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Vehicle Right of Way Laws

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BHC

Junior Member
What is the name of your state?

I live in North Carolina.

The other day my wife was involved in a bump-up while delivering the US Mail in a car with a flashing amber light and clearly marked US MAIL. She had just serviced a box that was no more than 30' diagonally from the edge of a drive way that was across the street from her. It is unclear to her but just as she pulled away from the box both lanes of traffic was blocked by a van that backed out onto the road obviously at the same instance my wife was moving from the box. Contact was made by my wife's front left bumper with the left rear bumper of the said van.

An NC State Trooper investigated the accident and gave neither drivers a citation. His reasoning was the van was already in the road. All my wife knows for sure is the back-up lights were still shining on the van.

I have found NO NC State Vehicle Statutes to back the decision of the State Trooper. I have found at least 6 saying that the driver of the van should have been sited.

While damage to both vehicles was minor. I did have to fund repair to our vehicle to the cost of $100.00. Plus my wife has a letter of warning from the USPS and had to undergo a 5 hour test and missed a day of work due to administrative leave. Had she have gotten a ticket we would have taken it to court. As it is this issue will probably go unresolved with the Trooper but if it does come back up I'd like to be "loaded for bear."

My question is something that I have not been able to confirm that was brought up by at least four different individuals during the course of my Right of Way Statute search.

Is there a law in NC that makes it illegal for vehicle to back out of a private drive into a public highway? If so, what is the statute number? All I've found involving "backing" is one stating something to the affect that a driver backing onto a public road shall yield right of way to all traffic. The fact that this matter was approached this way leads me to believe there are NO statutes making it illegal to back onto a public road.

Any light on this matter would be greatly appreciated as the matter isn't resolved at the post office and we'd like to have as many statutes backing our position as possible.

The ones I've found so far are:

20-156A :
240 NC 426, 82 S.E 2d 384 (1954)
256 NC 277, 123 S.E 2d 807 (1962)
289 NC 281, 221 S.E 2d 365 (1976)
257 NC 108, 125 S.E 2d 351 (1962)
237 NC 328,75 S.E 2d 111 (1953)

Thanks
BHC
 


teflon_jones

Senior Member
Your getting too much into the details. Based on your post, your wife and the other vehicle are equally liable for the damages to each vehicle.
 

BHC

Junior Member
Sweating the little things

Your right I may sweat the little things but I don't consider them small when it has an affect on my families livelyhood and my wife's reputation as a safe USPS driver. I don't know if you took time to brief yourself on the NC statutes regarding vehicular right of way but if you do refer back to this, I'd like to hit the high spots of the ones listed. I'll just give the first part of the reference number.

240 NC 426.....Duty of the driver entering a highway to look for approaching vehicles.....at a time when this precaution may be effective.

256 NC 277....And to defer entry until it is safe......And defer entry until movement may be made in safety.

289 NC 281 ....The driver entering a hwy from a drive is only required to look for vehicles... when his lookout may be effective and yield ROW to vehicles... he sees operated at such a speed or DISTANCE as to make entry unsafe by delaying entry until reasonable and prudent.

257 NC 108.... Before entering a public hwy from a private drive the driver of the vehicle is required to exercise due care to see the intended move can be made safely.

237 NC 328.... Right to assume driver entering the hwy will comply. The operator of a auto traveling on a public hwy in this STATE is under NO DUTY to anticipate that a driver of an auto entering a public hwy from a private road or drive will fail to yield ROW to ALL vehicles. He is entitled to assume and act upon the assumption even to the last moment the driver of an auto entering the public hwy will yield ROW.

.A couple of mitigating circumstances come into this.
The driveway's line of sight was lined with bushes obscuring the entering driver's view until they reached the road. She could not have complied with 240, 256 or 289.

Had my wife not have moved at all a DISTANCE of 30' would not have satisfied 289 for making a safe movement; as at the very least a near miss would have occured.

237 states it is not the obligation of the driver on the hwy to assume the driver entering the hwy will yield.

Again though no tickets were issued, my wife was still written up on the report as being at fault and the Post Office is going to have to cover the damage to the van that I still say caused the accident.

