Q: Which Texas laws prohibit running a stop sign or a stop light?
When a driver causes an accident because he fails to stop for a traffic control device, the resulting injuries can be serious, and even deadly. Stop signs and stop lights are the two types of Texas traffic control devices that require drivers to come to a complete stop.
The laws pertaining to failure to stop are found in section 544 of the Texas transportation code. Running a stop sign is prohibited by section 544.010, and running a stop light is against the law according to section 544.007.
When a driver runs a stop light or ignores a stop sign, he may do so either intentionally or inadvertently. Drivers may be impatient and unwilling to wait for the light to change, or simply distracted and not paying sufficient attention. Since they have a duty to obey all traffic signals, failure to stop constitutes a form of negligence per se.
Negligence Per Se vs. Ordinary Negligence
Negligence per se differs from ordinary negligence in a few important ways. In a vehicle accident, ordinary negligence is a thoughtless decision that leads to the injury or death of an innocent victim. While the at-fault driver may have behaved carelessly, his actions weren't a violation of the law.
Negligence per se, on the other hand, involves the violation of a statute that results in harm to another person. A negligence per se action arises when:
- The legislature establishes a statute that imposes a duty of care;
- A driver violates that statute; and
- This violation results in injury to another person.
Laws that prohibit drivers from running stop signs and stop lights are intended to protect other citizens, such as motorists and pedestrians, from harm. If you’ve been injured by another driver when he failed to stop, you’re entitled to compensation.
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