Tag Archives: safe driving

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

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

Read Below for the full article:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Celebrate Responsibly Don’t Lose Your Driving Rights on Independence Day

Summer is officially here and we are approaching one of the biggest “BBQ holidays” of the year – the Fourth of July. Everyone will be driving to visit family and friends at various BBQs and ending the night with fireworks.  While this is a celebration of freedom and family, it is important to remember to be safe while cooking on the grill, at the beach, handling fireworks and especially on the roads.

According to the National Safety Council last year the Fourth of July weekend was predicted to be the deadliest in seven years. This year the holiday period begins on Friday, July 1 at 6 PM and ends on Tuesday, July 5 at 11:59 PM. Not only will there be an increase of cars on the roads, but there also will be a larger police presence.  Police will be looking out for motorists who are committing all violations, but they will especially be on the lookout for motorists driving while under the influence and speeding. This Fourth of July weekend, don’t end up a statistic! Abide by the rules of the road and exercise safe driving practices.

There are so many things we all can do to keep us and our loved ones safe this holiday weekend. The simplest thing we can do is always buckle up when in the car. Wearing a seatbelt is the law and can prevent serious injuries in an accident. Be mindful of other motorists, use signals when changing lanes and remember to share the road with motorcycles. Always pay attention to the road. Distracted driving accounts for a large portion of crashes and car related deaths. According to distraction.gov in 2014, 3,179 people were killed and 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. Looking at your phone or GPS for even a minute is a minute too long.

You should always obey your local speed limits; it’s the number one way to keep motorists safe. Speeding summonses always carry points. The higher you drive over the posted speed limit the more points you will receive. Here is our violation and points chart:

Updated Speeding Violation chart

Keep in mind, once you approach 11 points your license may be suspended.

The most important warning I can give, is that under no circumstances should one drive if they’ve been drinking. Police will be out in droves looking for motorists who are driving while intoxicated or impaired. It’s never worth it and can put many lives in danger. It’s always smart to have a backup plan. This way if no one is able to drive you are already protected. Assign a designated driver, someone who will not be drinking all night and is able to take you home safely. Call a cab or an Uber; there are so many e-hailing apps available now, you literally have chauffeuring at your finger tips. You want to remember the holiday weekend as a great time with friends and family. Not in the back of a Police car or worse, in a hospital.

If you or someone you know is issued a summons over the holiday weekend, you need to hire an experienced New York Traffic Ticket Attorney to fight for you. I’ve been handling summonses issued in New York State for over 28 years. I can help. You can contact me at 212-227-9008 or via email at michaelblock.law@gmail.com

Have a Safe & Happy Fourth of July.

  1. A L Giannopoulos  |  

    Recently I received a moving violation speeding 21 miles over the limit in Staten Island . I have used you before its been a while whats the protocol you can e mail me or call 917-833-7359 my name is Artie….. Thanks

Had too much to drink? Call Designated Driving Service, NYC

Have you ever driven somewhere and later realized that you may have had too much to drink and that you should probably call a cab home? While it’s the responsible thing to do, and the best way to avoid a DWI/DUI or a car crash it forces you to leave your car. Designated Driving Service, NYC is a chauffeur service that acts as a designated driver for anyone that may need a ride home after a night of partying.  Michael Block, New York Traffic Ticket Attorney interviewed Ronald Kandov of Designated Driving Service, NYC to learn more about the company.

Michael Block, New York Traffic Attorney: Can you explain what Designated Driving Service, NYC is?

Ronald: We are a designated driving service. We specialize in taking YOU and YOUR car home when you’ve had a drink and can’t drive back home. We send over 2 drivers to your location. One will sit in your car and take YOU and YOUR car home and the other driver will follow to get back the first driver. Our service saves lives every day and it’s more affordable then taking a cab.

Michael Block, New York Traffic Attorney: How long have you been in business and where are you based?

Ronald: We’ve been in business for one year and are located in Fresh Meadows, NY.

Michael Block, New York Traffic Attorney:  How many drivers do you have on staff?

Ronald:  We have a fleet of 20 drivers.

Michael Block, New York Traffic Attorney: What are the requirements to become a driver with Designated Driving Service, NYC?

Ronald:  All of our drivers must pass a background test. If a driver has 3 or more speeding tickets on their record, gotten a DWI/ DUI or had suspended a license we will not hire them. Our drivers are highly experienced and insured under Designated Driving Service, NYC.

