanMagic, which, like Uber, gives it a built-in familiarity with the market.

Technology: Android apps you need now

Price: Unconfirmed, but about $1.50 to $2.50 per hail

Features: Users can submit requests to pre-schedule rides; live GPS taxi-tracking; users can keep credit card info on file.

Platforms: iPhone, Android, Web app, SMS


  • GetTaxi


A popular international service, GetTaxi is an Israeli-based cab-hailing app that operates in more than dozen cities worldwide, including Moscow, London and a handful of cities in Israel. After launching in February 2010, the app quickly grew, and now it used once every second during peak times.

GetTaxi initially expressed interest in New York City in June, when it submitted a proposal to the TLC to become the city’s official taxi app. Though that ultimately fell through, the app’s chief executive has said the app is ready to be one of the first apps to participate in the program.

Price: Unconfirmed

Features: Estimated time of arrival and distance show in the app in real time; passengers can rate drivers and track previous rides; users can keep credit card info on file.

Platforms: iPhone, Android, BlackBerry

Original Article Featured on Newsday (has been modified for accuracy and a company feature for Delancey Car Service)

*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

Cars’ Voice-Activated Systems Distract Drivers, Study Finds

When driving, don’t talk to your car — or your phone.

That’s the underlying message of new neuroscience published Thursday that raises new questions about the safety of voice-activated technology in many new cars. The technology, heralded by many automakers, allows consumers to interact with their phones and their cars by issuing voice commands, rather than pushing buttons on the dashboard or phone.

But the research shows that the technology can be a powerful distraction, and a lingering one. The research found that the most complicated voice-activated systems can take a motorist’s mind off the road for as long as 27 seconds after he or she stops interacting with the system. Even less complex systems can leave the driver distracted for 15 seconds after a motorist disengages, the research shows.

These problems occur too with voice-activated systems from Apple, Google and Microsoft, according to the study.

Uber drivers typically have 15 seconds to tap a phone to accept a fare.

This lingering distraction reflects the time required for drivers to reorient themselves to the road after interacting with their cars’ voice-activated technology, according to the study’s lead scientist, David Strayer, a neuroscientist at the University of Utah. He said that using this technology required the same kind of brain power as “balancing a checkbook while driving.”

“When you hang up, you have to figure out where you are, how fast you’re going, where other vehicles are,” he said.

His research was funded by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a nonprofit research group. The group’s chief executive, Peter Kissinger, said, “The lasting effects of mental distraction pose a hidden and pervasive danger that would likely come as a surprise to most drivers.”

The research highlights a growing gap between the spread and use of multitasking technology by drivers and the science that shows that the technology poses serious risks. Texting while driving, an activity that is almost universally condemned as dangerous, is becoming more commonplace, not less so, according to surveys in recent years by the AAA Foundation.

Carmakers have said that their voice-activated systems provide a safer alternative to manipulating phones with hands that should be on the wheel.

Some safety advocates have argued that carmakers, and some technology companies that offer apps specifically to be used by drivers, are sending a misguided message to drivers that voice-activated technology is safe and therefore acceptable. The safety advocates say that carmakers have a financial incentive to push these systems because they can be sold as profitable add-ons to new cars.

In the latest research from Dr. Strayer, one of the field’s most established scientists, he compared the mental energy required by drivers to use more than 10 different voice-activated systems. The most distracting, he found, belonged to the Mazda 6, followed by Microsoft’s Cortana system, and cars from Hyundai, Chrysler, Nissan and Volkswagen. Apple’s Siri system also created a “high distraction,” the research found. The system in the Chevrolet Equinox and Buick LaCrosse created “moderate distraction,” it found.

Dr. Strayer said that when drivers disengage from the systems, the mental workload drops off in tiers, with the heaviest distraction passing after six seconds, then ebbing further after three more seconds, then again a few seconds later.

He said the challenges appeared more severe for drivers over the age of 50. The study included 257 drivers, ages 21 to 70, using 2015 model cars. An additional 65 drivers tested phone systems from Microsoft, Apple and Google.

