Have you ever been driving and suddenly, a stop sign seemingly appears out of nowhere and you have to slam on your brakes? Were you not paying attention? Or was there something that was blocking the sign so you couldn’t see it. Often it is a combination of both. Sometimes unless we are on the lookout for stop sign then the obstructed ones sneak up on us. Obviously, it shouldn’t be this way. Stop signs should be very easy to see. If not, this not only puts drivers at risk but also pedestrians and bikers as well.
Who is to Blame?
So, if a stop sign is hard to see because of some sort of obstruction, whose fault is that? According to the law, it is actually the duty of the land-owner from where the obstruction is to not obstruct signs. In simple terms, if a stop sign is covered up by a branch coming from across the road, the person that owns that tree must trim it back so that is it no longer obstructing the stop sign. Each city has its own ordinances that can be found by simply doing a search with the city name and ordinance. Some of the ordinances may vary but pretty much all cities agree that it is the land-owner’s duty to make sure that intersections are not obstructed.
Here is a link to Provo’s ordinances
With that in mind, let’s go back to the previously mentioned scenario. You are driving along and you come to an intersection. You don’t see the stop sign there because it is hidden by some branches. Because of this you drive through the intersection without stopping and get into a crash. Technically the crash could be partially your fault because you failed to stop at the stop sign. However, you couldn’t see the stop sign because of the branches that were blocking it. For this reason, the crash could be, at least in some part, the land owners fault. Had the land owner trimmed the branches on the tree, like they are legally supposed to, you would have seen the stop sign and stopped. This may have, in effect, stopped the car crash from happening.
This is a big reason why you need to get a permit if you want to put a fence on your property. Similarly, land owners are also obligated to remove or not install any sight obstructions that interfere with the flow of traffic. This means a branch could block the view of oncoming traffic and cause issues with how people drive to compensate for the sight obstruction.
You could potentially cause crashes if you don’t build your fence in accordance with the regulations or if you create any sight obstructions for drivers. If you have been in a crash or know someone that has been in a crash due to an obstruction, feel free to reach out to us and see if you have a case.