The Vermont Statutes Online

Title 23: Motor Vehicles

Chapter 13: OPERATION OF VEHICLES

 

Sub-Chapter 1: General Provisions

 

§ 1001. Regulations

(a) The Commissioner may make regulations:

(1) relating to motor vehicle equipment in all cases where its use is not defined in this title and whenever the use or nonuse, contrary to the regulation, in the judgment of the Commissioner, may render the operation of the motor vehicle hazardous or unlawful;

(2) restricting or prohibiting the use of pictures, advertising matter or other thing placed on or over any transparent part of a motor vehicle;

(3) relating to any other matter or thing which, in his or her judgment, may hinder or impede the operator in the safe and careful operation of a motor vehicle;

(4) in explanation of and in addition to, but not inconsistent with, the provisions of this title concerning any matter or thing which, in his or her judgment, may render the operation of motor vehicles safer and lessen motor vehicle accidents and resulting injuries or fatalities.

(b) The Commissioner may make the safety regulations uniform with the regulations of the federal agency having jurisdiction over motor vehicles subject to federal law so far as the regulations are applicable to the vehicles or to vehicles of the same type not subject to federal law, or to both.

(c) The Commissioner shall make regulations under this section only in accordance with 3 V.S.A. chapter 25. (Added 1971, No. 258 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. March 1, 1973; amended 1975, No. 211 (Adj. Sess.), § 10.)


 

§ 1002. Repealed. 1981, No. 82, § 7(7).


 

§ 1003. State speed zones

(a) When the Traffic Committee constituted under 19 V.S.A. § 1(24) determines, on the basis of an engineering and traffic investigation that shall take into account, if applicable, safe speeds within school zones (or safe speeds within 200 feet of school district-operated prekindergarten program facilities owned or leased by a school district) when children are traveling to or from such schools or facilities, that a maximum speed limit established by this chapter is greater or less than is reasonable or safe under conditions found to exist at any place or upon any part of a State highway, including the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, it may determine and declare a reasonable and safe limit which is effective when appropriate signs stating the limit are erected. This limit may be declared to be effective at all times or at times indicated upon the signs; and differing limits may be established for different times of day, different types of vehicles, varying weather conditions, or based on other factors bearing on safe speeds, which are effective when posted upon appropriate fixed or alterable signs.

(b) When establishing a maximum speed limit on a State highway contiguous to a school, the Traffic Committee shall consider, along with the engineering and traffic investigation, data collected for the purpose of promulgating a school travel plan under the Vermont Safe Routes to School Program. (Added 1971, No. 258 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. March 1, 1973; amended 2003, No. 151 (Adj. Sess.), § 3; 2009, No. 50, § 100; 2009, No. 123 (Adj. Sess.), § 40, eff. May 26, 2010.)


 

§ 1004. Interstate highway rules

(a) The Traffic Committee has exclusive authority to make and publish, and from time to time may alter, amend, or repeal, rules pertaining to vehicular, pedestrian, and animal traffic, and the public safety on the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways and other limited access and controlled access highways within this State. The rules and any amendments or revisions may be made by the Committee only in accordance with 3 V.S.A. chapter 25. The rules shall be consistent with accepted motor vehicle codes or standards, shall be consistent with law, and shall not be unreasonable or discriminatory in respect to persons engaged in like, similar, or competitive activities. The rules are applicable only to the extent that they are not in conflict with regulations or orders issued by any agency of the United States having jurisdiction and shall be drawn with due consideration for the desirability of uniformity of law of the several states of the United States.

(b) Rules authorized by this section are effective on interstate and other limited access and controlled access highways only, taking precedence over those then in force and future highway laws and rules applicable to highways generally; however, the general highway laws and rules are effective on interstate highways until properly authorized rules providing otherwise are adopted.

(c) Rules, together with alterations and amendments of rules, made under this section have the force of law, and violations shall be traffic violations under section 2302 of this title. (Added 1971, No. 258 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. March 1, 1973; amended 1973, No. 16, § 2, eff. March 1, 1973; 2003, No. 109 (Adj. Sess.), § 6; 2009, No. 123 (Adj. Sess.), § 41, eff. May 26, 2010.)


 

§ 1005. Parking regulations

The Traffic Committee may place signs prohibiting or restricting the stopping, standing, or parking of vehicles on any highway under its jurisdiction where, in its opinion, stopping, standing, or parking is dangerous to those using the highway or would unduly interfere with the free movement of traffic. The signs shall be official signs, and no person may stop, stand, or park any vehicle in violation of the restrictions stated on such signs. (Added 1971, No. 258 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. March 1, 1973.)