Article Originally Featured on The New York Times

*Photo Credit: “2011 Audi A6 – NRMA Drivers Seat” By: The NRMA/Source: Flickr

A New Look for Yellow Cabs to Compete with Uber

Traffic Ticket Lawyer: A New Look for Yellow Cabs in New York City

As of this month, New York City’s standard yellow cab will be the Nissan NV200, reports fortune magazine.  This change should result in a more comfortable ride for passengers as the new vehicle has a sunroof and charging outlets.  The entry of the new vehicles comes at a time of struggle for traditional yellow cabs.  Since Uber has entered New York City, Mayor Bill de Blacio’s administration has attempted to cap the amount of Ubers on the streets, but Uber’s successful campaign against de Blacio’s proposed regulations shut down the possibility of the cap.  The newer solution is to offer a better taxi experience to boost yellow cabs as an industry.

*Photo Credit: “NYC TAXI” By: Vinoth Chandar/Source: Flickr

New Safety Details Regarding Self-Driving Cars

California state officials have recently released information detailing six accidents involving self-driving car prototypes. The accidents were not serious enough to result in any injuries to the drivers however. It is important to note that California law mandates that a person is still present in the driver’s seat of a self-driving car while the cars are out on the streets. These laws aim to prevent such accidents which result from distracted driving or texting while driving, which lead to traffic tickets with hefty fines. The Associated Press (AP) successfully argued that the California DMV was improperly withholding information about self-driving car accidents that was previously confidential. Interestingly, 8 different companies have permission to test 82 self-driving cars in California, but Google has been testing the most with over 1.8 million miles tested in total. Google was responsible for 5 out of the 6 total crashes, while Delphi was responsible for the one other crash. In addition, Google has become more open about releasing information about collisions and Google officials claim to be proud of their safety record. Google has been testing its self-driving cars since 2009, but it was only until September of 2014 that the California DMV officially permitted the testing of self-driving cars. Will self-driving cars ever be allowed to test in the complex traffic of New York City?

Uber Statistics Are In!

Uber has recently revealed the highly anticipated information on its drivers servicing New York City. Uber has released the exact ride numbers for the past 2 months in an attempt to rebuff Mayor Bill Deblasio following the City Council’s vote on a potential new cap for ride share companies. Uber released this information in a 56-page Excel document that details the number of pickups and active drivers currently on the road with the Uber app turned on for the last couple of months, all broken down by hour. Rides are also broken down into sections of New York City, like below 59th street in the city’s central business district. On July 19th, there were 3,198 Uber drivers active during the full 24 hours of that day. An interesting fact from the data revealed that the month of June saw 3,492,389 Uber pickups in New York City. Another fact to look at is that Uber’s busiest times are almost always late at night, with some days nearing 150 requests a minute between 9pm – 12am. What do you think of these statistics?

City Council to Hold Vote on Uber Cap Next Week

The City Council will take up a vote on two bills next week that could cause serious problems for Uber and other ride sharing companies. The first bill proposes a moratorium on licenses issued for app-aided private car services in NYC until the industry is sufficiently regulated. The second bill will set up a study to analyze the effect the influx of Uber and ridesharing cars have caused on the city environment in terms of traffic and air quality.

Opponents of these bills could cut thousands of jobs for drivers currently employed by

Uber and believe these new bills are simply Mayor de Blasio’s way of supporting the yellow taxi industry, which was a large source of donations to his mayoral campaign. The yellow taxi industry has been hit especially hard by the competition presented by Uber and Lyft, as evidenced by the value of yellow taxi medallions dropping dramatically and the fact that there are more Uber cars in NYC than yellow taxi cabs.

Do you think this cap is a good thing? Or should Uber be allowed to grow at their own pace?


