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Chapter 03 - Rules of the Road

Chapter 03 - Rules of the Road

22.0301 Refusal to obey law officer.


It is unlawful to willfully fail or refuse to comply with any lawful order, signal or direction of any member of the Department of Public Safety when such member is engaged in enforcing the provisions of this title or directing traffic.

22.0302 Obedience to traffic-control devices.


(a) The Commissioner shall place and maintain, or cause to be placed and maintained, such appropriate official traffic-control devices as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this title or direct or warn traffic upon the highways.

(b) The driver of any vehicle shall obey the instructions of any applicable official traffic-control device placed in accordance with the provisions of this title unless otherwise directed by a police officer, subject to the exceptions granted under this title to the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle.

(c) No provision of this title relating to official traffic-control devices may be enforced against an alleged violator if, at the time and place of the alleged violation, an official device was not in reasonably proper position and sufficiently legible to be seen by an ordinarily observant person.

22.0303 Unauthorized signs, signals and markings.


(a) No person may place, maintain or display upon or in view of any highway, any unauthorized sign, signal, marking or device which purports to be, is an imitation of, or resembles an official traffic-control device, or which attempts to direct the movement of traffic, or which hides from view or interferes with the effectiveness of an official traffic-control device.

(b) No person may place or maintain, nor shall any public authority permit upon any highway, any traffic sign or signal bearing thereon any commercial advertising.

(c) This section may not be deemed to prohibit the erection, upon private property adjacent to highways, of signs giving useful directional information and of a type which cannot be mistaken for official signs.

(d) Every such prohibited sign, signal or marking is a public nuisance and the authority having jurisdiction over the highway is empowered to remove the same or cause it to be removed without notice.

22.0304 Defacement or destruction of road signs.


No person may deface, obliterate, bend, break or otherwise injure or destroy any road sign or marker, lettering thereon, or the post or other framework supporting the sign or marker.

22.0305 Driving on right-hand side of highway.


Upon all highways of sufficient width, a vehicle shall be driven upon the right half of the highway, except as follows:

(1) when overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction under the rules governing such movement;

(2) when an obstruction exists making it necessary to drive to the left of the center of the highway; provided, that any person so doing shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles traveling in the proper direction upon the unobstructed portion of the highway within such distance as to constitute an immediate hazard;

(3) upon a highway restricted to one-way traffic.

22.0306 Passing approaching vehicles.


Drivers of vehicles proceeding in opposite directions shall pass each other to the right, and each driver shall give to the other at least one-half of the main traveled portion of the roadway whenever possible.

22.0307 Passing vehicle on the left.


The following rules shall govern when a vehicle overtakes and passes, on the left, a vehicle proceeding in the same direction:

(a) The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall not pass the overtaking vehicle on the right.

(b) The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left thereof at a safe distance and may not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle.

(c) The driver of an overtaken vehicle shall give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle on audible signal and shall not increase the speed of his vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.

(d) No vehicle may be driven to the left side of the center line of a roadway in overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction unless such left side is clearly visible and is free of oncoming traffic for a sufficient distance ahead to permit such overtaking and passing to be completely made without interfering with the normal operation of any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction, or any vehicle overtaken. In any event, the overtaking vehicle must return to the right-hand side of the roadway before coming within 100 feet of any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction.

(e) No vehicle may at any time be driven to the left side of the roadway under the following conditions:

(1) when approaching the crest of a grade upon a curve in the highway, where the driver’s view is obstructed within such distance as to create a hazard in the event another vehicle might approach from the opposite direction;

(2) when the view is obstructional upon approaching any bridge, building, tree or natural obstruction;

(3) when within 100 feet of or traversing any intersection;

(4) when prohibited by any official traffic-control device.

22.0308 Passing vehicle on the right.


The driver of a vehicle may overtake and pass on the right of another vehicle only under the following conditions:

(1) when the vehicle overtaken is making or is about to make a left turn;

(2) upon a street or highway with unobstructed pavement not occupied by parked vehicles;

(3) upon a one-way street, or upon any roadway on which traffic is one way, where the roadway is free from obstructions and of sufficient width for 2 or more lines of moving vehicles;

(4) when conditions permit such movement with safety;

(5) in no event shall such movement be made by driving off the pavement or main traveled portion of the roadway.

