Family Law

Road Trip to the Bowl Game: What Your College Student Needs to Know

Road trips are a necessity for fans of college football. When headed out on a road trip to see the big game, many college students consider factors such as beer, gasoline, and more beer, while matters of legal importance are often overlooked. When handled irresponsibly, a road trip can become a legal nightmare for the driver.

Responsible Driving

Road trip safety starts before the vehicle even begins moving. Before embarking on any prolonged journey, the vehicle’s owner should examine the vehicle for any potential safety hazards. In particular, the vehicle owner should examine the seat belts, the turn signals, the lights, the tire pressures, and the condition of the brakes. Ensuring that the vehicle is stocked with a spare tire, jack, road flares, and other emergency supplies is also a prudent decision. Do not overload the vehicle; stuffing a barbecue grill, food, four friends, and luggage into a subcompact car will not make for a safe and enjoyable road trip.

While en route, the vehicle’s occupants should be buckled into their seats and avoid any action that will distract the driver. Motorists who permit passengers to drink alcohol and move freely about the vehicle not only increase the risk of a collision but also reduce the effectiveness of the vehicle’s safety features. Passengers who hang out of the vehicle while the vehicle is in motion may be cited for violating the local vehicle code. The driver should be a sober designated driver rather than the group’s least intoxicated person. The driver must avoid using the cell phone or texting while driving and pay attention to the road.

Overlooked Liability Concerns

Few motorists consider the potential liability that comes with having a passenger on board the vehicle. Accidents are an uncommon event for most drivers and most motorists will only give rides to trusted associates, so why should motorists be concerned? Motorists should be wary of taking additional passengers due to the fact that each passenger is a potential plaintiff in a lawsuit.

In the event of a collision, the party who was at fault in the collision will be liable for the injuries to all parties involved. Most collisions arise due to driver error, but the condition of the vehicle can also be a factor. In the football popular state of Florida, a collision attorney like Steinger, Iscoe & Green will investigate all factors of the accident, but remind clients that if the driver overloaded the vehicle, ignored the condition of the braking system, or lacked proper warnings to other motorists that resulted in a secondary collision, the driver may have contributed to the accident. If the vehicle is heavily loaded or if its braking system is not intact, its braking distance will increase. If the vehicle’s driver is heavily loaded, its braking distance will substantially increase.

An intoxicated passenger can incur an injury even without a vehicle collision. If a motorist fails to supervise his or her passengers and if one of the passengers incurs an injury, the motorist may be at least partially liable for the injury. Many states now utilize rules of pure comparative negligence in negligence cases; a plaintiff may recover some damages even if he or she was 90 percent at fault for the injury. If a driver encourages an inebriated friend to lean out the window or permits fellow students to ride in an exposed truck bed, the driver may be liable for any injuries that result.

Driver negligence comes in many forms, but the effect to the party who committed the tortious act is the same; any injured parties will sue for negligence. Litigating a case across state lines can be very expensive even if the case is dismissed or resolves in the defendant’s favor. College road trips are not an excuse for negligence. The law expects the party who was best situated to prevent the incident to bear the burdens associated with that incident. Being an intoxicated college student is not a defense to negligence.

An avid football fan, Ann Bailey reminds college students of the many factors involved in safe game watching on the road.  The accident attorneys at Steinger, Iscoe & Green apply all of their extensive experience helping their student car accident clients in Florida reclaim their lives and get back to work at school.