 

§ 1006. Stopping at railroad crossings

The Traffic Committee may designate particularly dangerous railroad grade crossings, and the Agency of Transportation shall erect stop signs at each. The expense of erecting these stop signs shall be borne by the Agency of Transportation. (Added 1971, No. 258 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. March 1, 1973; 1983, No. 25, § 1; amended 1997, No. 150 (Adj. Sess.), § 14.)


 

§ 1006a. Highways; emergency closure

(a) The Traffic Committee may close any part or all of any State highway to public travel to protect the health, safety, or welfare of the public. In such event, the Agency may maintain a detour comprising State or town highways, or both, around the closed section. If the Agency maintains a detour on a town highway, it shall be responsible for repairing any damage to the town highway caused by the detoured traffic.

(b) The Traffic Committee may establish a temporary speed limit within that portion of the State highways that is being reconstructed or maintained. The limit shall be effective when appropriate signs stating the limit are erected.

(c) Under 3 V.S.A. chapter 25, the Traffic Committee shall make and promulgate such rules as are necessary to administer this section and may delegate this authority to the Agency of Transportation.

(d) Notwithstanding the limit established in subsection 2302(d) of this title, the penalty for violation of speed limits established under subsection (b) of this section shall be twice the penalty for nonworksite speed violations. (Added 1975, No. 4, eff. Feb. 14, 1975; amended 1991, No. 15, § 1; 1997, No. 150 (Adj. Sess.), § 15; 2013, No. 167 (Adj. Sess.), § 19.)


 

§ 1006b. Smugglers Notch; winter closure of Vermont Route 108

The Agency of Transportation may close the Smugglers Notch segment of Vermont Route 108 during periods of winter weather. To enforce the winter closure, the Agency shall erect signs conforming to the standards established by section 1025 of this title. (Added 2007, No. 75, § 37; amended 2007, No. 164 (Adj. Sess.), § 52.)


 

§ 1006c. Trucks and buses; chains and tire requirements

(a) The Traffic Committee may require the use of tire chains or winter tires on specified portions of State highways during periods of winter weather for motor coaches, truck-tractor-semitrailer combinations, and truck-tractor-trailer combinations.

(b) When tire chains or winter tires are required, advance notice shall be given to the traveling public through signage and, whenever possible, through public service announcements. In areas where tire chains or winter tires are required, there shall be an adequate area for vehicles to pull off the traveled way to affix any chains that might be required.

(c) Under 3 V.S.A. chapter 25, the Traffic Committee may adopt such rules as are necessary to administer this section and may delegate this authority to the Secretary. (Added 2009, No. 50, § 71.)


 

§ 1007. Local speed limits

(a)(1) The legislative body of a municipality may establish, on the basis of an engineering and traffic investigation, a speed limit on all or a part of any city, town, or village highway within its jurisdiction, which:

(A) is not more than 50 miles per hour; however, after considering neighborhood character, abutting land use, bicycle and pedestrian use, and physical characteristics of the highways, the legislative body of a municipality may vote to set the maximum speed limit, without an engineering and traffic investigation, at not more than 50 miles per hour nor less than 35 miles per hour, on all or a portion of unpaved town highways within its boundaries, unless otherwise posted in accordance with the provisions of this section; or

(B) is not less than 25 miles per hour.

(2) If the legislative body of a municipality votes to set the speed limit on all unpaved town highways in its boundaries at no more than 50 miles per hour nor less than 35 miles per hour as provided for in subdivision (a)(1) of this section, signs shall be located at points of change from one speed limit to another.

(b) The legislative body of a city may establish, on the basis of an engineering and traffic investigation, a speed limit on all or a part of any State highway, other than a limited access highway, within its jurisdiction, which:

(1) is not more than 50 miles per hour; or

(2) is not less than 25 miles per hour.

(c) Any altered limit is effective at all times or during hours of darkness or at other times as may be determined when appropriate signs giving notice are erected upon the street or highway.

(d) The special regulations have the full force and effect of law and are in the case of regulations adopted under subsections (a) and (b) of this section subject to review by the Traffic Committee, whose decision is final.

(e) Lack of evidence of a traffic and engineering study will not invalidate a local speed limit ordinance as adopted or amended under this section after five years following the day on which the speed limit ordinance took effect.

(f) Notwithstanding the procedure outlined in this section for enacting a local speed limit, a town or village may adopt a local speed ordinance on a State highway, other than on limited access highways, provided the ordinance duplicates the speed limit established under section 1003 of this title.

