Ford Patent Could Replace Traffic Cops with Autonomous Cars

Red light cameras and speed cameras have been praised and panned for taking the human element out of traffic enforcement. Now Ford is taking this one step further with a patent for a fully autonomous police car, filed in January.

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Do Police Write Less Speeding Tickets in the Winter?

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

A common urban legend is that cops are less likely to give out speeding tickets in the winter. There are multiple theories for this supposed trend. One is that more police officers are on vacation. Another is that ticket quotas are mostly filled. Other explanations include the holiday spirit makes police more forgiving and the cold weather makes officers want to stay in their car.

Is there any truth to the legend? A look at the data reveals the answer is definitively… sort of.

Public data from New York State Department of Transportation provides information on every ticket issued between 2012 and 2014, broken down by month. This data was filtered for speeding ticket and then graphed.

In each year, the number of speeding tickets issued began to decline starting in October, reaching its lowest point in December. Figures rose in January and February before spiking in March. However, winter technically starts Dec. 21 and ends March 19. If anything, the decline in tickets coincides with autumn rather than winter.  

So if it isn’t the season, could it be the weather?

An analysis by one blogger correlated total traffic ticket data to inclement weather (rain and snow) for Montgomery County, Maryland. He found that officers issued fewer tickets on days when it rained or snowed, particularly in colder months. Rain and snow can mean less cars on the road and more cautious driver behavior, both of which would result in fewer traffic tickets, but the biggest factor is likely that  officers do not want to get out of their vehicles in bad weather.

Even that explanation is flawed. January and February are often just as cold as December, and statistically are just as likely to see snow and rain. Yet the first two months of the year experience a gradual rise in speeding tickets. The idea that fewer drivers are on the road in December is also unlikely, since the 10 days before Christmas are the busiest travel days of the year.

The only thing that can be said for certain is that there are consistent peaks and valleys in the number of speeding tickets written. The bad news is the lull in speeding tickets is coming to an end.

No matter what the season, a speeding ticket can definitely ruin your day (or year). Even the smallest speeding ticket will cost at least $150, plus up to $93 in court fees and a possible driver responsibility assessment of $100. In addition, a conviction means 3 points on your license as well as an increase in your auto insurance rates. If you or a loved one has been caught speeding, you need the help of a skilled attorney to avoid the many costs associated with a ticket. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law Firm have extensive experience fighting speeding tickets in New York 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.

Does Speeding Really Save You Time?

policelightsWe live in a busy world. Our time is valuable and most of us would prefer to spend time at our destination, rather than on the road. This is often a contributing factor as to why many drivers speed, along with a need to get to appointments on time, and a desire to be somewhere where we can check our phones without fear of legal repercussions.

But is speeding really saving that much time?

With the exception of long trips, speeding does not save more than a few minutes. The chart below details several scenarios involving trips of different lengths: 15, 30, 50, and 200 miles. Each trip length is calculated at 35, 50, and 65 mph speed limits. It then shows how long those same trips would take at 10 and 20 mph above those limits.

speedingtimechart

The average American has a commute of about 15 miles. Looking at the chart above, ignoring traffic signals and road congestions as a factor, Trip #1 shows that going 10 mph over the limit will save less than six minutes on a commute that is already less than half an hour (assuming the posted limit is 35 mph the entire way).

For longer commutes, assuming a low speed limit of 35 mph, going 10 or even 20 mph over the limit can show serious savings. In all likelihood, however, as commutes reach 30 and 50 miles in length, it’s more realistic to experience a posted limit of 50 or 65 mph. In those scenarios (Trips #5, 6, 8 & 9), the time saved for going 10 mph above the limit still hovers around six minutes.

Is that really worth it? Consider that a typical speeding ticket in New York costs about $150 (not including court fees and driver responsibility assessments). In order for six minutes of your time to be worth $150, you would have to make $1,500 per hour, or about $3 million per year.

