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How Much Space Must Drivers Give Waste Pick-Up, Utility Or Maintenance Vehicles On The Road In Michigan?

 

It’s simply a part of life.  A garbage truck is stopped ahead of you on the road picking up trash and causes several cars to back up.  A utility truck working on power lines on a highway might cause the right lane to close and bottleneck traffic.  Even worse, a maintenance vehicle may completely obstruct the street in one direction to repair potholes or fix the sewer line.  It will slow down most drivers and possibly make them late to their next appointment.  It is tempting to simply drive by at regular speed within a few feet of the garbage men to get where you need to go.  However, failing to show proper due care and caution to these vehicles is a crime that can lead to fines, probation and even jail.

“Upon approaching and passing a stationary solid waste collection vehicle, a utility service vehicle, or a road maintenance vehicle that is giving a visual signal by means of flashing, rotating, or oscillating amber lights…, the driver of an approaching vehicle shall exhibit due care and caution, as required under the following:”

  • On any public roadway with only a single lane in the same direction as the stationary solid waste collection vehicle, utility service vehicle, or road maintenance vehicle, the approaching vehicle shall proceed with due care and caution and reduce his or her speed by 10 miles per hour. MCL 257.653(1)(b).
  • “On any public roadway with at least 2 adjacent lanes proceeding in the same direction of the stationary solid waste collection vehicle, utility service vehicle, or road maintenance vehicle, the driver of the approaching vehicle shall proceed with caution, reduce his or her speed by at least 10 miles per hour below the posted speed limit, and yield the right-of-way by moving into a lane at least 1 moving lane or 2 vehicle widths apart from the stationary solid waste collection vehicle, utility service vehicle, or road maintenance vehicle, unless directed otherwise by a police officer.” If movement to an adjacent lane or 2 vehicle widths apart is not possible due to weather, road conditions, or the immediate presence of vehicular or pedestrian traffic in parallel moving lanes, the driver of the approaching vehicle shall proceed as if it was a single lane in one direction (due care and caution and reduce his or her speed by 10 miles per hour). MCL 257.653(1)(a).
  • “The operator of a vehicle upon a highway that has been divided into 2 roadways by leaving an intervening space, or by a physical barrier or clearly indicated dividing sections so constructed as to impede vehicular traffic, is not required to proceed with caution, reduce his or her speed, or yield the right-of-way for a stationary solid waste collection vehicle, utility service vehicle, or road maintenance vehicle that is stopped across the dividing space, barrier, or section.” MCL 257.653(2).  These clear divisions may be from guardrails, concrete barriers or the grassy section separating a boulevard.

The specified vehicles covered by this statute include ALL of the following:

  • Stationary solid collection vehicles mean any transporting unit used for the curbside collection of municipal solid waste. MCL 257.653(3)(d).  These collection vehicles can be owned by a governmental unit or a private company.  This also includes any vehicles picking up recycling bins.  The vehicle must have an oscillating amber light activated while stopped for the purpose of collecting garbage.
  • Road maintenance vehicles must be owned by the Michigan Department of Transportation, a local government authority, or any entity under contract with state or local government to provide road construction or road maintenance services. MCL 257.652(3)(b).  This can include bulldozers, frontloaders, excavators, trenchers and dump trucks.  The vehicle must have an oscillating amber light activated while at work.
  • Utility service vehicles means a vehicle owned or operated by a utility provider (e.g. electric, natural gas, water, sewage, telephone or cable). The utility service vehicles can be owned by a governmental unit or a private company.  The vehicle must have an oscillating amber light activated while at work.

The penalty for failing to show due care and caution to a stationary solid waste collection vehicle, a utility service vehicle, or a road maintenance vehicle is a misdemeanor conviction punishable by a fine up to $500.00 or up to 90 days in jail, or both.  In addition, two points will be added to your Michigan driving record.

A misdemeanor charge will require the driver to appear in district court to be arraigned by the judge.  The defendant will also have the right to a jury trial.  Most importantly, the defendant has the right to hire a traffic lawyer to defend against this charge.  An attorney may be able to secure an acquittal or dismissal by showing the judge or prosecutor that the driver actually used due care and caution or that the other vehicle did not have its oscillating lights activated.  Even if the evidence is strong, an attorney may be able to negotiate a plea bargain to resolve the case with a civil infraction, not a misdemeanor, that only carries a fine and may not have any points on your license.  A favorable resolution can also protect you from other side effects such as an increase in insurance premiums.  You only get one opportunity to resolve your case the right way.

If you or a loved one is charged with any traffic offense and need legal representation, then do not hesitate to contact the experienced attorneys at Kershaw, Vititoe & Jedinak PLC to start your best defense today.

 

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