Under Missouri law, all motorists are required to drive "in a careful and prudent manner and at a rate of speed so as not to endanger the property of another or the life and limb of any person and [to] exercise the highest degree of care." Unfortunately, many drivers fail to exercise this level of caution when they're on the road. In fact, careless and negligent drivers often cause car accidents that result in injury to innocent Joplin motorists - folks who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. In this post, our Missouri personal injury lawyers discuss a few common reckless driving behaviors and recommend a few safety tips to help protect everyone on the road.
• Excessive speed. Authorities say excessive speed is a factor in nearly a third of all auto accident deaths each year. Traveling too fast for conditions reduces the amount of time that a driver has to recognize and react to a roadway emergency. Speed also has a direct impact on the severity of a crash and resulting injuries: as the impact speed increases, so does the crash energy that needs to be managed - and a vehicle can only manage a limited amount of crash energy before occupant safety is threatened. Be sure to obey the speed limit and adjust your speed as needed for roadway, traffic and weather conditions.
• Fleeing from the police. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 360 people die in high-speed police pursuits each year. Innocent bystanders account for a third of those deaths. If you see a vehicle being pursued, take immediate steps to get out of that vehicle's path.
• Passing emergency vehicles or school buses when their lights are flashing. When an emergency vehicle is displaying flashing lights or sounding its siren, Missouri state law requires that you yield the right of way to that vehicle and pull as far to the right as possible. If the vehicle is non-moving (for example, during a traffic stop or construction project), you must "move over" into an adjacent lane when possible. State law also requires that you stop for school buses when their stop sign is displayed, and when they stop at railroad crossings.
• Failing to obey traffic signals. It's just common sense: when drivers run stop signs or ignore traffic lights, the chances of a collision are greatly increased. All drivers should use extra caution when proceeding through intersections.
• Following too closely ("tailgating"). Use the three-second rule to ensure you have allowed enough distance between your vehicle and the one traveling in front of you. Tailgating is an extremely common cause of rear-end collisions, which commonly result in serious neck, shoulder and back injuries.