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8 Things You Can Do to Reduce Traffic Congestion

traffic-jam-688566_960_720Traffic jams are the worst! Nearly every driver feels there’s nothing he or she can do to avoid them and in most cases, that’s true. However, there are things that every driver can do to avoid contributing to congestion on the roads.

  1. Lay off the brakes. Hitting your brakes too frequently forces the drivers behind you to slow down as well. Each time this happens it creates a ripple effect that, in some cases, can last for miles. This is especially relevant on a typical highway with everyday congestion, where traffic can easily snarl, but it also comes into play in stop-and-go traffic. Instead of constantly braking, find a moderate speed that reduces the need to brake, but also doesn’t run the risk of hitting the car in front of you.
  2. Watch the lead foot. The counterpart to easing up on the brakes is to avoid speeding up too much every time there’s a brief break in congestion. This wastes gas (yours and other drivers’) and in heavy traffic, you’re not getting anywhere faster than anyone else.
  3. Give yourself space. Tailgating won’t get you to your destination any faster, either. The rule of thumb is to maintain one car length for every 10 mph. This allows for adequate time to react to traffic ahead and avoid slamming on the brakes or worse, crashing. After all, a car accident is one surefire way to ensure traffic gets worse.
  4. Mind your own beeswax. Rubbernecking is one of the most common causes of traffic jams. New York law requires vehicles to slow down in work zones and to move over for emergency vehicles, both of which will inevitably create some delays. Slowing down too much in order to gawk and stare will only exacerbate the situation.
  5. Put away distractions. It is both illegal and dangerous for drivers to text, make phone calls, or even put on makeup while driving (not to mention play smartphone apps and take selfies). If you need another reason not to do these things, though, know that they also are also major contributors to congestion on the road.
  6. Use the appropriate lane. Ever make it through a traffic jam without any sign of what caused it? Many such slowdowns are caused by inappropriate lane use. For example, if you don’t plan to exit the freeway any time soon, get out of the merge lane and into the thru lane(s). On the flipside, get out of the left-most lane if you can’t or won’t keep up with the other cars. Plus, many states are cracking down on cars camping in the left lane, so you also risk a ticket by staying in the left lane without passing.
  7. Change lanes strategically. Once you’re in the appropriate lane, stay there. A lane change can force the cars behind you in your current lane and the lane you’re entering to slow down, so don’t do it unless you need to. If you plan to exit, make sure to give yourself enough time to avoid sudden lane shifts, which could potentially cause an accident.
  8. Zip it up. Traffic engineers recommend what’s known as the “zipper method” for merging lanes. To employ this method, the driver in the merging lane should continue to the end of the lane at the same speed as the second lane. Drivers in the second lane should alternate, allowing one car in and then advancing. Unfortunately, many drivers race to the end of the merging lane or merge prematurely, both of which are inefficient and increase congestion.

If you or someone you love has been ticketed or arrested for a moving violation in New York, you need a skilled attorney to help fight the charges. The lawyers at the Rosenblum Law Firm are experienced traffic ticket attorneys with offices in New York and New Jersey. Email or call 888-203-2619 for a free consultation about your case.

Know Your Speeding Tickets

A speeding ticket may seem like a pretty cut-and-dried thing — you go too fast, you get a ticket, and that’s all there is to it. In reality, though, there are lot of different types of speeding tickets. Each applies in different situations and can carry different fines and points. Here’s a quick rundown of the types of speeding tickets you can get in New York.

1180-a: Speed Not Reasonable Prudent. This ticket applies when road conditions require drivers to slow down below the posted limit. Such conditions might include thick fog, heavy rain, or icy roads, and it is ultimately up to the officer to determine what conditions require slowing down and what speed is prudent. Cost: $150. Points: 3.

1180-b: Speed Over State Limit. New York State has established 55mph as the maximum speed that drivers can go on any road in the state, although many roads have lower limits. If you are speeding on a highway, this is the ticket you will probably get. Cost: $150 to $600 depending on speed. Points: 3 to 11 depending on speed.