I've found NO grounds for my wife to have been held responsable for this accident. If you can find grounds in the NC vehicle codes please give me the number not just an opinion.
 
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longneck

Member
your case is equivelant to two cars backing in to each other as they are backing out of opposing driveways. your wife was at a stop and started moving at approximately the same time the other driver started backing out. he followed the ROW laws because he saw your wife stopped and could have cleared her car if she hadn't moved forward.

but at the same time, he should have been more diligent because she was delivering the mail and had a blinking light.

both parties are at fault: your wife for not paying attention to cars entering the highway while she is stopped, and the other guy for not paying attention to your wife's car for possible movement.
 

BHC

Junior Member
longneck said:
your case is equivelant to two cars backing in to each other as they are backing out of opposing driveways. your wife was at a stop and started moving at approximately the same time the other driver started backing out. he followed the ROW laws because he saw your wife stopped and could have cleared her car if she hadn't moved forward.

but at the same time, he should have been more diligent because she was delivering the mail and had a blinking light.

both parties are at fault: your wife for not paying attention to cars entering the highway while she is stopped, and the other guy for not paying attention to your wife's car for possible movement.
Actually it is nothing like two cars backing out of opposing drives as the Mail car was on and using a public highway and the van was backing into that highway without yielding right of way or considering the DISTANCE of the Mail Car. 327 NC 328 States the vehicle using the highway DOES NOT have to assume the entering car will not yield.

Again I'm not looking for personal opinions. I'm looking for NC State Vehicle Statutes that make exception to the existing NC State Vehicle Right of Way Statutes. So far opinions are all that anyone has come up with. The only opinion that makes diddly is that of the State Trooper who should also read the "bloody" statutes.
 

BHC

Junior Member
The purpose of this inquirey is three fold.

1. Since the Trooper put it in the accident report that the accident was the fault of the Mail Carrier; the matter has not been put to rest at the Post Office. It is now the Post Office who burdens the responsibility for restitution even though NO citation was issued. While the PO Union Rep is going to look at the site he has not as of yet. Its been almost a week since the accident. From past experiences it is doubtful he will either have the knowledge or the ambition to aggressively investigate this accident.

2. If there has to be another confrontation with either the Postmaster or the Trooper I'd like to have NC State Traffic Statutes to back my wife's position. I'd also like to know if the Trooper had ANY grounds for his decision other than an arbitrary "I'm the law. I make the law" attitude.

3. For our own satisfaction and knowledge I would like to know why there would be any LEGAL CAUSE she was held responsible when all I can find in the NC Vehicle Codes says she was not.

I have now taken on the roll as "Devil's Advocate" I have found all I could to support my wife's position. I"m putting aside "bias" that my wife said I had to have and trying to find what would motivate this Trooper's decision. There HAS to be some statute. He isn't suppose to make the laws he's just suppose to enforce them.
 
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longneck

Member
BHC said:
327 NC 328 States the vehicle using the highway DOES NOT have to assume the entering car will not yield.
but by your own description of the situation YOUR WIFE WAS STOPPED. what do you expect the other guy to do? he's not going to wait indefinitely for a STOPPED car to move so hecan finish backing out.

i'm actually beginning to lean towards your wife being more at fault. after she came to a complete stop, stuffed the mailbox, then continued forward, she SHOULD HAVE LOOKED to see if there were any moving cars ANYYWHERE that could have caused a problem.
 

teflon_jones

Senior Member
The accident report is just the officer's take on what happened. Any peace officer that fills out an accident report uses their best judgement to determine who they feel is at fault. They interpret the laws as they apply to a situation, and don't always use every last statute in their determination (often they don't know all of the statutes). I have never had to deal with the Post Office for an accident so I really can't help you in how to work with them on this. The more information you have the better, but in the end, I'm betting the Post Office official is just going to do the same thing the officer did and make a determination based on their best judgement.
 

