Failing to Follow Right-of-Way Rules Causes Injury and Death in California
Santa Clara County Motor Vehicle Accident Attorney
Sometimes the simplest traffic violations cause serious injury or death to innocent people on or around California roads. Each year the California Department of Motor Vehicles (CADMV) publishes the California Driver Handbook (CDH) to help encourage driver safety through education of the states traffic laws. One set of basic rules the CDH addresses concerns respecting the right-of-way of others. When right-of-way offenses occur, whether to other motorists or pedestrians at intersections or in crosswalks, these can contribute to motor vehicle accidents.
Respecting the Right-of-Way
The CDH reiterates traffic laws regarding who has the right-of-way in various scenarios. Although the CDH states that drivers need to respect the right-of-way of others, it also says to never assume other drivers will yield the right-of-way. According to the CDH, state statistics indicate a significant number of accidents and injuries involving vehicles are the result of right-of-way violations. Right-of-way incidents can happen at or around areas like crosswalks, intersections or roundabouts and may affect people walking, biking or driving.
Pedestrians, motorcyclists and bicyclists typically face a higher risk of injury or death when right-of-way violations occur. The CDH says pedestrian fatalities account for about 17 percent of all traffic deaths annually. However, other motorists may also experience hazardous results when the right-of-way rules are not respected. According to the Federal Highway Administration, around 21 percent of crash fatalities and 45 percent of accidents reported each year take place in or near intersections, which are highly dangerous areas.
The California Vehicle Code states that any drivers who violate right-of-way traffic laws and injure people, for example by neglecting to yield the right-of-way to cars or pedestrians under certain conditions in intersections or crosswalks, may be punished for their actions. First-time offenders may be fined $220 and subsequent infraction fines within one year of one or more right-of-way convictions can range from $320 to $370. Additional criminal charges or civil litigation could ensue in the event of serious damage, injury or death.
Common right-of-way violations that can cause accidents and injuries typically involve traffic law offenses like speeding through intersections, making illegal turns, changing lanes inappropriately or passing cars that are stopped at crosswalks. Other major right-of-way issues include failing to stop or yield at traffic lights, stop signs or pedestrian crosswalks, whether they are marked or unmarked at corners or in the middle of blocks. Pedestrians and bicyclists in crosswalks and at intersections almost always have the right-of-way.
Resulting Accidents and Injuries
To drivers who are in a hurry, it may seem acceptable behavior to recklessly pass cars stopped at the crosswalks of busy intersections after quickly glancing around. However, if a driver fails to see any pedestrians, bicyclists or other people before they are able to safely traverse a road or intersection, someone may be struck, hurt or killed because of the drivers impatience. This scenario occurs all too often, where drivers commit minor right-of-way traffic infractions and end up killing or severely injuring car accident victims.
If you or your loved one was recently injured or killed because a driver violated right-of-way rules or other traffic laws, contact an experienced California personal injury attorney today to discuss your legal rights and options for help with medical bills and related expenses. Call 408-293-7777 to schedule your free consultation.