Turns Signals and Safety

Isn’t it annoying when you’re driving and another driver switches lanes or turns in front of you without using their turn signal? How many near misses have you had on your daily commute to and from work, because another driver failed to use their turn signals?

According to a recent study by the Society of Automotive Engineers showed that lack of turn signal usage is rampant and an increasing cause for motor vehicle accidents. The study states that turn signal neglect is responsible for up to 2 million accidents per year. You can read the entire article here: http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1112527235/turn-signal-neglect-a-continuing-problem-in-the-us/

Who has the Right of Way at 4-Way Intersections?

This starts our series on some interesting scenarios where even an experience driver may not know which car has the right of way. For most drivers, including ourselves, it has been years since we have been tested on our knowledge of the rules of the road. And even for those of us who aced driver’s education class, there’s always room for brushing up on the subject. So today, we discuss who has the right of way.

Scenario 1: You are approaching a 4-way, traffic light controlled intersection. Your light is red, but you plan to turn right. The car across the intersection from you is stopped to turn left (the same road you want to turn right onto) and just received a green arrow. Who has the right of way?

Answer: The car turning left with the green arrow has the right of way. Under Alabama Code Section 32-5A-32(3)(b), a vehicle with a steady red indication (the car wanting to turn right) may cautiously enter the intersection to turn right, after stopping. So the vehicle turning right only has the right to enter the intersection after stopping. In contrast, under Alabama Code Section 32-5A-(1)(b) states that a vehicle facing a green arrow may enter an intersection to make the movement shown on the arrow. The vehicle with the left arrow is not required to stop. Short answer is that red lights yield to green lights.

Scenario 2: You are approaching a 4-way, traffic light controlled intersection. Your light is green and you plan to turn right. The car across the intersection from you is waiting to turn left and has a green light (not arrow). Who has the right of way?

Answer: You (The car turning right) have the right of way. Under this new scenario, the car turning left has lost its green arrow and is instead relying on a green circle. You also have a green circle. The car attempting to turn left must wait until you complete your right hand turn before attempting its right hand turn across your lanes of travel.

These are two very common scenarios drivers face. We hope that these scenarios help educate you and make you a safer driver on the roadways. It is always safer to be a defensive driver and make sure you know what the other driver is doing when faced with one of these scenarios. Be on the lookout for more articles on our “Who has the Right of Way?” series.

Slow Traffic Keep Right

How many times have you been driving along and noticed the “Slow Traffic Keep Right” sign? They are pretty much on all four lane roads. Have you ever wondered what it meant? Does it mean if I am going under the speed limit I should keep to the right lane? Or does it mean if I am going the speed limit, but everyone else is passing me, should I move to the right line?

It means both. Most roads are designed to keep traffic moving in a flowing, unimpeded manner. This is why there are center left turn lanes, so drivers turning left can exit the main lanes of traffic to make their turns without impeding the flow of traffic. If you are going under the speed limit you should always travel in the right lane or in layman’s speak the slow lane. This also applies to the left lane or “fast lane”.

Just remember if you are moving slower than the vehicles behind you, even if you are doing the speed limit, you are considered the “slow traffic”. Move your vehicle into the right lane, let the other drivers pass and when you can, safely return to the left lane. Driver’s safety is our first priority. We cannot make other drivers properly, but we can insure that we do.

Are U-turns Legal in Alabama?

The short answer is sometimes. Alabama law states, “The driver of any vehicle shall not turn such vehicle so as to proceed in the opposite direction unless such movement can be made in safety and without interfering with other traffic.” More important, Alabama law completely prohibits U-turns on curves or hills where the driver coming from the opposite direction could not see you from at least 500 feet. So, in short, Alabama allows u-turns in certain situations. However, if there is a sign that prohibits U-turns at a certain intersection, then U-turns are not allowed. Similarly, it is important to note that if you are making a U-turn, you have to yield to ALL other traffic on the road. Here are a couple of scenarios to help you understand the proper use of a U-turn:

Scenario 1: You are sitting at a red light at the intersection of University Drive (US-72) and Jordan Lane in Huntsville, Alabama. You are traveling west on University Drive (US-72) and want to make a u-turn to head east on US-72. Another car is heading north on Jordan Lane and is turning right to head east on University Drive (US-72). You get the green arrow to turn left (west on Jordan Lane) What do you do?

Answer: You should allow the car to turn right first and then if safe, attempt your u-turn without interrupting any other traffic. People making a U-turn have to wait until they do not interrupt any other traffic flow before attempting a U-turn. Even if you have a green arrow to turn left, you do not have the right-of-way to make a U-turn unless there is no other traffic interrupting this turn.

Scenario 2: You are traveling south on Hughes Road in Madison, Alabama. You come over a hill and realize you forgot something at home and want to turn around at the bottom of the hill. Hughes Road is straight where you are but has a curve ahead but except for a few young trees, the view is clear from you to 1,000 feet in the other direction. Can you make a U-turn?

Answer: Yes! If the view is clear that you would be able to see a vehicle 1,000 feet away, then a vehicle from the other direction can see you as well. The fact that there is a curve shortly ahead, does not change the fact that you are in a straight section of the road and visibility is clear. You can make your u-turn as long as it is safe and does not interfere with other traffic.

Hopefully these examples help you understand the situations where U-turns are allowed in Alabama. Please continue to follow our blog for more interesting articles about car safety, 18 wheeler safety, social security disability laws, workers compensation law, personal injury and more.

Where should I stop at an intersection?

Have you noticed at various intersections there is a crosswalk, but there is also a road surface line painted before the crosswalk? Have you ever wondered why there was a need for the extra line when there is already a crosswalk?

The purpose of the road surface line before a crosswalk is your indication of where you need to stop your vehicle. For safety reasons you are supposed to stop your car before the first surface line and that line should still be partially visible from your vantage point when stopped. Why, you might ask? The purpose behind this is keep the crosswalk clear so that pedestrians may cross without having to walk around a vehicle or have a vehicle block the pedestrian from the view of other drivers, which could lead to injury or death.

An additional reason for these road surface lines is to allow enough room for other vehicles which are turning to be able to make the turn without the threat of hitting your vehicle.

When Are You Obligated To Stop?

When you approach an intersection with a red light, but you are making a right turn and there is no other traffic, are you obligated to stop before making your turn? The answer is yes. You are bound by law to stop at all traffic signals and stop signs.

When you come to a four-way stop sign and the driver to your right stops at the same time you do, who has the right-of-way? The rule of thumb is to always yield the right-of-way to the driver to the right.

When you are pulling out of a parking lot and you see other traffic stopped at a stop sign or traffic signal, who has the right-of-way? Even though the car at the stop sign or traffic signal is stopped they have the right-of-way. You are bound by law to treat exiting of a private drive, parking lot, gas station, convenience store, etc., to treat it as a stop sign and yield the right-of-way to other vehicles already in the roadway.

Be Prepared for an Emergency

What should you keep in your vehicle in case of an emergency? Most drivers keep a spare tire and a jack, but did you know there are several more items for safety that you should keep in your vehicle as well?

Drivers should always carry a first-aid kit, a blanket, bottled water, a gas can, and flares in their vehicle at all times. The need for a first-aid kit, gas can, and flares are obvious, but what about the blanket and bottled water? If you were to become stranded on cold night in the middle of nowhere and your vehicle was out of gas, the blanket would come in handy to keep you warm until help arrives. The bottled water in case you become stranded in a hot or desert type of area.

Always consider safety and keep these standard items in your vehicle in case of an emergency. As the old adage goes, better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.

Hodges settles car wreck lawsuit for policy limits

Jeremiah was able to force State Farm to tender its policy limits and settle a lawsuit filed in Madison County. Our client suffered significant physical and emotional injuries caused by a negligent driver. Specifically, our client suffered from a collapsed lung, knee contusion, broken ribs, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”). The client’s doctor was instrumental in helping us prove the life changing damages suffered by our client. It is always a relief to a client get a case resolved prior to trial. We are thrilled to bring this personal injury lawsuit to a fair conclusion and allow our client to obtain closure in this matter.

Driving Courteously With High Beams

How many times have you been driving at night and had to deal with an approaching driver who has forgotten to turn their high beams off? Probably more times than you can count. As drivers, we all need to be aware of and be courteous with our use of high beam headlights. Do we really want to force fellow motorist off the road simply because we forgot to turn off our high beams and the other driver can’t see the road? No, we do not, nor do we want to be the driver that is placed in that position.

We can always click our high beams on and off and hope the other driver pays heed, but if they do not we can always focus our attention and eyes to the white line on the edge of the road as our guide until we pass the inconsiderate driver. For safety’s sake and in the name of courtesy remember to turn your high beams off when approaching fellow motorists.

Choosing the right car seat for your child

With children going back to school this fall, we often get questions about kid safety in car travel.  One of the chief concerns we hear from our readers is concerns about which car seat is right for their child.  Choosing the right car seat for your child can be quite the nerve-wracking experience.  This article from Hodges Trial Lawyers should help put your mind at ease that your “precious cargo” is safely secured in your vehicle.  There are generally three types of car seats: (1) Infant car seats, (2) Convertible car seats, and (3) booster seats.  (See Which car seat is right for my child?)

These are the three stages of car seats that your child will go through as he/she gets bigger.  It is important to note that with any car seat, the car seat is only safe if it is installed properly.  Local hospitals and fire departments often provide individuals with the opportunity to have their car seat checked for free.  Use these free sources to make sure that your child is safe on the roadways.  No one intends to get into a car wreck, but sometimes things happen that our beyond our control.  The only way to be certain that our “precious cargo” arrives in mint condition is to choose the right car seat and use it properly.