1180-c: Speed in a School Zone. As the name implies, this a specific ticket for violating the 25mph limit around schools. Fines for this offense are more expensive when school is in session. Cost: $150 to $600 on non-school days or between 7pm and 6am on school days; $300 to $1,500 between 6am and 7pm on school days. Points: 3 to 11 depending on speed (regardless of day/time).

1180-d: Speed in Zone. This is your catch-all speeding ticket. Most speeding tickets issued in New York are 1180-d. Cost: $150 to $600 depending on speed. Points: 3 to 11 depending on speed.

1180-e: Failure to reduce speed (special hazards). A rarely issued ticket, this citation applies to drivers who do not reduce their speed when approaching things like railway crossings, the crest of a hill, or narrow turns. The statute also contains provisions redundant to other tickets, such as slowing down for emergency vehicles (similar to the Move Over law), when approaching construction zones (similar to 1180-f), or in hazardous weather conditions (similar to 1180-a). Cost: $150. Points: 3.

1180-f: Speed in Construction Zone. Nothing difficult here. Note that getting convicted of this violation twice in 18 months will result in an automatic suspension of your driving privileges. Cost: $150 to $600 depending on speed. Points: 3 to 11 depending on speed.

1181-a: Driving too slow (impeding traffic). This is an inverted speeding ticket – it applies if you are driving so slowly that you are holding up traffic. There’s no specific guidance as to how far below the posted limit constitutes too slow; it depends on whether the officer considers your speed to be a disruption or a hazard. Cost: $150. Points: 3.

1181-b: Driving below posted minimum speed. This is also a ticket for going too slow, and applies on highways that have posted minimum speeds. As with 1181-a, there’s no details on how far below the minimum is too slow, so it up to the officer to decide. Cost: $150. Points: 3.

1182-1: Unauthorized speed contest. This is a ticket for racing. There’s no points for this ticket because it is always accompanied by a speeding ticket (and possibly a reckless driving charge as well). Cost: $575. Points: None.

On top of the listed fines and points, a conviction for any of the above tickets can impact your auto insurance rates. In addition, three convictions for speeding within 18 months (or two convictions for speeding in a work zone) will automatically result in a suspended license. If you or a loved one has been issued any kind of speeding ticket in New York, contact a lawyer right away to fight the charges and avoid the points associated with a ticket. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law Firm are skilled New York traffic ticket attorneys who are experienced in handling tickets for all types of speeding and other driving-related offenses. Call 888-203-2619 or email the Rosenblum Law Firm today for a free consultation about your case.

 

7 More Facts About Speeding

Speeding tickets are one of the most common traffic tickets a driver can get, according to data from the New York State Department of Transportation. Most New Yorkers know just how costly speeding tickets can be. Here are some other unique facts about speeding tickets you should know.

  1. NY is third. New York comes in third place for the most number of traffic tickets issued each year, according to new research from Statistics Brain. Ohio and Pennsylvania take the top two spots, and Montana issues the fewest tickets.
  2. One ticket per second. Nationwide, officers issue about 41 million speeding tickets each year, which equates to approximately 1.3 tickets per second.
  3. Twice as many stops as tickets. Drivers are pulled over at about twice the rate that they receive tickets. If you’re pulled over, don’t panic — there’s a good chance you won’t receive a citation.
  4. Men go faster. Another study from Statistics Brain found that men get almost twice as many speeding tickets as women, at a ratio of 1.71 to 1.
  5. Older drivers crash less. Say what you want about senior drivers; they have the lowest incidence of fatal speeding-related accidents.
  6. Drinking and speeding. Alcohol is often an aggravating factor in speeding-related crashes. An estimated 42 percent of speed-related accidents involved a driver whose blood-alcohol content was above the legal limit.
  7. Speed is killing us less. Overall, fewer people are dying in speeding-related accidents. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported that speed-related traffic deaths have fallen steadily from 13,609 in 2006 to 9,283 in 2014. There was a slight in increase in 2015 with 9,557 fatalities, although that was still a lower percentage of total traffic deaths.

