It rained a few weeks ago in interior Alaska, and has been cold ever since. Interior roads – particularly the Richardson, Steese and Parks Highways – are covered with ice. Our call log is growing with folks involved in new wrecks – wrecks that omit drugs and alcohol. Almost every one of these crashes seem to be caused by drivers failing to consider the roadway – and driving too fast for conditions.
Alaska’s Administrative Code addresses this problem in at 13 AAC 02.090(a). Every Alaskan driver must avoid following another vehicle more closely than is “reasonable and prudent” – based on the roadway and condition of the roadway:
13 AAC 02.090. Following Too Closely
(a) A driver of a motor vehicle may not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent and at least two seconds behind the vehicle being followed, having regard for the traffic upon the roadway and the condition of the roadway.
This section may look familiar: It is what police officers normally rely upon when ticketing folks after a wreck. In some ways, this section is a kind of 20/20 hindsight that usually places blame where it belongs … on the shoulders of folks who cause a wreck / serious injuries. The key to remember is that this is true even if the ticketed driver was traveling within the posted speed limit. Be assured, it is NOT LEGAL to drive within the posted speed limit when the roadways are horrible. Slow down. Every driver on Alaskan roads is required to pay constant attention to roadway conditions pursuant to 13 AAC 02.090. If a driver travels too fast for conditions – and as a result hurts somebody – that driver is responsible for the related harms. It’s that simple.
Tell your spouse, parent or child to pay constant attention to roadway conditions. Turn off the radio so you can hear the sound change upon going from dry pavement to ice. When it's safe, tap your brakes to check traction.
Remember, personal injury law has two main goals: (1) making our communities safer by holding people 100% accountable; and (2) compensating those who get hurt by another person’s negligence (“Negligence” is just another word for “stupidity”). Do your part by slowing down when road conditions are icy.
For more driving/safety tips, go to SlowDownAlaska.org.
Be safe out there. Summer is coming. /s/ Ward Merdes