Michael Block, New York Traffic Attorney: What areas do you service?

Ronald: All 5 boroughs and we’ve expanded to New Jersey and the Hamptons.

Michael Block, New York Traffic Attorney: What are your hours? Is there a time frame that clients can call for this service?

Ronald: We are open 24/7.

Michael Block, New York Traffic AttorneyDo you offer any other services?

Ronald: We also offer a personal chauffer service.

Michael Block, New York Traffic Attorney: How can a client get in contact with you to make a reservation for either service?

Ronald: You can make a reservation on our app within seconds “Designated driving service NYC” or on our website www.designateddrivingservicenyc.com

You can call us at 631-697-6820 or 718-415-1316.


That Selfie Can Wait! Don't Get Distracted on Prom Night

Distracted Driving during Prom Season is on the rise. We live in the age of the selfie, live video documentation and the constant fear of exclusion. And of course teens are on these social media apps even more on prom night. There’s nothing wrong with showing how much of a good time you’re having and showing off your ensembles. But there is an issue with doing it while driving! This becomes an even bigger problem if there is alcohol involved. According to research conducted by the Transport Research Laboratory and the Institute of Advanced Motorist the reaction time of a driver is slowed by 38% while using their smartphone, as opposed to the 12% of someone who has been drinking. When you’re distracted by your phone you could be looking away from the road for long periods of time and not even realize it. Sending a text takes your eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds, taking a selfie or creating a video takes even longer.

If your child is driving with their date or friends to prom or after prom activities make sure you talk to them about safe driving. Prom is no excuse to be on the phone while behind the wheel; if there is an absolute need to talk on the phone then pull over or give the passenger the phone to talk. And no matter how much fun they’re having singing along to music or how great they look there no need to Snapchat while driving or take pictures for Instagram. In 60 % of crashes nationwide, teen drivers were either chatting or looking at passengers in their vehicles or talking or texting on a cell phone seconds before collisions occurred, according to the study that analyzed five years’ worth of in-vehicle video data from nearly 1,700 crashes involving 16- to 19-year-olds. This is really a disturbing fact to read about but catastrophic if it happens to your family. Let this serve as reminder that looking down at a phone for even a second can be deadly.

According to the Pew Research Center 1 in 3 teens say they have texted while driving. A new study from AT&T, polling more than 2,000 people who use smartphones and drive at least once a day, shows nearly 4-in-10 smartphone users tap into social media while driving. Almost 3-in-10 surf the net, while a surprisingly 1-in-10 take it even further and video chat. Snapchat and Instagram are the main networks being used while driving. One of the reasons teen are on their phones 24/7 is because of the fear of exclusion. They’re always afraid they’ll miss some big social media moment or “the perfect opportunity to post”.

New York has a very strict law concerning cell phones and portable electronic devices – a conviction for a cell phone ticket can lead to heavy fines and a penalty of 5 points, the same as passing a stopped school bus or reckless driving. And if coupled with a DWI/DUI the ramifications could be even worse and lead to a license suspension. There are also potential increases in Insurance premiums following a conviction.

If your teen has received a summons for distracted driving in New York, please contact us immediately at 212-227-9008 or michaelblock.law@gmail.com . This type of summons should be handled right away and as an experienced New York Traffic Ticket Lawyer, I can fight for you.

Nassau County Officials Remind Drivers to Share the Road with Motorcyclists

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo: Newsday

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

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

Check out the full article below:

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

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

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

The target days are as follows:

** Monday: Speeding in school zones.

** Tuesday: Seat belts and child restraints.

** Wednesday: Cellphone use and texting.

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

** Friday: Underage drinking and impaired driving.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo: Getty Images

Are You Stopping in Hempstead, Long Island?

STOP! Slowing down to 5 miles per hour and rolling through an intersection and tapping the brakes does not constitute a complete stop. When you see a stop sign, by law you must come to a full and complete stop.

VTL 1172a states that except when directed to proceed by a police officer, every driver of a vehicle approaching a stop sign shall stop at a clearly marked stop line, but if none, then shall stop before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection. Or in the event that there is no crosswalk, at the point nearest the intersecting roadway where the driver has a view of the approaching traffic on the intersecting roadway before entering the intersection.

