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Alabama Traffic Safety Laws You Should Know

Alabama Traffic Safety Laws You Should Know

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
  • Driver’s insurance
  • International Driving Permit if you’re from outside of the United States

It doesn’t matter if you’re coming from out of state or out of the country when you drive in Alabama. All drivers in Alabama must adhere to Alabama driving laws, detailed below.

Obey the Speed Limit

Obey all speed limit postings. On interstate highways in Alabama, the maximum speed limit is 70 miles per hour, unless otherwise marked.

Drive in the Right Lane

Using the left lane on interstate highways in Alabama is illegal unless you are using it for passing. Otherwise, long-term driving must be done in a lane other than the left lane.

Use Headlights

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.

Alabama Traffic Safety Laws You Should Know 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.

Buckle Up

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.

Alabama Traffic Safety Laws You Should Know 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:

Pittman, Dutton & Hellums offers free no-obligation car accident consultations. Contact us online or at (866) 515-8880 for information on if we can help you.

How to Avoid Driving Distractedly

How to Avoid Driving Distractedly

One of the biggest threats to your safe driving is also probably one of your favorite companions: your smartphone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports texting while driving is one of the most dangerous types of driving behaviors, since sending or reading a text takes eyes off the road for about 5 seconds. That’s enough to cover a football field’s distance while traveling at 55 miles per hour. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports taking your eyes off the road for more than 2 seconds doubles your risk of a crash.

Distracted driving isn’t just a danger caused by smartphone usage. Other causes of distracted driving include:

  • Looking up directions
  • Talking with a passenger
  • Turning around in a seat
  • Searching for something that dropped
  • Doing another task (like eating or applying makeup) while driving

Distracted driving is deadly. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports in 2016, 3,450 people died in crashes involving distracted drivers, and more than 390,000 people were injured in crashes involving distracted drivers in 2015.

If you’re the distracted driver in a crash that seriously injures or kills someone, your distracted driving may be deemed negligent in court. Avoid costly settlements and the pain of knowing you’ve hurt or even killed someone else. Never drive while distracted. Follow these tips.

How to Avoid Driving DistractedlyKnow Where You’re Going Ahead of Time

If you need directions for your destination, before you put your car into drive, input where you’re going into your GPS system. Better yet, review the entire route before driving so you have a better idea of how you’ll navigate. If you need to re-route or get clarity into directions, pull off to the side of the road first.

Set Your Playlist Before Taking Off

Scrolling through a music player filled with potentially thousands of songs is enough to take your eyes off the road for several seconds. Set up your playlist before you drive, and put your music player somewhere unreachable so you’re not tempted to grab it while driving. If you need to change the radio, make sure you’re completely stopped.

Use Technology to Keep You Safe

Technology can actually be an asset to staying safe while driving. Apple phones with iOS 11 operating systems and later come with a Do Not Disturb While Driving feature, which keeps phones silent and keeps screens dark. People who message you while driving will receive an auto-reply that you are driving. OneTap is an app that works similarly for Android. There’s also an app called Drivemode for Android that enables hands-free message and call responses. Check the cell phone laws for your state before using a phone in any capacity while driving, since text messaging while driving is illegal in most states.

How to Avoid Driving DistractedlyPull Over When You Need to Turn Your Focus Away from the Road

Knowing that just 2 seconds is enough time to double your chance of an accident, pull over to the side of the road whenever you need to handle something. This can include:

  • Having a serious conversation with a passenger
  • Looking up anything on your phone
  • Checking the car manual because you’re unsure about what a car light means or what a button does

Every time you drive, your goal should be to put all your focus on the road in front of you whenever your car is turned on. If you are unable to, you should halt driving.

Don’t Be Afraid to Speak Up to Passengers

A study reported by the American Council on Science and Health found conversations with passengers in a car degrade driver awareness, negatively impacting reaction times, lane position, speed, distance and driver response. Before you drive with passengers in the car, tell them your focus is on safe driving, to protect not only you, but them. Ask for conversations to be quiet so they don’t distract you. If you are not comfortable talking with passengers while driving due to the risks, let them know before you drive.

Put Food and Drinks in the Back

Eating and drinking behind the wheel should never happen, but there may be times when you pick up food to-go to take home or to work. Don’t let tantalizing smells tempt you while driving. Put food behind your seat so you’re not inclined to nosh while on the road. Keep a lid on drinks, and put them as far away from you as safely possible so you don’t deal with spills or a hot beverage landing on your lap while you’re driving.

