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Tag Archives: distracted driving

Legislation On What To Do At A Traffic Stop

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, 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.
Photo via Visual hunt

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.

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

 

 

Photo via VisualHunt

 

 

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 

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.

Top Driver Excuses Given When Pulled Over For Cellphone Use While Driving

Getting pulled over for using ANY electronic device is a major offense. It is no wonder that when people get pulled over for talking on the their cellphone while driving they use all kinds of excuses to try to get out of their ticket. Take a look at the top 5 excuses I’ve stopped my clients from repeating in court:

1. I was using my GPS

2. I was just checking the time

3. I wasn’t using it, I was just holding it in my hand

4. It wasn’t my phone it was my comb. I was doing my hair.

  FYI- Then you’re still breaking the law. You must have both hands on the wheel.

5. I wasn’t on my phone, I was shaving.

                        – Shaving is still distracted driving, please don’t shave while driving. You could cause an accident or cut yourself.

6. I only had my phone in my hand because it fell on the floor and I had to pick it up.

 7. I was stopped at a red light.

                If actually true and believed by the court, this is a defense. But  if the officer’s statement is that the vehicle was in motion it’s hard to overcome. It’s best to NOT have your phone anywhere near you unless you are parked and the engine is off. Don’t touch it, look at it or play games on it.

Please remember: you must have BOTH hands on the wheel at all times while driving. It is never okay to “multi-task” while driving. If you are pulled over for driving while on your cell phone or any electronic device you will be ticketed and given 5 points. If this has happened to you please call my office immediately at 212-227-9008 or email me at michaelblock.law@gmail.com

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

New York City Crackdown on Speeding, Cellphones and Failure to Yield to Pedestrians

The New York Police Department said on Monday that it was cracking down on motorists this week in areas frequented by older adults, an announcement that came out the same day a 62-year-old woman was fatally struck by a city bus in Brooklyn.

The initiative follows a string of fatal collisions involving pedestrians and motorists in the past two months.

Police officers will target drivers who commit moving violations like speeding and failing to yield to pedestrians near senior centers during times when there are large numbers of people in those areas, officials said in an advisory distributed to members of the news media. The effort, called the Holiday Pedestrian Safety Initiative, began Monday and is expected to run until Sunday, according to the advisory.

The enforcement initiative focuses on seven moving violations outlined under Vision Zero, the mayor’s plan to eliminate pedestrian fatalities in the city. Other offenses include improper turns, texting or using a phone while driving, and traffic signal violations.

The initiative aims to “prevent injuries and create a safe environment,” the police said.

Traffic fatalities have fallen from 244 around this time in 2014 to 217 this year, a decrease of about 11 percent, according to figures provided by the Police Department. Pedestrian fatalities have fallen more modestly, from 128 to 122 in the same period, about a 5 percent change, the police said.

The police said the woman killed on Monday, Eleonora Shulkina, was crossing East 17th Street in Sheepshead Bay when she was hit by a B36 bus making a left turn off Avenue Z. The driver remained at the scene and was not arrested as the police continued their investigation on Monday.

Her death follows a series of fatal accidents involving older pedestrians in New York. On Dec. 2, Liana Platika, 84, was fatally struck by a garbage truck at 58th Street and Third Avenue in Manhattan. Bella Markowitz, 85, died the same day, two days after she was critically injured by a driver making a left turn at East 16th Street and Kings Highway in Brooklyn.

In both cases, the drivers remained at the scene or were found nearby. Neither was arrested or issued a summons, the police said on Monday.

 

*Article Originally Featured on The New York Times

*Photo Credit: “NYPD” By: Giacomo Barbaro/Source: Flickr

New York Traffic Ticket Lawyer: How Bad are NY Drivers?

It’s difficult to be a driver in New York or New Jersey (or anywhere else in the Mid-Atlantic region, really) and not hold a certain level of contempt for one’s fellow automotive traveler/commuter.

There are only so many times you can have your tail light smashed by a truck on the Jersey Turnpike, spend hours in dense, accident-created traffic on the Cross Bronx, or narrowly avoid getting side-swiped on the FDR before the thought enters your mind: “These must be the worst drivers in the country.”

Well, at least it’s not Montana.

Montana drivers ranked as the No. 1 worst drivers in the country for the second year in a row, according to data compiled by CarInsuranceComparisson.com.

Big Sky Country ranked No. 1 in fatalities per 100 million miles driven, No. 6 in careless driving (measured by fatalities of pedestrians and cyclists per 100,000 people), No. 8 failing to obey traffic laws, No. 13 in drunken driving and No. 20 in speeding, which is particularly impressive when you consider much of the state’s roads have 80 mph speed limits (although it’s worth noting that the state had no daytime speed limits not too long ago).

New York drivers, on the other hand, were ranked the 28th worst, or 23rd best, if you’re a glass-half-full kinda person. New York shares the 28 spot with neighboring Connecticut as well as Wisconsin. 

Apparently taxi cabs and Uber cars haven’t been pulling their weigh this year, as New York has the 15th highest rate of drunken driving for 2015 after ranking 17th in 2014 and 28th in 2013.

Connecticut drivers were actually more likely to drive drunk than New Yorkers, as the Nutmeg State ranked 4th in drunken driving in 2015 after ranking 11th and 7th in 2014 and 2013, respectively.

The safest place to drive in the tri-state area is New Jersey, which has the 7th best drivers, according to the report.

Low fatality and speeding rates as well as drivers who follow traffic laws are what give the Garden State its favorable rating, though New Jersey ranks 25th in drunken driving and 21st in careless driving. 

Behind Montana in the race for worst drivers in America are South Carolina and New Mexico tied for second, Texas at fourth and Lousiana rounding out the top five.

Minnesota ranked as the state with the best drivers, followed by Ohio, Vermont, Iowa, Nebraska, Virginia and, of course, New Jersey.

