Last month, I wrote a post called “When Does Stopped Mean Moving?” discussing how one traffic court found a violation of New York’s “distracted driver” law for “using” an electronic device even though the motorist was stopped at a light. This post will discuss whether “holding” under VTL 1225-d encompasses those instances when a motorist places a powered-up electronic device on his or her lap.
I was shocked yesterday when I went to a website — tlo.com — and entered my license plate number. One click and a series of photographs of my car with date and location was revealed. Seemingly, I had someone tailing me and taking photos of my rear license plate at various locations throughout New York City.
A new industry of data brokers has sprung up. They sell locational information on license plates that have been photographed. These companies use license plate recognition software to identify and sort the massive amount of data.
The NYS Legislature recently approved a pilot program allowing New York City to post 20 speed cameras. The five-year program requires that the cameras be located near schools. Mayor Bloomberg tried unsuccessfully to bring speeding cameras to NYC last year. The new attempt apparently was successful because the safety of children was at issue. The City prepared a map last March showing locations near schools where 75% of motorists were documented as speeding.
Six teenagers from New Hampshire called the Invetioneers have invented an effective and clever way to end distracted driving. Their invention is called the SMARTwheel™, a driving device that monitors hand positions to detect unsafe driving. I recently learned about this product when these younger inventors presented on ABC’s Shark Tank.
Trucks drivers must carefully navigate around low clearances at bridge, tunnels and overpasses. In fact, trucks in New York State are not allowed on any Parkway for this very reason. Unfortunately, many truck drivers come from out-of-state and miss the low clearance signs ending up in truck accidents like the one depicted to the left.
William Barboza, a 22-year-old Connecticut man, pled guilty to a speeding ticket via mail and, on the traffic ticket, replaced the word “Liberty” with “Tyranny” and added on an accompanying payment form “fuck your shitty town bitches.” Town Justice Brian Rourke rejected the guilty plea and ordered Barboza to appear in court. According to the lawsuit, Rourke then chastised him for the language he used, and had two police officers place him under arrest for aggravated harassment.
An AAA study released today debunks the myth that voice-activated and hands-free devices eliminate driver distraction concluding that drivers who use hands-free devices to talk, text, send emails or give voice commands can “overload” their attention span. Commands that are not short and simple are not too distracting. But checking email or Facebook accounts significantly impair concentration levels.
Starting June 1, 2013, cell phone violations and texting & driving violations now carry 5 points (up from 3). A cell phone violation occurs when a driver uses a phone without a hands-free device. A texting and driving violation occurs when a driver “uses” an electronic device while driving. The terms “use”, “electronic device” and “while driving” are all construed liberally meaning that you cannot even hold your device while behind the wheel of a car that is not parked.
On October 31, 1968, 4-year old Carolee Sadie Ashby was tragically struck and killed as she crossed a street in her upstate New York home of Oswego. Russ Johnson, a dogged, retired Fulton police detective, was able to solve this cold case via a Facebook post with the details of the case.
Reportedly, a former resident now living in Florida saw the post and came forward with new information. As a result, Douglas Parkhurst, 62, of the town of Oswego, has been identified as the driver of a car that failed to stop. Parkhurst was a suspect back in 1968 but was inexplicably not charged despite admitting to have been an accident that night. He claimed that he had hit a guard rail but the story did not match up with the damage to his car. Unfortunately, Parkhurst cannot be charged because the statute of limitations has expired. Yet, the information allows the Fulton police department to close this sad case.
The National Transportation Safety Board proposed last week that states lower their drinking and driving limits from .08 to .05. Currently, all states criminalize drinking and driving (DWI) for motorists with a blood-alcohol level (BAC) of .08% or more.
The NTSB cites, as the basis for dropping the BAC, the annual loss of life and injuries (almost 10,000 and 170,000 respectively) due to alcohol-related traffic accidents.