In the town of Hempstead, New York plenty of people are being pulled over for not completely stopping at Stop Signs. Don’t let this be you! Even when there are no cars present you still must adhere to the law because a pedestrian could be attempting to cross the street. I know when it seems like the coast is clear, it may seem like an okay idea to just breeze past a stop sign. But it only takes a few seconds to come to a complete stop and could save a life and save you money.  Hempstead is home to one of the most dangerous routes for pedestrians in the region.  Route 24, also known as Hempstead Turnpike is tied for most pedestrian deaths in 2012-2014. A way to reduce the number of killed and or injured pedestrians on Long Island is to be mindful and adhere to Stop Signs. It’s also important to stop at Stop Signs because they help regulate traffic flows. If there were no Stop Signs, then the roads would be a constant gridlock of traffic.

If you receive a summons for Failing to Stop at a Stop sign, you would be facing a fine. For first time offenders, you would be fined $150 and have to pay an $88 surcharge. You would also receive 3 points on your license and in rare circumstances; you could face up to 15 days in jail. Hearings are held at 16 Cooper Street in Hempstead, NY or in local Village Court.  We can represent you without you having to be present.

If you have received a summons for Failing to Stop at a Stop Sign in Hempstead or Nassau County contact your Hempstead Traffic Ticket Attorney  right away! You can call me at 212-227-9008 or email me at michaelblock.law@gmail.com.

Guest Feature: The Automotive Academy for New York & Cross County Safety Education

Are you unfamiliar with the current New York State driving rules and regulations? Or are you in danger of having your license suspended?  The Automotive Academy for New York (AANY) and Cross County Safety Education (CCSE) are great resources for both issues. AANY offers driving lessons, and accident prevention courses. CCSE offers a Health & Safety course that offers point reduction for any eligible driver. Most drivers facing suspension are eligible for point reduction.

Automotive Academy for New York Driving School and Cross County Safety Education are two sister companies that have been in existence since March 2013; With dual efforts, they have designed their delivery of services to assist New York State’s motorists in understanding, interpreting and staying within the confines of New York State’s stringent traffic laws.  It also helps motorists meet the challenge of keeping abreast of the changes and modifications in all traffic laws, requirements, fines and fees in New York State.

About Driving Services

Automotive Academy for New York (AANY) is a New York State licensed driving school in the state of New York. It provides the following services to its community: Driving Lessons, 5 Hour Pre-Licensing Class, Defensive Driving, Road Test Preparatory for CDL and Class D Licenses, and Community Fund Raising Options. It provides FREE consultations to people who need to renew, maintain or acquire commercial or Class D NYS driver’s licenses. Automotive Academy for New York Driving School offers services to the community in Long Island, Queens, Albany and Central NY.

The driving school’s newest venture for community involvement it the New Driver Start Up course; hosted by CUNY York College’s Department of Continuing Education. Tangible outcomes of this course include New Driver Pre-License Certificate, Defensive Driving Accident Prevention Certificate, 2 Road Test Prep Driving Lessons, and a Scheduled Road Test.

About Accident Prevention Services

Cross County Safety Education, Inc. (CCSE) offers New York’s Accident Prevention through Empire Safety Council.  It services the Capital Region, Central NY, Long Island and the five boroughs. It has strengthened its community relationships by providing services to Local 804 (UPS drivers), Uniondale Fire Department, the Utica Public Library and classes to Albany, Clinton and Utica public schools.

Cross County Safety Education, Inc. is ready to assist you and your members to become safer drivers while reducing the cost of your insurance and to assist in getting points off your license. The topics for each class address the current traffic and road conditions specific to the area that it services. Topics include snowy road conditions, rural or urban driving, aggression and road rage dynamics, city lane markings, etc. This Health & Safety Program is a fast, easy, and inexpensive accident prevention workshop that provides individuals with proven effective accident prevention methods.  Upon completion of the course, the driver will obtain a 3 year insurance discount and point reductions on their driving record. Fund raising incentives are offered to clubs and organizations in communities to support safe driving.

AANY’s headquarters is located in Uniondale NY, for more information on taking a Defensive Driving course you can call AANY at (516) 279-9281 or email them at nydriving.school@ymail.com.

It’s important to stay on top of any and all New York State traffic law changes. You never want to get pulled over for breaking a law that you were unaware of. Contrary to popular belief, not knowing isn’t a good enough reason to not get ticketed. And if you have received over 6 points within the last 18-months and are facing a possible suspension you should seek counsel immediately. We can fight for you! Give us a call at 212-227-9008 or email us at michaelblock.law@gmail.com.

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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