A speeding ticket costs at least $150, plus up to $93 in court fees, and can result in three points on your license. If you or a loved one has been caught speeding, consult an attorney immediately. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law Firm are skilled New York traffic ticket attorneys many years of experience handling tickets for speeding as well as other driving-related offenses. Call 888-203-2619 or email the Rosenblum Law Firm today for a free consultation about your case.

What to Do When Your Car Hydroplanes

When the rain gets heavy, even the most careful driver can suddenly find their car hydroplaning. Hydroplaning occurs when your car’s tires skim over the surface of the water, resulting in little to no traction. If you find your car hydroplaning, there are three things you can do to reduce the chances of an accident.

  1. Don’t panic. This is both the most important rule and also the hardest. Realizing you have no control over the car is frightening, but do your best to remain calm.
  2. No brakes, no gas. You need to slow down to stop hydroplaning, but braking will make things worse. Instead, take your foot off the gas and let the car gradually slow. As you slow down, your tires will increase their grip on the road until you are no longer hydroplaning.
  3. Keep the wheels straight. Don’t try to turn, even if the car starts veering off the road. Wait until the car slows down and you regain control before attempting to steer.

Hydroplaning is not the result of bad driving. However, there are some general driving tips that can help reduce your chances of an accident during heavy rain or other dangerous weather.

  1. Put both hands on the wheel. Basic driver’s education tells you to always drive with your hands at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock on the steering wheel. Most drivers don’t this on a regular basis, but when the roads are slick, the extra control is critical.
  2. Stay focused. Turn off any unnecessary distractions, like music or cell phones, and pay extra attention to the road conditions, other cars, and pedestrians.
  3. Keep your distance. Leave at least five seconds of space between you and the car in front of you. The extra space compensates for reduced visibility and slicker roads. When possible, you should also leave space on the side in case you need to quickly change lanes to avoid striking a person or vehicle.

More than anything, remember to slow down in heavy rain. Driving too fast in inclement weather is not only dangerous, it can also land you a ticket. Even if you’re driving below the speed limit, an officer can deem your speed to be not reasonable under the conditions. This can result in a ticket for imprudent speed. A first offense can result in 3 points on your license, plus up to $150 in fines and a $93 court fee. A conviction could also mean up to 15 days in jail. Penalties increase for a second and third conviction within 18 months.

If you or a loved one has been ticketed for speeding, imprudent speed, or any other kind of traffic violation, consult an attorney to help you avoid the fees, points, and increase in insurance premiums that can result from a conviction. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law Firm are skilled New York traffic ticket attorneys who are experienced in handling tickets for a range of driving-related offenses. Call 888-203-2619 or email the Rosenblum Law Firm today for a free consultation about your case.

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7 Facts About the Cost of Speeding Tickets

Speeding tickets are expensive by design. After all, they are supposed to be a deterrent to speeding. A speeding ticket in New York usually costs at least $150, but you could end up shelling out even more depending on your speed and other factors. Here are some interesting facts about the cost of speeding tickets that everyone should know.

  1. $100 after six points. New York State imposes a driver responsibility assessment (DRA) of $100 each year for three years if the driver has accrued six points on their license. The DRA increases by $25 for each additional point accrued.
  2. $1,493 max in NY. The most expensive speeding ticket you could get in New York would be $1,493. In order to get a ticket this large, you’d have to be going 31+ mph over the limit in a school zone ($1,200). Assuming you already had two points on your license, this would add an additional eight points, incurring a DRA of $200. You’d also have to be assigned the maximum court fee of $93.
  3. $3,000+ in Virginia. New Yorkers can rest assured that they don’t have it as bad as Virginia drivers, who can sometimes pay over $3,000 for a speeding ticket.
  4. $800 in premium hikes. A speeding ticket can wreak havoc with your auto insurance, increasing your premiums by 21 to 30 percent, which could translate to anywhere between $300 and $800 more each year.
  5. Two pounds Flemmish. Back when New York was known as New Amsterdam, a person would get fined at least two pounds Flemmish for riding at a full gallop. Coincidentally, that equates to about $150 in today’s dollars.
  6. $5.4 billion annually. Speeding tickets bring in anywhere from $3.8 billion to $5.4 billion a year in revenue, nationwide. That means that on average each police officer issues about $300,000 worth of speeding tickets annually. That’s quite an incentive for towns and states to hand out citations and increase fines!
  7. $40 billion in accidents. However, the revenue from tickets doesn’t come close to covering the cost of crashes. According to the Insurance Information Institute, accidents caused by speeding cost about $40 billion a year. That figure is based on total economic impact, including job loss, repairs, insurance premium hikes, and more.