Take the Pledge

Imagine what your life would be like if you killed someone because you were driving distractedly. Not only would you have to face time in court and possibly in jail, but you’d have to live every day knowing you took away someone else’s chance to live because of your negligence.

Nothing is more important than safe driving while you are in a car. You can join more than 30 million people who have taken the It Can Wait pledge, which states the driver will always drive distraction-free and that the driver pledges to be an advocate for the cause. Taking a minute to commit can reinforce that you’ve put forth the effort to declare that you support distraction-free driving. By taking on an advocate role and sharing your views with other drivers, you can help to decrease distracted driving in your community and beyond.

Personal Injury Numbers at All-Time High

The 2017 National Safety Council annual Injury Facts report shows accidental deaths caused by unintentional injuries now rank as the fourth-leading cause of death in the United States. More than 146,500 people died from unintentional injuries, increasing by nearly 8 percent, in 2015.  Forbes magazine reports that overall death rates have decreased 19 percent since 1992 but unintentional deaths have increased 27 percent.

 

Personal Injury Report

 

Personal injury cases cost the American population $886.4 billion in 2015, through out-of-pocket costs, higher taxes and more costly goods and services. Personal injury lawsuits are common for incidents ranging from medical malpractice to motor vehicle accidents. A personal injury may also be sustained from incidents such as:

 

  • Defective prescription medications
  • Faulty products
  • Job-related injuries
  • Premises threats
  • Nursing home abuse

Even people who use safe practices in their daily lives may be victims of a personal injury 

 

Reasons for Personal Injury Increases

While incidents such as drug overdoses are included as factors in the increase in the new report, reasons ranging from lack of sleep to more drivers on the road are also contributors. For the first time, the report has included a category highlighting fatigue as a cause of injuries and preventable deaths in the United States. According to the 2017 edition, a short sleep duration is more prevalent than ever.

 

 

Workers in healthcare, manufacturing, transportation, and warehousing are most likely to get inadequate sleep every night. Sleep-deprived workers are 1.62 times more likely to be injured, and 13 percent of work injuries are attributed to sleep deprivation, according to Forbes magazine.

 

Safety and Health magazine reports that workers who get seven hours of sleep a night or less are more likely to be involved in a work-related injury. 

 

Consider these statistics:

  • Of workers getting between seven to nine hours of sleep per night, there are on average 2.95 injury incidences per 100 workers
  • Of workers getting between six to seven hours of sleep per night, there are on average 3.62 injury incidences per 100 workers
  • Of workers getting between five to six hours of sleep per night, there are on average 5.21 injury incidences per 100 workers
  • Of workers getting less than five hours of sleep per night, there are on average 7.89 injury incidences per 100 workers

The professionals most at risk from sleep deprivation are often also operating heavy machinery or are administering medical attention to patients.

Sleep deprivation has negative effects on cognition, according to a sleep deprivation study published by the US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, including impaired visuomotor performance. It’s important for drivers to be especially aware of other drivers at night-time to avoid an accident caused by sleep deprivation. If you are receiving services from someone who appears sleep-deprived, such as a doctor, voice your concerns.

In addition to increased pervasiveness of sleep-deprived workers, distracted driving on the road is more common. An increase in drivers and vehicles on the road, as well as an increase in miles driven, has led to 4.3 million medically consulted driver-related injuries in 2015. More than 37,700 vehicle-related fatalities occurred, a 7 percent increase, Forbes reports. Fatal crash increases occurred in categories involving young drivers, drunk driving, speeding, distracted driving, motorcycle riding and pedestrian accidents.

Technology in cars is contributing to unsafe driving habits. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports distracted driving claimed nearly 3,500 lives in 2015, and the number is expected to continue to increase as more drivers use smartphones and navigation technology in cars. Reading a text message is enough to take a driver’s eyes off the road for at least five seconds, which can mean running into a pedestrian or another car.

 

What to Do If You’re a Personal Injury Victim

If you experience the unfortunate circumstances of sustaining a personal injury because of a professional, good or service that is negligent, it is vital to consult with an attorney. There are many laws in place to prevent risky behaviors, such as distracted driving while texting behind the wheel or using machinery while fatigued. Not only may there be an individual at fault, but an employer may be guilty in allowing unsafe behaviors that could harm you or a loved one.

A personal injury lawyer will be able to evaluate your case to determine reckless behavior and help you to attain compensation for your physical injuries, as well as emotional distress and other consequences that may affect your professional or personal life. Many incidents that may seem “accidental” are quite the opposite, and you are entitled to remuneration for what you experience.

 

Pittman Dutton and Hellums

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