Alabama traffic statistics paint a grim picture: on average, there are more than 420 car crashes a day in Alabama. That equates to more than 47,650 people who are injured a year, and nearly 1,000 people who died in car crashes in 2016. Those who drive in Alabama are twice as likely to die in car crashes compared to average Americans.
Car crashes in Alabama are largely caused by preventable causes. Driving issues like tailgating, failing to yield the right of way, improper lane change and speeding are all preventable causes of car crashes. When someone’s negligence causes a car crash that results in serious personal injury or death, the offending party may be liable for damages.
To avoid becoming a car crash offender, it’s important to be aware of and follow all Alabama driving laws. These laws are in place to keep you and other drivers on the road safe. Following them can help you avoid an accident and protect you in case you’re a party involved with a car crash.
First Thing’s First: Carry Legal Driving Documentation
Only get on the road if you are licensed to drive in the United States. Proper Alabama driving documentation identifies you to police who come to the scene of a car crash. If you drive without it, you could face fines and bigger problems if you’re involved in a crash.
If you’re going to drive in Alabama, make sure you have:
Valid driver’s license from your home state or home country
Your car must have two highbeam headlights that can illuminate objects at least 350 feet away. You must turn on headlights from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise. If you’re driving in the rain, Alabama law requires the use of lowbeam headlights.
Contact Police After an Accident
Never leave the scene of an Alabama car crash. Contact law enforcement. If someone involved in an accident needs first aid, a capable driver involved should also call for emergency services.
Don’t Drive Drunk or Transport Alcohol into Alabama
Driving while intoxicated is illegal, and drivers driving under the influence of alcohol with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or above may be charged with driving under the influence. Bringing alcohol into Alabama when it was purchased outside of Alabama is also illegal. Don’t carry it in your car if you purchased it from another state.
Don’t Smoke or Transport Tobacco If You’re Under the Age of 19
It’s illegal for those ages 18 years old and younger to use, possess or transport tobacco or tobacco products. If you’re underage and are caught smoking while driving or have cigarettes or other tobacco products in your car and are pulled over, you may face a charge.
Be Aware of Buses
If a school, church or other bus that is marked with flashing lights and stop signals stops in your vicinity, you are required by law to stop and wait until passengers get on or off. Even if you’re approaching the bus from a road and are not directly behind it, you must still stop and let it proceed before crossing it.
If you’re riding in the front, either as the driver or a front-seat passenger, you must wear a seatbelt, according to Alabama law. Any children under the age of 15 years old must wear a seat belt wherever they are in the vehicle or be in a child safety seat, which is mandatory for children ages 4 years old and younger.
Stop at Red
Right turns after stop signs and red lights are only permitted after a driver makes a full stop and sees that the lane is clear. If a sign is posted that forbids a right turn, the driver must obey the sign.
Put Down the Phone
Texting or using one’s smartphone to send an email while driving is illegal in Alabama. If you’re looking at your phone and cause a car crash, the victim could claim your distracted driving negligence was the car accident cause and pursue a claim against you.
Pay Attention to Emergency Vehicles
If you see an emergency vehicle with flashing lights, move as far to the right as possible, and stop until the emergency vehicle passes. If a driver in Alabama is approaching an emergency vehicle that is stopped and has flashing emergency lights activated, the motorist’s next action will depend on how many lanes there are.
If there are four or more lanes, like on a freeway, the driver must move over at least one lane or slow down to at least 15 miles per hour below the posted speed limit if moving over is not possible. If there are two lanes, the driver must move over as far as they can without exiting the lane and slow down to at least 15 miles per hour below the posted speed limit.
Follow Motorcycle Laws
If you’re riding a motorcycle in Alabama, be aware of these additional laws:
You must wear a helmet while on a motorcycle.
You must have a passenger seat if you are carrying a passenger.
You must have at least one mirror on the motorcycle.
Motorcycle handlebars must be no higher than 15 inches above the seat.
You are not allowed to pass another vehicle in the same lane.
You are not allowed to ride between lanes.
What to Do If Someone Breaks the Law and Causes Your Car Crash
If you are following all Alabama driving laws and someone breaks the law and causes your car crash, you may be entitled to compensation. Make sure to:
Contact police and get a copy of the police report.
Gather evidence, like witness testimony and photos of the accident and injuries.
Some of the most common car accident causes are preventable. These include:
Not paying attention to other vehicles
Failing to adapt to changing road conditions
Following other vehicles too closely
Ignoring blind spots
Driving while impaired
Allowing emotions like anger to influence unsafe driving behaviors
Ignoring dangerous driving conditions
Defensive drivingis the safest driving technique that requires that drivers stay alert and aware of their surroundings and adapt accordingly. Using defensive driving strategies helps drivers avoid problems unsafe drivers or road conditions can cause.
As we’ve learned in the cases that we’ve helped clients earn more than $800 million in settlements from, when it comes to driving, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Here are some defensive driving strategies you can use to avoid a costly accident – not just in terms of money, but in terms of human safety.
1. Focus on Driving
Don’t text, don’t look down at your phone, and don’t turn around to talk to the passenger in the back seat. Don’t eat food or apply makeup while driving.
Keep your eyes focused on the road and changing traffic conditions. Observe speed limit changes, the state of the road and any obstacles, traffic controls and cars in front of, behind and next to you.
