Several weeks ago news outlets across the State of Kansas reported on a deadly head-on collision that occurred in western Kansas. According to early reports from law enforcement agencies, a semi-truck struck a passenger van head-on while the truck was attempting to pass a slower-moving semi traveling in the same direction. The crash killed four of the five occupants of the van right away; a fifth occupant died the next day at the hospital.
Passing Laws: Just Because You Can Does Not Mean You Should
Two-laned highways are especially prevalent in the western part of the State, where the volume of traffic is not so great as to warrant the construction of multi-laned highways and/or highways with medians dividing the lanes of travel. Instead, these two-laned roads have opposing lanes of travel pass by one another at highway speeds (usually 55 mph or greater) with nothing more than painted lines separating the two lanes of travel. Furthermore, Kansas law permits vehicles to overtake and pass slower-moving vehicles traveling in the same direction by entering the opposing lane of travel. The basic rules governing this maneuver require the passing driver to:
- Continue traveling at the posted speed limit, even while overtaking the slower-moving vehicle (law enforcement will likely tell you that if you need to exceed the speed limit to pass the other vehicle, you should not attempt the maneuver);
- Ensure the opposing lane of travel is clear of any traffic so that the passing maneuver can be safely completed;
- Return to the original lane of travel only after safely passing the slower-moving vehicle and/or if traffic in the opposing lane of travel appears and there is insufficient space to safely pass the slower-moving vehicle.
These rules are designed to make an otherwise dangerous situation safe for the passing vehicle, the vehicle being passed, and any traffic in the opposing lane of travel. When the passing vehicle violates any of these rules, it jeopardizes the safety of others nearby.
Tips for Avoiding Collisions on Two-Laned Roads Involving Passing Vehicles
Even if you are not attempting a passing maneuver yourself, you should remain alert and attentive to other vehicles that are. Prepare to take one or more of the following actions if necessary:
- Slow down if a passing vehicle needs additional space in order to maneuver back into the correct lane of travel;
- Get to the shoulder if it appears the passing vehicle cannot safely complete the passing maneuver. If the passing vehicle is approaching you head-on, moving to the shoulder can avoid a head-on collision. If the vehicle is traveling in the same direction as you, moving to the shoulder can give the passing vehicle enough room to safely return to its proper lane of travel.
- Travel prudently; in other words, travel at a speed that is safe and reasonable given prevailing road and weather conditions and leave plenty of space between you and other cars ahead of you.
Turn to Michael R. Lawless for Help
Kansas attorney Michael R. Lawless is available to assist you and/or your loved ones if you have been injured in a head-on collision or other traffic crash on a two-laned highway. Micheal R. Lawless will thoroughly examine your case, determining the type of compensation you may be entitled to recover and from whom such compensation may be obtained. Our firm has the resources to quickly preserve important evidence and testimony that can be useful in helping you succeed in your case. Act quickly in the aftermath of a highway traffic collision and contact Kansas Car Crash Attorney Michael R. Lawless at (800) 734-3771 to discuss the details of your car crash.