22.0309 Designation of no-passing zones.


The Commissioner is directed to determine those portions of the highway where overtaking and passing on, or driving to, the left would be especially hazardous and to prohibit the same through the use of official traffic-control devices.

22.0310 Following too closely-Prima facie evidence of violation.


(a) The driver of a motor vehicle may not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicle and the traffic upon and condition of the roadway.

(b) The fact that a vehicle operated by a person has struck the rear portion of a vehicle preceding it on the roadway shall constitute prima facie evidence that such person has violated this section.

22.0311 Right-of-way-Approaching or entering unregulated intersection.


(a) The driver of a vehicle approaching an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to a vehicle which has entered the intersection from a different highway.

(b) When 2 vehicles enter an intersection from different highways at the same time, the driver of the vehicle on the left shall yield the right-of-way to the driver of the vehicle on the right. This section does not apply to vehicles approaching each other from opposite directions, when the driver of one of such vehicles is intending to or is making a left turn. Such movements shall be governed by 22.0313.

22.0312 Right-of-way-Approaching or entering regulated intersection.


(a) Preferential right-of-way at an intersection may be indicated by stop signs or yield signs.

(b) Except when directed to proceed by a police officer or traffic-control signal, every driver of a vehicle approaching a stop intersection indicated by a stop sign shall stop at a clearly marked stop line, but if none, before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection, or, if none, then at the point nearest the intersecting roadway where the driver has a view of approaching traffic on the intersecting roadway before entering the intersection. After having stopped, the driver shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle which has entered the intersection from another highway or which is approaching so closely on the highway as to constitute an immediate hazard during the time when such driver is moving across or within the intersection.

22.0313 Right-of-way-Left-hand turns.


A driver intending to turn left within an intersection or into an alley, private road or driveway shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction and within the intersection or so close thereto as to constitute an immediate hazard.

22.0314 Right-of-way-Entering through highways.


The driver of any vehicle shall slow down at the entrance to a through highway and yield the right-of-way to other vehicles which have entered the intersection from the through highway or which are approaching so closely on the through highway as to constitute an immediate hazard. A driver having so yielded may proceed and the drivers of all other vehicles approaching the intersection on the through highway shall yield the right-of-way to the vehicle about to enter or cross the through highway.

22.0315 Turns.


The driver of a vehicle intending to turn at an intersection shall proceed as follows:

(a) Both the approach for a right turn and a right turn shall be made as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.

(b) A driver turning left at any intersection shall approach the intersection in the extreme left-hand lane lawfully available to traffic moving in the direction of travel of such vehicle, and after entering the intersection, the turn shall be made so as to leave the intersection in a lane lawfully available to traffic moving in such direction upon the roadway being entered.

22.0316 Signaling turns and stops.


(a) No person may turn a vehicle from a direct course or move right or left upon a roadway unless and until such movement can be made with reasonable safety and then only after giving an appropriate signal in the manner provided in this section in the event any other vehicle may be affected by such movement.

(b) Any signal of intention to turn right or left shall be given continuously during the last 100 feet traveled by a vehicle before turning.

(c) No person may stop or suddenly decrease the speed of a vehicle on a highway without first giving an appropriate signal in the manner provided in this section to the driver of any vehicle immediately to the rear when there is opportunity to give such signal.

(d) Signals shall be given either by means of the hand and arm or by signal lamp or mechanical signal device, except that when the body of a vehicle, or a load on any vehicle projects 32 inches or more to the left of the center of the steering wheel, or under any other condition when a hand and arm signal would not be visible both to the front and rear of such vehicle, then such vehicle must be equipped with a signal lamp or device and signals must be given by such lamp or device.

(e) All signals herein required to be given by hand and arm shall be given from the left side of a vehicle in the following manner:

(1) for a left turn, hand and arm extended horizontally beyond the side of the vehicle;

(2) for a right turn, hand and arm extended upward beyond the side of the vehicle;

(3) for a stop or sudden decrease of speed, hand and arm extended downward beyond the side of the vehicle.

22.0317 Moving stopped or parked vehicle.


No person may move a vehicle which is stopped, standing or parked unless and until such movement can be made with reasonable safety.