Car Insurance Comparison credited frequency of careless driving (i.e. talking and texting on cell phones) and speeding as the most indicative of overall rank.

Article Originally Published on NY Daily News

*Photo Credit: “Outbound Lincoln” By: Joe Shlabotnik/Source: Flickr

U.S. Drivers may be Dying Because of Cellphone Use While Driving

The number of deaths from traffic accidents in the United States jumped 8.1 percent in the first half of 2015, suggesting smartphones and other driving distractions could be making America’s roadways more dangerous, officials said Tuesday.

Preliminary government statistics, released during a Thanksgiving holiday week known for heavy traffic congestion, showed deaths rising to 16,225 in the January-June period at a rate more than double an increase in overall driving spawned by falling gasoline prices and a growing economy.

“The increase in smartphones in our hands is so significant, there’s no question that has to play some role. But we don’t have enough information yet to determine how big a role,” said Mark Rosekind, who heads the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the federal government’s auto safety watchdog.

The jump in 2015 fatalities follows a decline in annual traffic deaths to 32,675 last year, for a record low of 1.07 deaths per million vehicle miles traveled, according to NHTSA statistics. The 2014 data included 21,022 passenger vehicle deaths, the lowest since record-keeping began in 1975.

The increase in the first half of 2015 was the biggest six-month jump in traffic deaths reported since 1977, according to statistics. But officials cautioned that semi-annual results can be subject to major revisions and noted that a comparable 7.9 percent increase in early 2012 led to a 4 percent rise for that year as a whole.

Officials said it was too early to identify contributing factors. But Rosekind told reporters that officials are looking at likely causes including distracted driving and the possibility that lower gas prices have encouraged more driving among “risky drivers” such as teenagers.

Rosekind also criticized an absence of effective state laws that prohibit drivers from using hand-held smartphones or require the use of seatbelts and motorcycle helmets.

The auto safety agency expects to unveil a program next year to focus $500 million in federal safety grants on human factors that are responsible for 94 percent of motor vehicle crashes.

Article Originally Published on The New York Post

*Photo Credit: “April 10 33″ By: Lord Jim/Source: Flickr

Tips for Avoiding Traffic Tickets During the Thanksgiving Weekend

Are you Driving for Thanksgiving?

According to the American Safety Council, Thanksgiving is one of the most dangerous holidays for drivers.  46.9 million people are predicted to be on the roads this Thanksgiving.   The heaviest traffic is between 2PM and 5PM on Thanksgiving Day.

Traffic Tickets also increase around the holiday season.  Here are 3 simple ways to avoid being ticketed this Thanksgiving.

  • Avoid your Cellphone. You could easily receive a Cellphone ticket while fidgeting with your GPS, sending a quick text message, or even checking the time.  You can receive a summons for anything while holding your Cellphone.  If you absolutely need to use your it, use Bluetooth or any other hands-free system.  Better yet, pull over and shut off your engine before touching your device.

Here at the Law Office of Michael Block, we wish you a happy and safe Thanksgiving.  Drive carefully and call us if you receive any traffic tickets at (212) 227-9008 or email us at michaelblock.law@gmail.com to learn about how we can defend your traffic violations.

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

  1. Pingback

DWT--Driving While Tired May Be a Felony in New York

Most people have heard of the acronyms DWI, DUI and OUI. But what about Driving While Tired or DWT, is that a crime? Yes, if DWT is due to reckless behavior and results in an injury or death, then DWT can have serious criminal consequences.

The driver whose truck injured comic Tracy Moran and killed Jimmy McNair is awaiting trial in New Jersey on charges of death by auto and multiple counts of assault by auto. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) ruled that fatigue of the Walmart truck driver was the cause of the crash. According to the NTSB, “The driver . . . had been on duty for 13 ½ hours of a 14-hour duty day, with more driving planned. He had been awake more than 28 hours when his truck struck the limo van, including an overnight drive from his residence in Georgia to the distribution center at which he was based.”

This weekend, a taxi driver allegedly struck and killed an 88-year-old woman as she was crossing the street on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The driver, Salifu Abubkar, allegedly told the police that he had been driving the cab for 16 hours.  According to Taxi and Limousine Commission Rule 2-23(a), that is a no-no: “A driver shall not operate a taxicab for more than twelve (12) consecutive hours.” However, it was later revealed that Mr. Abubkar did not work 16 consecutive hours because he took two breaks during his shift.

Mr. Abubkar was charged with a fairly new law, in New York City failure to yield to a pedestrian or bicyclist by a driver of a motor vehicle when contact results in a physical injury. The law, Section 19-190 of the New York City Administrative Code, which took effect in August 2014, is punished as a misdemeanor, by up to 30 days in jail.

However, while not commenting directly on Mr. Abubkar’s case, the criminal consequences for DWT in New York could be much more severe. Assuming a person feel asleep behind the wheel from fatigue and caused a physical injury or death, the act could be considered reckless behavior and imply several crimes with varying degrees of elements to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. In New York, recklessness is defined as awareness and conscious disregard of a substantial and unjustifiable risk.

Starting with the most severe, the act could be Manslaughter in the Second Degree, which is “recklessly caus[ing] the death of another person.” The crime is a class C felony, and the maximum prison term is up to 5 to 15 years. There are precedents for such convictions in states like Pennsylvania and Virginia. And there are cases to the contrary, most notably in Indiana, where falling asleep behind the wheel without warning was not considered reckless behavior.

Next are Assault in the Second Degree, a felony, and Assault in the Third Degree, a class A misdemeanor. The second degree crime is charged when a serious physical injury is caused by means of a dangerous instrument. Yes, under New York law cars are considered dangerous instruments. The third degree crime is defined by recklessly causing only a physical injury. Finally, Reckless Engagement in the Second Degree, also a class A misdemeanor, is recklessly engaging in conduct that creates only a substantial risk of physical injury.