BHC

Junior Member
longneck said:
but by your own description of the situation YOUR WIFE WAS STOPPED. what do you expect the other guy to do? he's not going to wait indefinitely for a STOPPED car to move so hecan finish backing out.

i'm actually beginning to lean towards your wife being more at fault. after she came to a complete stop, stuffed the mailbox, then continued forward, she SHOULD HAVE LOOKED to see if there were any moving cars ANYYWHERE that could have caused a problem.
I MOST CERTAINLY DO EXPECT THEM TO WAIT!!! At least until the movement can be made safely. 237 NC 328 They obviously didn't.

You are making the assumption that the van did stop. As a rule a mail box can be serviced from stop to start in under 15 seconds. This one would take less time since it is the last box on that street and no mail has to be transferred before starting the next leg of the route. I believe due to the time frame, someone backing from a restricted view drive in a van with restricted view, could not possibly acess the situation properly unless they stopped and looked both ways. Had she have done this she would have seen the Mail Car and not have backed into the road. Again her back-up lights were still on when the impact occurred. You also seem to be under the misconception that the Mail car was off the road. IT WAS NOT. The boxes on that road are no more than two feet from the edge of the road. Again, the edge of the drive is no more than 30' from the mail box that was being serviced. From the door of the Mail Car ro the front of the Car takes up aproxamately 6' of that 30'. The van was aproximately 21' long. That leaves 3' safety margin. Again I refer you to 289 NC 281 and the DISTANCE rule.

If no one take the statutes of the road into consideration, why do we have them????

Before posting another reply please re-read the statutes I've posted with an open mind and understand what they say. Also understand they are NOT suggestions. They are the law. Again, if you can find something that refutes these statutes I'm all ears and eager to listen.
 

BHC

Junior Member
I Was Wrong

I was wrong about the distance between the box and the edge of the driveway entrance to the road. I went out and measured it today and it is only 12' 8" in distance. The road is only 20' wide. This is not enough DISTANCE for the van to have backed out into the road safely wheather the Mail Car was moving or not.
 

LSCAP

Member
All those statutes come down to what Long neck was trying to tell you.

A vehicle moving in the main roadway has the right of way over vehicles entering the roadway.

When the van was entering the highway it was required to yield to moving traffic in the main roadway.

When your wife stopped to deliver the mail, she was technically Parked. She then was required to yield the right of way to any moving vehicle in the main roadway.

If the van had backed up then stopped,( to spit, throw a cigarette out or be careful, or whatever) and while he was stopped she started to go, then she had the right of way.

The trooper shouldn’t have placed blame. They could have both started or restarted at the same time.

As for the post office, tell them that insurance law in NC say if you are 1% wrong you are 50% wrong, which ( :) ) means the van was also wrong so ( :) ) neither was wrong..
Using illogical reasoning.
Sort of like the Mona Lisa is Priceless, that means without a price, or something with out a value placed on and is therefore worthless. :)

Often in accidents people don’t realize what caused the accident. Suppose your wife finished with the mail, looked up, saw the van stopped, ( throwing out that cigarette?) and started to go, and the van did also..Yuck.
 

BHC

Junior Member
I understand what your saying but my contentions are these.

1. 20-156A States a vehicle entering a Highway from a private road MUST yield to ALL traffic on the highway. That is to repeat..... "ALL."

2. As the Mail Car was for the best portion physically on the road; and USING said road to service the Mail Box; and heading in the direction facing the entering van; the Mail Car had ROW over the car backing into the road from a private drive that was partially obscured by bushes.

3. Given the small confines of the road space as well as the obstruction to vision, the van that was entering the public road from the private drive could not have made the move safely under any circumstances. This violates the first 3 road rules I previously quoted.

As of yet the Union rep STILL hasn't gone to see the accident site. Like so many other times with this particular Post Office we have been left to fend for ourselves and gather information. If it ever does come back up we will be prepaired to address the argument.
 

BHC

Junior Member
I was wrong again....

I got behind my wife on her route today on my way back from the doctors office. I watched her service 5 boxes. Each box took about 4 seconds from the time the car stopped until it started to roll. This again brings me to the conclusion that the van didn't check for oncoming traffic.

The union rep STILL hasn't gone to the accident site. Looks like so many things that government handles. Ignore it long enough it'll go away. At least until it comes back and bites you in the a$$. :eek:
 

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