The other day, I was driving through Lakewood to a meeting and I saw a driver just blow through a stop sign at a four-way stop. Worse, she proceeded to do the same thing all the way down the avenue, running stop sign after stop sign as though they were just gentle suggestions that she could ignore. It annoyed me.
But then I got really angry when I saw her continue running through stop signs in a school zone! If she had caused an accident in Lakewood, she might have hit a child! I was so fired up that I thought about calling Lakewood Police, but there’s no way they could have been on the scene to witness her behavior. (Side note: When I got to my office later, I did some research into the fines associated with running stop signs and, as we’ve all done: I got distracted. I found a rather hilarious story about cars running aground on the Lakewood Target Rock. Have you heard about this? I know it’s not the same as running a stop sign or a red light in Lakewood, but I’m mystified as to how so many cars end up stranded on this rock!)
But, back to my story…
Why did this driver think she was above Lakewood law? Clearly, she was consciously deciding to run those stop signs but, in my experience, it’s more common for people to run stop signs because they’re simply not paying attention. They blow through the stop sign and, too late, realize what they did. It’s usually an honest mistake and many of us have done it.
And yet, the consequences of missing a stop sign when you’re driving – whether you’re doing it purposely or accidentally – can be life-altering for the driver and for any victims that she hits. Accidents in Lakewood, CO from missed stop signs are all-too common and the injuries they cause can be significant.
Typically, the inattentive driver misses a stop sign and runs right into traffic that may be going 40 miles per hour, sometimes more. If she’s lucky, she skates all the way through the intersection without a mark. Usually, though, she gets t-boned by an unsuspecting victim or she t-bones someone else.
Other times, the negligent driver comes out into traffic after rolling through a stop sign and clips another driver, throwing their car off balance and even causing the victim’s car to flip and roll. Either party – the negligent driver and the victim – can end up with broken wrists and ankles. Because air bags often deploy, they may also sustain broken noses and bloody lips.
Here’s a little-known fact: Women who have been hit by air bags often sustain broken sternums and often those injuries aren’t caught at the hospital. Even when the hospital does a chest x-ray to look for torn heart valves, they miss the broken sternum. I’m telling you, female clients who have been in a Lakewood car accident tell me that this is one of the most awful, painful injuries that they face; they can’t even sneeze without excruciating pain!
Finally, there is the worst-case scenario: someone drives through a stop sign and hits a pedestrian. That’s why I was so mad at the woman who rolled through the stop sign in the school zone. It was 3:05 p.m. and there were children everywhere. What if she had hit one of them?
Now, on the legal side of things, you’d think this would be a slam-dunk. Someone ran a stop sign and caused damages and injuries! Case closed, right? Nope, not always.
Sometimes the negligent driver tries to claim that she wasn’t at fault, that she didn’t run the stop sign. Then it turns into she said/he said and, sometimes, an insurance company will fight for their driver even when it’s obvious she was at fault. Insurance companies rarely care about right and wrong; they want to pay as little as possible. So, they’ll fight for the cheaper side.
Lesson? Get witnesses! (I think I’m starting to sound like a broken record on this subject, but that’s because it’s so important.) Witnesses can help you prove that the other driver came out of nowhere and that you had the right of way.
Also, take lots of photos, especially if you see that the other driver hit the brakes at the last minute and made skid marks on the road. Get shots of those skid marks.
And while I’m at it, let’s talk about stopping for school buses. When a school bus’s doors open, that red stop sign pops out for a reason. You need to stop for school buses!
Check out this near-miss video. It will take your breath away!
When a school bus is about to stop, you’re given plenty of warning. Yellow lights flash all over the bus to let you know that it is about to stop. When that happens, slow down and prepare to stop. Why? Because school buses mean children are around. And children are hard to see and they are unpredictable. A dangerous combination near roads.
When the bus stops and the red stop sign pops out, drivers on both sides of the bus (oncoming traffic as well as drivers behind the bus) must stop. It is the law in Colorado. In fact, school bus drivers actively help to enforce the state law. They can take down license plates, descriptions of the drivers, and report them to the sheriff’s office. The fine is up to $300, a mandatory court appearance, and six points on a license. A second offense within a five-year period will cost $1,000.
But of course, the worst risk is to the children’s safety.
Please, don’t run stop signs in Lakewood or anywhere else in Colorado!
If you have any questions about this article, please call or text me at (303) 388-5304.