In order to avoid vehicle accidents, it is imperative that all drivers obey traffic laws. These laws exist for a reason; they are designed to maximize the efficiency of our state and federal roadways while minimizing the inherent danger of driving. Failure to obey traffic laws can result in serious car accidents, which can lead to a variety of different injuries, and even death. This failure can also result in the imposition of legal liability for the driver who breaks the law. Because the vast majority of car accident lawsuits are based on negligence, failure to follow traffic laws can form the basis for an allegation that the driver in question breached his or her duty to other drivers on the road.
Below, we will take a look at some of the most common ways that violating traffic laws can lead to collisions.
Of all traffic laws, obeying the speed limit is probably the most basic and the easiest to follow. Generally speaking, the Florida State Legislature authorizes the Florida Department of Transportation to set speed limits up to the following maximums: 70 mph on interstates, 65 mph on four-lane divided highways outside an urban area (those with populations of 5,000 or more), and 60 mph on state highways. Of course, counties and municipalities are permitted to lower these maximum limits as they see fit.
The primary purpose of speed limits is to provide improved safety by reducing the probability and severity of crashes on any given road. A speed limit sign notifies drivers of the maximum speed that is considered acceptably safe. Properly set speed limits provide a more uniform flow of traffic and strike a balance between risk and travel time, which results in the more efficient use of the highway’s capacity. When drivers disobey speed limits and go faster than is considered safe, it can very easily result in accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that speeding was responsible for 9,262 deaths nationally in the year 2014.
Running Stop Lights and Signs
Stop lights and stop signs are there for a very important reason – to let drivers on one road know that they need to stop and yield the right-of-way to drivers on a perpendicular, intersecting road. These types of traffic control systems are among the most basic in existence, yet they are incredibly important for reducing accidents at intersections and ensuring efficient traffic flow. The dangers of disobeying a stop light or sign are fairly obvious as doing so means that the car that is running the light or sign is crossing into the path of oncoming traffic that is going full speed and is not expecting other cars to be crossing their paths. When this happens, a side-impact crash (or “t-bone” crash) usually ensues, which can lead to severe injuries and even death for all parties involved.
Not Using Your Blinker
Every vehicle is equipped with left and right turn signals on the front and rear of the vehicle. Their purpose is to alert other drivers to the front and the rear that the vehicle is slowing down because it is about to make a turn. When a driver lets other drivers on the road know his or her intentions, it allows them to react accordingly. When drivers do not use their blinkers, accidents can ensue. For example, a car suddenly slowing down to make a right turn without signaling can cause the driver who is behind the car to have to slam on his or her breaks to avoid a rear-end collision.
Driving with Your Lights Off
Headlights and tail lights exist for a reason–the alert other drivers on the road to your presence and allow them to keep a safe distance between their vehicles and yours. In Florida, headlights are required to be turned on during the following situations:
- At any time from sunset to sunrise, including the twilight hours
- During any rain, smoke, or fog
Most vehicles that are sold today have automatic headlights, meaning that the headlights come on automatically when the environment outside the vehicle reaches a certain brightness level. However, this technology is far from universal, and there are many cars on the road today that still require the driver to manually turn the lights on and off. Given that nighttime is a more dangerous time to be on the road than daytime simply given to more limited visibility, it is essential that drivers use their headlights and tail lights at night. Failing to do so can lead to a number of different types of accidents, including rear-end crashes, side-impact crashes, sideswipe collisions, and head-on collisions.
“Tailgating” is driving too close to the vehicle in front, which means that the distance between the two vehicles does not guarantee that stopping to avoid a collision is possible. Generally, all drivers should follow the two-second rule, meaning that drivers should ideally give themselves at least two seconds to come to a complete stop if the vehicle in front of them suddenly slams on its brakes. Notice that the two-second rule is based on the time it takes to come to a stop rather than the physical distance between the two vehicles. This is because the distance required to come to a complete stop in two seconds increases as speed increased. Thus, drivers need to put more distance between themselves and vehicles in front of them when they are driving at high speeds on interstates, and less distance if they are driving at slow speeds on city streets. Failure to follow the two-second rule most often results in rear-end collisions.
Contact a St. Petersburg, FL Car Accident Attorney
If you were involved in a car accident that was caused by a driver who was breaking traffic laws, please contact the attorneys at the Dolman Law Group for a free consultation by calling 727-451-6900.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765