Posted on December 2, 2009

Rules Regarding Unusual Driving Conditions

Transportation Law: Private Motor Vehicles: Traffic Regulation

When the weather or other conditions affect a driver's view of a highway or roadway, the driver has a duty to act with reasonable care under the circumstances. In other words, the driver is required to act with the same degree of care that a reasonable person would have acted under the circumstances.

If a driver's vision is impaired because of weather conditions, such as smoke, fog, or dust, the driver has a duty to drive at a speed that is reasonable in accordance with the conditions. The fact that the driver was driving the speed limit does not mean that the driver was not negligent. If the driver should have driven at a reduced speed because of the conditions, the driver may be considered to be negligent. The driver's negligence is always a question of fact for a jury.

If a driver's vehicle skids and collides with another vehicle, it does not necessarily mean that the driver was negligent. On the other hand, the fact that the vehicle skidded does not mean that the driver was not negligent. There are generally three factors that determine whether a vehicle will skid. Those factors include the speed of the vehicle, the condition of the highway or roadway, and the manner in which the driver stopped or turned his or her vehicle. The issue for a jury is whether the skidding was the result of the driver's negligence.

When a driver knows that a highway or a roadway is slippery, the driver has a duty to take precautions with regard to his or her operation of a vehicle. If the driver did not know that the highway or the roadway was slippery, he or she may not be negligent, even if his or her actions caused the vehicle to skid and to collide with another vehicle.

When a driver sees a potential hazard and does not apply his or her brakes as soon as possible, the driver is deemed to be negligent if the driver causes his or her vehicle to skid by applying the brakes at the last possible opportunity. If the driver misjudges the conditions under which he or she is driving, which causes the driver's vehicle to skid, the driver may be deemed to be negligent. The driver is deemed to be negligent because he or she failed to exercise due care in controlling the vehicle. However, if there were factors that were beyond the driver's control, such as when another vehicle suddenly stops or turns in front of the driver, the driver may not be negligent.

Copyright 2009 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.