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AAHHH! Had an accident and need advice

2743 Views 44 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  mach_73
Saturday night, I was driving out to my girlfriend's house. The roads were a bit icy, but nothing out of the ordinary, I was on a state route with a speed limit of 55. I come up on a car doing 35, and I decide to pass. I check my lane, all clear, boot it to 45, and pull out to pass.

Once I was beside the car in the left lane of the road, a car on my left side decides to pull out of a driveway, turns right, and heads straight for me. So I now have a choice: Go back right and plow into the car I'm passing, go straight and barrel straight into the Chevy Trailblazer that pulled out into me, or take my chances with the side of the road.

I took my chances with the side of the road, narrowly missed a storm drain, lightly clipped a mailbox, came within a foot and a half of a telephone pole and a fire hydrant, and came to rest 100 feet later.

The guy in the SUV who pulled out in front of me pulled back in, made sure I was ok, and helped push me back onto the parking lot. The damage to my car was largely superficial, with the only damage being from the mailbox. I called the state police, who came out and made a police report. The problem I have is that the trooper that came out found ME at fault, and said I was going too fast for conditions. The other driver told the officer what happened, to which the officer told him that's all he needed, and he was free to go...then he asked me for my license and registration. I was cited for evading a car that came into my lane, failing to yield my right of way, as I was on the road passing, and he was pulling out onto the road. I checked the NY state laws, and it's clearly written that any driver entering a roadway from a driveway is required to yield the right-of-way to ANY car already on the roadway.

So, my question is for anybody who knows the law well, and especially to the law enforcement members of this forum. What's the best way to proceed? It seems pretty clear cut that even though I was passing, I was already on the roadway and he had to yield to me. I think the state trooper saw a 20 year old driving an '05 Mustang and automatically figured I was in the wrong. Help!
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clear up a few things: was this a two lane road and you were passing in the opposite lane of traffic? if so, was this in a passing zone? does your state have any laws regarding which direction you should steer should you be running head on with another car?
Ok, sorry for being so vague.

It was on a two lane roadway, in a passing zone. Here are the laws that I dug up that govern this kind of situation.

S 1143. Vehicle entering roadway. The driver of a vehicle about to
enter or cross a roadway from any place other than another roadway shall
yield the right of way to all vehicles approaching on the roadway to be
entered or crossed.

The laws governing passing are a little more lengthy, but here's the link:

To sum this one up, it says that before overtaking a vehicle on the left, I have to check the other lane for oncoming traffic that would pose a hazard for the distance it would take to pass the car.

When I talked with the state police earlier today, inquiring about getting the police report, the dispatcher said that regardless of all of that, because I was in his lane I was in the wrong, regardless of the fact that he never entered the lane until I was already passing the other car!

Here are some pics of the damage, with it being 4 degrees out, and all the salt on the roads, the stang looks like crap. I just got the estimate, $1,409 in damage!


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Bummer, I have always thought through the years, if you are passing someone, just about all bets are off keeping clear off anyone.
the dispatcher told you right. since you were in his lane, the fault falls on you...

this is the law that screws you. the bold part in particular.

S 1124. Limitations on overtaking on the left. No vehicle shall be
driven to the left side of the center of the roadway in overtaking and
passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction unless
authorized by the provisions of this chapter and unless such left side
is clearly visible and is free of oncoming traffic for a sufficient
distance ahead to permit such overtaking and passing to be completely
made without interfering with the operation of any vehicle approaching
from the opposite direction or any vehicle overtaken. In every event the
overtaking vehicle must return to an authorized lane of travel as soon
as practicable and in the event the passing movement involves the use of
a lane authorized for vehicles approaching from the opposite direction,
before coming within two hundred feet of any approaching vehicle.

even though you were in a passing zone, and are permitted to overtake the slower moving vehicle, you are in essence still driving on the wrong side of the road. you driving on the wrong side of the road CANNOT interfere with oncoming traffic in that lane in any way, even if they are pulling out. he did not have to yield right of way to you, he had the right of way, you did not b/c you were going in the wrong direction. passing in the opposite lane is one of those driving manuvers that when you attempt it, your assuming 90% of the liability if something goes wrong. you cant fault the other guy, he was proceeding legally in his lane of traffic. i know this sucks, but thats just the way it is. i dont know what that evading a vehicle statute is that the trooper cited you for though. the only thing i can think of is some states, like mine (OK) have a law that if two vehicles end up in a situation where they are running head-on, each driver is to steer to the right. since you went left, maybe he is tagging you for that. i would have given you a break on that one, since going right would have been a worse choice in that situation.
See less See more bring up a good point. However, the other law that governs traffic entering the roadway...

S 1143. Vehicle entering roadway. The driver of a vehicle about to
enter or cross a roadway from any place other than another roadway shall yield the right of way to all
vehicles approaching on the roadway to be entered or crossed.

This statute doesn't indicate that passing traffic is exempt from this....

Thanks for the input GTNOS, anyone else?
Bummer. Just glad thats all that happened.

I did a few of these 2 lane country road passes this weekend. People pulling out is always a scary thing.
If you had a GT you woulda been passed the car and had time to swerve over!
But I think GTNOS is right tho.
your right, it doesnt say that. but i promise you that a judge (and thats who really matters) is NOT going to give you right of way when your going the wrong way. (no pun intended)

the right of way laws only apply to traffic that is proceeding in the right direction with the flow of other traffic. example: if that trailblazer had pulled out in front of the vehicle you were passing to go the same direction, and got T-boned or rear ended, he would have been at fault for failing to yield right of way. or if there had been another car in his lane of traffic that he pulled out in front of. basically, im saying since he was making a right hand turn, he only had to yield right of way to any cars coming up on his left, since the cars coming up on his right were not in the lane he was turning into. hope that makes sense.
yeah...driving on the wrong side of the road and getting into an way around way to paint that one in your favor...even if we all feel you were still comes down to driving on the wrong side of the road and getting into an accident...with all the ice i see in your picture...was it icy on the road that day too? and sorry but....was going to your girlfriends house that important that you couldnt wait that extra five minutes going slower behind another car on an icy road?
Thanks for the replys everyone.