Between DRAs, court fees, and insurance premium hikes, a conviction for speeding can be very costly. If you or a loved one has been ticketed for speeding in New York, contact an attorney to avoid the expenses associated with a conviction. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law Firm are skilled New York traffic ticket attorneys who are experienced in handling tickets for speeding as well as other driving-related offenses. Call 888-203-2619 or email the Rosenblum Law Firm today for a free consultation about your case.

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When a Little Speed is a Good Thing

Impeding traffic by going too slow could result in a ticket.

The best advice for avoiding a speeding ticket is to slow down. This generally means obeying the posted limit, or at least not going too far above it, but this advice can be taken too far. If you drive like the proverbial granny, you won’t be at risk for a speeding ticket, but you could be facing a totally different kind of citation under New York State VTL 1181.

There are two ways to get ticketed for going too slow in New York. The first, VTL 1181-a, applies primarily in instances where someone is impeding traffic. For example, if you are driving 20 mph on a busy road with a 45 mph limit, that’s a ticketable offense. There’s no guidance for how far below the speed limit you have to be to get a ticket — the officer has discretion in this case.

The second, VTL 1181-b, is for those driving below the posted minimum speed. This is only applicable on select roadways with posted minimums, such as the Long Island Expressway or the New York Thruway; most local roadways don’t have minimum speeds. Unlike a ticket for VTL 1181-a, you do not necessarily have to be impeding traffic to get a ticket for going below the minimum. If circumstances warrant, it is possible to receive a ticket for both violations.

Of course, there are times when you should go well below the posted speed limit or minimum, such as during a snowstorm or heavy rainfall. In that case, your slow speed might be considered prudent for the conditions. Like the statute for impeding traffic, there’s no specific guidance on what is considered prudent or the conditions under which they apply. In general, drivers should consider going below the speed limit whenever visibility is strongly reduced (e.g. in a thick fog), the ability to stop on time is compromised (e.g. on ice-covered roads), or both (e.g. on wet roads during a rainstorm).  

A ticket for either impeding traffic or driving below the posted minimum carries a $150 fine, plus court costs. Each violation also carriers three points on your license and up to 15 days of possible jail time. A second violation within 18 months ups the consequences to a fine of $300 and 45 days of jail time.

If you or a loved one has been ticketed for speeding, impeding traffic, or driving below the minimum speed, it is imperative that you consult an attorney to help you avoid the costs associated with a ticket. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law Firm are skilled New York traffic ticket attorneys who are experienced in handling tickets for speeding as well as other driving-related offenses. Call 888-203-2619 or email the Rosenblum Law Firm today for a free consultation about your case.

Why Don’t Speed Limits Prevent Speeding? (Part II)

Part I of this two-part series looked at how speed limits are determined. For the past 50 years, most limits have been based on the 85th percentile rule, also known as a rational speed limit, which was built on the idea that people are more likely to obey limits if they are set at a speed that drivers feel are rational.

Unfortunately, the majority of drivers don’t feel that speed limits set with the 85th percentile rule are reasonable. A 2008 study showed that drivers do not associate speed limits with safety. Instead, they tend to worry almost exclusively about getting caught.

This has been largely attributed to the Emergency Highway Conservation Act of 1974. When the OPEC oil embargo sent gas prices soaring, President Nixon signed the bill to establish a 55 mph speed limit on all four-lane divided highways. The goal was to reduce gas consumption (which it did, but only by a mere 1%), but most drivers saw it as an affront to their personal freedom. It was repealed in 1995, but the damage was done: speed limits became associated with overregulation and drivers began to ignore them.