Generally speaking it is bad idea to drive a car if you are tired, which is why medications that cause fatigue come with warnings that read: do not drive or operate heavy machinery. If you do DWT, the new pedestrian or bicyclist right of way law may be the least of your problems.

Article Originally Posted on The Huffington Post

*Photo Credit: “sleepy James safari driver in Africa” By: m.shattock/Source: Flickr

Look Out for Trick-or-Treater's Safety this Halloween

According to the organization, Safe Kids USA, children are more than twice as likely to be killed by a car while walking on Halloween night, than at any other time of the year.

This Halloween, be very careful when driving at night, especially in residential areas.  Exercise caution as trick-or-treaters are running about.  Look for children darting in between parked cars.  Be extra careful when entering or exiting alleyways and driveways.  Watch for children in dark clothing during the later hours of the night.  Be sure to stay off of your cellphones and avoid any distractions.  Nothing is scarier than putting children’s safety at risk.  Be alert and stay safe this Halloween.

*Photo Credit: “Halloween on Harrison Court” By: Kevin Dooley/Source: Flickr

Client Success Story: Cellphone Ticket Lawyer in Suffolk County, Long Island

A 5 point Cellphone Ticket (Operating Motor Vehicle While Operating a Mobile Phone) In Suffolk County Traffic Violations Agency was reduced to a 2 Point Improper Signal Violation.

Cellphone Tickets in Long Island and New York have skyrocketed in recent years!  From 2011 to 2012 tickets issued for driving while texting increased 234 percent.  Under Governor Cuomo, the state pledged $1 million to fund the campaign against cellphone use as well as increased the 3-point penalty to a 5-point penalty on the driver’s record.

Cops also have a better chance of catching you unnoticed.  CITE—Concealed Identity Traffic Enforcement—vehicles are unmarked black SUVs that allow the police to drive and enforce laws unidentified.

A cellphone ticket may be issued regardless of how the driver was using the device.  The law defines “using” as holding your cellphone while talking, taking pictures, texting, or simply viewing the device.  So if you are viewing the device as a GPS, you are in violation.

In addition, cellphone tickets rack up as much as 5 points.  Extra points on your license can increase the price of your insurance.  3 cellphone tickets could result in the suspension of your license.

The cost of cellphone tickets can range between $50 to $400 depending on the gravity and frequency of the offense.  Aside from the immediate cost of the ticket, points on your license could cause insurance premiums to increase significantly.

When you receive the cellphone ticket, do not discuss it with the police officer.   Anything you say can, and WILL be used against you in court.  Officers take notes on any comments you make which can later harm you while disputing your traffic ticket.

A cellphone ticket 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 fight for the most favorable outcome and are always glad to have great results for our clients. If you’ve received a speeding ticket or any other type of moving violation, let us help you! Email us at michaelblocklawyer.com or call (212) 227-9008 to learn how we can defend you.

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

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

Middle Aged Drivers Talk and Text on Cellphones while Driving Too

Middle-Aged drivers are texting and using cellphones while driving.
Maybe it’s time to take away our allowance? It turns out that teenagers aren’t the only ones who text and drive. Middle-aged drivers do it too and are at a higher risk of causing a car crash because of it, according to a study by the University of California, San Diego.  The research found that most middle-aged drivers admit to using their cell phones regularly while driving, even with children in the car; drivers also feel pressured to answer work calls while driving.
More than one in four car accidents are caused by cell phone use, says the National Safety Council (NSC). A driver’s crash risk increases eight-fold if they are texting; even talking hands-free makes drivers four times more likely to be involved in a crash.

The authors of the study hope companies will talk to employees about the risks associated with distracted driving, and institute policies that will discourage them from using their cell phones while in the car.

The study found that 75 percent of the participants talk on cell phones hands-free, and almost 90 percent of them consider themselves capable or very capable drivers while doing so. Less than 30 percent of participants knew that talking on a hands-free phone increases the risk of crashing to the same degree as driving at the legal alcohol limit, according to the study which was published in the Journal of Transport and Health.

“We weren’t surprised to see that relatively few people understand the risks of distracted driving,” said Jessa Engelberg, lead author of the study, in a press release. “What we were really interested in was whether factors like children and work obligations had an effect on people’s behavior.”

Apparently they do not. Middle-aged drivers continued to use their mobile phones with kids in the car and more than one-third of the participants said they felt pressure to answer a call from the office.

Maybe what we need is an app that automatically turns off our phones when we start up the ignition?

*Photo Credit: “texting and driving” By: frankieleon/Source: Flickr

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Police Crack Down on Calling, Texting While Driving

Police Crack Down on Calling and Texting While Driving

More than 60 motorists were pulled over Monday in the Hampstead area, says Carroll County Sheriff’s Office.

Police in the Hampstead area are targeting motorists this week who get distracted by using their cellphones while driving. The use of handheld cellphones while driving is illegal in New York.

On Monday, deputies from the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office teamed up with members of the Maryland State Police and the Hampstead Police Department on a Distracted Driving Initiative, sponsored by the Maryland Highway Safety Office.

From 2 p.m. to about 6 p.m., the law enforcement personel patrolled the area of Route 482 and the Route 30 Bypass, according to a story posted on the Facebook page of the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office. The focus on this enforcement effort was handheld cell phone use, although the police made traffic stops for other violations.

At the end of this event, a total of 35 citations, 24 warnings and two equipment repair orders were issued to motorists, according to the sheriff’s office. Throughout the week, police in the area will continue to look for and enforce laws directed at distracted driving.

Article Originally Featured on Patch.

Photo Credit: “NYPD” By: Giacomo Barbaro/Source: Flickr

Cellphone Tickets Have More than Doubled!

Drivers Beware – From 2011 to 2012 tickets issued for driving while texting increased 234 percent.  Under Governor Cuomo, the state has pledged $1 million to fund the campaign against cellphone use as well as increased the 3-point penalty to a 5-point penalty on the driver’s record.