22.0318 Emerging from alley, building, private road or driveway.


The driver of a vehicle emerging from an alley, building, private road or driveway within a business or residential district shall stop such vehicle immediately prior to driving onto a sidewalk or onto the sidewalk area extending across such alley, building entrance, road or driveway, or, in the event there is no sidewalk area, shall stop at the point nearest the street to be entered, where he has a view of approaching traffic thereon.

22.0319 Meeting or overtaking school bus.


The driver of a vehicle, upon meeting or overtaking from either direction a school bus which has stopped for the purpose of receiving or discharging school children, shall stop the vehicle before reaching the school bus when there is in operation on the school bus a visual signal as specified in 22.1107. The driver may not proceed until the visual signals are turned off and the bus either resumes motion or the bus driver signals the driver to proceed.

22.0320 Obstructing traffic.


(a) No motor vehicle may be stopped at any place where it is likely to obstruct traffic or create or constitute a dangerous condition to traffic on the road. Parking, standing, and loading or discharging of passengers or freight in such areas, or in “No Parking” zones, is expressly prohibited except where the vehicle is driven completely off the highway.

(b) No person may place any object on the ground within eight feet of the edge of any paved road in the Territory if such object creates any kind of danger to or obstruction of traffic. "Objects" includes but is not limited to rocks, metal, wood, debris, and glass.

22.0321 Stopping or parking near fire station or hydrant-Parking for disabled persons.


(a) No person may stop or park any vehicle, or leave it standing, in front of a fire station or within 15 feet of a fire hydrant except when such vehicle is attended by a licensed operator or chauffeur who is seated in the front seat and who can immediately move such vehicle in case of necessity.

(b) No person may park a vehicle in a space designated for vehicles of disabled persons unless the vehicle so parked exhibits on the said vehicle a disabled person's sticker properly issued by the Office of Protection and Advocacy, and at the time it is so parked was driven by or transporting such disabled person. A person who violates this subsection shall be guilty of a Class C misdemeanor and shall be punished accordingly.

22.0322 Removal of vehicles.


(a) Whenever any police officer finds a vehicle standing upon a highway in violation of any of the provisions of this chapter, such officer may move such vehicle, or require the driver or other person in charge of the vehicle to move it, to a position off the paved or main-traveled part of such highway.

(b) Any police officer may remove or cause to be removed to a place of safety, any unattended vehicle illegally left standing upon any highway or bridge in such position or under such circumstances as to obstruct the normal movement of traffic.

(c) Any police officer may remove or cause to be removed to the nearest garage or other place of safety, any vehicle found upon a highway when:

(1) a report has been made that such vehicle has been stolen or taken without the consent of its owner;

(2) the person or persons in charge of such vehicle are unable to provide for its custody or removal.

22.0323 Speed limits.


(a) No person may operate a motor vehicle on any highway in American Samoa at a rate of speed in excess of 30 miles an hour except as otherwise provided in this title.

(b) The Commissioner shall determine, upon the basis of an engineering and traffic investigation, such other maximum speeds as shall be reasonable and safe under the conditions found to exist at any intersection or any other place on the highways of American Samoa. Such maximum speeds shall be effective when appropriate signs or markings giving notice thereof are erected, and may be declared to be effective at all times or at such times as are indicated upon the signs; and differing limits may be established for different times of day, different types of vehicles, varying weather conditions, and other factors bearing on safe speeds, which shall be effective when notice thereof is given by official traffic-control devices.

22.0324 Backing.


The driver of a vehicle may not back the same unless such movement can be made with safety and without interfering with other traffic.

22.0325 Driving on sidewalks.


No person may drive any vehicle upon a sidewalk or sidewalk area except upon a permanent, or duly authorized temporary, driveway.

22.0326 Obstruction of driver’s view or operation of vehicle.


(a) No person may drive a vehicle when it is so loaded, or when there are in the front seat such number of persons, exceeding 3, as to obstruct the view of the driver to the front or sides of the vehicle or as to interfere with the driver’s control over the driving mechanism of the vehicle.

(b) No passenger in a vehicle may ride in such position as to interfere with the driver’s view ahead or to the sides, or with his control over the driving mechanism of the vehicle.

