Should You Stay in Your Vehicle After a Crash?
Safety experts and emergency responders are urging car accident victims to stay in their vehicles after a crash except in extenuating circumstances. Since drivers near a car accident are likley to be distracted by the scene, and traffic congestion can make swerving to miss disabled vehicles or people in the road difficult, the risk of a secondary crash occurring is increased. Without the protection of a vehicle, accident victims are in danger of becoming seriously injured or killed.
The Risk of Secondary Accidents
Approximately 9.2% of all motor vehicle crashes are secondary to another traffic incident. When car crashes occur in high-traffic areas or in low-light conditions next to busy roads, secondary accidents and multiple car collisions are likely. Debris from the original accident, sudden traffic stops, and distracted drivers can make it difficult for drivers to navigate safely past existing crash sites.
Similarly, poor weather can increase the risk of a secondary accident. Motorists standing beside their vehicles can be difficult to see in heavy rain or snowfall. And if slippery roads or dense rain caused the first accident, it is likely that other cars will also lose control, causing them to careen into the cash site.
Reducing the Risk
While it is not always ideal, AAA safety experts and officials from the State Patrol recommend staying inside a vehicle after a crash occurs in most circumstances. The vehicle will provide some protection against such a strike. Nationwide, it is estimated that 16% of pedestrian fatalities occur on freeways. It is suggested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that a significant number of these involve broken down motorists.
Motorists should always have an emergency kit in their car that includes flashers, flares, collapsible pylons, and flashlights. It should also have reflective strips that can be affixed to clothing following a crash. These safety tools can increase motorists’ visibility and reduce the risk of a secondary crash.
If the vehicle is blocking traffic in a high-speed area and cannot be moved, remaining in the car may not be the best option. Motorists in these situations should move to a location where they can safely await the arrival of emergency responders.