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Traffic Cops, Question For Ya

Discussion in 'Cop Talk' started by sulaco, Nov 3, 2011.

  1. sulaco

    sulaco 10mm Junky

    Sep 13, 2011
    Lexington, SC
    This morning I witnessed an accident involving a sheriff's deputy. I was at a red light, in the left turn lane at a very busy intersection. The deputy, at a green light, was waiting to turn left. I was facing North, he was facing West, waiting to turn South. The 3 oncoming lanes (East-bound) were almost bumper to bumper and the two inner lanes (the two lanes closest to him), were stopped completely with some cars actually in the intersection. He proceeded to turn and as he was clearing the first two lanes, a compact pickup truck came FLYING in to the intersection, hitting him at full speed, broadside. She hit him so hard, he went up on the two left side tires and almost hit me. Thankfully he saw that about to happen, jerked his wheel to set the vehicle back down, and then once down, swerved to avoid me. It was some pretty amazing driving!

    Anyway, me and a buddy at work were debating who's fault we thought it was. Obviously there's a failure to yield issue, but what about her speed? I assume the trooper who wrote it up could see the sideways skidmarks from the deputy's vehicle, showing how hard the impact was. What do you guys think?
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2011
  2. DaBigBR

    DaBigBR No Infidels!

    Oct 28, 2005
    Circling the wagons.
    In my state, we don't determine fault. If there is a traffic violation or violations to be cited, we issue the citations, note driver, roadway, and vehicle factors contributing to the collision, and that's it. Fault is determined by the insurance companies.

    As I understand your description (although you've got what appears to be a mistake in your description of the direction that the deputy was either traveling or intending to turn to, unless it was a U-turn), the deputy was making a left turn on a non-protected green and was struck by a vehicle traveling through the intersection from the opposite direction on a green. If that's the case, I suppose the deputy could be cited for failure to yield the right of way upon left turn (in my state), however if there was witness testimony, video, etc that suggested that the truck was exceeding the authorized speed limit, that might not happen (deputy or not). Unfortunately, short of an admission from the truck driver, I don't think I'd be cutting them any paper for their speed, either.

  3. sulaco

    sulaco 10mm Junky

    Sep 13, 2011
    Lexington, SC
    It's been years since I was involved in an accident so I can't recall if that procedure is the same in SC, but yeah, I agree. It's going to be hard to prove she was speeding other than my testimony (if that even happens).

    Oh and thanks, I fixed the directions. I am on some really strong meds for a strained muscle so it's tough to concentrate right now!
  4. Pretty much what DaBigBR said... around here, the right of way on green (even if speeding) prevails. If damage or witnesses suggest the person with right of way was speeding, it'll usually be a no-ticket crash.

    A note to all the non-cops reading here- the left turn crashes are pretty common. Please be very very careful making your left turns. Err on the side of patience. And if a nice driver in one lane "waves me through", don't go until you are completely sure no one else is moving.
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2011
  5. mntrpr


    Mar 22, 2003
    In MN, a person speeding in this case loses their right of way.
  6. Kadetklapp

    Kadetklapp Methberry PD

    Jan 2, 2007
    Pretty much what BR says. Unless the video shows the truck obviously exceeding safe speeds then the officer would be "at fault" for insurance purposes for turning in front of the vehicle.
  7. rookie1


    Mar 3, 2009
    I'm close to DBR so his answer is the same as mine. I typically don't write a ticket if it seems that both drivers have some contributing factors in the collision. I also am not a fan of writing tickets during accidents. Most have to pay their deductible which can be around $500 then the tickets which is most likely $200 around here. Kinda kicking them when their down, my thought which may be wrong.
  8. AngryBassets

    AngryBassets Jagenden Übel

    He invaded a lane that wasn't clear, but was occupied by a speeding vehicle.

    Sounds like 50/50 to me.
  9. ateamer

    ateamer NRA4EVR

    I would say that the primary collision factor would most likely be the deputy making an unsafe turn. I was in a discussion with a couple traffic officers not too long ago about the same topic, and they said that their guideline was that if the speeder was going double the limit, then the PCF could be the speeder if the speed was at least double the posted limit, because at that point their speed could be hard to judge because they are so far back when the turn begins and it reasonably appeared safe.

    As a motorcyclist, I am very cautious about making left turns and if not 100% sure of complete safety, I stay put.
  10. Bruce M

    Bruce M

    Jan 3, 2010
    S FL

    Hopefully you stayed and told the investigating officer what you observed. If you had to leave, you should attempt to contact the Sheriff's Office / Highway Patrol and offer a statement.

