Entries in Drivers (13)


How Not to Get a Ticket: Ex-Cop Offers Tips

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- No driver likes getting a ticket.  So when you are pulled over, what can you do to minimize the damage to your wallet?

First, realize the risk of serious danger to the officer is quite real.

“Cops get killed on car stops,” said Jerry Kane, a retired New York Police Department officer.  Kane said if you’re pulled over, you should realize the officer will be on high alert.

“The most dangerous thing to the cop when he comes up to the car are the hands of someone, because they could hold a weapon,” he said.

Drivers and passengers have been known to come out shooting -- a fact cops are well aware of as they walk up to your vehicle.

“If he can see everybody’s hands, immediately his blood pressure goes down, his pulse gets a bit slower,” Kane said.  “If it’s nighttime, turn on the interior lights in your car.  If it’s night or day, lower all the windows on your car. … And put your hands up on the steering wheel -- high, where the cop can see them.”

This may make the officer more understanding and lenient, Kane said.

“If you were gonna get some discretion, you now set up that possibility,” he said.

The officer may then ask if you know what you did wrong.  Kane said to be apologetic, but don’t feel you have to admit anything.

“You can play dumb.  You can say, ‘What did I do?’  And if he tells you what you did, you could say, ‘I must have…you know, I just didn’t realize it,’” Kane said.

Does it work to cry?

“Only for women,” Kane said, laughing.

What if she shows a little leg?

“Since men and women were created, attractive women get more breaks,” he said.

Finally, do as Kane does: keep your speed less than 10 miles per hour over the limit.

“If you were my brother or my cousin and asked me, that’s what I would tell you,” he said.

Watch the full story -- including more dramatic secrets from cops and other professions -- on 20/20: True Confessions Friday at 10 p.m. ET.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Report: Safest City for Driving Is Sioux Falls, South Dakota

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- What’s the safest city to take your new car out for a spin? That would be Sioux Falls, S.D., which Allstate Insurance Co. proclaimed as ”America’s Safest Driving City” for the fifth year in a row.

The report, drawing from Allstate claims data, ranks America’s 200 largest cities in terms of car collision frequency.  The good news for Sioux Falls drivers?  The average driver in Sioux Falls will get into an auto collision every 13.8 years -- or is about 28 percent less likely to get into a crash when compared with the national average of 10 years.

Boise, Idaho; Fort Collins, Colo.; Madison, Wis.; and Lincoln, Neb., took the top spots behind Sioux City. And for the eighth year in a row, ever since Allstate has issued its safe-driver report, motorists in Phoenix topped the list among commuters in U.S. cities with more than one million people, with the average driver experiencing a collision every 10.2 years.

While car crash fatalities are at their lowest level since 1949, they still average more than 32,000 every year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports.

“Allstate’s Best Driver’s Report was created to boost the country’s discussion on safe driving,” Mike Roche, senior vice president of claims, said in a statement.  “Minimizing distractions, obeying traffic laws and using your car’s safety features like turn signals and headlights, are all ways to be safer, no matter where you drive.”

So where are the worst drivers?  In Washington, D.C., where the average driver has a collision every 4.7 years, which, when compared with the national average, makes D.C. drivers 112 percent more likely to have a crash.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Coalition Calls on Drivers to Stop Before Running Red Light

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Although running a red light is commonplace on America's roads, it's extremely dangerous.

There are estimates by the National Coalition for Safer Roads that this practice is responsible for over 9,000 deaths during the past three years.  In fact, it's believed to be the leading cause of city traffic accidents.

Red light cameras have been effective in cutting down motorists zooming through intersections, but as a reminder about the consequences, the NCSR has designated this week as National Stop on Red Week.

Its outreach director, Melissa Wandall, tragically knows first-hand what can happen when people don't obey the law.  Her husband was killed by a driver who ran a red light.

According to Wandall, "Red light-running, when you kill somebody, it's negligent, it's tragic, it's innocent lives being lost and it is preventable."

Her coalition has also set up a website,, to give motorists information about the promotion and what they can do to reduce accidents, injuries and deaths.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Minnesota Bridge Collapse Anniversary: How Safe Are Drivers Now?

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- It's been five years since more than 100 cars were traveling over a bridge on I-35W during a Minneapolis rush hour when it suddenly collapsed, dropping cars from the interstate into the 15-foot-deep Mississippi River below and trapping many passengers inside.  Before they could escape, 13 people died and another 145 were injured on one of the worst bridge disasters in U.S. history.

A formal investigation took more than a year, but once it was finished the National Transportation Safety Board said the cause of the I-35W Mississippi River bridge tragedy was a simple design flaw in the bridge's gusset plates -- metal plates that help connect one steel beam to another.  At that time, NTSB acting chairman Mark Rosenker said the board's investigation would "provide a roadmap for improvements to prevent future tragedies."

But five years after the collapse, Andrew Hermann, the president of the American Society of Engineers, told ABC News that while the nation has an aggressive bridge inspection program, the government is still not spending enough money on updating and maintaining the nation's infrastructure.