Even when speed limits are increased, most drivers simply drive at the speed they are comfortable. During an 18-month study along the New York Thruway, the speed limit was increased from 55 mph to 65 mph. The average speed along the road remained the same, at 68 mph, regardless of the change. A separate national study conducted by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) found that the average speeds on roads remained constant regardless of lowering or increasing the speed limit; drivers did whatever they wanted.

In addition, research supports the notion that obeying speed limits does not necessarily correlate to safety. According to the Institute of Transportation Engineers, those driving 10 mph slower than the prevailing speed are six times more likely to be involved in an accident than someone going 10 mph over the limit. However, there is no clear consensus regarding this finding and the sheer ubiquity of speeding makes it difficult to isolate as a factor in the frequency of accidents.

Are speed limits useless? It’s difficult to say with any certainty. What is clear, according to the FHWA, is the laws of physics, which prove beyond doubt that speed and crash severity are inextricably linked. Even if speed limits don’t seem rational, they’re still a good idea.

A conviction for speeding costs at least $150 plus up to $93 in court fees, and carries three points on your license. It can also increase your insurance premiums by hundreds of dollars. If you or a loved one has been caught speeding, it is imperative that you consult an attorney to help you avoid the costs associated with a ticket. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law Firm are skilled New York traffic ticket attorneys who are experienced in handling tickets for speeding as well as other driving-related offenses. Call 888-203-2619 or email the Rosenblum Law Firm today for a free consultation about your case.

Why Don’t Speed Limits Prevent Speeding? (Part I)

Speed limits are so often ignored that many people question whether we need them at all. Does the fact that people don’t obey speed limits mean they are useless?

This article is part one of a two-part series that will explain the history of speeding limits, look at their function, reveal how they are determined, and attempt to explain why people seem so apt to disregard them.

The U.K. is often credited with instituting the first speed limit of 10 mph (16 km/h) in 1861, but the concept of speed limits had been around for far longer. In the U.S., speed limits can be traced back to the colonial era, though they were defined a little differently then than they are today.  

Throughout the years, the safety of drivers, passengers, and pedestrians has typically been the primary objective of speed limits. Determining safe speeds can be tricky, though. It’s unclear how the earliest speed limits were decided, but more than 50 years ago, most states began using what’s called rational speed limits, also known as the 85th percentile rule.

With this method, traffic engineers measure the average speed vehicles move along a particular length of road. The speed limit is then typically set at the 85th percentile. This is done to ensure that 85% of drivers will be traveling under the speed limit, while 15% will be breaking the law. However, a myriad of other factors are often taken into account as well, including proximity to schools, the terrain and visibility (e.g., hills and curves), population density, presence of residential and commercial driveways, and more.

The theory is that speed limits should be designed around the speed that most drivers feel safe traveling. The term “rational speed limit” refers the belief that people will obey speed limits if they feel they are reasonable.

It may seem democratic to set the limit at the speed most people are going to drive anyway, but are those speeds reasonable? Furthermore, if the objective is safety, then the 85% rule assumes that the average speed on a given road is the safest, but is that actually the case? Research at the time the method was developed showed the biggest risk came from differences in speeds, not just excess of speed. Thus, encouraging people to drive at the majority-agreed-upon speed would, theoretically, cut down on accidents.

However, as Part II of this article will show, people do not generally drive at the optimally safe speed. In fact, drivers are notoriously bad at determining the safest speed for a given road. Moreover, if the goal of the 85th percentile rule was to reduce speed variations, it has failed. While it may have reduced speed variations, there is no evidence that the method has reduced traffic fatalities — and that’s due in part to the fact that neither speed limits nor safety are the primary factors influencing driver’s speeds. Next week we will look at why this is and what actually impacts driver speeds.