(g) Notwithstanding any requirements of section 1025 of this title, downtown development districts designated under 24 V.S.A. chapter 76A may have posted speed limits of less than 25 miles per hour. (Added 1971, No. 258 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. March 1, 1973; amended 1973, No. 239 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 1975, No. 232 (Adj. Sess.), § 9, eff. April 7, 1976; 1989, No. 261 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. June 16, 1990; 1995, No. 133 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 1997, No. 120 (Adj. Sess.), § 7; 1999, No. 32, § 1.)


 

§ 1007a. Neighborhood electric vehicles; speed limit

The maximum speed for a neighborhood electric vehicle shall be 25 miles per hour. (Added 2003, No. 8, § 2.)


 

§ 1008. Regulations in municipalities

(a) The legislative body of a municipality may make special regulations as to the operation, use, and parking of motor vehicles, including angle parking, as to the location, design, and structure of traffic lights, as to "stop" signs and "yield right of way" signs at intersections, as to "no-passing" zones, and as to streets designated for one way traffic in the thickly settled portions of the municipality and may cause any street or highway of adequate width to be divided by appropriate markings into three or more lanes, and may, by ordinance or regulation, regulate the direction of travel and the turning of vehicles proceeding in those lanes and the passing of vehicles in one lane by overtaking vehicles in another lane, may cause markers, buttons, or signs to be placed within or adjacent to intersections and thereby direct the course traveled by vehicles turning at an intersection, and when markers, buttons, or signs are so placed no driver may turn a vehicle at an intersection other than as directed by the markers, buttons, or signs. However, signs indicating the special regulations must be conspicuously posted in and near all areas affected. Special regulations may not be established on any State highway as defined by 19 V.S.A. § 19. Regulations on all State highways may be made only by the Traffic Committee under section 1003 of this title, except that the Traffic Committee may authorize the legislative body of a municipality to regulate parking within a thickly settled area of a municipality, particularly described in the authorization, on State highways. The board of school directors of a union high school district may make special regulations as to the operation, use, and parking of motor vehicles within the boundaries of its school property.

(b) The legislative body of a municipality may make special regulations as to the use of lights at night on motor vehicles at rest or in motion on well lighted streets.

(c) Municipal motor vehicle regulations shall not duplicate or contradict any provision of this title. (Added 1971, No. 258 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. March 1, 1973; amended 1971, No. 258 (Adj. Sess.), § 13, eff. March 1, 1973.)


 

§ 1008a. Regulation of motor vehicles at State airports

The Secretary may adopt rules governing the operation, use, and parking of motor vehicles on the grounds of State airports, including the access roads. Signs indicating the special regulations shall be conspicuously posted in and near all areas affected. (Added 1993, No. 61, § 26, eff. June 3, 1993.)


 

§ 1009. Restrictions of controlled-access roadway

(a) The Traffic Committee by resolution or order entered in its minutes may regulate or prohibit the use of any controlled-access highway by any class or kind of traffic which is found to be incompatible with the normal and safe movement of traffic.

(b) The Traffic Committee adopting any such prohibition shall erect and maintain official traffic-control devices on the controlled-access highway on which such prohibitions are applicable and when these are in place, no person shall disobey the restrictions stated on such devices.

(c) The Traffic Committee may authorize the stopping of a school bus on a controlled-access highway to pick up or discharge passengers, except the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, if after a traffic and engineering study they determine that there is no viable alternative and that adequate safety, both for the passengers, school bus, and other highway users, can be maintained. (Added 1971, No. 258 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. March 1, 1973; amended 1981, No. 9.)


 

§ 1010. Special occasions; town highway maintenance

(a) When it appears that traffic will be congested by reason of a public occasion or when a town highway is being reconstructed or maintained or where utilities are being installed, relocated, or maintained, the legislative body of a municipality may make special regulations as to the speed of motor vehicles, may exclude motor vehicles from town highways, and may make such traffic rules and regulations as the public good requires. However, signs indicating the special regulations must be conspicuously posted in and near all affected areas, giving as much notice as possible to the public so that alternative routes of travel could be considered.

(b) Notwithstanding the limit established in subsection 2302(d) of this title, the penalty for violation of speed limits established under the work site provision of this section shall be twice the penalty for nonwork site speed violations. (Added 1971, No. 258 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. March 1, 1973; amended 1991, No. 15, § 2; 1997, No. 150 (Adj. Sess.), § 16; 2009, No. 123 (Adj. Sess.), § 42.)


 

§ 1011. Applicability of this chapter

(a) The provisions of this chapter relating to the operation of motor vehicles apply to operation upon public highways only, except where a different place is specifically referred to.