Nghtrnnr - you're right, it wasn't worth the extra 5 minutes I'd gain, and it probably wasn't prudent for me to pass given the conditions.

The issue i have is that whenever someone's passing someone else, there is no way whatsoever you can see, or even reasonably determine nobody will enter the roadway on the other side of the road, however the driver entering the roadway has an obligation to insure no traffic is coming when he pulls out.

I understand the point you're all getting at, and I appreciate your opinion. Any other takers?
In Louisiana, the vehicle entering the roadway from a side road (Trail Blazer) w/o checking traffic approaching from both directions, would have been ticketed for "failure to yield right-of-way". If passing is approved (no yellow or double-yellow line), then any vehicle entering from a side road is at fault for not properly checking for approaching traffic.

On a negative note, had the same vehicle exited and been rear-ended, our law clearly states that the offending party is the vehicle doing the rear-ending because if you hit him in the rear you clearly had other options to prevent the accident -- hit him in a fender, and he's at fault.

Laws can be really difficult to interpret, and you've lost nothing by going to court and explaining the situation. You may well be faulted for the passing in icy conditions, but a LA judge would also ask the law enforcement officer why the other vehicle was not also ticketed. "Been there, done that" -- and considering insurance issues you would be well benefited by forcing the issue.

Again, I'm not in NY, but --- again --- what can you lose? If you do nothing, you're guilty. If you go to court, the worst case scenerio is that you are guilty and maybe -- just maybe -- you may be able win enough to limit your liability for your insurance.
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About 20 years ago my ex wife had almost the same thing happen to her but she was driving a ford tempo. She was cited, we went to court she pled her case and BARELY won it.The judge was a very tuff nut to crack. She was passing a car in a safe zone a dump truck pulled out into her.
ouch! That coulda been real bad.
Seems like the constant theme here was that because I was passing, I was automatically in the wrong here. can anybody find anything to that effect in the NYS vehicle and traffic law? Or any other state for that matter?

If I have to argue this in court, what's gonna matter is what the law specifically states, and that's what I'm looking for.

Are there any police officers out there with any input?

Thanks for all the help guys.
Got some bad news for you Crazy. Since you didn't actually hit the other vehicle it is not included in the official state report. It can be illustrated as a factor but since there was no actual contact it is not an involved vehicle. Since you are the only vehicle involved with a mailbox etc. then you are the driver at fault because you are the only driver involved.
This is the way that it works. Sorry. Be more careful next time. I am driving and working on Long Island and I know the conditions that you have been driving in. It is deceptive how slippery the roads can be.
Halo, thanks for the input.

When I spoke with the officer, he mentioned that the other driver would be mentioned as a witness on the police report. I have yet to get a copy of the police report in my hands, but if that's the case, my insurance claims adjuster told me that they can use that to go after the other guy's insurance for the damage to my car.

This definitely sheds some light on the situation, and I thank you for your reply.
You're welcome.
You seem like a nice guy Crazy. Pretty level headed for a 20 year old.

Here is a bit of advice for you. When you get your copy of the MV104a (that's the NYS accident report) you will also recieve a blank civilian accident report that you will then fill out for your insurance company. The insurance company will then take both reports and try to ascertain if the other guy is liabel at all. To tell you the truth, this will be a battle between the two companies.

You will get your car fixed.
You will pay your deductable.
Your rates will go up.
You will be driving more carefully in the future.

I hope you get the pony fixed quickly. I know that it would be making me sick seeing that damage everyday.

Good Luck.
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Well, you're right about that one! I've had my mustang for a little over a year now and until now, I haven't had so much as a single door ding on it. Monday morning, the first thing I did was go to a reputable body shop and make an appointment to get it fixed, as I hate having a damaged car. I'm gonna have to fork over the deductible for now, and there's a good chance my insurance company will never get anything from the other guys insurance.

This came at a really bad time for me, as well. I'm in NY because I'm active duty military, and I'm deploying to Afghanistan for 15 months starting the first week of February. So, I don't think I'm going to have enough time to completely settle everything with the insurance company before I leave, and there's a chance I'll have to fight the traffic ticket when I get back sometime in the middle of '07.

I've always figured as long as I'm gonna be driving a car, things are bound to happen, and when they do it makes no sense getting too upset over it. That's why we all have insurance :)
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I wouldn't have cited you if I could verify that you were in the act of passing before the guy pulled out from the driveway. People pulling out of driveways can't assume there is no passing traffic. I bet the guy only looked to his left and then pulled out right in front of you. The too fast for conditions thing the trooper went with is a crutch...but is hard to disprove. He didn't cite you for that though. Sounds like no matter what the road conditions would have worked out this way. The other driver should be listed as a non-contact vehicle...all his information would be listed on one of my accidents reports.
I would try to fight this one...I believe that the person pulling out is at fault for violating S 1143. Good Luck!
Thanks, I was looking for someone in law enforcement to offer an opinion in here. That's the gist of what I'm gonna fight, and given the circumstances I'm going to ask the DA to drop the charge, therefore giving my insurance an easier time going after his insurance.

Due to my trip to afghanistan next month, they won't be able to get me into court before that, and I doubt they'll want to take it to trial after a year and a half, so I'm hoping they'll just drop it.

Thanks for the input, anybody else?
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