Most of us are not worth that much. Looking at it another way, let’s say you go to court to fight the ticket. Assuming you save 6 minutes to work and back (12 minutes per day) and spent 8 hours in court, you would have to speed for 40 days to make back that lost time. It’s worth noting that hiring a lawyer could save you much of that time and increase your odds of beating the ticket.  

Another interesting revelation from the chart above is that the higher the speed limit is already, the less time you save by speeding. That might seem strange at first, but it makes sense—the faster you’re traveling to start with, the more you have to exceed the speed limit to achieve the same proportionate increase. If you’re going 45 mph in a 35 mph zone, you’re traveling almost 30% faster than the posted limit. If the speed limit is 65 mph and you’re going 75 mph, that’s only about a 15% increase, even though in both cases you are going 10 mph over the limit. Obviously you can increase your time savings by traveling even faster, but once you break the speed limit by more than 10 mph, your risk of getting a speeding ticket increases substantially and the consequences for the ticket go up as well.

Of course, real life isn’t as simple as a chart. Traffic lights, stop signs, and the ever-dreaded traffic jam can and will whittle away at any gains, even on the longest of trips.

Are the time gains worth the potential consequences? In addition to the $150 fine, a speeding ticket in New York will also carry at least 3 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 caught speeding, it is essential 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.

The Impact of Speeding Tickets on Your Car Insurance

speeding-with-broken-brakesSpeeding tickets come loaded with hidden costs. On top of the initial fine, every speeding ticket carries with it a court fee, and in some cases, a driver responsibility assessment (DRA) as well. The biggest financial impact, however, is likely the one on your car insurance.

Every insurance company is different when it comes to speeding and other traffic tickets. One company may raise your rates for three years following a conviction, whereas another may apply a surcharge that will be removed after one year if you avoid any further infractions. The length of time that you’ve been with your insurer and past driving record can also be taken into account, and long-time customers with good records could see a lesser increase.

On the whole, however, most drivers who just plead guilty and pay the fine will see a significant difference in their annual premiums. InsuranceQuotes.com found that on average speeding leads to these increases in premiums:

  • 21% for 1 to 15 mph over the speed limit.
  • 28% for 16 to 30 mph over the limit.
  • 30% for more than 30 mph over the limit.

This can be substantial for New York drivers, who already pay among the highest premiums in the country. It’s not uncommon for New Yorkers to shell out between $1,400 and $2,700 annually. That means even the smallest speeding ticket could result in an additional $294 to $567 per year!

For most drivers, it is more than worthwhile to hire an attorney to arrange for a plea bargain (which would have no impact on your insurance). In some cases, an attorney can also fight to have the ticket dismissed outright, such as if an officer doesn’t appear as complaining witness or if certain information on the summons is not filled out or is filled out incorrectly.

If you’re concerned that a speeding ticket could impact your car insurance, it is essential that you consult an attorney. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law Firm are skilled New York traffic ticket attorneys with experience 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 how your ticket could impact your insurance rates.

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Beyond Slowing Down: Wintertime Driving Tips

Leave between 2 and 10 times the normal gap between you and the car ahead in order to allow for a longer deceleration.
Leave between 2 and 10 times the normal gap between you and the car ahead in order to allow for a longer deceleration.

Winter is almost here and with comes the hazards of cold-weather driving. Anyone who has completed basic driver’s education in New York knows that you need to slow down in icy weather. The rule of thumb is to reduce your speed by one-third of what you would normally drive, with 45mph being the absolute max speed. For example, if you typically do 60mph on the LIE, cut it down to 40mph when it’s snowing.

Unfortunately, slowing down is not enough. In fact, it’s a common misconception that accidents in winter are the result of careless behavior. In many cases, accidents are caused when a driver encounters ice unexpectedly, such as after a freezing rain or while crossing a bridge (where icing is more common).

As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. So here are some of the most practical wintertime driving tips.

