hazard marker on highway shoulderOver 20,000 people die each year on U.S. highways due to carelessness, drivers not paying attention, and a blatant disregard for traffic laws. There seems to be an alarming increase of drivers who feel entitled to drive however they want with no concern for what may happen to themselves or others.

One example of this entitlement is exploiting emergency lanes for personal use. Not only does this cause traffic problems and resentment from those who are obeying the rules, but when a driver uses an emergency lane or shoulder to bypass traffic, he’s risking far more than he may realize.

What You Risk When You Misuse Emergency Shoulders

When a driver breaks the law and drives on the shoulder, they endager not only themselves, but other drivers and their passengers. Risks of misusing an emergency lane include:

  • Getting trapped on the shoulder. Although a driver may think he’s being smart by avoiding all of the traffic, what he may not realize is that by doing so, he is angering everyone else in line who is following the rules. This not only fuels road rage, but also decreases the odds that anyone will let him back into traffic when he’s forced to return to the highway. This, in turn, breeds even more anger and resentment.
  • Hitting a pedestrian. Nearly 12 percent of highway accidents are caused by cars hitting pedestrians who made emergency pullovers onto the shoulder for repairs. If a driver is barreling down the shoulder in order to get ahead of the traffic, he may not see someone bent over changing her tire or stepping out of her car to signal a tow truck, and he could wind up slamming straight into her.
  • Crashing into the median or highway divider. When someone tries to circumvent traffic by using the shoulder as his own lane, it’s easy to forget that emergency lanes have obstacles that normal lanes don’t have, such as dividers, cones, and medians. If he’s not careful, his selfish act could cause him to collide straight into one—possibly veering to collide with more vehicles on the highway.
  • Causing a side impact or rear-end collision. Although using the shoulder to bypass traffic is illegal, our discourteous driver is not the only one who may think he has the right to use it. Other cars may pull out in front of him without looking, causing him to slam into them.
  • Delaying emergency vehicles. The shoulder is specifically meant for emergencies and emergency vehicles. If a driver is in the lane when an emergency vehicle is trying to get by, he could not only be prosecuted for obstruction, but he runs the risk that an injured party may not receive the care they need. If the resulting delay causes irreparable harm, the driver could be liable for damages.

Protecting Yourself From the Bad Decisions of Others

Unfortunately, even when you follow the rules and try your best to protect yourself and your family, the hard truth is that other peoples’ stupidity can cost you dearly. However, no matter how frustrating it can get, if you obey the traffic laws, you shouldn’t be liable or responsible for your injuries.

Contact us today for a free consultation and review of your case and claim. We can help make sure that you get the proper representation, guidance, advice, and support that you need, in order to get the compensation that you deserve. Call us at 888-907-2631 now to further protect your family.

Post A Comment

Free Case Evaluation

Fill out this form, and our attorneys will get back to you immediately to discuss your case.



Working with Andrew and his team has been--without exception--one of the most pleasant, productive, and professional experiences of my adult life. I was seriously injured in an accident in July, 2018, in Virginia. I was driving a company vehicle that was registered in Maryland, for a company that was based in Wisconsin. And I live in New Jersey, where my personal vehicles are insured. The several jurisdictions involved presented a very unique case that demanded an experienced and nuanced strategy. I found Andrew Thomas (of Dulaney, Lauer, & Thomas) through some online research. And it is noteworthy that Andrew has worked the other side of the aisle--he used to work with insurance companies. Andrew took on my case with the assurance that he would work it with no less energy than he does each of his cases. At each turn, and with each question I had, Andrew and Paralegal Misty kept me informed, returned my calls, provided detailed explanations, and kept me feeling like I was in the loop and there was an eventual end to our journey. Nearly five years after the accident, we settled out of court for a significant sum in recognition of my personal injuries. The settlement was much more than I had expected. And without Andrew & Misty, I am sure the award would have been much less. If you are looking for professionalism, knowledge, dedication, answerability, responsiveness, integrity, and human-level communication from a personal injury attorney--look no further. You have found him. Thank you, Andrew and Misty. Gary Daley
I'm grateful for all your work . . . Roger V. (Remington, VA)
Logo Recognizing Dulaney, Lauer & Thomas's affiliation with Best Lawyers
Logo Recognizing Dulaney, Lauer & Thomas's affiliation with MDAF
Logo Recognizing Dulaney, Lauer & Thomas's affiliation with Northern Virginia Magazine Top Lawyers
Logo Recognizing Dulaney, Lauer & Thomas's affiliation with SuperLawyers
Logo Recognizing Dulaney, Lauer & Thomas's affiliation with Martindale-Hubbell
Logo Recognizing Dulaney, Lauer & Thomas's affiliation with AVVO