Staying Safe on the Side of the Road

Two Kansas Highway Patrol troopers were recently injured near Topeka when the troopers had pulled the motorist over on the shoulder of I-470 and were conducting a traffic stop. During the stop, a vehicle traveling along the highway struck the rear of the troopers’ patrol car, causing the patrol car to then strike the motorist’s vehicle. Several others were also injured in the crash. While civilian drivers will never have an occasion to pull another driver over on the shoulder of a highway, there are several legitimate reasons why a motorist may nonetheless stop on the side of the road:

  • Mechanical trouble or a flat tire may force the driver to stop and attend to the trouble;
  • The driver may need to stop to address a text message, phone call, or handle a fussy child in the backseat;
  • The motorist simply needs a short break from driving.

Although the reasons for stopping on the shoulder may be different, civilian motorists are just as capable of being injured in a traffic collision on the side of the road.

Safety Tips When You Must Stop on the Side of the Road

Regardless of the reason why you decide to pull off to the shoulder, be safe. The following safety tips can help prevent you or a loved one from suffering serious injuries:

  • Pull off onto the shoulder as far as you can. The closer your car is to the white demarcation line separating the shoulder from the lane of travel, the higher the risk that another driver may inadvertently stray over the line and strike your vehicle – or you;
  • Make yourself and your car as visible as possible. This is especially important at night or in low-visibility conditions. Activate your emergency blinkers and keep your headlights and taillights lit. If you have an emergency car kit equipped with flares and/or road strobes, place these devices intermittently for several yards behind your vehicle. (If you don’t have a properly-equipped emergency car kit in your vehicle, now would be an excellent time to get one.) If possible, wear bright-colored garments or use a reflective vest when you are outside your vehicle.
  • Be alert to traffic. Do not assume that the above-mentioned steps will make you visible to every driver. If you hear a vehicle approaching, visibly watch the vehicle as it approaches and be prepared to take evasive action if it appears the individual does not see you.
  • Limit the number of people outside the vehicle. When more people are outside the car and on the shoulder, this means there is a greater risk of someone in your traveling party suffering serious injury. If someone does not have any legitimate reason to be outside the car, they should wait inside the car.

Do not linger on the shoulder of any highway, whether you are in your car or not. The sooner you can get back on the road and rejoin the normal flow of traffic, the better. (Of course, you should also exercise due care and caution when reentering the highway by checking for traffic, accelerating safely but smoothly, and utilizing your turn signal).

Contact a Kansas Car Crash Attorney Today

If you or a loved one is injured while on the side of the road, Kansas Car Accident Attorney Michael R. Lawless may be able to assist you. If the driver that struck you or your loved one was driving in a careless or negligent manner, you may be entitled to compensation. Call us today at (800) 734-3771 to discuss your case with attorney Michael R. Lawless.

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Speed a Factor in Serious Car Wrecks

Kansas City Royals fans were devastated to learn than pitcher Yordano Ventura was recently killed in a car wreck in the Dominican Republic. Investigators looking into the cause of the crash believe excessive speed may have played a role. Unfortunately, if this were true, this would only be one in a long line of fatal traffic crashes where speed was a factor. Statistics maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the federal government show:

  • Speeding is the third most common factor contributing to traffic crashes (distracted driving and impaired driving are the first and second most common factors, respectively);
  • Speeding plays a role in approximately one-third of all traffic crashes in the nation;
  • Speeding is a factor in about 40 percent of all fatal traffic crashes involving males between the ages of 15 and 20;
  • About 13,000 people die annually in fatal speeding crashes; and
  • Crashes in the USA caused by speeding cost about $40 billion each year – for every minute you save on travel time by speeding, you cost society about $76,000.

Speeding is dangerous in large part because (1) it reduces the amount of time a driver has to react to hazards or avoid collisions; (2) it affects the handling of a car – a car traveling at excessive speeds responds differently to input from the steering wheel than it does at lower speeds; and (3) it increases the distance and time necessary to bring the vehicle to a stop.

Compensation After Speeding Accidents

If you or a loved one are involved in a fatal speeding accident, you may be entitled to compensation from the speeding driver (you may be entitled to compensation even if you or your loved one was partly to blame for the crash). Unlike a drunk driving accident, however, it may not always be apparent if the other involved motorist was, in fact, speeding. Thankfully, there may be evidence available to help you and your car crash attorney determine if excessive speed played a role in the crash:

  • The car’s “black box”: This is a computerized device that records important information about the vehicle in the critical few seconds before a crash. This data includes the speed of the vehicle (broken down in time increments) as well as whether the driver of the car applied the brakes of the car.
  • Skid marks: When a car traveling at a high rate of speed suddenly applies the brakes, skid marks may be left on the asphalt. Accident reconstruction experts and some law enforcement officers are specially trained to determine an approximate speed of a vehicle based upon the skid marks left.
  • Witness observations: Although a lay witness (that is, one without any specialized knowledge or skills) cannot testify as to a specific speed of a vehicle, courts in Kansas have allowed lay witnesses to testify whether a vehicle appeared to be traveling in excess of the posted speed limit.

Locating and preserving this important evidence becomes critical, then, to the success of your car crash lawsuit. Your attorney will know what steps to take to ensure the black box data is preserved and the identity and testimony of witnesses secured, as well as whether an accident reconstruction expert is necessary.

Michael R. Lawless is a Kansas-based car crash injury attorney helping motorists who have been injured in traffic collisions caused by another driver’s excessive speed. Michael R. Lawless is experienced in and has the resources necessary to determine if speed was a factor in your crash and is committed to holding those who carelessly or recklessly speed accountable for their actions. Contact Kansas Car Accident Lawyer Michael R. Lawless by calling (800) 734-3771 if you or a loved one have been injured or killed in a speeding-related crash.