Staying Safe When Stopped on the Side of the Highway
Mechanical problems are something that every driver inevitably deals with at one time or another. Unfortunately, they never seem to occur at convenient times. It would be nice if all mechanical problems could come up before you make it out of your garage or when you’re driving on side streets, where the speed limit is low and it’s usually easy to find a safe place to stop. But that’s just not always the case. Every year, many people end up stranded on the side of highways and freeways because of mechanical problems. Or, for far too many drivers every year, they end up stuck on the side of the road because of a car crash.
Being stopped on the side of a highway or freeway can be a very scary experience. Not only do you need to try and get over safely, it can be very dangerous to have other cars passing you at a high rate of speed. According to the Michigan State Police, about 10% of all fatal traffic crashes each year between 2014-2018 involved roadside emergencies.
Having to move over to the shoulder is never an ideal situation. Drivers stopped on the side of the road are vulnerable to being sideswiped by other drivers or being hit by debris kicked up by cars passing by. But if you aren’t able to safely make it to the next exit or to another safe place to stop, such as a parking lot, moving over to the shoulder is preferable to being stopped in a lane of traffic. In the state of Michigan, there is a law which basically states, “If you can steer it, clear it.”
If you are able to get your car over to the shoulder, try to do so by making controlled movements while using your signals to let other drivers know what you’re doing. Don’t forget to turn on your hazard lights. If you need to stop because of a car accident, moving your car to safety is not considered leaving the scene of an accident. Once you make it over to the shoulder, the safest thing to do is put your car in park and stay in your car with your seatbelt on while you call for help. The seatbelt will help protect you if you get hit by another car.
Very often, traffic crashes involving cars stopped on the side of the road occur when people leave their vehicles, which is why it’s so important to stay in your car. If you must get out of your car, stay as far away from traffic as possible, preferably keeping your car between yourself and traffic. If you have something reflective or brightly colored you can wear, wearing it can make you more visible to other drivers.
If you need to stop on the shoulder at night, make sure you leave your headlights on in addition to your hazard lights. This will help other drivers on the road see you more clearly so that, hopefully, they will slow down or move over to give you some extra space. It will also make it easier for roadside assistance or emergency vehicles to find you.
If you find yourself in a situation where you have to pull over and stop on the shoulder of a road, the actions of a careless driver can easily make a bad situation even worse. If you’ve been injured in a car accident, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a car accident lawyer. By working with a lawyer, you’ll have someone on your side who can answer all your questions and fight for you to get the compensation you need. At Goodwin & Scieszka, we’re highly experienced in helping Michigan car accident victims. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.
Image: iStock / Yaroslav Sabitov