Posted in Car Accidents on December 11, 2018
It is essential for all Alabama drivers to know the state’s laws in order to drive legally on Alabama roads. Vehicle owners have several obligations, including meeting the state’s minimum auto insurance coverage requirements, vehicle maintenance, and proper conduct behind the wheel. If you ever have any questions about your state law, feel free to contact your car accident lawyer for answers to any questions you may have!
Auto Insurance Coverage in Alabama
Every driver in Alabama must purchase and maintain an auto insurance policy that meets the state’s minimum coverage requirements. An Alabama auto insurance policy must include:
- $25,000 or more in bodily injury coverage per person in an accident the policyholder causes
- $50,000 or more total bodily injury or death coverage per accident
- $25,000 or more property damage coverage
If a police officer conducts a traffic stop and the stopped driver does not have adequate insurance or does not have auto insurance at all, the penalty for driving without appropriate auto insurance is a $500 fine for a first violation, increasing to $1,000 for second violations and beyond.
Drivers should note that the minimum coverage requirements may not fully cover the cost of the damages from a serious accident. Drivers have the option to purchase additional coverage and additional coverage types, but these options will lead to more expensive policies with higher premiums. It may also be wise for a driver to invest in underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage that will help cover the cost of an accident caused by a driver with inadequate insurance coverage.
Vehicle Maintenance Requirements
All Alabama drivers have a duty of care to ensure their vehicles are safe and roadworthy. This means a vehicle must have two functional braking systems: the foot brake and the parking or emergency brake. The vehicle must also have a functional exhaust system that prevents carbon monoxide leaks. All vehicles must also have functional mirror and light systems to provide as much visibility to the driver and other drivers nearby at all times.
Passenger vehicles must also have safety belts, and a driver may not carry more passengers than the vehicle has safety belts. If a vehicle only has four safety belts, two in the front and two in the back, then only four people may ride in the vehicle at a time. If there is a problem with a vehicle that could potentially cause a dangerous situation on the road, the driver has a duty of care to address the problem as soon as possible by visiting a mechanic.
Alabama Best Practices
Alabama speed limits are not suggestions; exceeding the speed limit can lead to a traffic stop and a ticket from a police officer, or may cause a serious accident. All drivers should adhere to posted speed limits at all times and adjust accordingly to move with the flow of traffic. Alabama traffic laws also strongly suggest keeping to the right whenever possible except to pass slower-moving traffic where passing is legal.
It is also important for drivers to pay close attention to the road while driving and avoid distractions. Roughly nine people die every day in the U.S. from distracted driving, and cell phone use is the most commonly cited culprit. Cell phone use requires the driver’s attention, a hand to operate the phone, and the driver’s eyes to read messages and type responses. This is incredibly dangerous, even at moderate speeds. Looking away from the road for even a few seconds can be the equivalent of driving blind for hundreds of yards.
Drivers also have a duty to refrain from driving under the influence (DUI). Alcohol impairs driving ability in several ways; it slows reaction time, hinders good judgment, alters depth perception, and makes it difficult for drivers to make quick decisions in changing traffic conditions. A DUI violation may cause a serious accident, and it can lead to severe legal penalties including fines, driver’s license suspension, and possibly even jail time.