Staying Safe on the Side of the Road

Two Kansas Highway Patrol troopers were recently injured near Topeka when the troopers had pulled the motorist over on the shoulder of I-470 and were conducting a traffic stop. During the stop, a vehicle traveling along the highway struck the rear of the troopers’ patrol car, causing the patrol car to then strike the motorist’s vehicle. Several others were also injured in the crash. While civilian drivers will never have an occasion to pull another driver over on the shoulder of a highway, there are several legitimate reasons why a motorist may nonetheless stop on the side of the road:

  • Mechanical trouble or a flat tire may force the driver to stop and attend to the trouble;
  • The driver may need to stop to address a text message, phone call, or handle a fussy child in the backseat;
  • The motorist simply needs a short break from driving.

Although the reasons for stopping on the shoulder may be different, civilian motorists are just as capable of being injured in a traffic collision on the side of the road.

Safety Tips When You Must Stop on the Side of the Road

Regardless of the reason why you decide to pull off to the shoulder, be safe. The following safety tips can help prevent you or a loved one from suffering serious injuries:

  • Pull off onto the shoulder as far as you can. The closer your car is to the white demarcation line separating the shoulder from the lane of travel, the higher the risk that another driver may inadvertently stray over the line and strike your vehicle – or you;
  • Make yourself and your car as visible as possible. This is especially important at night or in low-visibility conditions. Activate your emergency blinkers and keep your headlights and taillights lit. If you have an emergency car kit equipped with flares and/or road strobes, place these devices intermittently for several yards behind your vehicle. (If you don’t have a properly-equipped emergency car kit in your vehicle, now would be an excellent time to get one.) If possible, wear bright-colored garments or use a reflective vest when you are outside your vehicle.
  • Be alert to traffic. Do not assume that the above-mentioned steps will make you visible to every driver. If you hear a vehicle approaching, visibly watch the vehicle as it approaches and be prepared to take evasive action if it appears the individual does not see you.
  • Limit the number of people outside the vehicle. When more people are outside the car and on the shoulder, this means there is a greater risk of someone in your traveling party suffering serious injury. If someone does not have any legitimate reason to be outside the car, they should wait inside the car.

Do not linger on the shoulder of any highway, whether you are in your car or not. The sooner you can get back on the road and rejoin the normal flow of traffic, the better. (Of course, you should also exercise due care and caution when reentering the highway by checking for traffic, accelerating safely but smoothly, and utilizing your turn signal).

Contact a Kansas Car Crash Attorney Today

If you or a loved one is injured while on the side of the road, Kansas Car Accident Attorney Michael R. Lawless may be able to assist you. If the driver that struck you or your loved one was driving in a careless or negligent manner, you may be entitled to compensation. Call us today at (800) 734-3771 to discuss your case with attorney Michael R. Lawless.