2. Make Safety the Top Priority
You may encounter unsafe driving behaviors that tempt you to react unsafely, as well. For example, if someone is tailgating you on a freeway, you may want to speed up to create some distance, but that just makes you speed, as well.
If another driver is swerving, following you too closely, changing speeds erratically or driving in another way that is unsafe, don’t react – avoid the driver and move away from them.
3. Assume the Worst
You may be an impeccable driver, but you can’t count on other drivers to be as safe as you. That’s why you should always follow all traffic laws, which are in place to keep motorists safe.
In addition to paying attention to unsafe driving behaviors that are happening, you should take extra precaution while driving in case something dangerous happens unexpectedly. Be sure to:
Leave at least one car length in front of you and the next driver in front of you for every 10 miles per hour you are driving, in case the driver stops suddenly or decreases speed for some reason.
Drive the speed limit.
If you need to change lanes, do so early and check your blind spots before merging, so you can avoid a driver speeding up and preventing you from doing so safely.
Use turn signals and obey all traffic controls.
Even if you have the right of way, yield for drivers when it appears they won’t yield for you. Remember that some reckless drivers will run red lights or fail to let you pass in front of them.
Constantly scan your surroundings to identify any unsafe behaviors you want to avoid. Don’t just look directly in front of you. Be aware of conditions down the road to anticipate how to react to them.
4. Never Drive While Impaired
Alcohol, illegal drugs and even some prescription drugs can all impair your ability to drive alertly. Follow all directions to avoid driving after taking certain prescription drugs. Never drive while intoxicated, because that will slow down your reaction time.
Avoid driving while your emotions are heightened, as well. Anger could cause you to drive aggressively, while even a positive emotion like euphoria could make you feel more confident in using reckless driving behaviors.
5. Maintain Your Car
Finally, one of the easiest ways to increase the safety of your driving is to make sure your car is in perfect working condition. A car that breaks down in the middle of the freeway can cause car accidents. If your windshield wipers don’t work, and it starts raining, your visibility will suffer. Proper car maintenance goes hand-in-hand with safe driving behaviors.
Traveling during the summer or holidays you may be taking a road trip to or renting a car in another state. One of the fastest ways to put a dent in your vacation plans is to be involved in an out-of-state car accident. Experiencing a crash in an area that you are unfamiliar with is stressful enough, not knowing what to do after an accident can be even scarier. So it is important to be aware of driving risks before you take your trip and who to call should you have the misfortune to be in an accident.
Driving at any time of year is more dangerous than ever before, as a 2017 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows for the second straight year, there will be the largest increase in motor vehicle fatalities in the past 50 years in the United States. CNN reports two of the most speculated reasons for the increase are distracted driving and warmer weather. With school out for teenagers, expect more teen drivers on the road during summer, and more drivers on the road using smartphones or other technology while driving.
Higher congestion because of travelers also contributes to dangerous driving conditions in summer, as well as drivers who are under the influence and take to the road after holidays or parties. Before you head out on the road, here’s what to consider regarding the possibility of an out-of-state accident.
Know Your Insurance Policy and the Rules of the Areas You’re Traveling In
Every state has different stipulations regarding compensation for people involved in auto accidents. Some states are “no-fault” states, which means the resident of the no-fault state is entitled to injury compensations from their own insurance provider — not the other person involved in the accident. If you don’t live in a state with this policy, in an “at-fault” state, obtaining benefits from the at-fault driver will need to be pursued. At-fault states may be divided into categories including:
Pure comparative fault, which means the amount of damages awarded relates to the percentage of fault of each party.
Contributory negligence, which means if an injured party is at fault in any way, they will not be able to collect any damages from the other party.
Modified comparative fault, which means if one party is more than 50 percent responsible for the accident, they will not be able to collect any damages from the other party at fault.
Most car insurance providers in the United States provide coverage in every state, which may even extend throughout Canada. Some providers, like Esurance, will compare coverage limits with the minimum requirements in the state you have an accident, then cover you for the higher limit.
It’s still important to be aware of any minimum requirements you may have to meet when driving in another state. Of course, if you are heading to a foreign country and plan on driving, you should thoroughly check all the coverage you’ll need before your trip.
Prepare Before Your Trip
Besides communicating with your insurance provider before you leave, you can also consult with your car accident lawyer to walk you through what to be aware of. It’s also always a good idea to have a camera, notepad and contact information of your insurance provider and lawyer with you whenever you’re driving out of state. This way, you can document any accidents and quickly get in touch with who you need to.
Also, get your car checked out by an expert before taking long road trips. Popular Mechanics magazine reports tires are most likely to blow out between the months of mid-May through early October. Heavy vehicles, hot weather and fast driving all combine to increase the likelihood of a blowout. Make sure your tires are properly inflated before embarking on a road trip.
After a Car Accident
When you have a car crash in another state, stay calm, take a deep breath, and proceed as if you were in an accident in your home state. Call the police, document the scene, get the other driver’s contact information and obtain medical services if needed.
Be cautious of your language, and never admit fault. Contacting a reputable car accident attorney in the state the accident occurred in is your best course of action. An attorney that is licensed in the state of the accident will be better equipped to prepare a case because they’ll know the accident laws of their state. They can also recommend if you should hire an attorney in your home state.
It’s true that getting into an accident away from your home state will be a little more complicated than if it happens in your state. Being prepared and getting professional legal advice when an accident happens ensures you have the best protection possible.
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