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New Safety Details regarding Self-Driving Cars

California state officials have recently released information detailing six accidents involving self-driving car prototypes. The accidents were not serious enough to result in any injuries to the drivers however. It is important to note that California law mandates that a person is still present in the driver’s seat of a self-driving car while the cars are out on the streets. These laws aim to prevent such accidents which result from distracted driving or texting while driving, which lead to traffic tickets with hefty fines. The Associated Press (AP) successfully argued that the California DMV was improperly withholding information about self-driving car accidents that was previously confidential. Interestingly, 8 different companies have permission to test 82 self-driving cars in California, but Google has been testing the most with over 1.8 million miles tested in total. Google was responsible for 5 out of the 6 total crashes, while Delphi was responsible for the one other crash. In addition, Google has become more open about releasing information about collisions and Google officials claim to be proud of their safety record. Google has been testing its self-driving cars since 2009, but it was only until September of 2014 that the California DMV officially permitted the testing of self-driving cars. Will self-driving cars ever be allowed to test in the complex traffic of New York City?

Lawyer Sues Tech Companies over Distracted Driving

Stephen L. Joseph, a lawyer from Los Angeles who achieved positive results stemming from lawsuits against the food industry over trans-fats has now targeted the tech industry. The reason for the lawsuit? He believes companies such as Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, and Google produce devices that encourage drivers to focus on everything but the road while they’re driving. The lawsuit claims that these tech companies have a moral responsibility to help stop the problem of distracted driving. While Apple made no formal comment on the lawsuit, it did point out that drivers have the ability to turn off their phones and devices or engage settings that can limit the distractions – basically saying that it is the driver’s responsibility to limit distractions before they start driving.

The legal grounds for the lawsuit rest in “public nuisance” laws, which typically refer to community disruption, though law suits filed under the public nuisance law have been used to address public health issues. Experts expect the lawsuit to be throw out due to the fact that most public nuisance lawsuits have failed in court. This is true, but Mr. Joseph has filed other lawsuits that were ultimately thrown out – the trans-fat lawsuit and a lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles regarding graffiti – that still generated a lot of publicity and led to the changing of practices in those areas.

Do you think tech companies have a responsibility when it comes to distracted driving? Or is it up to the driver to make their own decisions?

Long Island Traffic Attorney: How Technology Changes the Way We Drive

Automobiles are being manufactured to make everything easier for drivers; they come installed with navigation, hands-free phones, and numerous other features that help to keep drivers safe. But where will the future lead with this kind of technology? Mercedes-Benz is already producing cars that are already equipped with “anticipatory driving,” which is meant to analyze the road to improve battery performance in hybrid cars. In addition, Mercedes-Benz has also joined Google and Delphi, among other companies, in producing driverless cars and trucks. But where will technology take cars and drivers in the future?

The Internet
Ride hailing services such as Uber and Lyft have contributed to the role the internet plays in transportation. Urban Millennials may never again have to buy a car because of these ride-for-hire companies that can pick customers up on the fly and bring them to their destination efficiently and quickly. Robotic taxis are also under study to see what benefit such high-tech machines may have for society. Interestingly, a study by the Earth Institutes at Columbia University demonstrates that robotic taxis would cost considerably less to operate than human-driven vehicles. But one large question remains: what about all those jobs that would be lost if cars were operated robotically instead of by human beings?

New Technologies for Auto Insurance?
Progressive, a major auto insurance company, recently introduced a new system that can determine how much money a driver must pay in insurance by studying their braking patterns. Drivers can save up to 30% on their premiums based on their driving performance, which indicates that safe drivers are finally being rewarded for their safe driving habits. These programs have many skeptics, however, because there is a concern that insurance companies will unfairly scrutinize people in setting premiums. That being said, it seems as though riskier drivers will end up paying more on their premiums due to their unsafe driving behaviors. But what constitutes a risky driver? The amount of miles traveled daily may play a factor into calculating the riskiness of drivers; companies like Metromile have already started to use mileage data when determining auto insurance premiums. These programs seem superb in theory because, once again, the determination of driver risk would no longer rely solely on credit score or education.