A cellphone ticket may be issued regardless of how the driver was using the device.  The law defines “using” as holding your cellphone while talking, taking pictures, texting, or simply viewing the device.  So if you are viewing the device as a GPS, you are in violation.

Cops also have a better chance of catching you unnoticed.  CITE—Concealed Identity Traffic Enforcement—vehicles are unmarked black SUVs that allow the police to drive and enforce laws unidentified.

If you receive a cellphone ticket, do not engage the police officer in conversation.  They can and will often use anything you say against you in court.  If you receive a cellphone ticket or any other traffic ticket, call us at 212-227-9008 immediately to learn how we can defend you.

Photo Credit: “April 10 33” By: Lord Jim/Source: Flickr

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New York Lawyer: Traffic Ticket After a Car Accident

Traffic Ticket Issued After a Car Accident

Car accidents can involve personal injury and or property damage.  Calls from insurance companies, lawyers, hospital bills and costly car repairs make dealing with the aftermath of an accident unbearable.  To make matters worse, traffic tickets issued after an accident can seriously impact the cost of your insurance and determine which of the drivers is liable.

When a police officer is called to the scene, he will try to determine the facts surrounding the accident, and if possible, determine who caused the accident.  You may give your side of the story, but chose your words carefully.  Saying things like “I’m sorry” or “it was my fault” could damage you.  You also have the option to say nothing and only comply with handing the officer your license, registration and insurance.  Regardless of what you say or don’t say, the officer may still give you a ticket.  The types of tickets issued after accidents may include:

Traffic Ticket Points
Red light ticket 3 points
Following too closely (tailgating) 4 points
Reckless driving 5 points
Failure to yield right of way 3 points
Stop sign 3 points
Improper passing or changing lane unsafely 3 points
Driving in wrong direction or left of center 3 points
Leaving scene of property damage incident 3 points
Child safety restraint violation 3 points
Improper cell phone use 5 points
Use of portable electronic device (texting) 5 points
Speeding 3-11 points

Though there is a great deal of hassle associated with getting your car back on the road and sorting through the things that your insurance does and does not cover, a traffic ticket has serious ramifications which could negatively affect your license.  An experienced attorney could lower the points against your license or get rid of the charges altogether.  Call (212) 227-9008 or email MichaelBlock.law@gmail.com immediately for more information on how we could represent you.

*Photo Credit: “Accident” By: zooroo/Source: Flickr (modified)

6 Things to Know When You Receive a Cellphone Ticket

  1. Why you received the Cellphone Ticket.

If you hold your cellphone in any capacity, you can receive a traffic ticket.  The § 1225-d defines “using” as holding your cellphone while talking, taking pictures, texting, or simply viewing the cellphone.  Be certain that you’re not fidgeting with your GPS either.  The portable device violation extends to using a tablet, GPS, and iPod among other electronic devices.

  1. Gathering the Evidence

It’s often difficult to provide evidence to prove that the cellphone was not actually in use.  A driver may need to provide specific data on cellphone usage from their service provider.

  1. License Points

In addition to the hassle, cellphone tickets rack up as much as 5 points.  Extra points on your license can increase the price of your insurance.  3 cellphone tickets could result in the suspension of your license.

  1. The Cost

The cost of cellphone tickets can range between $50 to $400 depending on the gravity and frequency of the offense.  Aside from the immediate cost of the ticket, points on your license could cause insurance premiums to increase significantly.

  1. Don’t Give Police Officers a Reason to Remember You.

You may feel the need to discuss the ticket with the police officer, but be very careful and compliant.  Anything you say can, and WILL be used against you in court.  Officers take notes on any comments you make which can later harm you while disputing your traffic ticket.

  1. We’re here to Help

If you have received a traffic ticket for a cellphone or electronic device violation, please contact us immediately at 212-227-9008 or email michaelblock.law@gmail.com to learn more about how we can assist you or email and defend your NYC traffic ticket.

*Photo Credit: “This is My Father” by Bradely Gordon/Source: Flickr

Vision Zero Vigil Takes Over Union Square

A group of 1,000 people, all of whom were affected in one way or another by serious traffic accidents in New York City, gathered in Union Square on Wednesday night. They had a very clear message – traffic accidents are avoidable and preventable. That is the driving force behind Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero policy, which seeks to end all pedestrian traffic deaths in New York City. So far in 2015, there have been 123 traffic related deaths and over 23,000 serious injuries.

The strategy to end pedestrian traffic deaths comes consists of increased enforcement of speeding, failure to yield, and distracted driving offenses, as well as ambitious plans to redesign some of the more dangerous city streets. Speed cameras have been set up in certain areas of NYC and statistics show that speeding violations caught by those cameras have actually decreased; this means drivers are becoming more aware of their surroundings and the regular enforcement of these violations.

While progress has been made, events like the Vision Zero Vigil highlight the fact that there is still much work to be done in order to bring the number of pedestrian deaths down to zero in New York City. What are your thoughts on Vision Zero? Could the Mayor be doing more? Or is he on the right path?

New York Traffic Ticket Lawyer: What is Vision Zero?

In 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled his Vision Zero policy as a way to eliminate all pedestrian traffic deaths in New York City. Studies that led to the creation of Vision Zero claim that 4,000 people are injured each year in New York City traffic crashes while another 250 are killed due to involvement in a traffic crash. The basic tenets of Vision Zero are as follows:

• There is no such thing as a traffic accident – instead, they are crashes that could have been prevented.
• There is no acceptable level of injury or death that stem from traffic crashes.
• The public should expect safe traffic behavior on the streets.

How does Vision Zero affect New York drivers? Vision Zero studies estimate that 70% of traffic crashes involving pedestrians are caused by driver actions, specifically speeding, failure to yield and improper turns, texting / talking while driving, and signal violations. As such, New York City has increased the enforcement of speeding and failure to yield violations in some effective ways.

