Roadway Rules Refresher
As an auto accident injury lawyer, I’ve represented people injured in car crashes since 1991, and have picked up some safety tips along the way. For many of us, it has been years since we’ve sat in a “driver’s ed” class. If you know the best ways to stay safe, then you may be able to avoid a car crash completely, or hopefully minimize your injuries if you are in a crash. Everyone benefits from a refresher on safe rules of the road.
Avoid Wrong-Way Head-On Crashes
Most wrong-way crashes happen on the highway between 2 am and 5 am. Wrong-way crashes are usually caused by a drunk driver entering the highway from an exit ramp. Once the drunk driver enters the highway from the exit ramp, they can drive for miles without realizing the danger they create. A sober right-way driver on the highway may only have a few seconds to attempt to avoid a crash. Since the head on crash is at highway speed, a
wrong-way crash is often fatal. So how to avoid this awful situation? One suggestion is to not drive at night! But we have places to go and work to do, so avoiding late night driving isn’t always possible.
If you are driving at night, know that even when drunk, most drunk drivers drive in the slow lane, or the right lane. The drunk driver hopes to avoid arrest by staying in the slow lane, the right lane. The right lane to a wrong-way driver is the left lane to a driver heading the correct direction on a highway.
So, when you are on the highway in the middle of the night, stay out of the left lane. Stay in the right lane! One way to help you remember this rule is “stay right at night.”
If you do see a wrong way driver, call 911. Let the police know!
Be safe and Stay Right at Night!
Stop at a Safe Distance
We all worry when we stop at a stop light. Will the car behind me stop? We look in our rear-view mirror, and hope the driver behind us is paying attention. You can’t prevent a rear-end crash. But you can minimize the damage to your car, and to you, from a crash.
One crash is better than two crashes. If you stop at a safe distance from the car in front of you, then a rear-end crash may not turn into a three-car crash. A three-car crash, or a four car crash, is more likely when cars stop bumper-to-bumper.
When you stop, leave room between your car and the car in front of you. Stop so that you can see the road touching the rear tires of the car in front of you. One way to help you remember this rule is “stop where you can see the rubber meet the road.” If you can see where the rubber meets the road, or where the rear tires of the car in front of you are touching the road, then you’ve stopped at a safe distance. If you are rear-ended, then you may avoid a double impact. Be safe when you stop! Stop where you can see the rubber meet the road!
Driving in the Rain
As Floridians, we drive in the rain almost every day. But driving frequently in the rain doesn’t necessarily mean driving well in the rain. If you have your windshield wipers on then your headlights should also be on. Don’t use your hazard lights! Your headlights and tail lights provide a steady point of reference so that other drivers know where you are. A driver with hazard lights on is playing hide-and-seek. Hazard lights create a “now you see me, now you don’t” situation, and it’s difficult for other drivers to judge distance and speed.
Don’t pull over! Or if you do pull over, then get well off the roadway. If your car is stopped in the far right emergency lane, then you are only a few feet
from other cars. If possible, pull as far off the road as you safely can. A stopped car is a target for moving cars.
Drive slowly in the rain. No sudden stops, no sudden acceleration.
What To Do If You’re in a Car Crash
Always call the police after a crash, even if the crash was your fault. Call the police even if the other driver says there is no need to do so. Stories can
change after a crash, and the driver who admits fault at the scene may not admit fault days later. Drivers will usually provide the correct insurance
information to a police officer. The correct insurance information will move a claim much faster.
When neither driver admits fault for causing a crash, an investigation by the police may help attorneys and insurance companies do their job.