Safety Rules for Drivers when you encounter an accident on the highway.
Driving is an important part of everyday American life. Over the course of our lives, most of us will spend tens of thousands of hours behind the wheel, if not more. That being the case, it is all but a certainty that at some point you will encounter an accident, even if you aren’t involved. You may have heard about the recent incident in which a firefighter was seriously injured and another individual was killed. The crash closed northbound lanes of US 19 at Innisbrook Drive for several hours.
Here at Wagner Law, our team of Tampa Bay personal injury attorneys are deeply concerned any time we hear about accidents like this one –especially about the problem of so-called “pile-up accidents.” Incidents like these pose not only a terrible problem of danger to the victims but also a significant challenge to any good Tampa Bay car accident lawyer.
As firetrucks arrived on the scene, they were struck by trucks going in the opposite direction. Sadly, this is a danger that first responders must deal with on a regular basis. Given this danger, it is so important that passing cars and onlookers know how to respond when they witness or come upon an accident on the road.
The question so many people ask their Tampa Bay car accident attorney is, “What’s the best thing to do if I witness an accident?” Whether you witness the accident as it happens, or come upon the scene moments later, there are certain things you should do and should not do.
Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore on What to Do if You Encounter the Scene of an Accident
The list of things to do and not to do are ranked with deference to the prevention of further accident and injury. Everything you do and do not do should be prioritized by that one principle.
The first step must be preventative in nature. It is critical that drivers be alert when they are behind the wheel, looking ahead as much as practicable; scanning for danger before you encounter an accident is a skill that every driver should develop. This includes being aware of the sounds and light patterns that emergency vehicles use. Become familiar with the various sounds ambulances, firetrucks, and police vehicles employ. Knowing these things will help you respond accordingly.
Keep Your Distance
This may be the most important thing to keep in mind and to do at or near the scene of an accident. Do whatever it takes to not contribute to the accident by becoming an obstruction to first responders. In some cases, people are compelled to view the scene of a crash. If someone you know is involved, this may be understandable. If you must observe, move your vehicle away from the accident and watch on foot from a reasonable and safe distance.
Can You Help?
If you saw the accident take place, your description of the event may be valuable to police and other first responders. You may observe from a distance, as described above, and wait for the time and opportunity to tell police, firefighters, and EMTs anything you saw which you believe might help.
If you are willing and able, you might use any road flairs or road cones you may have to create a warning for drivers coming toward the scene. Do not deploy your cones or flairs in the middle of the road and do not attempt to cordon off the crash area yourself. Simply deploy your alert traffic devices on the shoulder of the road, perhaps several yards apart, along a quarter-mile of road approaching the scene. This should not create an obstruction of any kind but should only warn drivers that they are approaching a hazard.
Of course, you are not obligated to do any of these things if you are not involved in the accident. The most important thing is to be alert enough to see the accident before you reach it and to get clear of the area as quickly as possible.
When to Call a Tampa Bay Accident Attorney