Speeding
In November 2014, the un-posted speed limit in New York City was lowered from 30 mph to 25 mph as part of the Vision Zero initiative. In addition, enforcement of the new speed limit was heavily increased – in the first few months, the number of speeding tickets issued in NYC skyrocketed 40% from the previous year. Drivers have reported getting speeding tickets for going only 1-5 mph over the speed limit, which has not always been the case in NYC. The penalties for speeding tickets vary anywhere from 3-11 points depending on how fast over the speed limit the driver was going. 11 points or 3 speeding tickets within an 18 month period is often grounds for driver’s license suspension, while 6 points within an 18 month period will bring about an extra fee in the form of the Driver Responsibility Assessment.

Failure to Yield, Improper Turns, and Signal Violations
One of the biggest changes to come out of Vision Zero is the fact that drivers who fail to yield the right of way and seriously injure or kill pedestrians can now be charged with misdemeanors. In addition, the number of failure to yield tickets issued by the NYPD increased over 125% from the previous year. City bus drivers feel they are unfairly targeted by this new enforcement, especially since they are tasked with running tight schedules to keep commuters moving. 6 city bus drivers have been arrested since the change to the failure to yield law, though one of them was just recently cleared of any wrongdoing. Improper turn and signal violation tickets are already fairly common in New York City as “right on red” is typically not allowed on city roads, though it is allowed in other parts of New York as well as the surrounding states. Failure to yield tickets carry a penalty of 3 points, while improper turn and signal violations carry 2 point penalties.

Texting / Talking While Driving
One of the worst tickets drivers can get in New York is the cell phone / portable electronic ticket. Not only is it a high-point ticket (5 points), but it is also a difficult ticket to fight. Unfortunately, as part of Vision Zero and other distracted driving awareness pushes, there has been a huge increase in the number of cell phone tickets issued in New York. The burden of proof for a cell phone ticket is fairly low – an officer merely needs to see the cell phone in the vicinity of a driver’s head to issue the ticket, and drivers will typically need to pull call records from their cell phone provider to prove they were not on the phone at the time in order to stand much of a chance of beating this ticket. A police officer may issue a portable electronics ticket to drivers if they are touching any handheld electronic device – this includes iPods and MP3 players, GPS devices, and tablets.

Impact
Mayor de Blasio claimed that Vision Zero has been a great success, especially since 2014 proved to be the safest year for pedestrians in New York City since 1909. However, the mayor let everyone know there was still much work to be done since the goal of Vision Zero is to totally eliminate pedestrian traffic deaths. Other reports say that Vision Zero has seen mixed results since its roll out, with pedestrian deaths lowering in some parts of the city while actually rising in other areas.

Future
Judging by the amount of tickets written in New York City due to Vision Zero initiatives, as well as the relative success of the policy in its first year, it is a very safe bet the program will not only continue, but that officials will not rest on their laurels. Expect to see an even stronger focus on the targeted enforcement of Vision Zero violations as officials strive to reach their goal of eliminating all pedestrian traffic deaths in New York City. It’s possible that in order to reach this goal, higher monetary fines and point values will be attached to Vision Zero traffic tickets, all while steadily increasing enforcement of these traffic violations.

If you receive a speeding ticket, failure to yield ticket, cell phone ticket, or any other Vision Zero traffic ticket, please contact us immediately at 212-227-9008 to see how we may help you.

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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?

Smartphones
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.

New Distracted Driving Study Highlights a Serious Problem

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducted a new study on distracted driving, and the results show the problem to be much worse than most people think. These are some of the highlights of the study:

• Distracted driving caused 3,100 deaths in 2013
• 10% of people video chat while driving
• 61% of people text and drive
• 33% of people check their email
• 17% of people take steering wheel selfies
• 30% of people admit to being on Twitter “all the time” while driving

46 states, including New York State, have laws against texting and driving. New York also has some of the most stringent cell phone laws in the country – a cell phone ticket or portable electronic device ticket in New York carries a penalty of 5 points. In addition, a cell phone only needs to be in the vicinity of a driver’s head for a police officer to issue a cell phone ticket.

If you receive a cell phone ticket or a portable electronic device ticket, please be sure to contact us immediately at 212-227-9008 to see how we may help you.

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Long Island Traffic Lawyer - Distracted Driving can be Just as Dangerous as Drunk Driving

Everyone knows that driving while intoxicated is one of the most dangerous things a person could do, but what about driving while you have to go to the bathroom? Or driving while daydreaming? Numerous studies have been conducted that show how some of these other activities can be just as dangerous as drunk driving:

Drowsiness and Congestion

Sleeping while drowsy can be brought on by either not having enough sleep or taking medication such as sleeping pills or muscle relaxers before you drive. The TV show Mythbusters conducted a test that showed driving after being awake for 30 hours to be 10 times as dangerous as driving after having 2 drinks. Studies have also shown that teenagers are less likely to pull over and take a nap if they are feeling tired than adults. As far as medication is concerned, many drivers don’t realize that driving after taking a sleeping pill or other medication that causes drowsiness could lead to them being arrested for DUI – Driving Under the Influence. The FDA mandates that warnings be put on all bottles that contain sleeping pills to let drivers know the danger they face if they get in the car after taking the pills. Many times, drivers will take non-drowsy cough or cold medicine to get through the day – but a recent study found that motorists who drive with the flu or a bad head cold have their reaction time cut in half, which is about the same as those who drank 4 shots of double whiskey. Even more disturbing though is that almost half of all drivers have driven while sick.

Cell Phones

Research has shown that texting while driving can be twice as dangerous as drunk driving. Other studies report that texting while driving can be four to six times as distracting as drunk driving. A texting ticket in New York carries 5 points, which is one of the highest point tickets you can receive in New York. However, it does not carry a criminal charge like DWI or DUI. And while it is still legal to speak on a hands-free phone while driving, studies tend to agree that talking on the phone, whether hands-free or not, is still an extremely dangerous practice. A University of Utah study found that drivers with a .08 BAL actually drove better than those who were on a phone. In fact, during the course of the study, three drivers who were using hands-free phones actually crashed into their pace cars. The issue may not be so much about what is in your hands, but rather what is on your mind.