"Congress basically lacks the courage to do what is needed to raise the funds," he said.  "Bridges require maintenance, and maintenance and rehabilitation require funding... Politicians like to show up and cut a ribbon on a brand new bridge, but they don't like to show up and applaud a new paint job that may increase the life of a bridge."

At the time of the Minnesota bridge collapse, ABC News reported that the bridge had already been classified as "structurally deficient," meaning that while it was not deemed unsafe enough to close, it did require maintenance.

According to the Department of Transportation, bridges can be put on waiting lists for "replacement or rehabilitation" if they are classified as structurally deficient or "functionally obsolete;" the latter meaning the bridge was built prior to modern standards but was not necessarily unsafe.  A common example of a functionally obsolete bridge is one with road lanes that are too narrow.

When the Minnesota bridge collapsed in 2007, approximately 25.4 percent of the nearly 600,000 bridges in the U.S. were considered either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, according to the DOT.  By 2011, the number dipped to 23.8 percent, still leaving nearly 150,000 bridges in the same categories.

But transportation officials stressed that it does not mean American drivers are traveling on thousands of unsafe bridges -- just ones that may need some type of repair or more frequent inspections.

The Federal Highway Administration "has implemented measures to more closely oversee the inspection process and identify inconsistencies and non-compliance," FHA Administrator Victor Mendez told ABC News.  "While there are a number of bridges that are typically more closely monitored than others based on their condition, they are structurally safe.  Unsafe bridges are closed."

The FHA said that bridges are generally inspected once every two years, depending on the bridge's age and traffic patterns.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Keyless Car Ignitions: Are They Too Dangerous?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Keyless ignitions are designed to simplify the driving experience -- push a button rather than turn a key.  But recent fatalities, including this past week in Boca Pointe, Fla., where drivers left the car running and died of carbon monoxide poisoning, have highlighted whether keyless ignition cars are safe.

Adele and Mort Victor were found dead Thursday in the bedroom of their Boca Pointe home. Their keyless ignition cars have now been impounded by police.

In 2009, Mary Rivera of Long Island, N.Y., survived after leaving her Toyota running in her garage, but her husband died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

"The ignition didn't turn off," Rivera said.  "I was very familiar with the car.  I drove it every day.  I don't know.  I thought I turned it off, but apparently I didn't."

She was saved by her brother, John, who was worried when he didn't hear from her.

"I thought she was dead.  I rushed to her and was yelling at her and shaking her to have some response," John Rivera said.

More than 160 car models now offer keyless start.  Toyota said its cars sound a warning when the driver leaves without shutting down the car.

Still, the Center for Auto Safety said it tracked six fatalities involving push-button starters and wants car manufacturers to return to keys.

When asked if drivers are partly to blame for walking out of the car without turning off the ignition, Clarence Ditlow, executive director with the Center of Auto Safety, said it's part of the issue.

"Sure, it's our fault," Ditlow said.  "But this is a device that makes it easy to forget, and the cost of forgetfulness should not be death by carbon monoxide."

The National Highway Transportation Agency wants manufacturers to standardize all the push-button starters to avoid confusion.

In the meantime, Mary Rivera and several other push-button start users are suing the manufacturers for alleged losses.

Rivera said manufacturers are "a 100 percent at blame because they designed something that could be left on without a person knowing.  So we have to blame them 100 percent."

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


California to Crack Down on Distracted Drivers, Even Those Eating

Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- With all the emphasis law enforcement agencies have been putting on distracted driving lately, more drivers are suddenly becoming aware that perhaps talking on the phone or texting may not be the smartest thing to do behind the wheel.

But the California Highway Patrol is going one step beyond that this weekend, warning motorists that they can be ticketed if a cop feels that food is causing risky driving.

Eating while driving in the Golden State between 6 a.m. Friday and 6 a.m. Saturday could mean as much as a $1,000 fine if it impairs a driver's ability to operate a motor vehicle.  But the likelihood of such a steep penalty isn't great since texters usually face a $20 ticket on a first offense.

Cops will also be on the lookout for other forms of distracted driving, such as reading newspapers or applying makeup.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Are Red Light Camera Fines Voluntary?

Comstock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- Tickets from red-light cameras are not as enforceable as most motorists think, and now their high cost and the widespread public backlash against them may be leading to their removal in America's car capital.

As the bright light flashes when a car zips through a red light, most motorists are not really sure if they have been caught, until a ticket shows up in the mail, along with a fine of up to $500.  The "gotcha!" cameras have even led some drivers to put a box over their head or even wear a mask to avoid the ticket.

In the city of Los Angeles -- considered to be the driving capital of America -- the fines for these tickets are, unbeknownst to many, voluntary.

City officials in L.A. said they were shocked to learn that there's no real enforcement of the tickets due to the fact that courts find the cases difficult to prove, as the person receiving the ticket is often not the person driving the car at the time the photo was snapped.  The courts have now ruled that violations caught on a photo are unenforceable, since there is no live witness to testify against an alleged offender.

Discovering this has angered those who've shelled out hundreds in fines, leading many to ask if they can have their money back.

"If you paid the fine, you paid the fine.  If you didn't pay the fine, you were pretty much able to get away with it," Paul Koretz of the Los Angeles City Council told ABC News.

