You’ve been stuck in rush hour traffic for about 45 minutes now, and you’ve traveled roughly 30 feet. While listening to the traffic report (obviously a bit too late), you not only learn that the rush hour traffic on 66 is unusually heavy now, but you also find out that there’s an accident blocking the left lane about two miles ahead of you.
As you continue to crawl along, wishing that two miles wasn’t as long as you know it is, you witness three cars and two motorcycles use the shoulder as their own personal lane to bypass the traffic.
You can’t believe it. Why do they think that’s oaky? Do they seriously believe that they’re too important to wait like everyone else, or that they’re entitled to get ahead because they want to get home?
News flash: Everyone wants to get home.
Consequences of Improperly Using a Highway’s Shoulder
Witnessing drivers blatantly disregarding rules, etiquette, and common decency toward yourself and their fellow good drivers is beyond irritating. However, what’s worse is believing that they think they’re immune to any consequences, and therefore will continue to drive recklessly, increasing your risk for an accident.
Fortunately, the Federal Highway Administration isn’t blind to these self-entitled shoulder abusers or the harm they potentially cause. Therefore, although you may not get the satisfaction of seeing them enforced, there are various types of consequences for those who illegally or otherwise abuse shoulder lanes. These consequences include:
- Tickets. Riding the shoulder or using the shoulder as a lane is illegal, except for emergency vehicles and official highway use. When caught, a lawbreaker can be issued a moving violation ticket for $25 to $150, depending on circumstances.
- Road rage. You should never underestimate what road rage can accomplish, or the camaraderie of perfect strangers when they’re brought together by a common annoyance. Every time a vehicle uses the shoulder to pass someone who is patiently waiting his turn, that’s one more driver who is irritated and—given the chance—will do anything to make the shoulder-user feel less “entitled.” This might include not letting her over when she tries to merge back into traffic, not caring if she’s being blocked by a resourceful comrade-at-arms (usually an annoyed semi-truck driver), and not sympathizing when she winds up being forced to veer into a ditch by emergency vehicles.
- Accident injuries. Although it is illegal, selfish and inconsiderate drivers may try to bypass traffic by using the shoulder. A consequence of this is that everyone in the shoulder “lane” is, by definition, selfish and inconsiderate. Anyone driving there has an increased risk of colliding into another vehicle; because neither one of them should be there, neither one will expect or prepare for other vehicles in their way.
- Prosecution. The shoulder is specifically designated for emergencies and emergency crews. If a driver disregards this rule and winds up blocking an emergency vehicle from getting to its destination, he could not only suffer legal action, but he may also be liable for any further injuries or damages sustained as a result of the emergency crew’s delay.
- Jail. If a shoulder-driver’s actions directly result in the loss of life by collision, delaying emergency vehicles, or other means, then he could be prosecuted for endangerment or negligent homicide.
When Karmic Consequences Don’t Pay Your Damages
Although there are defined rules and consequences for reckless shoulder driving, they unfortunately don’t protect your family from physical and financial suffering once you’ve experienced an accident.
Fortunately, that’s why we’re here.
We know what you’ve been going through, and we’re not going to stand by and watch as justice passes you by once again. Call us today for a free consultation and review of your injury claim and rights. Let us show you how our camaraderie is even more powerful than that of an annoyed traffic pack. You owe it to yourself to get a proper settlement. Call now!
Safety is the most important thing for you and your family; help us spread the word about shoulder use by sharing this page on Facebook and Twitter. You never know whom you may help.