Cyber security
With all of the glitz and glamour that comes with great technological improvements, there are significant negatives like threats from malicious hackers who could easily gain access into “smart city” technologies. For example, the threat of a cyber-attack on our traffic systems and traffic lights has become a reality in the United States. The infrastructure of heavily-populated U.S. cities is at real risk from hackers whose goals are detrimental to the inhabitants of those cities. Other viruses or bugs have caused havoc in the past, such as in 2006 when San Francisco’s public transportation system closed down and trapped passengers underground. In a recent study, over 200,000 control sensors for traffic flow in D.C., New York, and San Francisco were found to be vulnerable to attack. However, steps have been taken to prevent these catastrophes from happening. Initiatives like “Securing Smart Cities” set out to protect the vulnerabilities of smart cities, while alert systems in in San Francisco notify jurisdictions if a specific county endures a cyber-attack.

Smart Roads
While there is a lot of attention paid to the technology built into automobiles, people rarely speak about the technology that goes into roads they drive on. Sensors and systems are being built into roads to create situations where drivers and cars can anticipate issues with the road surface before they become a problem. IBM has claimed to have reduced traffic by 25% in Stockholm, Sweden by examining traffic systems and informing the public on the most efficient times to drive. The goal of smarter roads and systems is for steady flow that can help reduce the amount of traffic and the amount of collisions on the road.

Semi-autonomous cars
Mercedes-Benz has recently introduced a semi-autonomous car with a steering assist feature that allows a vehicle to basically drive itself on freeways. This innovative driving feature, which is included in the Mercedes S550, allows the car to center itself within any lane and automatically brake and steer to keep up with the pace of traffic. However, the S550 does not fully drive itself, meaning the driver still needs to pay attention to the road. The S550 does not handle sharp turns well, so completely ignoring the road and relying on the car to drive itself is not a smart idea. To combat the complacency drivers may feel while sitting in a semi-autonomous car, Mercedes installed an alarm which goes off when the driver has taken their hands off the wheel for more than 10 seconds.

Semi-autonomous cars are becoming cheaper and more widely available each year, and are setting the stage for future fully autonomous cars. But would fully autonomous cars be a real benefit to society?

Smartphone-enabled carpooling could help to reduce the effect automobiles have on the environment by increasing the amount of passengers per car which, in turn, decreases the amount of cars on the road. Other for-hire transportation services like Uber and Lyft have changed the way we think about transportation in the city. Smartphones allow Uber drivers to receive directions automatically through GPS before the customer even sits in the car (increasing the efficiency of its rides), and Uber also guarantees payment to its drivers through the customer’s credit card. Although the perception of all ride-hailing services is that these innovative services are the cheapest option, some public transportation services have comparable or even cheaper rates. Could you imagine cities with only taxis and for-hire vehicles on the streets?

Smart roads, smartphones, and smart cities are indeed redefining the way we look at both transportation and the relationship between technology and how we get around in a city. Also, we must now look differently at how we purchase auto insurance. All of this new technology, from smartphones to semi-autonomous cars, aims to make the driving experience more efficient and safe. However, even with safety measures taken, human error is still present with these systems. Semi-autonomous cars may very well be paving the way for a future of automatic cars, and the country is anxious to see the future of transportation.

Could Drunk Driving Become a Thing of the Past?

The Department of Transportation has recently unveiled plans for technology that would allow automobiles to tell if a driver is drunk when he or she gets in the car – and then stop them from starting the car. Two different systems are being developed: one that can detect the presence of alcohol via touchpads, which may be on either the steering wheel or push button ignitions, and one which works like a breathalyzer test when a driver gets in the car. Officials hope that one or both of these technologies will be available in automobiles by the end of the decade.

Will this new technology help to bring about the end of drunk driving? Or do you see problems with the technology not working right, such as not allowing sober drivers to start their cars?

New York Traffic Lawyer: How Will New Technology Affect the Way We Drive?

While more and more technology comes out that seems to make driving safer, is it possible that it’s actually having the opposite effect? Distracted driving is a very real problem in New York and all over the country: a recent study showed that distracted driving was the cause for 16% of all traffic accidents in the U.S., while another study found that cell phone use was involved in 27% of all traffic accidents. Even though advances in technology may make life easier in some ways, the fact remains that those same advances may distract more and more drivers. Car companies and technology companies are looking for ways to integrate smart phone technology into automobiles to cut down on distracted driving, such as having head-up displays show up on car windshields, but will this just make the problem worse?