Road Rage and Arguments

Driving while angry increases the chances of speeding, weaving and out of lanes, tailgating, and engaging in other aggressive driving behaviors. All of these things combined have killed anywhere from two to four times as many people as drunk driving. Road rage can cause drivers to act in ways they normally wouldn’t and can cause many problems on the road. While road rage is directed at drivers in other cars, arguments with people inside your car can be just as dangerous. Whether it’s on the phone or with your spouse sitting next to you, these arguments can lead to unsafe speeds and delayed reactions. A study in England found that drivers arguing with their spouse over the phone fared slightly better than those who were arguing in person, with the thought being that it is easier to ignore your spouse over the phone. Nonetheless, just like road rage, arguing with a spouse leads to distracted driving, which in turn can lead to auto fatalities.

Other Distractions

The next time you are on a long road trip, you may want to take advantage of rest areas to relieve yourself. A recent study had volunteers drink many glasses of water and then take basic cognitive tests – without being allowed to use the restroom. The results showed that people who have to use the bathroom performed just as poorly as those with a .05 Blood Alcohol Level, or 2 ½ drinks. Researchers determined that this was a form of distracted driving, since your mind can only concentrate on one thing at a time. Another thing common to long road trips – or even heavy traffic on your commute – is daydreaming. An analysis of distracted driving fatalities that occurred over a 2-year period – roughly 6,500 – showed that 62% involved daydreaming. This percentage is even higher than texting or talking on a cell phone.

On a side note

This may seem like common sense, but you probably should not drive if you have been smoking marijuana. Legal marijuana use is growing in the United States, whether it’s through state-legalization efforts or medical use and proponents say that driving under the influence of marijuana is relatively safe. This is because drivers who smoke marijuana tend to drive slower and pass field sobriety tests. However, the fact still remains that marijuana causes a delay in reaction time for drivers, which is extremely dangerous since drivers are required to make split-second decisions while on the road. The American Journal of Epidemiology found that marijuana use was present in 10% of all auto fatalities over the past decade. Police officers can charge drivers who are under the effects of marijuana with DUI, which is a criminal charge.

All of the actions listed above are forms of distracted driving – a practice so bad that there is a month (April) known as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Even so, all throughout the year police officers often engage in week or month-long crackdowns to combat distracted driving. Reaction times are cut, sometimes in half, which can lead to rear end accidents, running stop signs or stop lights, or driving at unsafe speeds.

If you receive a speeding ticket, cell phone ticket, or are arrested for DWI or DUI, please contact us immediately so we can begin working on your case and help you achieve the best outcome possible.

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.

New Studies Show Statistics of Distracted Driving Accidents

Distracted driving is such an important issue that New York often stages Distracted Driving Awareness campaigns in which they ticket motorists for distracted driving offenses, most notably cell phone and portable electronics violations. The fact that cell phone tickets have 5 points attached to them as well should let drivers know how seriously New York takes distracted driving violations, and recent studies show that New York is right: a study conducted by AT&T found that 61% of people use their phone to text while driving, 33% email driving, and 27% use Facebook while driving. In addition, other studies show that distracted driving and cell phone use are responsible for anywhere from 16% – 27% of all traffic accidents.

Do these statistics surprise you? Is there anything more that New York should do to combat distracted driving?

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?

New York Traffic Ticket Lawyer: What Happens When I Get a Traffic Ticket?

Traffic tickets are an unfortunate reality for New Yorkers. From crackdowns on speeding to heavy fines imposed on cell phone violations, drivers always take the risk of receiving a traffic ticket when they drive in New York. While it might be better to just pay a New York parking ticket and move on, it’s almost never advisable to plead Guilty to moving violations in NYC due to the large fees and penalties that drivers face when convicted of those offenses. Instead of risking losing their driver’s licenses by going it alone, drivers should hire NYC traffic ticket lawyers to see what can be done to help.

NYC Traffic Tickets

There are so many different traffic laws for New Yorkers to know that it’s inevitable for drivers to slip up and receive a traffic ticket. Almost every moving violation in New York carries points, such as Failure to Yield (3 points) and Following Too Closely (4 points). Most NY traffic tickets usually have 2 or 3 points, but there are some offenses that are more heavily penalized due to their severity. Speeding tickets in NY range from 3 to 11 points, depending on how fast the driver was going when observed by the police officer. Cell phone tickets, reckless driving tickets, and passing a stopped school bus tickets each carry 5 points – these are the highest point tickets in New York besides high speeding tickets. If a driver accumulates 11 points on their driver’s license within an 18 month period, their license may be suspended. In addition, 6 points within an 18 month period will bring about extra fees in the form of the New York Driver Responsibility Assessment. The points can also cause insurance premiums to increase, which will cost drivers far more money beyond just the original traffic ticket fine.

Distracted Driving and Cell Phone Tickets

Over the past few years, New York has passed a number of more stringent traffic laws, such as penalizing the use of cell phones and portable electronic devices in an effort to combat distracted driving fatalities. Cell phone tickets initially did not have points attached to them, but that changed in February 2011 when all cell phone tickets also came with 2 points. In June 2013, that penalty was increased to 5 points. This is because cell phone use while driving is a huge contributor to deadly driving accidents. State and local police often stage distracted driving crackdowns multiple times a year in order to curb these dangerous habits and save lives.

Vision Zero

Vision Zero is Mayor de Blasio’s policy to end all pedestrian traffic deaths in New York. Among other measures, Vision Zero included a reduction of the un-posted city speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph and increased targeting of Failure to Yield to Pedestrian violations. The amount of speeding tickets issued in NY has dramatically increased since the speed limit was lowered, and the amount of Failure to Yield tickets has increased by over 125% from the previous year. In addition, a Failure to Yield to a Pedestrian offense that results in death or serious injury has now become a misdemeanor offense as part of Vision Zero. While reports show that New York City has seen mixed success with Vision Zero, drivers can expect this policy to keep moving forward.

