Before Your Holiday Road Trip, Review The Most Common Causes Of Car Accidents — And Be Prepared For A Safe Trip!


Patrick Allan recently wrote a timely story for LifeHacker about vehicle accidents – and what to look out for this holiday season (and any other time) – as you race about to your next distracted destination.

To get there safely, take a deep breath when you hop in the car and remember what Patrick wrote in “The Most Common Cause of Car Crashes.” Yes, his story is a reminder for drivers 365 days a year.

He suggests some basic safety procedures in addition to getting some sleep before driving – wear your seat belt, don’t drive while intoxicated, and avoid using your phone while driving. All good advice we should already be listening to every day.

Patrick also cites Steve Casner, a safety expert and author of “Careful: A User’s Guide to Our Injury-Prone Minds,” who used data collected for the National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey for the U.S. Department of Transportation, to come up with  a post for Slate on the types of accidents that happen the most:

  • Falling asleep at the wheel: About 7 percent of all accidents and 21 percent of fatal crashes. Check out Patrick’s previous blog post about drowsy drivers for more information about just how dangerous it is, and how much sleep is ideal. (Hint: it’s NOT five hours a night.)
  • Loss of vehicle control: Accounts for 11 percent of all crashes. Always keep other driving variables in mind. Consider the weather, your vehicle’s maintenance, and other drivers.
  • Blind left turns: Accounts for 12 percent of all crashes. If you can’t see around that bus, don’t risk driving out into the intersection. Always stop and wait until you know the coast is clear.
  • Rear-enders: Accounts for 23 percent to 30 percent of all crashes. Pay attention to the car in front of you, watch for those brake lights, and always give yourself plenty of space to stop if you need to.
  • Not staying in your lane: Accounts for roughly 30 percent of all crashes. It doesn’t take much for a driver to drift out of their lane and cause a serious accident.

The rest of the causes involve things like rolling right on red lights, which Casner says accounts for 6 percent of all pedestrian fatalities – but 21 percent of those fatalities are children.

The survey also says about 36 percent of all “pre-crash events” occurred while drivers were turning or crossing at intersections. That’s why it’s critical that you always come to a complete stop, and then check carefully for pedestrians and vehicles, before turning or driving through.

Bottom line: Keep your eyes open after a good night’s sleep. Keep your eyes on the road, not your phone or satellite radio or anything else. Watch for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, children, anything or anyone who is moving around you.

Thanks for reading!



James B. Reed
Best Lawyers’ “2015 & 2017 Lawyer of the Year”
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: and

Icy Roads Kill…..Especially When Large Trucks Fail to Slow Down for Conditions…..

The driver of a UPS tandem tractor-trailer similar to this one triggered an accident Tuesday morning that killed an dessa man.

The driver of a UPS tandem tractor-trailer similar to this one triggered an accident Tuesday morning that killed an dessa man.

There is a fundamental rule every new driver is taught:  You are REQUIRED to reduce speed when conditions require.

Unfortunately, many drivers violate this fundamental rule and often the consequences are deadly.

An Odessa man who was critically injured Tuesday morning when a UPS tandem tractor-trailer struck and rolled over on his vehicle on an icy Route 13 died early Wednesday, according to the New York State Police.

Troopers said Glenn Marsh, 58, of Odessa, was driving south on Route 13 at about 8 a.m. Tuesday when the truck, which was traveling down a hill, crossed the center line near the Chemung-Schuyler county line and struck Marsh’s sedan head-on and rolled over on it, according to news reports.

20863-2Marsh suffered massive injuries, troopers said, and had to be extricated from his crushed vehicle by emergency workers. He transported to Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre, PA.

New York State Police Sgt. Steve Neuberger told the news media it was the fault of the UPS truck driver: “The UPS driver lost control due to slick conditions. The truck went across the road and struck the car, and the car went under the trailer.”

Marsh died during the night, police said.

This is the latest tragic example of what happens when tandem tractor-trailers hit icy conditions, especially on hilly two-lane highways!

Thanks for reading,

Jim Reed, N.Y. Truck Crash Lawyer
[email protected]

Twin Tiers Drivers, Have You Heard Of The “Move Over” Law?


I recently received a message from a Twin Tiers resident after a friend of hers received a $300 ticket on a New York State highway for allegedly violating the state’s “Move Over” law.