22.0327 Opening and closing vehicle doors.


No person may open the door of a motor vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so, and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic, nor shall any person leave a door open on the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.

22.0328 Coasting.


(a) The driver of any motor vehicle, when traveling on a down grade, may not coast with the gears or transmission of such vehicle in neutral.

(b) The driver of a truck or bus, when traveling on a down grade, may not coast with the clutch disengaged.

22.0329 Crossing fire hose.


No vehicle may be driven over an unprotected fire department hose laid down on any street, private road or driveway to be used at any fire or alarm of fire, without the consent of the fire department official in command.

22.0330 Littering.


(a) No person may throw, deposit, or place upon any right-of-way road, street or highway, or cause to be thrown, deposited or placed, any glass, glass bottle, container, wire, nails, tacks, can, garbage, trash, refuse, rubbish, or any other object whether or not likely to injure any person, animal or vehicle.

(b) Any person who litters as defined in (a) above, shall immediately remove the same or cause it to be removed or be subject to the penalties in section 46.4806.

(c) Any person removing a wrecked or damaged vehicle from a highway shall remove any glass or other injurious substance dropped upon the highway from such vehicle.

22.0331 Vehicle loads.


No vehicle may be driven or moved on any highway:

(1) Unless such vehicle is so constructed or loaded as to prevent any of its load from dropping, shifting, leaking or otherwise escaping therefrom;

(2) When any load thereon is not entirely within the body of the vehicle. This prohibition does not apply if the load is securely fastened by means of clamps, ropes, straps, cargo nets, or other suitable mechanical devices to prevent such load from dropping onto the highway or from shifting in any manner.

(3) With any load consisting partially or entirely of loose paper, empty cartons, crates or any other material susceptible to being blown or carried by the wind, unless such load is entirely covered by a tarpaulin, net, canopy or other suitable material, effectively preventing any part of such load from being blown or carried by the wind. This paragraph does not apply to any vehicle carrying a load consisting entirely of soil, sand, coral or gravel if such load is wetted down to prevent particles thereof from being blown or carried by the wind.

(4) While any occupant thereof is riding on a load which exceeds the height of the body of the vehicle.

22.0332 Child passenger restraints.


(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, no person operation a motor vehicle on a public highway in the Territory shall transport a child under four years of age except under the following circumstances:

(1) if the child is under three years of age, the person operating the motor vehicle shall ensure that the child is properly restrained in a child passenger restraint system approved by the United States Department of Transportation at the time of its manufacture; or

(2) if the child is three years of age or older but less than four years of age, the person operating the motor vehicle must either ensure that the child is properly restrained in a child passenger restraint system approved by the United States Department of Transportation at the time of its manufacture or ensure that the child is restrained by a seat belt assembly.

(b) Operators of the following motor vehicles shall be exempt from the requirements of this section: an authorized emergency vehicle while on duty, and a bus, including a school bus, whether publicly or privately owned, which provides service to the general public or provides special service on a regular or continuing basis. Further exemptions from this section may be established by the Commissioner of Public Safety pursuant to rules adopted under the Administrative Procedures Act, 4.1001 et seq.

(c) This section shall not apply if the number of persons in a vehicle exceeds the greater of the following:

(1) the number of seat belt assembles available in the vehicle; or

(2) the number of seat belt assembles originally installed in the vehicle; provided that all available seat belt assembles are being used to restrain a passenger, and those children not restrained by an approved child passenger restraint system to a seat belt assembly are in the back seat of the motor vehicle.

(d) In no event shall failure of a child under the age of four years to be restrained or failure to restrain such a child in a child passenger restraint system or a seat belt assembly be considered as contributory negligence, comparative negligence, or negligence per se.

(e) Penalty: for the first offense, the fine shall be $25, second offense, $50, and third or more, $75.

22.0333 Mandatory use of seat belts.


(a) Except as otherwise provided by law, no person:

(1) shall operate a motor vehicle upon any public highway unless the person is restrained by a seat belt assembly and any passengers in the front seat of the motor vehicle are restrained by a seat belt assembly if between the ages of four and fifteen or are restrained pursuant to 22.0332 if under the age of four;

(2) if fifteen years of age or more shall be a passenger in the front seat of a motor vehicle being operated upon any public highway unless such person is restrained by a seat belt assembly.