Self-Driving Cars
There has been a lot of press regarding self-driving cars, whether it was Delphi’s car which drove cross country from California to New York for the New York International Auto Show, the self-driving semi-trucks that have been driving along Nevada’s interstates, or the small number of self-driving cars that were involved in minor auto accidents (none of which were there fault, by the way). A self-driving car is a dream for many people, especially those who often have to ride the highways for long commutes or find themselves stuck in traffic every day, but it does not mean that these drivers will be able to read a book or use their cell phone while the car is driving its self. A driver has to be behind the wheel of a self-driving car at all times in order to take over in case the auto-driving system fails or the driver sees that they need to take action in order to avoid a collision – in addition, New York is the only state that requires drivers to have at least one hand on the wheel at all times while driving. Distracted driving laws apply to those behind the wheels of self-driving cars: they cannot talk, text, or use their cell phone for anything else other than an emergency while the car is in self-drive mode and they must be aware of their surroundings at all times. While it might be tempting to take a nap in your self-driving car, you’ll more than likely find yourself getting a traffic ticket if you do.

Auto-Braking Systems
Recently, a Youtube video started making the rounds showing a group of people testing out Volvo’s new auto-braking feature; however, the plan did not work out as expected. Instead of stopping in front of the group of people who were gathered around to watch the display, the remote controlled car instead plowed right through them. Volvo released a statement regarding the video, saying that the owner of the car did not purchase the “pedestrian detection functionality” upgrade which is meant for slow moving or stop-and-go traffic. Volvo also stated that the auto-braking system would have been overridden since the car was actively accelerating. Justifications aside, the fact remains that these people trusted this auto technology to do one thing and yet it did another – thankfully, none of the people involved in the incident were badly injured, but that doesn’t mean this will always be the case. Once again, an attentive driver is needed to be aware of their surroundings for just this type of occasion – a distracted driver who relies on auto-brake technology could very well find themselves in a fender bender, or even worse, striking a pedestrian.

Head-Up Displays
One of the newest developments in car tech is the Head-Up Display (HUD). Companies are now making devices that project information from your smart phone, such as calls and notifications, onto the windshield – it looks like a hologram at the end of your car’s hood. Drivers can answer or hang up with a wave of their hand while always keeping their eyes on the road. The rationale behind the HUD is that drivers are going to be on their cell phone no matter what, so the companies devised a way to allow drivers to stay connected with their smart phones while still paying attention while they drive. However, opponents of this technology claim that merely having eyes on the road is not the same as paying attention, and that making multitasking easier for drivers will just lead to more distracted driving accidents. Both sides make a compelling argument, but we will have to wait until the HUD technology becomes widely used and studied before any conclusions can be drawn about its effectiveness.

Wearable Tech
In Quebec, Canada, a driver was given a $120 traffic ticket for using his Apple Watch while driving – the man was using the watch to change the music on his car stereo. Quebec’s cell phone law states that drivers “may not use a hand-held device that include a telephone function” – as such, the driver is fighting the traffic ticket on the grounds that the Apple Watch is not hand-held since he wears it on his wrist. Whether or not he wins his case remains to be seen, but it’s safe to say that a device is not less distracting just because it’s being worn on your wrist instead of held in your hand. We can probably expect the laws to be amended to include wearable tech at some point in the near future, just like it took states some time to pass cell phone laws after cell phones became ubiquitous.

Distracted driving is a target for law enforcement agencies, many of which stage crackdowns during Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April. In New York, a cell phone ticket has 5 points – one of the highest point tickets you can receive in New York. If you get a cell phone ticket, portable electronic ticket, distracted driving ticket, or any other traffic ticket in New York State, please contact us immediately at 212-227-9008 to see how we may help your case.

