Four Traffic Laws Michigan Drivers Fail to Follow
Most preventable motor vehicle accidents are too often the result of simple mistakes motorists make because of bad driving behaviors, including not following traffic laws. Something as easy as using a turn signal to let other motorists know your intentions while driving, not sending that one quick “On my way” message as you head down the highway, or safely figuring out how to drive through new traffic patterns, motorists could prevent deadly accidents and life-long injuries to themselves and others. Here is a close look at four traffic laws commonly neglected by Michigan drivers.
- Flashing Yellow Left-Turn Signal Confusion
The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has been busy replacing traffic lights at intersections where left turn lane signals are in need of an update. The lights now include a flashing yellow left-turn arrow in hopes to reduce crash events. But some of Michigan’s busiest intersections have turned into deadly accident scenes all because drivers remain unaware of what to do when they approach a flashing yellow left-turn signal.
The flashing yellow left-turn arrow communicates to motorists that they must proceed with care and decide if there is a sufficient gap in oncoming traffic to safely make a left turn. The signal can also improve intersection safety by providing clearer instruction and reduce the delay left-hand turning drivers create during the entire signal phase. A flashing yellow arrow may be displayed before and/or after green and solid yellow left-turn arrows.
National studies have demonstrated that flashing yellow left-turn arrows are superior to traditional yield-on-green indications in terms of driver understanding and compliance. Those studies also say the flashing yellow arrows are reducing severe car crashes by nearly 25 percent and delivering less delay in the flow of congested intersections.
- Delaying Action or Braking into a Roundabout
Roundabouts still feel new to many Michigan drivers. Although circular intersections have been used for decades in other countries, here in the Midwest this type of navigating feels confusing and has been known to induce accident patterns for those who aren’t as acclimated to a new road path. Regardless of size, circular shape, or number of exits (legs), the traffic patterns and basic characteristics of all roundabouts include:
- Traffic travels counterclockwise around a center island.
- Vehicles entering the roundabout yield to traffic already circulating.
- Most circular intersections will require lower vehicle speeds, generally 15-25 MPH.
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety officials say roundabouts are safer than traditional stop signs or signal-controlled intersections and can reduce crashes by 75 percent. Drivers who are scared or confused about a roundabout on their route should instead take another path to avoid it for now but become educated on how to approach these new intersections before driving it again.
- Avoid the Use of Turn Signals
According to a study by the Society of Automotive Engineers, drivers are still neglecting to use their turn signals 48 percent of the time when changing lanes even though common sense and many state laws agree that whenever a driver is turning, a signal is required.
Michigan’s turn signal code (MCL 257.648) states in part, “The driver…before stopping or turning from a direct line, shall first see that the stopping or turning can be made in safety and shall give a signal as required…”.
The Michigan Court of Appeals clarified this language requiring the use of a signal when changing lanes, or “turning from a direct line.” A summary of that decision says “…a reasonable person of ordinary intelligence is not required to speculate about the phrase’s meaning, and MCL 257.648 provides fair notice of what conduct is proscribed. We hold that MCL 257.648 requires drivers to use a turn signal when changing lanes on a highway and is not unconstitutionally vague.”
It remains necessary to communicate intentions to others when driving. Drivers who cause accidents by failing to use their turn signal could face major battles with insurance companies and block injured drivers from recovering damages.
- Texting While Driving is a Deadly Decision
Texting while driving remains the No. 1 distracted driving hazard across the U.S. and kills approximately nine people and injures more than 1,000 each day. While it may only take a driver’s eyes off the roadway for a couple of seconds, sending or reading a text at 55 mph, is comparable to driving down the length of the University of Michigan’s football field blindfolded. Follow and share these simple tips to stop texting while driving:
- Avoid access to your phone entirely. Put your phone away and out of sight and out of reach. Turn the phone’s volume to silent and keep vibrate off.
- If it is that urgent to send a message, pull over to a safe zone and once your vehicle has stopped, then read or send your message.
- Allow no exceptions for texting while driving. Parents can lead young drivers by setting a good example that even the most experienced driver should never text and drive.
- Use phone locking apps that can help turn off texting options and send “I am driving, can’t talk now” auto responses to friends and family attempting to connect with you while driving.
Under Michigan’s anti-texting law (sec. 257.602.b) a driver shall not “read, manually type, or send a text message on a wireless 2-way communication device that is located in the person’s hand or in the person’s lap, including a wireless telephone used in cellular telephone service or personal communication service, while operating a motor vehicle that is moving on a highway or street in this state.”
Next time you hit the road, follow these traffic laws like your life depends on it.
Talk to a Michigan Car Accident Attorney
When drivers make poor decisions like breaking traffic laws and they injure another person, accountability is necessary. Especially since motor vehicle accident victims who suffer injuries may require compensation to help cover related medical costs, income loss, and recovery needs. If that person is you, please share your story with our motor vehicle accident attorneys at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) or fill out the Free Case Evaluation Form. We can help. And remember, you pay nothing until we win or settle your car accident case.