Other Crackdowns

New York law enforcement agencies often stage week-long or month-long crackdowns for different traffic offenses throughout the year. Just recently, state police participated in National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, in which they targeted cell phone users but also gave out a large number of speeding tickets, seat belt tickets, and other moving violation tickets. From May 20th to June 1st, police all over New York will engage in a “Click It or Ticket” campaign – while adult drivers and passengers do not receive points on a ticket for not wearing a seat belt, drivers can get 3 points on their license if any underage passengers are not securely buckled in. At other times in New York City, police target commercial truck drivers whose trucks are over the allowed weight limit. These targeted crackdowns are meant to increase safety awareness and help put a stop to dangerous driving practices, but traffic tickets issued during these periods can always be fought.

How a Traffic Ticket Lawyer Can Help

NYC traffic tickets can be a heavy burden for drivers, whether it’s due to the financial hardships they impose or the possibility of losing driving privileges. New York traffic ticket lawyers can often help clients by using their many years of experience navigating through the traffic court system to gain favorable outcomes. While no particular outcome can ever be guaranteed, drivers can at least be secure in the knowledge that they’re entrusting their driving record to an experienced lawyer who can put forward a valid defense. In addition, traffic ticket attorneys can also save drivers valuable time by making court appearances without having their clients present. For more information on how a New York traffic ticket lawyer can help you, please contact us at 212-227-9008 or email us at michaelblock.law@gmail.com.

New York City Traffic Lawyer: Don’t Text and Drive!

New York City has seen a big increase in the amount of traffic tickets issued to drivers who talk or text while operating a vehicle. As part of Distracted Driving Awareness Month, New York State police conducted distracted driving crackdowns that targeted drivers using their cell phones, but the overall trend has seen more tickets issued for cell phone use. In fact, cell phone tickets made up almost 25% of all traffic tickets written in Manhattan in the first 3 months of 2015. This is a gigantic number, and drivers should be aware of the actions that can cause them to end up with a hefty fine and 5 points on their driver’s license.

When Drivers Use Cell Phones

State Farm recently conducted a survey on the cell phone habits of drivers. More than half of the drivers surveyed said they used their cell phones while stopped at a red light, while 30% of drivers said they used their cell phone while driving on an open highway. Many drivers stated that they do not use their cell phones if they are driving in inclement weather, through school or work zones, in heavy traffic, or if it is dark out.

What Drivers Do on Cell Phones

Surprisingly (or maybe not, actually), most drivers do not use their cell phones to actually talk to other people. Instead, most drivers text, email, surf the web, or check social media sites on their phones while driving. This is a very disturbing statistic, because these actions are possibly more distracting than talking on the phone. Studies have shown that when a person looks at their phone to read a text message, their eyes are off the road for an average of 5 seconds. In that time they can travel 50 yards, or half the length of a football field. That leaves an awful lot of time for the car ahead to slam on the brakes – something a driver looking at a text on their cell phone would never notice. The more ways smart phone technology advances, the more ways there are for drivers to become distracted.

Not Just Automobiles

There has recently been a push in the City Council to make cell phone use while riding a bicycle illegal. In fact, Park Slope leads the city in the amount of cell phone tickets issued to bike riders. However, New York’s cell phone law explicitly bans cell phone use while operating a motor vehicle, which clearly excludes bicycles. The issue though is that cell phones are a distraction to both drivers and bike riders, since bicyclists can pose danger to pedestrians and themselves if they ride while distracted. Proponents of a cell phone ban for bike riders say such a law would be in line with Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero program, and could cost bicyclists who break the law fines ranging from $50 to $200.

Fines and Penalties

New York has strict laws regarding cell phone use while operating an automobile. Fines and surcharges for cell phone tickets range from $138 to $288 for the first offense, while subsequent offenses within 18 months of the first range from $138 to $538. More importantly, cell phone tickets carry a penalty of 5 points on your driver’s license. In fact, if you receive a cell phone ticket in conjunction with any other moving violation, you can expect to pay the New York Driver Responsibility Assessment, which is given to drivers with more than 6 points on their license, in addition to fines and increased insurance premiums.

If you receive a traffic ticket for using a cell phone while operating an automobile, or if you receive traffic tickets for any other violations, please be sure to contact us at 212-227-9008 to see how we may help you.

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Brooklyn Neighborhood Leads in Cell Phone Tickets for Bike Riders

Park Slope leads the city in tickets issued to bicyclists who ride while using their cell phone – the problem is that there are no laws on the books that state bicyclists cannot use their cell phones. At a recent City Council hearing, a spokeswoman for the NYPD legal bureau argued that New York City’s cell phone ban applied to cyclists as well, even though the law clearly states that the operators of “motor vehicles” are banned from using cell phones while driving.

Even if the law is amended to include bicycles in the cell phone ban, bike riders would not be subject to the same penalties as drivers. A traffic ticket for using a cell phone while driving carries a hefty fine, but more importantly, it carries a penalty of 5 points on one’s driver’s license – the points are a huge motivation for drivers to put down their cell phones, as 5 points may increase their insurance premiums and will put them well on their way to a license suspension, which occurs at 11 points. Points cannot be added to a driver’s license for offenses committed while outside of a motor vehicle, so bike riders who text – just like jaywalkers – would not receive any points on their license.

If you receive a traffic ticket for using a cell phone while driving, or if you receive any other traffic tickets, please contact us at 212-227-9008 to see how we may help you.