Driver Receives Traffic Ticket for Using Apple Watch

A driver in Quebec was pulled over for police for using his Apple Watch and was given a $120 traffic ticket. The driver was using his Apple Watch to change the music in his car when police noticed him and decided to pull him over. Quebec’s law concerning cell phones and portable electronics is similar to New York’s law, stating “no person may, while driving a road vehicle, use a hand-held device that includes a telephone function.” But is the Apple Watch a handheld device since it is worn on the wrist? The outcome of this case can set a precedent, and drivers in New York should be aware of what happens.

In addition to heavy fees, a New York cell phone ticket will put 5 points on your driver’s license. But should wearable tech carry the same kind of penalties? Or is it just as distracting as a handheld cell phone?

Self-Driving Cars Involved in 4 Traffic Accidents – Kind Of

Since September, 4 out of California’s 50 self-driving cars have been involved in traffic accidents – however, two of the accidents occurred while the person behind the wheel was driving. All of the accidents were minor and occurred at speeds of less than 10 miles per hour. Accidents involving self-driving cars are required by law to be reported to the California DMV, which could not release details about the accidents, such as who was at fault, due to confidentiality issues. However, sources within Google and Delphi, the companies rolling out this new technology, reported that the self-driving cars were not at fault in any of the accidents. Delphi went a step further and described the accident involving their car, stating that the self-driving car was stopped while waiting to make a left hand turn when it was broadsided by another vehicle. Once again though, this car was not in self-driving mode.

Safety statistics involving self-driving cars are extremely important as they can make or break public and political perceptions of the technology. As such, all incidents involving self-driving cars are heavily scrutinized, as evidenced by this report: it’s stated numerous times that 4 self-driving vehicles were involved in traffic accidents, even though 2 of them were being driven by regular people – in essence, those 2 were traffic accidents just like any other.

Are these traffic accidents a sign of things to come with self-driving cars? And who should get a traffic ticket if / when it’s determined that a self-driving car was at fault in an accident?

Self-Driving Semi Trucks are a Reality

Truck drivers may be a thing of the past. Daimler Trucks’ self-driving semi-trucks have been making test runs on state highways in Nevada with drivers serving as “logistics engineers” – meaning they are make sure everything runs smoothly while the truck drives itself. But while other companies like Google have focused on self-driving cars, we are much more likely to see self-driving trucks in the near future due to the simple fact that the types of roads trucks travel – interstates – are not filled with red lights, intersections, or numerous turns, which means the truck’s guidance systems don’t have as much to worry about. Groups are split as to whether this will be a good or bad thing for the industry – while the trucks will put less stress on drivers, there is also the danger that it will lower the demand for trucker jobs.

Do you think the benefits outweigh the risks when it comes to self-driving trucks? And do you think self-driving vehicles are inevitable?

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Self-Driving Car on its Way to New York City

On Sunday, auto technology company Delphi launched its self-driving car on a cross-country trip from the Golden Gate Bridge to midtown Manhattan. The trip will last 8 days and will culminate with the car’s presentation at the New York Auto Show.

The car, even though it is driving itself, is has carrying several passengers, including someone behind the driver’s seat at all times in order to comply with state laws. The passengers rotate in and out of the driver’s seat during the 8 hours spent on the road every day, while an engineer monitors the car’s data. The person in the driver seat is there to take over if necessary to avoid collisions, but the car is loaded with software and sensors in order to let it make “human-like decisions such as exiting and entering highway traffic, navigating city streets, or parking.”

Self-driving cars were always seen as a thing of the future, but apparently that future is much closer than we imagined. It’s possible that a self-driving car can eliminate problems like DWI or certain traffic accidents, as well as reduce the amount of traffic in cities and interstates that is caused by driver error. But there are always risks that come with automation – if there is an equipment malfunction, the person in the driver’s seat must be aware enough to take control of the car to avoid a serious situation.

What are your thoughts on the self-driving car? Is it a dream come true? Or are there unforeseen circumstances of putting too much responsibility on technology, especially when it comes to something as serious as driving?