A conviction for speeding costs at least $150 plus up to $93 in court fees, and carries three points on your license. It can also increase your insurance premiums by hundreds of dollars. If you or a loved one has been caught speeding, it is imperative that you consult an attorney to help you avoid the costs associated with a ticket. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law Firm are skilled New York traffic ticket attorneys who are experienced in handling tickets for speeding as well as other driving-related offenses. Call 888-203-2619 or email the Rosenblum Law Firm today for a free consultation about your case.

NYPD to Crack Down on Speeding in 2017

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Drivers in New York City would be well advised to slow down. The NYPD is vowing to issue more tickets for speeding and other infractions as part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to cut down on traffic injuries and deaths. The mayor also included several items in the proposed Fiscal Year 2018 budget that will aid in this additional enforcement, including 120 new radar guns for local precincts.

Last year the NYPD issued a record 137,000 speeding tickets, a record it will likely break this year. In continuing with his signature Vision Zero initiative, de Blasio has ordered police to step up enforcement of speeding and other infractions with the aim of cutting down traffic fatalities. According to the NYC Department of Transportation, in the three years since Vision Zero began, traffic deaths are down more than 20 percent.

Speeding tickets can cost far more than a simple $150 fine. In New York, a conviction for speeding carries at least three points on your license. Drivers will also be expected to pay up to $93 in court fees and possibly a $100 driver responsibility assessment. Speeding tickets can also increase your auto insurance premiums by hundreds of dollars.

If you or a loved one has been ticketed for speeding, texting while driving, or any other traffic violation as part of NYC’s Vision Zero crackdown, contact an attorney to help avoid the consequences. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law Firm are skilled New York traffic ticket attorneys who are experienced in handling tickets for speeding as well as other driving-related offenses. Call 888-203-2619 or email the Rosenblum Law Firm today for a free consultation about your case.

What to Do if Your Car Skids

New York drivers are masters of winter weather — or at least, they tend to think they are. While some drivers may truly understand the tricks and techniques needed to drive safely in the winter, even the best driver occasionally skids. Skidding can be harrowing as it causes the car to suddenly respond in a very unexpected way.

Not every skid is caused by poor driving skills. Black ice – a thin layer of ice on the pavement that is often invisible to drivers – can strike even the most mindful driver without warning.

It is important that drivers adjust their speed and take precautions during the winter, especially when the roads are covered in ice and snow. Even the best driver can stand to review these best practices for what to do when the car starts to skid.  

  • Beware of change. Skidding is typically triggered by changes in speed, direction, or both. Be extra mindful any time you are accelerating, decelerating, or turning, as this is when a skid is mostly likely to happen.
  • Remain calm. Try your best not to panic. Panicked drivers tend to overcorrect, which makes the skid worse.
  • Slam (or pump) the brakes. If you have anti-lock brakes (which most newer cars do), slam the brakes as hard as you can; the anti-lock technology will deliberately stutter the brakes to help the car re-grip the road. For older cars without anti-lock brakes, manually pump the brakes to achieve the same effect.
  • Steer into the skid. If the back wheels are skidding, turn the wheel in the same direction the back end of the car is sliding towards. For a front-wheel skid, straighten the steering wheel.
  • Look where you want to go. Hand-eye coordination makes a difference, so do your best to keep your gaze in the direction you want the car to go.
  • Don’t trust AWD. While all-wheel drive is great, it is not going to prevent every skid.

It’s not just about safety. Driving too fast in icy conditions can actually land you a ticket. There’s no specific guidelines as to what qualifies as imprudent, but if a police officer deems your speed to be not reasonable and prudent under the conditions, you could get a ticket for imprudent speed. A first offense can result in 3 points on your license, plus up to $150 in fines and a $93 court fee. A conviction could also mean up to 15 days in jail. Penalties increase for a second and third conviction within 18 months.

If you or a loved one has been ticketed for imprudent speed, or any other kind of traffic violation, consult an attorney to help you avoid the costs, points, and increase in insurance premiums that can result from a conviction. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law Firm are skilled New York traffic ticket attorneys who are experienced in handling tickets for a range of driving-related offenses. Call 888-203-2619 or email the Rosenblum Law Firm today for a free consultation about your case.




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