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Bus Driver is Filmed While Reading and Driving without his Hands on the Wheel

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, so it is fitting that passengers on a shuttle bus in Queens filmed the bus driver while he was reading schedule sheets and using his forearms and wrists to drive the bus. The passenger recorded the driver for about 10 minutes before she got off the bus, and the video clearly shows the bus driver was driving while distracted. The driver is now under investigation by the MTA and could face punishments anywhere from re-training to termination. As part of Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero policy, all MTA drivers have been given more training in an effort to end all pedestrian traffic deaths. What do you think the consequences should be for this driver? Is re-training the answer, or is there no place in the MTA drivers who engage in such dangerous behavior?

NYC Cell Phone Tickets Skyrocket since Last Year

The number of NYC cell phone tickets handed out since last year increased by 50% due to police officers becoming much more attuned to the habits of cell phone using drivers. Almost 50,000 tickets have been issued since 2014, while over 75,000 cell phone tickets were written elsewhere in New York State, a 35% increase from 2013 numbers. A source in the NYPD says that cops are feeling increased pressure from the state government to write more cell phone tickets, and that the increase has less to do with more people using their cell phones than before and more with police officers having a better idea of what to look for when enforcing cell phone laws. Many police departments enact week long crackdowns, such as the one state police are running right now in conjunction with Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Drivers who are convicted of violating New York’s cell phone laws can face a fine of $450 and 5 points on their driver’s license, while provisional and permit drivers risk having their driving privileges suspended. If you receive an NYC cell phone ticket or any other traffic ticket, please contact us at 212-227-9008.

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New York State Police Cracking Down on Texting While Driving

Governor Cuomo announced that state troopers will be heavily targeting motorists who use their cell phones while driving on New York State roads from Friday, April 10 through Wednesday, April 15. The push coincides with National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and is similar to a crackdown that occurred last year which resulted in 550 cell phone tickets being written in a short period of time. It has been reported that 3,100 people died in 2013 due to accidents involving distracted driving, which includes behaviors such as talking and texting, playing with the radio or iPod, and applying makeup or fixing hair. That is a scary statistic, and makes one wonder if crackdowns like this should occur every month to lower the number of lives lost due to these tragic accidents. Remember, a New York cell phone ticket carries 5 points, the same amount as reckless driving. If you receive a cell phone ticket in New York, or any other traffic ticket, please contact our office at 212-227-9008.
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New York Traffic Lawyer: AAA Report on Teen Driving

Automobile accidents are the leading cause of teen deaths in the United States. This is a very disturbing fact for everyone, including parents and teens. In order to get a better idea of how teen drivers become involved in car accidents, the University of Iowa examined video data from 1,691 teen driver crashes between 2007 and 2013. AAA reported the findings and found out what types of behaviors contributed to the crashes:
Speeding and driving too fast for road conditions made up for an overwhelming 79% of single-vehicle crashes, while failure top yield and following too closely made up for 43% of angle crashes and 36% of rear-end crashes, respectively.

Distracted driving accounted for 58% of all crashes, including:
• 44% of loss-of-control crashes
• 89% of road-departure crashes
• 76% of rear-end crashes
• 51% of angle crashes

Some of the activities that led to these distracted driving crashes were:
• Interacting with one or more passengers (15%)
• Cell phone use [talking, texting, or other] (12%)
• Looking at something in the vehicle (10%)
• Looking at something outside the vehicle (9%)
• Singing / dancing along to music (8%)
• Personal grooming (6%)
• Reaching for an object (6%)

Teen drivers were most frequently distracted by talking or interacting with passengers and using their cell phones.
• Passengers were present in 36% of all crashes
• Fewer than 5% of those passengers were parents or adults, while 84% were other teenagers
• 27% of these passengers were not wearing seat belts at the time of the accident.

Cell phone use (talking, texting, or other) was visible in 8% of all crashes and appeared likely in an additional 4% of crashes. Cell phone use was most prevalent in road-departure crashes (21% visible, 13% likely) and rear-end crashes (10% visible, 8% likely).

Cell phone use varied significantly by crash type:
• Visible in 21% of road-departure crashes, not visible but likely in additional 13%
• Visible in 10% of rear-end crashes, not visible but likely in additional 8%

Miscellaneous Facts

Most single-vehicle loss-of-control crashes involved bad weather and surface conditions.

Teen drivers spent an average of 4.1 seconds looking at their cell phones in the last 6 seconds before a crash and often showed no reaction at all before rear-end crashes occurred, meaning that they had no idea what was happening on the road in front of them.

Teen drivers were found to make decisions errors such as speeding, running stop signs, and failing to yield in 66% of their car accidents.

What can parents do to make their children better drivers?

While this research focused on teens aged 16-19, parents should know that their children up to age 26 are at still at risk of being involved in an automobile accident because of the types of behaviors listed above. There are New York laws in place that prohibit cell phone usage and limit the amount of underage passengers teen drivers can have in their cars, and parents need to make sure that their children understand the consequences of violating those laws. Junior driving licenses can be suspended or revoked for up to 60 days if teens violate New York Graduated Driver’s License rules, while violating the New York cell phone laws can lead to a suspension or revocation of 120 days for the first offense and 6 months for the second offense.

In addition, teens need to know that simple things like singing and dancing in the car or looking at something outside of the car can be almost as bad as talking on the cell phone. One disturbing fact found in this report is that over a quarter of all passengers involved in these accidents were not wearing seat belts. Seat belts have been proven numerous times to save lives – statistics show that wearing a seat belt decreases the chances of serious injury or death by 45% and decreases the chances of minor injuries by 50%. Make sure your teens know the risks involved with these behaviors and that driving is a privilege – a privilege that can be taken away by the NY DMV.

For more information regarding this teen driver study, please visit: https://www.aaafoundation.org/using-naturalistic-data-assess-teen-driver-crashes
Attorney Michael Block has more than 25 years experience fighting traffic tickets and achieving positive outcomes for his clients. When you receive a New York traffic ticket, please contact our office at 212-227-9008 for a free consultation.

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