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Keeping Safe When Pulling Over

By Jason Bottlinger on August 17, 2021

If you have to pull over on the side of the road, it would be wise to use extra caution. Hundreds of people die and thousands are injured in stopped vehicle crashes every year in the U.S. During a recent three-year period, each year an estimated 566 people were killed and 14,371 were injured in crashes involving disabled vehicles, as reported by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Visibility was a likely factor in all of these wrecks.

How Do Stopped-Vehicle Crashes Happen?

In a study conducted by IIHS, researchers found that 95% of inconspicuous-vehicle collisions occur when a vehicle traveling down the road collides with a stationary vehicle. More than half the fatalities and one in five serious injuries occur when a vehicle strikes a person who is leaving, returning to, or working on a stopped vehicle. About 18% of approximately 800 pedestrian fatalities on U.S. interstates and freeways every year are due to disabled vehicles.

What Can You Do to Help Keep Yourself Safe?

It may be necessary to pull over and stop your vehicle if you need roadside assistance or you were just involved in a collision. The following steps can keep you safe if that should happen:

  • Take your time pulling over: Turn your hazards on to alert other drivers that there is a problem with your vehicle, so you can pull off the road more easily. Brake slowly and pull gradually out of the lane onto the shoulder.
  • Pull over onto the right side of the road: If you pull over on the left side, you put yourself and your car between two opposite lanes of traffic. The right side of the road usually allows more room to get away from oncoming vehicles.
  • Keep your hazard lights on after dark: Other drivers are less likely to hit you if they can see you.
  • Carry flares, cones, reflectors, and warning flags: Carry these items in your trunk and use them if you have to stop on the side of the road. The more visible your vehicle is, the better.
  • Set the parking brake: When the parking brake is engaged, the vehicle will not roll as easily if someone hits it.
  • Move your vehicle off the road as far as possible: Put as much space between your car and oncoming vehicles as you can. Park as far over on the shoulder as possible, or on the ground next to the shoulder if the area is smooth and flat.
  • Be careful where you stand: Do not stand directly behind or in front of your vehicle. If you are standing behind it, you could be pinned against the car if it is struck by another vehicle. If you are standing in front of your car, it could run over you if struck by another vehicle from behind. It is best to stand on the side of the car opposite the roadway. If there is a railing you can step over and stand behind safely, do so. If you stand in front of the vehicle, move a few hundred feet away from it.

Who Do You Call for Help?

If your vehicle has broken down, you may need to call roadside assistance or someone to help you repair it or tow it off the roadway. If you have been involved in a collision, call the police to get a report on file. You may also want to call an Omaha personal injury attorney if you were hurt in a crash that was someone else’s fault or struck by a vehicle while waiting on the side of the road. Call Bottlinger Law L.L.C. at (402) 505-8234 for a legal team that provides real solutions for real people.



Posted in: Traffic Safety

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