(b) On duty enforcement officers are exempt from the speed limits established in accordance with sections 1003 and 1007 of this title, and fixed by section 1081 of this title. (Added 1971, No. 258 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. March 1, 1973.)


 

§ 1012. Obedience to enforcement officers

(a) A person, while operating or in charge of a motor vehicle shall, upon request by an enforcement officer who reasonably suspects that the person has committed or is committing a violation of this title, give his or her name and address and the name and address of the owner of the motor vehicle.

(b) The operator shall produce his or her operator's license and the registration certificate for the motor vehicle. If the operator does not have a valid Vermont operator's license or does not have the license on his or her person, the operator shall produce other suitable forms of identification. A person operating a motor vehicle shall promptly and carefully stop when signalled to stop by an enforcement officer wearing insignia which identifies the officer.

(c) A person who violates subsection (a) of this section shall be fined not more than $1,250.00.

(d) A person who violates subsection (b) of this section shall be assessed a civil penalty of not more than $250.00. (Added 1971, No. 258 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. March 1, 1973; amended 1989, No. 109, § 6, eff. July 1, 1990; 1999, No. 58, § 7.)


 

§ 1013. Authority of enforcement officers

Enforcement officers may make arrests for violation of this title, may direct, control, and regulate traffic, and make reasonable orders in enforcement of this title or to prevent or alleviate traffic congestion, property damage, or personal injury. No person may knowingly fail or refuse to comply with any lawful order or direction of any enforcement officer. (Added 1971, No. 258 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. March 1, 1973.)


 

§ 1014. Persons riding animals

A person riding an animal or driving any animal-drawn vehicle upon a road is granted all of the rights and is subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a motor vehicle by this chapter except those provisions of this chapter which by their very nature can have no application. (Added 1971, No. 258 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. March 1, 1973.)


 

§ 1015. Authorized emergency vehicles

(a) The driver of an authorized emergency vehicle, when responding to an emergency call or when responding to, but not returning from, a fire alarm and a law enforcement officer operating an authorized emergency vehicle in fresh pursuit of a suspected violator of the law:

(1) may park or stand contrary to the provisions of this chapter;

(2) may proceed past a red or stop signal or stop sign, but only after slowing down as may be necessary for safe operation;

(3) shall come to a full stop when approaching a school bus which is flashing red lights and may proceed only when the flashing red lights are extinguished;

(4) may exceed the maximum speed limits;

(5) may disregard regulations governing direction of movement or turning in specified directions.

(b) The exemptions granted to an authorized emergency vehicle apply only when the vehicle is making use of audible or visual signals meeting the requirements of this title.

(c) The foregoing provisions shall not relieve the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons, nor shall such provisions protect the driver from the consequences of his or her reckless disregard for the safety of others.

(d) The operator of a school bus, upon the approach of an authorized emergency vehicle as described in subsection (a) of this section, shall take action immediately to get school-children out of the public highway and to a safe place and shall thereafter extinguish the flashing red lights. (Added 1971, No. 258 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. March 1, 1973; amended 1981, No. 97, §§ 1, 2.)


 

§ 1016. Reports of arrests

Law enforcement officers who make arrests or issue citations for violations of this title shall forward a written report on forms prescribed and furnished by the Commissioners of Motor Vehicles and of Public Safety and approved by the Attorney General with respect to any matter affecting the substantive rights of any person, to the Department of Motor Vehicles within 30 days after the arrest is made or the citation is issued. (Added 1975, No. 72, eff. April 18, 1975; amended 1981, No. 81, § 2, eff. May 5, 1981; 2009, No. 39, § 2.)


 

Sub-Chapter 2: Traffic Signs, Signals And Markings

 

§ 1021. Obedience to traffic-control devices

(a) The driver of any vehicle shall obey the instructions of any official traffic-control device applicable to him or her placed in accordance with this chapter unless otherwise directed by an enforcement officer, subject to the exceptions granted in this chapter.

(b) No provision of this chapter for which signs are required may be enforced if at the time and place of the alleged violation an official sign is not in approximately proper position and sufficiently legible to be seen by an ordinarily observant person. Whenever a particular section does not state that signs are required, the section is effective even though no signs are erected or in place.

(c) Whenever official traffic-control devices are placed in positions approximately conforming to this chapter the devices are presumed to have been placed by the official act or direction of lawful authority, unless the contrary is established by competent evidence.

(d) An official traffic-control device placed pursuant to this chapter and purporting to conform to the lawful requirements pertaining to the device is presumed to comply with this chapter, unless the contrary is established by competent evidence. (Added 1971, No. 258 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. March 1, 1973.)