Approximately 40 percent of ticketed drivers got away with not paying those hefty fines that come with a red light camera ticket -- which is why Los Angeles is dumping the cameras altogether.

And the trend to rid cities of the unpopular cameras may go nationwide.

The city of Houston has already banished the cameras, and according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a total of nine states have banned the red-light cameras.  Several others have passed laws limiting the use of camera enforcement.

Getting rid of the cameras will ultimately save the city of Los Angeles around $1million per year.  But some are still concerned that without them, there may be more collisions.

A study this year by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety claims that in 14 of America's largest cities the cameras have saved 159 lives during a four-year period.  The study also said that if all 99 of the country's largest cities had them installed, 815 lives could have been saved.

Still, some believe they may cause more harm than good when motorists stop short because they are thinking about the camera, causing a rear-end collision.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


No Evidence Cellphone Bans Are Effective, Report Shows

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Despite nationwide initiatives to curb cellphone use while driving, there is no evidence indicating that the bans are effective, according to a report out Thursday.

Nevertheless, the 40-page document urged states to enact cellphone and texting bans, even as it declared that there is "no solid evidence that any [ban] is effective in reducing crashes, injuries, or fatalities."

The report, Distracted Driving: What Research Shows and What States Can Do, developed by a host of transportation safety officials, also called on employers, the automobile industry and the federal government to continue to develop tests and implement measures to combat all forms of distracted driving.

The report summarized all research on distracted drivers available as of January 2011 and focused its attention on distractions caused by cellphones and text messaging.

One recent study said that about two-thirds of all drivers reported using a cellphone while driving.

The new document found that there was no conclusive evidence whether hands-free cellphone use is less risky than hand-held use.  It suggested that texting may carry a higher risk than other forms of cellphone use, but again found there was no conclusive evidence to verify that claim.

As of June 2011, 34 states and the District of Columbia had enacted texting bans for all drivers, but a 2010 study conducted by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HDLI) found that the bans did not reduce collision claims.  In fact, claims increased slightly in states enacting texting bans compared to neighboring states.

HLDI suggested two possible reasons for the increase.

"Texters may realize that texting bans are difficult to enforce, so they may have little incentive to reduce texting for fear of being detected and fined," the HDLI report said.  Or, the institute suggested, texters may have responded to the ban by "hiding their phones from view, potentially increasing their distractive effects by requiring longer glances away from the road."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Are Red-Light Cameras Causing Accidents?

Comstock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- It's the "Gotcha!" flash that no driver wants to see after running a red light.  And it's quickly becoming the target of critics who say the cameras may cause drivers to take desperate measures to avoid being caught on film.

Red-light cameras, designed to catch drivers who run lights and endanger others, are now the subject of significant debate because some believe they may cause more harm than good.

It is a controversy that is leading to a red-light camera backlash.  Houston has already voted them out, and now the driving capital of the world, Los Angeles, is on the verge of doing the same.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, nine states have banned red-light cameras.  Several others have passed laws limiting the use of camera enforcement.

There is evidence to support both sides of the debate.  A study this year by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety claims that in 14 of America's largest cities the cameras have saved 159 lives during a four-year period.

The study also said that if all 99 of the country's largest cities had them installed, 815 lives could have been saved.

On the other side of the debate are statistics that show the cameras also cause accidents.  A 2005 federal study demonstrated that while injuries from right angle or T-bone crashes decreased by 16 percent at red-light camera intersections, injuries from rear-end collisions increased by 24 percent.

The final argument in the debate in Los Angeles may have already been decided by the courts.  The courts have ruled that violations caught on a photo are unenforceable since there is no live witness to testify against an alleged offender.

Nearly half the tickets issued in Los Angeles go unpaid without consequence, leaving the city paying $1.5 million a year for unpopular, if lifesaving cameras.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Nearly Two in 10 Motorists Couldn’t Pass Written Driver’s Test

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.) -- If you feel many of your fellow motorists seem to be making up the rules of the road as they drive, it may be because they don’t know the rules.

A newly-released 2011 GMAC Insurance study shows that roughly 18 percent of American drivers would not pass the written driver’s test if taken today.  And be extra careful while driving in New York and Washington, D.C. -- the survey found 34 percent of all drivers in New York and the nation’s capital failed the written test.  Wyoming had the lowest percentage of failure, with just 4.5 percent.

The survey finds motorists in Kansas lead the nation in road knowledge, with an average written test score of 82.9 percent.  Those Washington, D.C. drivers are at the bottom of the rankings, with an average test score of 71.8 percent.

Additional stats from the GMAC Insurance study:

-- 27.2 percent of women failed the test, compared to 13.6 percent of men.

-- The Northeast is the worst driving region, with average scoring of 74.9 percent.  The Midwest is the best driving region, with average scoring of 77.5 percent.

-- The oldest drivers tested -- those between the ages of 60 and 65 -- continued to have the highest average test scores: 80.3 percent.

The 2011 GMAC Insurance National Driver’s Test survey involved 5,130 licensed drivers between the ages of 16 and 65.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio