Here’s How We Can Lower Our Number of Car Wrecks

I’m always astonished how many drivers do not appear to know what the traffic laws are. But it’s been 30 or 40 years since many people read the driver’s handbook back in driver’s education class and no retest has been required since.

Many of our rules of the road are common sense or common courtesy — two things you don’t see as much of these days. But others can be a little confusing.

For example, what happens if two people arrive at a four way stop exactly at the same time? Or a traffic light is out and there is a blinking red light?

But turning at an intersection is a simple task.

We have a ridiculous number of car wrecks in Texas. It is tragic that over 21,000 people died or were seriously injured in them in 2016, according to sobering statistics that were just released.

So it’s worth reviewing traffic laws, especially right-of-way rules, every now and then. 

Who gets to go first at an intersection? 

More than half of all fatal and injury crashes occur at or near intersections. Turning left is a common cause.

  • If you reach a four-way stop simultaneously, the vehicle on the left must yield to the vehicle on the right.
  • If you have a stop sign and the vehicles crossing the intersection do not, you must remain stopped until traffic is clear.
  • If you are making a left turn at an intersection, you must yield to vehicles going straight from the opposite direction.
  • If you are turning onto a road at a T-intersection, the drivers on the through road have right-of-way.

All intersections are potential hazards, the way people drive, but here is a list of the ones in Dallas-Worth that have the most crashes. Maybe you can try to avoid them.

When should drivers yield to pedestrians?

The number of pedestrian deaths has steadily increased over the past decade. Pedestrian fatalities spiked by 11 percent in 2016 from the previous year and jumped 22 percent from 2014. Yikes.

How can we reverse this grisly trend? Drivers must obey these basic laws:

  • Yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk who are on the same side of the road as your vehicle.
  • Yield to pedestrians who are approaching from the opposite side who are close enough to be placed at risk.
  • Yield to pedestrians on a sidewalk that cross over a parking lot exit, driveway, or private road you are pulling out of.
  • You have the right-of-way when pedestrians are crossing outside of crosswalks or intersections but must still abide by the last chance doctrine to avoid a crash. In other words, expect a walker to dart out and let them cross.

How can you safely yield to emergency vehicles?

Of course you should move out of the way of ambulances, fire trucks, and police cars. But equally important is that you are safe while doing so.

Follow these rules to safely yield to emergency vehicles:

  • When an emergency vehicle is coming from behind, pull to the right side of the road if safe to do so.
  • If approaching an intersection, proceed through and pull over on the other side once it is safe to do so.
  • If you see emergency vehicles on the side of the highway, move into the far lane and slow down, unless directed otherwise by police.

What should you do if a negligent driver fails to yield?

Violation of a law is negligence per se. This means that a driver who violated a right-of-way law is considered negligent and has the even more difficult burden of proving he wasn’t at fault to avoid liability in court.

A personal injury lawyer can help you understand what your legal rights are and how you should proceed.

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