The rules of the road exist to protect travelers and prevent traffic accidents. Unfortunately, not every driver acts responsibly every time they’re behind the wheel. In regard to the car accidents related to driver error, the top five traffic laws broken in Pennsylvania revolve around the speed limit, alcohol, turning improperly, illegally passing, and driving distracted.
1) Breaking the Speed Limit
Speed limit signs are posted regularly on roadways, so drivers rarely have an excuse as to why they were driving faster or slower than allowed. In Pennsylvania, there are minimum and maximum speed limit laws. These limits exist to save lives. In 2018, nearly 33,000 crashes were speed-related, with 397 being fatal.
The minimum speed law states that drivers are not allowed to operate at a speed that impedes the normal flow of traffic. If they are driving too slowly, they should pull over and let traffic pass. Driving too slowly is dangerous because other vehicles driving properly may be unable to react to a situation if the driver near them isn’t moving with the flow of traffic.
The maximum speed limit law is what we typically think of when someone gets a ticket for speeding. According to Section 3361 of the PA Vehicle Code, drivers are not allowed to drive at a speed greater than what is reasonable under the conditions. So drivers must abide by the signs and taken potentially hazardous conditions into consideration, which could mean slowing down. Driving too fast can easily result in losing control of a vehicle.
2) Improper Turns
Traffic signals and signs are installed at intersections to control how and when vehicles and pedes
trians move. More specifically, the rules of the road explain what to do at red, yellow, and green traffic lights and arrows, flashing signals, non-functioning traffic lights, ramp-metering signals, lane use control signals, pedestrian signals, school zone signals, railroad crossing signals, regulatory signs, warning signs, and guide signs.
When everyone abides by the signals, traffic moves as it should and everyone gets through the intersection safely. Unfortunately, people regularly ignore traffic signs. In 2018, there were 12,871 wrecks as a result of improper turns and as a result 76 of those crashes resulted in fatalities.
3) Distracted Driving
A distraction while driving is anything that takes your mind, eyes, or hands away from the task at hand. One of the most common causes of distracted driving accidents in the state is texting. As such, there is a law the prohibits using any Interactive Wireless Communication Device, like a phone or tablet, to send, read, or write text-based communication while driving. Because this is a primary offense, drivers can be pulled over if a police officer sees them texting. The penalty is a summary offense with a $50 fine, plus court costs and other fees.
In 2018, distracted drivers caused nearly 14,300 crashes, with over 60 resulting in fatalities. In addition to texting, other common causes of distraction according to PennDOT include eating, drinking, smoking, personal grooming, and rubbernecking.
4) Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol
One of the most dangerous things a driver can do is get behind the wheel intoxicated. Alcohol significantly affects a person’s reaction time, processing abilities, and physical movements. Just in 2018, there were over 8,500 accidents involving drunk drivers. As a result, 150 crashes resulted in fatalities.
There are a number of fines and consequences in place for those who decide to drink and drive. The severity of those consequences is based on three levels of DUI:
- General Impairment (0.8 to .099% BAC)
- High BAC (.10 to .159% BAC)
- Highest BAC (.16% and higher)
Depending on the number of offenses, a general impairment penalty ranges from a six month to one-year license suspension, $300 to $5,000 fine, the installation of an ignition interlock system, and potential jail time. The higher the DUI level, the more serious the consequences.
5) Passing Illegally
Because passing is a regular driving action, some drivers forget the basics when it comes to operating their cars on the road. For example, the general rules regarding overtaking and passing vehicles in Pennsylvania include passing on the left, making sure to clear the other vehicle safely, and taking care to not increase your speed if someone is passing you. Careless and illegal passing, however, resulted in nearly 5,000 crashes in 2018, with 68 of them being fatal.
If you believe you were involved in a collision because of another driver’s negligence, you have a right to file a claim to seek compensation for your economic and noneconomic losses. Our attorneys can look into your situation, start an investigation, and determine if filing a claim is right for what you’ve been through. To learn more, contact our office today.