Frequent lane changes often increase the risk of a car accident. This is because drivers often make serous driving errors during lane changes that can put other drivers in danger. However, there are no default rules that automatically put the lane-changing driver at fault for a car accident. Instead, the totality of the circumstances is important in determining fault in a car accident. If you or a loved one was injured in a car crash while someone was changing lanes, talk to Fayetteville car accident lawyer Ken Kieklak about your car accident case today.
Lane Changing Laws in Arkansas
Changing lanes and passing is often something that takes practice when learning to drive. That is because changing lanes puts you in the path of other cars and requires you to check your blind spots rather than looking straight ahead. Arkansas law has some very clear rules dealing with changing lanes.
First, it is important to always drive on the right when required to. Arkansas, unlike some states, does not require you to drive in the right lane on multilane highways. However, the State Highway and Transportation Department can designate highways to be right lane only roads. That means that driving in the left lane on these roads is illegal, and you should only use the left lane for passing, avoiding obstructions, or avoiding unsafe road surfaces.
Second, you must use your signal when changing lanes. It is important to let other drivers know what you’re doing on the road, and your turn signal or blinker is the main tool to do so. AR Code § 27-51-403 requires you to use your turn signal within the last 100 feet before a turn or lane change.
Third, the passing car must give the other car enough space. AR Code § 27-51-306 requires you to give a safe passing distance when you overtake another vehicle. It also makes it illegal to go back to the right land until you are “safely clear of the overtaken vehicle.” Some drivers cut each other off when moving back to the right lane or pass without fully moving to the left lane, which can be very dangerous.
Fourth, the car being passed has responsibilities as well. AR Code § 27-51-304 also requires the car being passed to maintain speed. It is illegal for a car in the right lane to speed up to prevent another car from passing. Drivers sometimes turn another car’s attempt to pass them into a contest, increasing their speed to prevent the other driver from passing them. This kind of racing or muscling for position is dangerous, so cars should maintain speed (or even slow down) when being passed.
Lastly, speeding is always illegal. This means that, despite common practice, it is against traffic laws to drive faster than the speed limit when passing.
Determining Fault in a Lane Changing Accident
These laws above create strict rules that help protect other drivers on the road. Because these laws are aimed at protecting other drivers, they can come into play in many car accident cases. In a car accident case, the court looks at the totality of the circumstances to see which driver was at fault. This takes into account who violated which traffic laws, but also looks to the overall safety of the circumstances.
In proving a car accident case, the victim and their lawyer must show that the other driver violated their duty to drive reasonably and that breach of duty caused the victim’s injuries. Traffic laws create clear rules of what kind of driving is reasonable. That means that speeding or failing to follow rules for passing can help prove that the other driver was at-fault for the accident.
Even if they followed the rules, some lane changes may be too quick or too close to be safe and could cause accidents. Especially when the weather creates bad road conditions, it may be unreasonable to drive at certain speeds or pass too closely. Especially in truck accidents where the truck’s blind spot is very large, failing to check their blind spot may also be clear evidence that they were driving unsafely.
In a car accident, you can suffer serious injuries. With accidents that cause catastrophic injuries like traumatic brain injuries or spinal cord injuries, the effects may be permanent, entitling you to substantial compensation from the at-fault party.
Arkansas Car Accident Lawyer Offering Free Consultations in Fayetteville, AR
If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident while someone was changing lanes, talk to a lawyer today. There are so many rules dealing with lane changing that may support your claim and help you prove the other driver was at fault for the accident. For a free consultation on your case, call Fayetteville personal injury lawyer Ken Kieklak today at (479) 439-1843.