Car accidents and the law
While some car accidents can not be helped, a vast majority are consequences of serious motoring offences such as careless driving, dangerous driving or driving when intoxicated. Read an overview of car accidents.
In fact, speeding and driving while under the influence of alcohol, especially when combined, are major car accident causes and some of the UK's biggest killers. These offences and their penalties will be discussed below. Read more about car accident incidence rates.
Speeding and the law
Despite a recent crackdown on speeding in the UK, 7 out of 10 drivers regularly break the speed limit. Also, approximately 1 in 3 deaths on the road and many more personal injuries occur at the hands of speeding motorists. Read more about reckless driving and car accidents.
The speed that you drive at is restricted by the type of road you are driving on and the type of vehicle you are driving. The national speed limit for cars and motorcycles is 30 mph in built up areas, 60 mph on single carriageways and 70 mph on dual carriageways and motorways. For more details please visit http://www.highwaycode.gov.uk/09.htm#103.
Both single carriageways and dual carriageways may be subject to any speed limit up to the national speed limit. Mandatory signs are usually placed on both sides of the carriageway at the point where a new speed limit starts.
Roads where the national speed limit applies and where a lower limit ends are indicated by a circular sign with a diagonal black cross through a white background.
If the speed limit for the road is anything less than the national speed limit the maximum speed limit for this part of the road is indicated by a circular sign showing black numerals on a white background with a red border.
The only vehicles exempt from speed limits are those used by the fire brigade, ambulance services or police if keeping to the speed limit would hinder their effectiveness while responding to an emergency.
With more than 4,000 fixed Gatso's currently in use on Britain's roads and additional patrols of road traffic police armed with hand-held speed cameras, it is difficult to avoid being caught for this offence.
Motorists who speed while driving on a motorway face a maximum fine of £2,500 and 3-6 points on their licence if caught. Those who commit any speeding offence dealt with by fixed penalty notice or conditional offer notice face a £60 fine and 3 points on their licence.
Drink driving and the law
The latest figures show that around 3,000 people are killed or seriously injured each year in drink driving related car accidents, that's 10 people every week. While a wide variety of drivers are guilty of driving while drunk, young men in their 20s are four times more likely to take the risk and be involved in an accident. Read more about car accident incidence rates and age.
Your driving can be affected by alcohol in a number of ways. It can:
- Decrease your reaction time to hazards
- Affect your judgement of speed and distance
- Cause you to drive too quickly or too slowly
- Cause you to drive in the wrong lane
- Cause you to weave all over the road
- Cause you to straddle lanes
- Cause you to run stop signs and red lights
The amount of alcohol that you have consumed can be measured by taking a breath, blood or urine test; in some instances a combination of the three may be necessary. The Road Traffic Act, 1994, stipulates that a driver will be found guilty of drink driving if tests show there are over:
- 35 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath
- 80 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood
- 107 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of urine
Although the legal limit of alcohol applies, there is no definitive guide as to how much you can drink before you are unfit to drive. The amount of alcohol that your body can tolerate before it shows evidence of the above side effects depends on many factors including your age, weight, gender and metabolic rate.
However, road safety experts recommend that drivers stay more alert and are at less risk of being involved in a car accident if they avoid drinking alcohol altogether when intending to drive.
Many also make the mistake of driving after a heavy drinking session the night before. It can take as much as 12 hours for large amounts of alcohol to pass through your blood stream so motorists are often over the limit the following morning, increasing their risk of causing a car accident.
According to the Medical Bureau of Road Safety 90% of blood and urine specimens and 81% of breath specimens analysed during 2002 exceeded the legal driving limit. Motorists found guilty of exceeding the legal limit automatically receive a minimum one-year driving disqualification. They could also face a monetary fine of up to £5,000 and/or up to six months imprisonment.
Those that commit a subsequent offence within 10 years will receive a minimum of a three year driving ban and could have their driving licence revoked.
Failure to supply a roadside breath test could result in a £1,000 fine and four penalty points on your licence. Refusal to provide samples for police analysis after driving or attempting to drive under the influence of alcohol could result in a £5,000 fine, a mandatory disqualification for at least 12 months and/or six months imprisonment.
If you have been involved in a car accident through no fault of your own then you may be entitled to make a compensation claim.
Our personal injury solicitors have an excellent success rate with such claims and can help you to claim for any pain and suffering experienced and financial losses incurred. They may also be able to arrange for you to receive top medical treatment from a specialist in your area.
If your car was damaged during the accident we may be able to arrange for it to be repaired free or charge and provide you with a free hire vehicle while you are off the road. Read more about what you can claim for.
We offer a no win, no fee service, which means just what it says - if your claim isn't successful, you won't have to pay us a penny. It means making a compensation claim is completely free of financial risk, leaving you with nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Making a car accident claim couldn't be simpler. Just give us a call on 0800 197 32 32 today.