Being car safe in New York State is like preparing for two vastly different areas. The urban center of New York City is a place unto itself, while the rugged Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York provide a very contrasting landscape. In both locations you will need to take the following article into consideration.
City Crawl, Country Drive
Many people become nervous about driving in big cities, and as New York is the largest of them all, there can be quite a bit of apprehension. It is unlike other cities like Los Angeles as well, considering its sheer density of buildings and population. It does not suffer from urban sprawl like other major cities. Driving in New York can be done safely with a few tips. First, remember the sheer volume of pedestrians, cyclists, cars and street vendors which means keeping to the speed limit, which is only 30mph. Be vigilant about checking mirrors and blind spots, as there is almost always something there. Watch out for taxis, they may drive erratically but are generally quite aware of their surroundings; you need to be aware of them. Cyclists and buses can be a large annoyance in NYC, only because of the sheer number of them, remember to have patience, drive on the left lane to avoid them both generally and slow down. Turning left on a red light is prohibited in New York so wait for the green and lastly, during early morning and early evening expect congestion and be patient.
Driving in Upstate New York can be a challenge for different reasons. Although there are 5 Interstate highways in New York; the sheer size of the state that stretches north with the Adirondack Mountains present different safety challenges than the city. In the western reaches of the State, lake effect snow from the Great Lakes can produce large amounts of snow in relatively short amounts of time, while driving through mountain passes in the winter is always a gamble with your safety. If you are driving through these areas in the winter ensure you have a well maintained vehicle, snow tires if possible and enough supplies should you get stranded in a rural area.
Pure No Fault System
New York State is one of only 13 areas in the US that has a no fault insurance system, including 11 other states and the District of Columbia. This type of system relies on each party in an accident to recover their damage expenses from their own insurer. With a no fault system only severe injuries and deaths can be taken outside of the no fault system. Essentially this type of system is supposed to cut down on frivolous lawsuits and keep the courts systems free to deal with more pressing civil suits. In actuality, although they do produce those results there can be a backlash on expenses where accidents are staged in order to de-fraud the system. New York’s insurance costs are well below the national average however, so the system seems to be working well in this state.
If an accident involves no injuries or deaths and is under $1000 in property damage it also does not need to be reported allowing parties to settle these types of accidents themselves. However, any injury or property damage over $1000, the accident needs to be reported.
New York is also a pure comparative fault system for accidents that step outside the no fault system and are settled by insurance negotiations or in civil court. Pure comparative fault refers to the ability of any party that is not 100% at fault to recoup a portion of their costs in relation to an accident. So even if you were found to be 99% at fault, you could recover 1% of your costs in this type of system. This is important in accidents causing severe injuries, even if you are the victim. If you did something while driving to contribute to the severity of your injuries such as speeding, failing to yield or driving while distracted, you could be assigned a part of the blame and lower your damage award.
In New York, there are multiple charges surrounding Driving While Ability Impaired as they are termed in the state. They can include a general charge of DWAI which may not refer to a specific cause but the charging officer feels you are impaired, or they can include specific categories such as a DWAI-Alcohol or DWAI-Drug charge that specifies the type of impaired driving. The penalties for DWAI driving in the State of New York depend on the type of charge, with the severity of penalties increasing with the number of offenses in your lookback period.
DWAI is a serious driving offense and comes with extra yearly fines in New York, as you are fined a minimum of $250 a year for 3 years after a DWAI is convicted in New York, on top of other penalties that include ignition interlock devices, potential jail time, monetary fines, community service, license suspensions and responsible driving courses..
Annual Fines for Demerits
If you reach just 6 demerit points in New York, you are assessed a “responsible driver” fine for every year your points remain above this threshold. The fine is $100 per 6 points with $25 per point over 6 points. These fines are assessed annually, but demerit points only drop off your record after 3 years. This system is unique in that it continues to punish drivers that maintain poor driving records.
Did You Know That…
1. New York City has more people in 1 city than of the entire population of 39 other states.
2. There are 1.34 million commuters that move into New York City daily, adding to its congestion.
3. New York State is a no fault state.
4. Almost half the population of New York lives in just under 10% of the state’s total land area.
5. Those under 17 cannot under any circumstance drive in New York City.
6. The first US Capital was New York City.
7. DWAI in New York gives different penalties for the type of DUI you are charged with.
8. There are over 77,000 miles of streams and rivers in New York.
9. New York was the first state to require license plates on cars.
10. Car insurance is mandatory in the state under a no fault system.