  • Go easy. Be sure to accelerate and brake gently to avoid having the tires spin out on the slippery pavement.
  • Allow extra space. Leave between 2 and 10 times the normal gap between you and the car ahead in order to allow for a longer deceleration.
  • Watch where you tread. Be careful driving in the wheeltracks of other vehicles; unless the road has been sanded and salted, the compressed snow is likely icier than fresh snow.
  • Keep all hands on deck. Both hands should be on the wheel at all times regardless of the weather, but especially in the snow.
  • Ditch the distractions. Turn off your phone and the music. Distractions are far more dangerous in the snow than at any other time.
  • Give yourself extra time. Take into account how much longer it could take to arrive at your destination. Bonus: The less rushed your feel, the less likely you are to make a sudden move.
  • Bust out the sunglasses. Summer may be over, but the shades can help reduce the glare from the snow.

It’s also worth remembering is that winter tires don’t fix everything. They’re certainly worth the cost, but even the best winter tires will not have traction on ice over 45mph.

Driving too fast in icy conditions can also land you a ticket. Under New York State statute VTL 1180(a), a driver can be ticketed for imprudent speed, which is when an officer deems your rate of speed to be “not reasonable and prudent under the conditions.” The ticket can be issued even if you are going below the posted limit. There’s no particular guidance as to what qualifies as reasonable and prudent, or under which conditions the law can be applied — officers simply apply their best judgment to based on the situation. Regardless, 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 in 18 months.

If you or a loved one has been ticketed for driving at an unreasonable or imprudent speed for the conditions, or any other traffic citation, 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 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.

The Cost of Rushing This Thanksgiving

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Between the struggle to get the kids ready and your wife changing her outfit for the third time, it looks like you are doomed to be late for Thanksgiving at your sister’s house this year. The temptation to gun it when you hit the highway is probably strong, but that could be an expensive mistake.

A typical speeding ticket costs at least $150. There’s also court surcharges that run about $90 and, if you end up with six points or more on your license (a speeding ticket carries at least three points), a driver responsibility assessment of $100. All told, you could shell out almost $350 – and that’s for going no more than 10 mph over the legal speed limit.

Consider what else you could have used the money for this holiday:

  • 7 bottles of decent-quality wine (avg cost $50). You could have skipped that cheap stuff your second cousin always brings and really splurged.
  • 14 Thanksgiving turkeys (avg cost $25). You probably only need one bird at the table this year, but you could have sprung for a lot more.
  • 30 gourmet apple pies (avg cost $12). They’d probably be better than the ones from Stop and Shop, too.
  • 350 boxes of Stove Top stuffing mix (avg cost $1). It’s not as good as Grandma’s homemade recipe, but still, that’s a lot of stuffing.
  • 1,300 pounds of potatoes (avg cost $2.72/10 pounds). Let’s hope there’s enough room in your trunk.  

That’s all based on just 10 miles over the posted limit. If you get busted going 30 mph over the legal limit, you’d be facing almost $800 in fines and fees, plus 8 points on your license (11 points or more will result in a suspended license), and possibly a reckless driving charge as well. Getting convicted of speeding can also cause your insurance rates to go up, guaranteeing you’ll be paying for extra turkeys for years to come.

Don’t let a speeding ticket ruin your Thanksgiving. If you or a loved one has been caught speeding, consult an attorney right away. 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.

Beyond the Ticket: Why Speeding is a Costly Mistake

speedometerA speeding ticket can cost over $200 in New York, along with at least three points on your license. “But,” you say, “there’s no guarantee I’ll get caught!”

That may be true. However, it is guaranteed that you will spend more money speeding, even if you never get a ticket, because excess speed almost always means excess fuel consumption.

Each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different speed. On average, gas mileage peaks around 45 to 55 mph. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that every five miles you drive over 55 mph is equal to paying an additional $0.18 per gallon for gas (assuming $2.50 per gallon).

It’s like the old math problems from grade school. Jack and Jill both need to drive 60 miles on a highway from Point A to Point B. Both cars get 30 mpg if the driver stays at the posted limit of 55 mph.

