Brad Pistotnik Law
Abogado El Toro

Who is Liable When Motorists Don't Signal Lane Changes?

Unsafe lane changes are a deadly threat to both motorists and pedestrians. These actions include failure to yield the right of way, failure to keep in the proper lane, running others off the road, operating the vehicle in an unsafe/erratic manner, swerving, and making improper turns. When motorists engage in these behaviors, they negligently place motorists and pedestrians at risk for sustaining a fatality, serious personal injuries, or property damage.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's crash analysis for 2015, 3,453 drivers who were involved in fatal car crashes failed to keep their vehicle in the proper lane while driving and were responsible for causing 7.1% of fatal crashes. This was followed by operating the vehicle in an unsafe manner which caused 2,606 fatal crashes and 5.4% of the total number of fatalities. Overcorrecting and oversteering were responsible for causing 1,839, or 3.8% of fatal automobile crashes. The next most deadly behavior was operating the vehicle in an erratic or reckless fashion which caused 1,755 fatal crashes representing 3.6 of all fatalities.

Swerving is a common form of unsafe lane change and the report showed that the behavior caused 1,457 fatal crashes and accounted for 3% of fatalities. Finally, making improper turns accounted for 951 fatal accidents and 2% of the total number of fatalities.

Unsafe lane changes are not a new problem. A report released by the Society of Automotive Engineers in 2012 showed that of the 12,000 cars the SAE observed, nearly 48% of motorists failed to signal lane changes. An earlier report published by Response Insurance in 2006 showed that 57% of drivers admitted to not using turn signals while driving. The report also showed that young drivers between the ages of 18-24 were most likely not to use their signals; in fact, nearly 71% reported not using their signals to notify other motorists of their lane change. The reasons motorists failed to signal lane changes included apathy, laziness, and "not having enough time." These are not valid defenses in a personal injury case and do not excuse an individual's liability for causing an automobile accident.

In addition to aggressive driving and road rage, there are many factors that can lead a driver to make an unsafe lane change. These include using a cell phone to talk or text while driving, reaching for objects, becoming distracted by conversation, or "rubbernecking" events and scenery on the road. These actions can cause a driver to veer out of their travel lane or cause them to swerve to avoid a collision with objects in front of the vehicle.

Liability for an unsafe lane change in Wichita, Kansas City, Liberal, Dodge City, or anywhere in Kansas, Illinois, Oklahoma, or Nebraska almost always falls on the motorist's responsible for making the lane change. However, other responsible parties could include individuals or entities who deliberately block the lane of travel or cause a hazard in the roadway. For example, if a delivery driver illegally parks their commercial vehicle in the roadway, or if a truck driver fails to properly secure their load which then spills on the highway forcing motorists to swerve to avoid the mess. In any accident involving an unsafe lane change, Brad Pistotnik will thoroughly review all the factors that caused the crash in order to determine the individuals and entities liable for the accident.

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