Readers’ questions from previous column

In the June 1 column, I offered readers a chance to send me questions they wanted answers to. And I got them. They weren’t all about Vehicle and Traffic Law, but included questions on several subjects that they were interested in. Although I replied to most of them directly, here are a few of the questions that may be of interest to others.

One reader inquired about a “Good Samaritan” law that could be used as a defense for a driver who stopped in traffic to wave another driver, exiting a business, into the main street, who collided with another vehicle in the adjacent lane. There is no such law in New York State VTL, but you can always try using it for sympathy. In this case, the driver that waved the exiting driver into the street shouldn’t have done so, but the violation was clearly the exiting driver’s fault for failure to yield the right of way.

Another inquiry involved making a right turn on red (RTOR) from West Main Street, Malone, onto Academy, and from East Main Street onto Catherine. These two intersections are interesting because both of these streets (Academy and Catherine) are offset from the intersection, and to execute a RTOR you must pass the intersection somewhat to reach your intended street.

I brought this up with the traffic engineers at New York State Department of Transportation. Absent a significant crash rate because of RTOR traffic — which there isn’t, according to Chief Premo of the Malone Police Department — DOT says if drivers making the RTOR do what they should, it wouldn’t be a problem. Any driver executing a RTOR must do so safely, yielding to other traffic and to pedestrians that are obeying traffic laws applicable to them.

Another reader sent me an email about senior drivers. He is 75 years old, and he sees the importance of a reassessment of his driving skills. He admits that his visual acuity, night driving, backing skills, peripheral vision, drowsiness and attention span all have deteriorated over time, and he needs to adjust to his reduced abilities.

First, I must applaud him for recognizing his shortcomings as he ages. To address his concerns, I sent his email to David Stewart, Driver Improvement Program instructor for AARP, the six-hour course for driver improvement and point and insurance reduction. It is also available from commercial companies such as insurance agencies. Stewart pointed out that if a driver’s skills have deteriorated, it might be time to consider giving up driving, or at least not driving at night. Stewart pointed out that many insurance companies have booklets or brochures that offer tips about dealing with limitations. One publication from The Hartford is called “We Need to Talk” and advises family members about talking with older parents when it comes time to give up the keys. A dose of self-evaluation is also a good thing.

Next week’s article will deal with a question about E-ZPass and how it works.


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