How many times have you seen a motorist pull out into traffic after coming to a parking lot exit or the end of their driveway without first coming to a complete stop? You likely see such an occurrence one or more times per day.
How often do you see a driver do the same at an intersection when approaching a stoplight or stop sign? Sadly, many of us also see motorists engage in this driving tactic, known as a rolling stop, multiple times daily. This illegal driving habit falls under the umbrella of reckless driving because of how potentially deadly it is.
We’ll go into more detail about what constitutes a rolling stop and why they’re so dangerous below. We’ll also highlight other reckless driving habits that are equally, if not more dangerous, compared to rolling stops. We’ll also address what options car accident victims have when negligent vehicle operation has left them injured in Kentucky.
What Constitutes a Rolling Stop?
A rolling stop, as suggested above, is a situation in which a motorist doesn’t come to a complete stop at an intersection, and more specifically, one where a traffic signaling device, such as a stop sign or flashing or blinking red light, is present.
Rolling stops are illegal in Lexington and throughout the rest of Kentucky. State law allows motorists to receive stop violations and points off their driver’s license for failing to stop for a:
- Railroad crossing
- Traffic signal
- Stop sign
In Kentucky, a rolling stop violation accumulates three points on a license for:
- Failure to yield
- Improper lane usage
- Speeding at 11-15 miles per hour (mph) over the posted limit
- Careless driving
Each of these moving violations carries with it a three-point penalty on Kentucky’s Department of Motor Vehicles Point System.
There’s an assumption that law enforcement consistently saw your wheels in motion at the intersection if they issue a stop violation citation. Another way of viewing this is that a driver’s speed on their odometer consistently registered as 5 mph or less.
How Common Are Rolling Stops?
Data published by the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration captures how at least 50% of injury or fatal crashes recorded in this country happen near or at intersections. That same federal agency’s data shows that every day at least 1,000 crash injuries occur at signalized intersections. Many of these accidents occur due to motorists running red lights.
Why Are Rolling Stops So Dangerous?
When asked by a law enforcement officer why they rolled through an intersection without stopping, many motorists will say they did so because they didn’t see pedestrians, motorcyclists, bicyclists, or other motorists anywhere around. As you’re likely aware, there’s always a chance of their eyes deceiving them or someone fast approaching that they cannot correct for once in the middle of an intersection.
Instances in which law enforcement catch motorists in the process of making a rolling stop are limited. It’s more commonplace for police officers to cite drivers for stop violations upon following their investigation into a crash. Collisions that motorists who make rolling stops cause include:
Rear-end crashes: A driver may be so eager to get to where they’re going, and thus, so intent on not stopping at the intersection that they rear-end another vehicle in their urgency to proceed onward. Distractions and poor distance judgments can also result in rear-end crashes at intersections.
T-bone crashes: Any motorist who makes a rolling stop has the potential of running into other drivers who assume that they have the right of way. Some of these crashes may simply be sideswipe ones that are likely to cause property damage instead of a motorist’s injuries. Others that occur at faster rates of speed may be far more impactful and result in a passenger car occupant suffering crush injuries, internal organ damage, brain injuries, or paralysis. The likelihood of a death resulting is significantly higher too.
Collisions with bicyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians: When most people think about rolling stops, they envision the most dangerous ones occurring at busy intersections. Ones that take place along quiet residential streets can be equally catastrophic, though. Pets and children are more likely to congregate in and around neighborhoods. Either one may suddenly enter a driver’s path. A driver may attempt to swerve to avoid them, putting nearby motorists at risk of getting hurt.
What Are Some Other Dangerous Reckless Driving Behaviors?
A rolling stop is one of many traffic offenses classified as a moving violation, because it occurs during a motorist’s vehicle operation. A rolling stop can also be classified as careless or reckless driving. Here’s how these two concepts differ:
Careless driving: This generally refers to a traffic violation that results in a motorist accumulating points on their license and associated civil penalties and fines.
Reckless driving: This criminal offense can result in a motorist incurring the penalties associated with careless driving as described above, and incarceration.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has previously defined reckless driving as the operation of a motor vehicle with “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” A rolling stop may, therefore, constitute reckless driving, much like the following driving behaviors do:
- Operating an automobile at 25 mph or more over the posted speed limit
- Evading law enforcement
- Drag racing
- Failing to yield to pedestrians’ or other motorists’ right-of-way
- Driving a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Crossing double lines on a 2-lane roadway
- Passing a stopped school bus
Motorists who inflict injuries or cause the death of others are more apt to face more significant criminal penalties than those who do not.
Do You Have a Right To Hold a Kentucky Reckless Driver Liable for Your Injuries?
Kentucky is a choice no-fault insurance state. Motorists injured in no-fault states would generally need to first tap into their personal injury protection (PIP) coverage to pay for their accident-related medical expenses. However, this doctrine’s “choice” aspect means that motorists have options. You may also be eligible to stake a claim to the bodily injury coverage of the negligent motorist who struck you if your crash-related expenses exceed a certain threshold. You may qualify for underinsured coverage benefits, too.
Our car accident attorneys at the Law Office of Todd W. Burris have years of experience advocating for Lexington residents like yourself who have suffered debilitating injuries in a rolling stop-related crash. Let us go over Kentucky law and how it applies to your case with you.