 

§ 1022. Traffic-control signals

(a) Whenever traffic is controlled by traffic-control signals exhibiting different colored lights, or colored lighted arrows, successively one at a time or in combination, only the colors green, red, and yellow may be used, except for special pedestrian signals carrying a word legend, and the signals shall indicate and apply to drivers and pedestrians as follows:

(1) Green signal:

(A) Vehicular traffic facing a circular green signal may proceed straight through or turn right or left unless a sign prohibits either turn. Vehicular traffic, including vehicles turning right or left, shall yield the right of way to other vehicles or to pedestrians lawfully within the intersection or on an adjacent crosswalk at the time the signal is exhibited.

(B) Vehicular traffic facing a green arrow signal, shown alone or in combination with another signal, may cautiously enter the intersection only to make the movement indicated by the arrow, or such other movement as is permitted by other signals shown at the same time. Vehicular traffic shall yield the right of way to pedestrians lawfully within an adjacent crosswalk or to other traffic lawfully using the intersection.

(C) Unless otherwise directed by a pedestrian-control signal, as provided in section 1023 of this title, pedestrians facing a green signal may proceed across the roadway within any marked or unmarked crosswalk, but not when the sole green signal is a turn arrow.

(2) Steady yellow signal:

(A) Vehicular traffic facing a steady yellow signal is thereby warned that the related green signal is being terminated or that a red signal will be exhibited immediately thereafter, when vehicular traffic shall not enter the intersection.

(B) Pedestrians facing a steady yellow signal, unless otherwise directed by a pedestrian-control signal as provided in section 1023 of this title, are advised that there is insufficient time to cross the roadway before a red signal is shown, and no pedestrian shall then start to cross the roadway.

(3) Steady red signal:

(A) Vehicular traffic facing a steady circular red signal alone shall stop at a clearly marked stop line, but if none, shall stop before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection.

(B) Except when a sign is in place prohibiting a turn, vehicular traffic facing any steady red signal may cautiously enter the intersection to turn right, or to turn left from a one way street into a one way street, after stopping as required by subdivision (A) of this subdivision (3). This traffic shall yield the right-of-way to pedestrians lawfully within an adjacent crosswalk and to other traffic lawfully using the intersection. No motorist shall turn right when facing a red arrow signal indication unless a regulatory sign is present which permits this movement.

(C) Unless otherwise directed by a pedestrian-control signal as provided in section 1023 of this title, pedestrians facing a steady red signal alone shall not enter the roadway.

(b) If an official traffic-control signal is erected and maintained at a place other than an intersection, this section is applicable except as to those provisions which by their nature can have no application. Any stop required shall be made at a sign or marking on the pavement indicating where the stop is to be made, but in the absence of any sign or marking the stop shall be made at the signal. (Added 1971, No. 258 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. March 1, 1973; amended 1975, No. 144 (Adj. Sess.), eff. Feb. 25, 1976; 1977, No. 8; 2007, No. 75, § 28.)


 

§ 1023. Pedestrian-control signals

Whenever special pedestrian-control signals exhibiting the words "Walk" or "Don't Walk" are in place the signals indicate as follows:

(1) "Walk": pedestrians facing the signal may proceed across the roadway in the direction of the signal and shall be given the right of way by all drivers.

(2) "Don't Walk": no pedestrian shall start to cross the roadway in the direction of the signal, but any pedestrian who has begun his or her crossing on the "Walk" signal shall proceed to a sidewalk or a safety island while the "Don't Walk" signal is showing. (Added 1971, No. 258 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. March 1, 1973.)


 

§ 1024. Flashing signals

(a) Whenever a flashing red or yellow signal is used in a traffic sign or signal it requires obedience by vehicular traffic as follows:

(1) Flashing red: When a red lens is illuminated with rapid intermittent flashes, drivers shall stop before entering the nearest crosswalk at an intersection or at a limit line when marked, or, if there are none, before entering the intersection, and the right to proceed is subject to the rules applicable after making a stop at a stop sign.

(2) Flashing yellow: When a yellow lens is illuminated with rapid intermittent flashes, drivers of vehicles may proceed through the intersection or past the signal only with caution.

(b) This section does not apply to railroad grade crossings. Conduct of drivers approaching railroad grade crossings is governed by sections 1071, 1072, and 1073 of this title.

(c) This section does not apply to operators of vehicles encountering school buses. Conduct of drivers encountering school buses is governed by section 1075 of this title. (Added 1971, No. 258 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. March 1, 1973.)