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Violation Of The Rules of The Road As Evidence In Auto Accident Cases

A violation of the Alabama Rules of the Road can result in the imposition of civil liability in auto accident cases. Our auto accident attorneys at Cross & Smith handle these types of cases in Tuscaloosa and throughout Alabama and we have the knowledge and experience to apply the facts of your case to a review of the Rules of the Road.

In Alabama, there are specific rules and regulations regarding operation of vehicles on highways within the State of Alabama. These are known as the “Rules of the Road” and are found in the Code of Alabama. They contain detailed specifications that govern any motor vehicle travelling on highways. Knowledge and application of these rules are imperative in the handling of an auto accident case.

The rules must be followed. In fact, it is unlawful in Alabama for motorists to disobey the Rules of the Road. Certain penalties are prescribed by law for violations of the rules. Violation of one or more of the rules may be used to establish fault in auto accident cases and should always be consulted by the lawyer handling a car wreck case.

It is unlawful for anyone to disobey the instructions or directions of a police officer or fireman in the direction, control or regulation of traffic. Of course, the conduct of the police officer or fireman must be lawful as well. Exceptions to the rules are made for proper law enforcement and rescue officers who are engaged in their official duties. They are permitted to drive through red traffic lights, pass by stop signs without stopping and exceed the posted speed limit, but only as necessary and they must make every effort to avoid danger to others in the process. Special rules also apply to the use of lights and signals when making exceptions to the rules of the road.

All motorists are required to obey traffic control devices that are either permanent or temporary. These devices include signs, signals, or hand directions by policemen or firemen. Motorists must also comply with and recognize any pedestrian control signs or signals that are in use in a particular area. It is also unlawful for anyone to change, remove or damage any traffic control devices.

There are specific rules and regulations regarding leaving a vehicle unattended when it is used on a highway. The engine must be stopped, keys removed and brakes properly engaged before leaving a vehicle. There are duties imposed on drivers for proper backing procedures and prohibitions regarding driving on or near sidewalks. It is the driver’s responsibility to always ensure that his or her vehicle is not loaded or carrying passengers that in anyway interfere with the driver’s view in all directions. There are special operation rules that apply when driving on highways that run through mountains or canyons. Special care must be taken and horns used when visibility is limited.

It is unlawful in Alabama to “coast” when driving a motor vehicle. Coasting means to place the gear shift in neutral or disengage the clutch. And, motorists must remain a certain distance [five hundred (500) feet] when driving behind any emergency vehicles.

In 2009, Alabama added a new section to the Rules of the Road that pertains to the safety of law enforcement and emergency vehicles. Whenever a motorist approaches a law enforcement or emergency vehicle stopped on the roadway or roadside, the motorist must “move over” at least one lane of travel away or, if unable to do so, slow to a speed that is at least fifteen (15) miles per hour less than the posted speed limit. On two lane roadways, the motorist must also move over as much as possible and drive at a speed of ten (10) miles per hour if the posted speed limit is twenty (20) miles per hour or less.

The rules also contain detailed descriptions of proper procedures for driving on the roadways and using the roadways. For instance, the rules provide for specific instructions for driving on the right side of the roadway and passing other vehicles. There are specific procedures in place for passing other motorists travelling in the opposite direction and passing motorists located on the left or right side. In addition, instructions for no passing zones, one-way roads and roads marked for traffic are found in the Rules of the Road.

One particular rule is often an issue in rear end collision cases. Alabama has certain requirements for proper distances that must be maintained by motorists driving behind other vehicles. It is unlawful to follow another vehicle too closely. Specific distances and speeds are set out in this rule.

Article Five (5) contains certain rules and directions regarding the right of way at intersections and where stopping and yielding are mandatory depending on the type of roadway and signs. This section also includes requirements for when motorists are obligated to yield and move over for emergency vehicles. Additionally, motorists must yield the right of way to any approved vehicle or person working on the highway within or near any highway construction or maintenance area.

Although turning and stopping procedures mandated by the rules are commonly known to licensed drivers in Alabama, it is important to also know that violation of any of these well known rules and procedures can result in the imposition of civil liability in the event of an auto accident. There have been several civil cases resulting from allegations that motorists failed to comply with rules governing proper stopping or parking outside business and residential districts. Those auto accident cases arose from disputes related to whether there was a violation of the rule.

Article Seven (7) contains rules pertaining to special stops such as those required at railroad crossings and when overtaking or passing a school or church bus.

The issue of speed is often at the center of auto accident litigation. The rules provide that all motorists must operate their vehicles at a speed that is “reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual and potential hazards” that exist at a particular time and place. Several auto accident cases have arisen from this rule because often a jury must determine what was “reasonable and prudent” under the circumstances. Authority for establishment of maximum and minimum speed requirements and authority for local governments to alter the maximum requirements are set out in Article Eight (8). The Alabama Department of Transportation is given authority to set speed limits in both urban and rural construction zones for state projects while county commissions set the speed limits in construction zones for county roadway projects. Special rules regarding reduced speeds in school zones are addressed in Article 8A.

In our experience, it is always important to review the Rules of the Road to check for violations in auto accident cases. If you, or someone close to you, have been involved in an auto accident, we ask that you contact our skilled Alabama auto accident lawyers. At Cross & Smith, we have handled numerous auto accident cases in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and throughout Alabama. If you would like to consult with us, please contact us online or call our office at (877) 791-0618 for a free confidential consultation.

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