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Scott Smith
Scott Smith
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What is an Assured Clear Distance?

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Often car collisions occur when a person operating a motor vehicle crashes into the back of vehicle traveling in the same direction. When the police arrive, a citation is usually written stating the person who struck the vehicle failed to maintain an assured clear distance ahead. What does this mean? Ohio Revised Code Section 4511.21(A), as part of the written laws of Ohio, states “No person shall operate a motor vehicle….at a greater speed than will permit the person to bring it to a stop with in the assured clear distance ahead.”

In essence, this means if you are driving your car and a car is traveling or stopped in front of you heading in the same direction and in the same path or lane of travel as you, you must be able to bring your car to a stop to avoid a wreck. Otherwise, if you hit the car in front of you, you will most likely be at fault for the car collision and responsible for any bodily injury or property damage relating to the wreck. Although in rare instances there are other defenses, there are two well recognized exceptions to this hard and fast rule. If the car in front of you suddenly changed into your lane of travel from another lane, you would not be in violation of the statute. Further, if the vehicle in front of you was not discernible, you would not be in violation of the statute. However, you may still be liable for the accident for other reasons.

Maintaining an assured clear distance requires you to be careful not to follow the vehicle in front of you too closely. Even though this rule appears strict, it is designed to prevent many accidents that ocurr on our roadways today. As a driver, one is required to take into consideration, night driving, weather conditions, hills, curves, turns and poor lighting. The more one encounters difficult driving conditions, the more one must slow to avoid collisions. Injuries and losses that result from a violation of this statute will be the responsibility of the at fault driver and payable by the at fault driver’s insurance company. Unfortunately, insurance companies often refuse to accept full responsibility for their insureds negligence and violation of the statute forcing injured and damaged persons to file lawsuits to recover their losses which, of course, effects the cost of insurance for all of us.