The woman said her friend slowed down as she passed a police car, which was stopped with flashing lights. The officer was helping a motorist with a disabled vehicle.

Shortly after that, an officer pulled over her friend and informed her about the law and told her she always needs to slow down AND move to the passing lane. The woman who wrote the note to me said she had never heard of the law, and neither had any of her friends.

She suggested I warn our blog readers, and I thought that was a great idea!

I hope this story opens the eyes of many Twin Tiers drivers who were not aware of the law, and serves as a stark reminder to those who have heard of the law but did not know the specifics.

The Ambrose-Searles Move Over Law, which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2011, is named in honor of New York State Trooper Robert W. Ambrose and Onondaga County Deputy Sheriff Glenn Matthew Searles, who were killed by vehicles while helping motorists. The law is designed to protect law enforcement and emergency workers.

In 2012, the law was amended to include tow and service-vehicle operators.

When approaching these vehicles that are stopped, parked or standing on the shoulder, drivers are required to:

  • Reduce speed.

  • Move to an open lane (unless they cannot do so safely).

Read the full text of the law here.

The penalties are stiff:

It’s a moving violation and three points on your license. (It was two points in 2011, but increased to three points when the law was revised in 2012.)

The fine is $275 PLUS a state surcharge (tax).

If you have two violations of this law in an 18-month period, the state DMV slaps you with a Driver Assessment Fee, which STARTS at $300 and could go up from there.

So the next time you approach an emergency vehicle or service vehicles helping motorists, SLOW DOWN AND TRY TO GET OVER INTO THE NEXT LANE.

If it’s not possible to get over, give them as much room as you can and go slowly.


Thanks for reading, and take it slow out there!



James B. Reed
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: and



Be Safe And Smart — Don’t Pass Snow Plows This Winter

Everyone knows you should not pass a stopped school bus when its red lights are flashing, and now that the snow is flying in the Twin Tiers, many people are wondering if they can pass a snow plow because they have flashing amber lights.

Is it legal to pass a snow plow? The simple answer is yes, you “can”, but why would you want to do it?

It’s not recommended for many reasons.

According to the New York State Department of Transportation, snow plow operators have trouble seeing motorists and pedestrians that are too close because their field of vision is limited by blind spots.


  • The wing blades of snow plows obscure side views.
  • The size and weight of snowplows make them difficult to maneuver or stop quickly, especially since the highway ahead of a plow often is slippery or snow-covered.

So give the plow operators plenty of room to do their job, and BE PATIENT.

About those flashing amber lights:

New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law requires that plows and other “hazard vehicles” have amber lights to warn motorists and pedestrians to expect the unexpected, and to stay clear of the plows and other vehicles.

DOT logoFor safety reasons, motorists and pedestrians should adhere to the following guidelines, according to NYSDOT:

  • Stay a safe distance away from snowplows. The safest place for motorists is well behind the snowplows where the road is clear and salted. The safest place for pedestrians is on the sidewalk, and in clear vision of the snowplow driver.
  • Never assume that a plow driver can see you.
  • Yield to a snowplow, giving the plow a wide berth with room to maneuver.
  • Beware of deicing materials that may be released from the plow and keep your distance from them.
  • Motorists should make sure to have clear vision ahead and that passing is permitted before attempting to pass a snowplow.
  • On two-lane roads where passing is not permitted, be patient.
  • Be mindful of where snowplows are on multi-lane highways. Watch for plows in travel lanes, on a shoulder or entering the road from a ramp or median turnaround. They also may need to back up, which may impede routine traffic flow.
  • After passing a snowplow, use caution when returning to the driving lane ahead of the plow. The plow blade extends several feet ahead of the truck.
  • Move as far away from the center line as safely possible when meeting a snowplow on a two-lane road coming from the opposite direction.
  • Watch for “white-outs” created by blowing snow coming off the snowplow blade.
  • Don’t travel beside a plow for sustained periods, especially when the plow is cutting through deep snow. Plows can be pushed sideways after hitting drifts or snow banks.

This blog post was adapted from a “Law Talk” segment with me during the WETM News at Noon on Jan. 7, 2015. Ziff Law Firm lawyers discuss legal issues in the news at 12:20 p.m. every Wednesday on Law Talk. Set your DVR to catch the five-minute segments each week!

Thanks for reading!



James B. Reed
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: and