Motorists Stopped on the Side of the Road are in Real Danger of Serious Injuries
Car accidents that occur on the shoulder of the road are very dangerous, and often, deadly. Many of these collisions involve a vehicle stopped or stalled on the road due to mechanical problems. However, a bicyclist riding on the shoulder or a pedestrian walking near the road are often victims as well.
Types of Shoulder of the Road Accidents
Drivers who stop on the side of the road (aka the shoulder of the road) are injured or killed in car accidents every year. In fact, about 19% of all motor vehicle crashes occur either on the road shoulder or in the median, Additionally, about 12% of driver deaths from car accidents occur on the shoulder of the road.
Some common situations in which shoulder of the road accidents occur, include:
- A negligent driver fails to see a vehicle on the side of the road and hits the car while someone is inside.
- Where a negligent driver fails to see a stranded motorist standing on the side of the road and hits them while they are outside the vehicle.
- A negligent motorist hits a pedestrian who is walking down the side of the road, either to get help or while just walking somewhere.
- Poor road design or poorly set-up construction areas causes a driver to hit an object or vehicle on the side of the road.
- Poorly set up construction areas causes a driver to hit a construction worker on the side of the road.
- An aggressive driver is wildly changing lanes, causing them to hit a vehicle on the shoulder.
Danger for a Stopped or Stalled Motorist on the Side of the Road
A typical type of shoulder of the road accident occurs when one motorist pulls off the road to the shoulder but fails to completely remove his or her vehicle from the drivable portion of the road. Most often, this happens on an expressway, highway, or interstate in the Chicago area. The limited access to these roads means that motorists have limited opportunities to remove their vehicles in the event of a problem.
A stopped or stalled motorist on the side of an expressway can present a serious danger to safety. As other drivers approach the area, the other drivers may not realize that the stopped vehicle is off the road. Instead, they may believe it to be in the rightmost lane, leading to a potential accident or collision.
During the dark hours of night, it can be difficult to see a vehicle if it’s lights are not on. Failure to use your hazard lights or more may cause a collision.
Keep in Mind Where it is and isn’t Legal to Stop on the Side of the Road
In Illinois, it is illegal for drivers to stop their cars where parking is prohibited. Generally, this means that a driver experiencing mechanical problems must fully remove the vehicle from the lanes of traffic. You should move the vehicle so that it is entirely on the shoulder of the road. It should not occupy any of the portion that is in use for driving. Failing to do this can lead to a serious accident that may result in injuries or death.
Collisions with Emergency Vehicles on the Shoulder
Often emergency crews must work on the side of the road. Motorists who fail to give these workers space may unnecessarily risk a collision. Often, these employees may be:
- Police officers who are performing legal traffic stops
- Tow truck drivers responding to a call for help
- A maintenance crew making urgent repairs
- Emergency medical technicians and firefighters
Illinois’ “Move Over” Law
In Chicago and the rest of Illinois, the “Move Over” law, formerly known as “Scott’s Law,” requires all drivers to move over at least one lane from where an emergency crew with flashing lights is working. The law applies when a police officer, fire truck, or maintenance crew is working on the shoulder of a road and the vehicle’s lights are flashing. Under the law, all other drivers must move from the closest lane of travel to another available lane. This is to provide a safe distance between the workers and the passing traffic.
This law was enacted to reduce the number of pedestrians struck and killed in shoulder of the road accidents. The intent is also to increase safety for all drivers. Failing to follow the Move Over law may leave a driver with a fine or a suspended license. However, if a violation of the law results in an accident, the punishment can be much more severe.
These accidents are most common on expressways. This is because a driver is limited in the ability to exit these areas. They are less common on city streets where a driver can pull over into safer conditions. They can pull into a parking lot, parking garage, street parking area, or a parking lot. This removes the vehicle from traffic and reduces the threat of a collision.
However, in a dense population area like Chicago, shoulder of the road accidents still occur. Often, though, they involve a vehicle striking a bicyclist or a pedestrian who is riding or walking near the edge of the road.
Bicyclist and Pedestrian Danger on the Side of the Road
Bicyclists are legally allowed to ride the streets of Chicago. Also, they must follow traffic laws like other drivers. Yet the small size of a bicycle makes them more difficult to see than other vehicles. This increases the odds that a distracted car driver will strike a bicyclist.
Similarly, many areas of Chicago are designated for pedestrian walking or pedestrian crossing near the shoulders of roads at intersections. If a driver is not paying attention, a collision with a pedestrian may result, potentially with fatal consequences.
How Can I Prevent a Shoulder of the Road Accident?
Experts acknowledge that shoulder of the road accidents have the potential to seriously injure or kill. Both those at-fault and innocent victims are at risk in these accidents. Therefore, it is always a good idea to act responsibly and to try to prevent these accidents from occurring.
If you experience car trouble on an expressway, you should do the following:
- Exit the expressway if at all possible
- If you must pull over to the side of the road, pull to the right side if it is possible and safe to do so
- Turn on your vehicle’s emergency hazard lights
- Make sure that your vehicle is entirely upon the road’s shoulder, leaving no portion of your car in a lane designated for traffic
- Never exit your vehicle when oncoming traffic is present
- Make sure you do not open any doors into the path of other vehicles
- Call for help if needed
If you are driving and see a vehicle stopped on the side of the road:
- Move to a lane away from the stopped vehicle, if possible
- Provide extra room for a motorist or emergency responder on the shoulder
- Slow down when crews are working on the side of the road
- Watch for pedestrians to emerge from vehicles on the shoulder
If you ride a bicycle:
- Make sure you are compliant with all local and state laws
- Use a headlamp and reflectors where appropriate
- Remember that it may be difficult for drivers to see you on the shoulder, so pass traffic only when it is safe to do so
- Consider another form of transportation in the event of inclement weather
Do You Have Injuries from a Shoulder of The Road Crash?
Even if you put safety first, you may still become the victim of a shoulder of the road accident. Especially if another driver acts negligently. If an accident causes you injury or claims the life of your family member, you may have the right to bring a civil claim for your damages against the responsible driver.
The laws in Chicago may let you seek compensation for:
- Medical and surgical bills you incur
- Wages you are unable to earn while you are hurt
- The pain and suffering you endure
In the event your loved one is killed; you may be able to seek compensation for the lost time you will not be able to enjoy with your family member.
Following an accident, you deserve to have an advocate on your side. At Abels & Annes, P.C., we make it our business to represent those who have been injured by the negligence of others. Our lawyers have successfully helped clients recover millions of dollars for their injuries.
Call us today at (312) 924-7575 and let us provide you with a free case consultation. There is no obligation on your part and we have a lawyer standing by 24 hours a day, seven days a week to take your call. Do not let yourself continue to be a victim; call us today and let us help you get a recovery you deserve.