Law Office of Lynne A. Papazian
Family Law, Vehicle and Traffic Matters, And More In Albany, New York

Albany Legal Issues Blog

Police targeting reckless garage truck drivers

While certain cities in the State of New York have a reputation as being not-so-friendly for pedestrians, not all drivers are reckless when it comes to adhering to traffic laws. At the same time, safely getting around on foot in places like New York City is sometimes challenging, especially when some garbage truck drivers may not be paying attention to traffic laws as much as they should be. This is why the NYPD is cracking down on garage truck drivers by stepping up efforts to spot violations and issue tickets when necessary.

Officials say traffic violations involving garage trucks are a fairly regular occurrence. Common issues include speeding, reversing down one-way streets, and running red lights. Specifically, the focus of the crackdown is on the private carting industry, which primarily consists of vehicles that pick up commercial garbage, construction debris, and similar materials. There are approximately 7,000 such vehicles on the road in New York City.

Traffic enforcement differs throughout New York state

Drivers who get traffic tickets in New York may face large fines as well as an increase to their insurance rates. While drivers can take steps to comply with traffic laws, where they drive may also play a role in whether they are ticketed. For example, Erie County gave out 50,000 speeding tickets in 2017 while Broome County wrote 12,256 in the same year.

Broome County is also among the counties that gives out the lowest amount of tickets per miles driven. Overall, it issued .92 tickets per 1,000 miles driven, and there was a total of 13 million miles driven in that county. The rate of tickets issued was seventh-lowest in the state. To reduce the risk of getting a traffic ticket, it is important for drivers to obey the speed limit and other posted signs. Individuals may be ticketed even if they are speeding in an effort to keep up with traffic.

Passing a school bus on the road

Many drivers in New York have been accused of traffic violations. For those in certain professions like professional truck driving, even a minor a traffic violation can have a major impact on a career. Unlawfully passing a school bus is one such "minor" violation that trips up many motorists. Overtaking and passing a school bus is a violation of Section 1174 of the New York code.

A motorist can be charged if they are caught by law enforcement passing a bus from either direction if the bus has stopped on a public highway, street or private road for the intent of receiving or letting out passengers. This law is meant to protect the safety of children who may dart onto the street after being let out of a bus.

Drivers respond to lower speed limits

It's long been known that automobile crashes involving vehicles moving at comparatively greater speeds pose a higher risk of serious injury or death on New York highways. Additionally, studies have shown that speeding increases the likelihood of any crash, injury or non-injury. And while speed is not the only contributing risk factor, it is the primary one.

Considering this information, it is not surprising to learn that various highway safety studies have been commissioned to explore the issues and recommend an approach to reduce accidents. The results indicate drivers will reduce their overall speeds in response to a lowering of the posted speed limit. While this alone may not be surprising, how a small change can make a measurable difference may be.

"Speed Week" aims to reduce speeding and distracted driving

A week-long law enforcement detail in New York known as Speed Week aims to target drivers who are driving under the influence, driving aggressively and driving while distracted. Prior Speed Week operations in the state have led to dozens of tickets being issued to drivers for a variety of offenses. State police estimate that speeding contributes to approximately 33 percent of fatal crashes in New York. Across the nation, fatal car accidents claim the lives of approximately 42,000 individuals each year, and vehicular accidents are the leading cause of death in children under 3 years old. Hundreds of thousands of additional individuals suffer injuries as a result of car accidents each year.

Speed Week aims to reduce the number of car crashes, fatalities and injuries by citing those who are violating traffic laws. During Speed Week, law enforcement officers will use both marked State Police vehicles and un-marked Concealed Identity Tracking Enforcement, or CITE, vehicles in order to target motorists who are speeding. Law enforcement officers hope that the use of CITE vehicles will allow troopers to more easily identify drivers who are using cellphones while driving, speeding or driving aggressively. The vehicles can blend in easily with traffic but are easily recognized as emergency vehicles once the police activate the emergency lighting system.

Speed cameras will once again monitor school zones

The mayor of New York City and the governor of New York have reached a deal allowing speed cameras to be reintroduced in school zones. The city council will also play a role in bringing them back. First, the governor will declare a public safety emergency, and this would authorize the city to gather the data necessary to make the system work. Next, the city council will approve legislation in an emergency session. Finally, the mayor will sign the legislation.

The process can be completed over potential objections from those in the state senate. On July 25, the state lost the authority to ticket drivers who were seen on camera breaking the law. According to the DOT, there were more than 132,000 drivers seen violating speed limit laws on camera in the two weeks after it expired. It is thought that the number of violations has increased since then.

The potential consequences of disregarding traffic laws

New York law requires that drivers exercise care while operating a motor vehicle. Most states also have laws that prohibit certain actions while driving. For instance, evading a police officer is considered to be an example of reckless driving. Driving at an excessive speed or failing to stop at a stop sign or red light are also considered to be reckless actions. Drivers who are charged with DUI could also face a separate reckless or careless driving charge.

Those who are convicted on such a charge could lose the right to drive for a predetermined amount of time. Individuals who have had their licenses suspended in the past could experience a license revocation after being convicted of a reckless driving charge. Not having the ability to drive could cause an interruption to a person's livelihood. Other penalties include spending time in jail and paying a fine. It may be difficult or impossible to obtain military clearances.

Making illegal U-turns

Getting a ticket in New York for making an illegal U-turn is not unusual. In fact, such traffic tickets are written fairly often. What exactly qualifies as a U-turn will depend on the jurisdiction in which the individual was driving, the specific driving conditions, the applicable statute and other factors.

Drivers should avoid making U-turns in areas in which there are signs that strictly advise against it. It is also not advisable to make U-turns in the middle of a street or intersection.

Keeping right can prevent car accidents

Many New York drivers are aware that slower drivers are supposed to stay in the right lane unless they are passing. If they do need to pass an even slower vehicle, the drivers are supposed to use the left lane only to get around the vehicle before moving back over. However, there are instances where a driver who is moving slower than the speed limit will hog the left lane, preventing traffic from moving.

In the state of New York, the left lane is for passing slower drivers only. Unless there are obstacles, such as items in the road, that prevent the right lane from being safe, all drivers are otherwise required to remain in the right lane. If there are faster vehicles, the slower vehicles must yield by passing back into the right lane.

Understanding New York's driver point system

Unlike certain other states, New York has a Driver Violation Point System. This gives the state's Department of Motor Transportation a way to identify high-risk drivers so that the appropriate action can be taken against them. Under this point system, certain common traffic violations have been assigned points. If a driver gets 11 or more points in an 18-month period, his or her driving privileges may be suspended.

Before the points are added to a driver's record, the person must be convicted of the applicable traffic violation. However, the point total is calculated based on the day the traffic violation was committed and not on the day that the person is convicted. The points that the driver received within the last 18 months are used to figure the point total. This means that violations that occurred more than 18 months ago will not contribute to the driver's point total.

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