Transportation Law: Private Motor Vehicles: Traffic Regulation
Most vehicle or transportation codes prohibit a person from stopping, parking, or leaving his or her motor vehicle standing in certain places. Such places include intersections, crosswalks, safety zones, entrances to fire stations, fire lanes, sidewalks, tunnels, and bridges. The person is prohibited from stopping, parking, or leaving his or her motor vehicle, regardless of whether the vehicle is attended or unattended.
A person is prohibited from stopping, parking, or leaving his or her motor vehicle on a highway when it would have been possible for the person to have left his or her vehicle on the side of the highway. Even if the person stops, parks, or leaves his or her vehicle on the side of the highway, the vehicle must be in clear view of other vehicles and must allow the other vehicles to pass. However, this rule does not apply to a highway that is bounded by curbs or to a driver whose vehicle is disabled and who could not avoid leaving the vehicle on the highway.
If a highway or transportation department has posted signs or makings that prohibit or restrict the parking, stopping, or standing of motor vehicles, a person must observe those signs and markings. Such signs and markings are usually posted in areas where traffic would be impeded or where it would be dangerous for a vehicle to park.
Most states prohibit a person from stopping, parking, or leaving his or her motor vehicle standing on freeways or interstates. The exceptions to this rule include when the person is attempting to avoid injury to persons or property, when the person is directed otherwise by a police officer, when the person's vehicle is disabled, when the person is involved an accident, or when the area is specifically designated as a parking or stopping area.
Local authorities, such as cities and counties, are entitled to enact ordinances that prohibit or restrict the parking or standing of vehicles in designated areas and under certain conditions. Such areas include areas that are within a certain number of feet from an intersection or a bus stop. Such conditions include when the streets are to be cleaned or when snow is to be removed. The local authorities may also prohibit the parking or standing of vehicles unless the drivers of the vehicles have obtained preferential parking permits, such as residential parking permits or merchant parking permits. The local authorities may further prohibit the parking or standing of vehicles on certain streets at certain times of the day or night.
Even if a person is legally permitted to park his or her vehicle, the person must set the brakes on the vehicle so that the vehicle does not move. The person cannot open the door of his or her vehicle on the side of moving traffic unless it is safe to do so and unless it can be done without impeding the moving traffic. The person cannot leave the door of his or her vehicle open on the side of moving traffic for any period of time that is longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.
A person who parks his or her disabled vehicle on a highway has a duty to prevent any danger to moving traffic. The person is required to exercise reasonable care with regard to the parking of his or her disabled vehicle. If the driver fails to exercise reasonable care, he or she will be responsible for any damage that results from his or her disabled vehicle.
If a person violates a statute or an ordinance with regard to parking, which violation is the proximate cause of injury or damage to another person or other property, there is a presumption that the person did not exercise due care with regard to the parking of his or her vehicle. However, the injury or damage that resulted from the violation must have been the type of injury or damage that was contemplated by the statute or the ordinance. For example, if the statute or the ordinance was intended to prevent accidents on a highway, the person's violation of the statute would create a presumption of negligence. On the other hand, if the statute or the ordinance only sought to prohibit parking in a certain area, such as a handicapped parking place, the person's violation of the statute would not create a presumption of negligence.
Copyright 2005 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.