What Are The Legal Duties Of A Driver?

When referring to driving laws, people believe everything is really simple to understand. In reality, driving laws can be very complicated. This is especially the case when looking at the fact that the law actually requires all drivers to always use reasonable care. The goal is to avoid any action that would drive people on the road.

As expected, it is this reasonable care that is often disputed by insurance companies in a car accident that leads to injuries and financial compensations. That is simply because insurance adjusters understand it is not that easy to prove specific legal driver duties. What does this actually mean? The best way to look at the legal duties of the driver is to mention some examples.

Maintaining Reasonable Speed

All drivers need to drive at a prudent, reasonable speed, regardless of the limits that apply where they drive. The idea is to be reasonable when thinking about existing traffic, weather conditions, visibility, and road conditions.

To put it simply, you can drive without breaking the speed limit and still end up being negligent. For instance, when visibility is very low because the rain is very heavy, you are instantly considered negligent when you drive fast, even if you respect the official speed limit. Alternatively, when you drive by a local school, it is expected that you are more careful since children might end up crossing the road without warning.


As a driver, you have to be alert and you need to be careful and look out for all other vehicles on the road. You also need to look for potential road hazards and pedestrians. Practically, you are expected to see many things around you, things you would normally notice as a prudent, ordinary person. If you do not do this, it can be considered negligence.

Maintaining Car Control

The driver is always expected to exhibit control over the vehicle. When you lose control for most possible reasons, like leaving the road or overturning, it is often considered that negligence happened.

Car Maintenance Obligations

You need to always keep the car in a completely safe working condition. This is something you are obliged to do in order to protect others on the road. As an example, your brakes and lights need to always work properly. If they do not and a car accident happens, when the collision was influenced because of car maintenance problems, the driver is considered to be negligent.

State Law Driver Duties

In every US state, there are specific motor vehicle laws that dictate how the driver should behave. In some specific circumstances, when you violate the law, you are faced with presumption of negligence. This means the defendant has to show evidence proving they were not negligent.

Some examples of conducts that could lead to negligence presumption are:

  • Driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Driving a vehicle on the other side of the road.
  • Not respecting right-of-way laws. This includes right of way for pedestrians.

Obviously, more examples of duty of care can be given, but what should always be remembered is that you have to be careful when you drive and when you are not, you are most likely negligent.