Fatal Crash Involving Tennis Star Illustrates the Importance of the Rules of the Road
Venus Williams, a celebrated tennis player, was involved in a fatal car crash in June. Witnesses state Williams ran a red light while in her Toyota SUV and was struck by a Hyundai sedan that had the green. The collision harmed Linda Barson, who was driving, and severely injured her husband and passenger, Jerome Barson, 78, who passed away two weeks later. Williams has stated she entered the six-lane intersection while it was green but was forced to stop in the middle of the intersection by traffic ahead of her. An investigation into the accident found Williams was at fault for violating the right of way though she was not ticketed or charged with a traffic offense. She has since been sued by the Barson family for wrongful death.
Understanding the Right of Way
The rules of the road include a concept known as the right of way. Every driver must yield to the right of way when it is applicable, which means to let the other vehicle, cyclist, or pedestrian go into first. When you have the right of way, then you get to move into traffic first. This rule is meant to establish consistency, create courtesy on the roads, and reduce the risk of accidents.
The most common situations where drivers need to understand how the right of way works is at:
- A yield sign
- An uncontrolled intersection
- A four-way stop
- A “T” intersection
- Turning left
- When pulling onto the road from being parked
The law does not specifically state who gets the right of way. Instead, it says who does not have it and who must let the other vehicles pass. Many intersections dictate with signs who is meant to stop or yield. If you have a yield or stop sign, you must slow down or stop to let the other vehicles at the intersection, which do not have a stop or yield sign, go ahead. If you arrive at a four-way stop and there are multiple vehicles there, then the vehicles that arrived before you have the right away. If you arrive with another vehicle simultaneously, the vehicle on the left yields the right of way to the vehicle on the right. At an uncontrolled intersection, you prepare to stop and yield to any vehicles that were at the intersection before you. If there are no other vehicles present, then you are allowed to go. Consider it this way, every car is allowed to move through the intersection based on the order of their arrival.
Dealing With Busy Intersections
Under the Florida rules of the road, green at a stop light means go – but only if the intersection is clear. It is not lawful to drive into an intersection when it is obvious that other traffic in the intersection, whether moving in the same direction or another, blocks your way from getting through the intersection. It may seem aggravating or even feel wrong, but drivers who cannot drive through the entire intersection should stop at the stop line even during a green light.
Traffic Violations Can Lead to Civil and Criminal Liability
If you were involved in a traffic accident in Kissimmee that may have been caused by your violating a rule of the road and you face criminal charges or civil suits, contact us at Salazar & Kelly Law Group, P.A. at 407-483-0500. We are here to guide you through this process and build you the strongest defense possible under the law.