    One of the problems with a left turn/other vehicle too fast crash - "he was coming too fast." "Then why did you turn in front of him?" "I didn't see him until it was too late." "If you didn't see him how do you know how fast he was going?" Sometimes the 432 feet of skid marks helps establish speed.

    Here the term used to be "crash" on the report as nearly always someone is at fault and often both drivers.
  11. sulaco

    sulaco 10mm Junky

    Sep 13, 2011
    Lexington, SC
    Yeah I stayed until the Trooper showed up and gave a statement. He drew a diagram as I was telling him what happened and had me go over it to make certain it was correct.

    I have no way of telling how fast the person that hit him was going, but I can tell you that it was very fast. I can see back up the road in the direction that she was coming a good 7-8 car lengths. I never saw her enter that area until she hit him.

    The deputy's supervisor showed up while we were waiting on the deputy and he seemed like a good guy. I know it's hard to tell, but I really think this was just one of those freak things that happens.

    Unfortunately, the driver who hit the deputy decided she needed EMT after telling us she was okay but just shaken up a bit. I smell a payout coming no matter how it pans out.
  12. Bruce M

    Bruce M

    Jan 3, 2010
    S FL
    Even though you may not be able to say how fast in miles an hour you may have been able to tell the car was alot faster than others would be or was prudent. That may help lessen the impact (pun intended) of a civil action. It is always appreciated when people who witness a crash stay around; an objective witness not in either car is often the best evidence of what happened. Very commendable to offer what you saw.
  13. beatcop


    Aug 13, 2003
    New England
    My filters are:

    -who committed a violation?

    -who had a legal right (or more of a legal right) to be in the particular spot in the roadway?

    -who was more right or more wrong in their actions?
  14. Panzergrenadier1979

    Panzergrenadier1979 Keystone Cop

    Jan 16, 2009
    Central Pennsylvania
    Same here. It has to be a pretty egregious traffic offense for me to cite someone at a crash.

    On the other side; I know officers who use crashes as an excuse to write a couple citations in order to justify the fact that they refuse to perform any form of traffic enforcement during their shift.
  15. collim1

    collim1 Shower Time!

    Mar 14, 2005
    In my state we do not determine fault. I determine the PRIMARY cause of the accident and assign that to one vehicle. I can also determine a secondary cause and assign it to either of the vehicles.

    In this case the primary cause would be the deputy failing to YROW, with the secondary going to the other driver for speeding.
  16. steveksux

    steveksux Massive Member

    Jul 12, 2007
    I saw this one first hand. Pickup was in left turn lane trying to turn into Meier's on a busy 2 lane each way street, with an extra right turn only lane that was pretty much a mile long, due to many driveways to get into strip malls along the way.

    2 main lanes were all backed up and stopped due to a light, so the nice drivers left space and waved the Pickup through so he could turn left in front of them into the Meier's lot. Of course, nobody saw the guy zooming through the right turn lane at 45 mph until he T-boned the back of the pickup, spun him around and almost tipped him over.

    So think twice before you do anybody any favors, or take advantage of any favors extended to you...

    Trust but verify...

  17. sulaco

    sulaco 10mm Junky

    Sep 13, 2011
    Lexington, SC
    That is EXACTLY what happened with this accident.

    Funny thing is I just witnessed a similar thing happen just a few months back. That one was a little worse though, with some bad injuries.
  18. Bren

    Bren NRA Life Member

    Jan 16, 2005
    It doesn't have to be one or the other. The modern approach to things like this, when somebody gets sued, is to assign a percentage of fault to everybody involved.

    As for writing tickets at the scene, around here, you can only write misdemeanors and violations if you see them, other than DUIs and few exceptions, so that limits tickets at the accident scene to equipment/insurance/registration violations, but not the moving violations that cause the accident.

    You are correct. People often don't realize they were "injured" until they have time to think about making money. Some don't realize until family and friends suggest it, hours or days later.
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2011
  19. JBaird22


    Nov 18, 2005
    Sounds as though the deputy is at fault. I've been in this very same collision before except I was waived through by an armored car that obstructed my view of the lane. It was totally my fault.

    Glad everyone was okay and the other driver is probably looking for a heavy payout once she realized she wasn't going to get nuked with a summons for crashing into a police car.