As used in this section and 22.0332 "seat belt assembly" means the seat belt assembly required to be in the motor vehicle under any federal motor vehicle safety standard issued pursuant to Public Law 89-563, the Federal National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966, as amended, unless original replacement seat belt assemblies are not readily available, seat belts of federally approved materials with similar protective characteristics may be used. Such replacement seat belt assemblies shall be permanently marked by the belt manufacturer indicating compliance with all applicable federal standards.

(b) The passengers of the following motor vehicles shall be exempt from the requirements of this section: an authorized emergency vehicle while on duty and a bus, including a school bus, whether publicly or privately owned, which provides service to the general public or provides special service on a regular or continuing basis. Further exemptions from this section may be established by rules adopted by the Commissioner of Public Safety pursuant to the Administrative Procedures Act, 4.1001 etc.

(c) No person shall be guilty of violating this section if:

(1) the person is in a motor vehicle which is not required to be equipped with a seat belt assembly under any federal motor vehicle safety standard unless the vehicle is in fact equipped with a seat belt assembly;

(2) the person not restrained by a seat belt assembly is in a vehicle in which the number of person exceeds the number of seat belt assemblies available in the vehicle or the number of seat belt assemblies originally installed in the vehicle, whichever is greater; provided that all available seat belt assemblies are being used to restrain passengers;

(3) the person not restrained by a seat belt assembly has a condition which prevents appropriate restraint by the seat belt assembly, provided such condition is duly certified by a physician who shall state the nature of the condition, as well as the reason such restraint is inappropriate;

(4) the person not restrained by a seat belt assembly is operating a taxicab and is carrying passengers in the vehicle in the course of performing taxicab services; or

(5) otherwise exempted by rules adopted by the Commissioner of Public Safety pursuant to the Administrative Procedures Act, 4.1001 et seq.

(d) This section shall not be deemed to change existing laws, rules, or procedures pertaining to a trial of a civil action for damages for personal injuries or death sustained in a motor vehicle accident.

(e) Penalty: A person violating this section shall be fined not more than $25 per offense.

22.0334 Unaccompanied minors prohibited in back of truck or pickup truck.


No truck or pickup truck may be driven or moved on any highway having as a passenger a minor child of less than twelve (12) years of age in the bed or back of the vehicle, unless the said child is accompanied at all times by an adult of at least eighteen (18) years of age.

22.0350 Exemption from traffic laws-Driver’s duty.


(a) The driver of an authorized emergency vehicle shall be exempt from the requirements of 22.0301 et seq., whenever such vehicle is driven in response to an emergency call, used in immediate pursuit of a suspected violator of the law, or is on other errands of great urgency.

(b) The driver of such vehicle may not exceed the maximum speed limit in the area in which he is traveling by more than 10 miles per hour.

(c) There is no maximum speed limit for police officers in the immediate pursuit of suspected violators of the law.

(d) This section may not operate to relieve the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons using the highway.

22.0351 Use of emergency warning devices.


Authorized emergency vehicles may not utilize any emergency warning equipment except when responding to an emergency. The pursuit of actual or suspected violators of the law by police shall be considered an emergency. When responding to an emergency, the driver of an emergency vehicle shall utilize emergency warning devices when necessary to warn pedestrians and other drivers of his approach.

22.0352 Duties owed emergency vehicles.


(a) When an emergency vehicle using warning equipment is proceeding on an emergency call, all traffic shall immediately pull to the right side of the road if possible, clear intersections, and stop until all emergency vehicles have passed.

(b) No motor vehicle, except an authorized emergency vehicle or a vehicle of duly authorized members of the police or fire department, may follow within 300 feet of any emergency vehicle which is responding to an emergency call.

22.0353 Construction sites-warning lights.


The government and private companies or individuals who engage in performing construction work on or near the highways are required to install or place red warning lights at the job site between dusk and dawn.

22.0360 General infraction provision.


(a) It is unlawful and, unless otherwise declared in this chapter with respect to particular offenses, an infraction for any person to do any act forbidden by, or fail to perform any act required by, this chapter.

(b) In a case involving a violation of a section of this chapter, a rebuttable presumption exists that the registered owner of the vehicle identified in the commission of an infraction is the driver of that vehicle.