Jill drives at 55 mph, but Jack puts the pedal to the metal and does 75 mph. It will take Jack 48 minutes to reach his exit, while Jill will get there in 65 minutes.

At 55 mph, Jill used 2 gallons gas. If gas costs $2.50/gallon, the highway trip cost her $5.00. Meanwhile, Jack used 2.5 gallons, which cost him $6.25 to go the same distance.

An extra $1.25 probably doesn’t sound like much, but it adds up quickly.  Assuming again 30 mpg  and $2.50 per gallon, for a 20-mile commute to work each way (40 miles per day), here’s how much it would cost at various speeds:

Speed Daily Travel Time MPG Cost/day Cost/year
(5 days/week for 50 weeks)
55 44 30.0 $4.67 $1,167.50
60 40 29.1 $4.81 $1,202.50
65 37 27.6 $5.07 $1,267.50
70 34 24.9 $5.62 $1,405.00
75 32 23.1 $6.06 $1,515.00
80 30 21.6 $6.48 $1,620.00

If you normally drive 75 mph, you could be saving $312.50 each year by slowing down to 60 mph – and you’d only be making your commute 8 minutes longer.

You could argue that the opposite is true as well – if the speed limit is 30 mph, driving 55 mph could save money on gas. While that’s technically true, slower local roads typically have stop signs, red lights, and a higher number of pedestrians. Speeding on these roads carries an increased risk of other traffic violations like failure to yield, red light violations, or failure to stop for a school bus, each of which carries its own consequences and fines. Getting pulled over even once can negate any fuel efficiency savings. A ticket for driving as little as 11 mph over the posted limit can cost up to $400. Depending on the offense and the number of citations, you may also face additional consequences like a driver’s responsibility assessment or even a suspended license. In case that wasn’t expensive enough, insurance premiums often skyrocket after a speeding citation.

If you or a loved one has been caught speeding, it is advisable 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.

What Are the Most Common Mistakes by Teen Drivers?

Speeding is one of the most common mistakes by teen drivers. Photo courtesy State Farm via Flikr.
Speeding is one of the most common mistakes by teen drivers. Photo courtesy State Farm via Flikr.

Teen drivers were involved in nearly 14,000 fatal crashes over the past five year. Of those, more than 4,200 involved speeding, one of the most common mistakes that teen drivers make.

Last month, AAA released a survey of driving instructors’ observations about teen drivers. The result is a list of the top three dangerous mistakes that teens make behind the wheel. 65% of driving instructors claim that teens taking a road test are less prepared to drive than they were a decade ago. Parents, they say, are largely to blame.

“Nearly two-thirds of people injured or killed in a crash involving a teen driver are people other than the teen,” said Bill Van Tassel, AAA’s manager of Driver Training Operations. “Involved parents really can help save lives, so it’s important for parents to coach their teens to slow down, as well as to avoid other common mistakes.”

The top three mistakes teens make when learning to drive are:

  • Poor Visual Scanning: Too much focus on hazards coming from a specific or limited area
  • Speeding: Traveling over posted speed limits or too fast for road conditions
  • Distraction: Using a smart phone, talking with passengers, or looking at other objects in the vehicle

Other dangerous behaviors [PDF] common to teen drivers include:

  • Risk taking
  • Not using a seat belt
  • Overconfidence
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol

In addition to inadequately preparing teens, parents often set a bad example through their own behaviors, the survey found. A separate survey from the AAA revealed that drivers between the ages of 35 and 55 commonly engaged in dangerous behaviors behind the wheel. For example:

  • 77% of drivers reported talking on a cell phone while driving, compared to 68% of teen drivers
  • 45% of drivers reported driving 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway (46% of teens say the same).

A speeding ticket will impose 3 or more points on your licenses. It can cost hundreds in fees and fines and increased insurance rates. Teens with a junior or restricted license can see their driving privileges suspended for even minor traffic violations. If you or your teen has been fined for speeding, contact an attorney right away to protect your rights. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law Firm 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.