If you can steer it, clear it! It’s not something you want to have to deal with, but it happens on our freeways practically every day. Accidents. Do you know what you need to do if it happens to you? In this month’s Drivers Ed with Debbie, she takes us through what we need to do in an accident on the freeway.
There’s a law on the books that a lot of folks don’t realize is there, but it affects your commute anytime there’s an accident, it’s called “Steer it and Clear it.”
Wisconsin State Patrol Captain Nate Clarke says “The statute basically was put into place 20 years ago to allow for motorists to be able to move their vehicles without fear of any type of civil liability from the roadway where the crash occurred to get it out of the traffic.”
Now, wait a minute, I thought we weren’t supposed to move our cars after an accident till the police get there. I mean, there’s evidence isn’t there?
“So that’s the next step in this statute, law enforcement can now also advise you to move those vehicles out of the roadway,” explains Clarke.
Now, this really only counts. If it’s a property damage, only accident.
Clarke says, “Property damage crash, they’re pretty simple to figure out. We can do that from the safety of the roadway, or the crash investigation sites.”
On average, did you know that for every minute a car is in the lane of traffic flow, four minutes of delay materializes? So if you’re in traffic, say for five minutes, it’ll turn into a 20 minute delay when all is said and done. Anyone who’s been stuck in traffic knows how aggravating that is. That’s what the statute is made for. But what if there are injuries?
Clarke says, “Personal injury crashes are not covered under the steer it and clear it law. So that’s something that we do want to be able to get eyes on, it’s a little bit more serious, and there may be some criminal impacts, resulting from those crashes.”
So what’s our step by step when in an accident on the freeway?
“The first thing to do is of course, we want you to get out and confirm that there are no other injuries to the other involved parties in the crash. Once we’ve determined that there is nobody injured because life safety is the most important thing that we should be talking about, we want you to move those vehicles to a safe location. We would prefer you to move over to the right shoulder that’s going to allow traffic to continue to flow past the crash scene and expedite law enforcement response to the crash scene. Once you’re there, we want you to call 911 and wait for arriving law enforcement response.” says Clarke.
And for heaven’s sakes stay in your vehicle. Secondary crashes are real.
Clarke explains, “Statistics show that about a fifth of secondary crashes resulted in fatalities and so the safest place for a human being is inside the protection system of another motor vehicle, wait for law enforcement to respond and the officer will guide you from there.”
What if the other driver looks shady and may take off before you get any information?
Clarke says, “Well, the number one thing they should do is note down the license plate of the vehicle and description of the vehicle getting that information relayed via that 911 phone call is very important because it’s going to be recorded for posterity.”
And don’t forget your trusty camera on your phone. Take a snapshot of the car and the motorist. If you want emergency crews or law enforcement to get to your scene as soon as possible. Don’t create a jam up.
Clarke says, “The safest thing that you can do in a property damage crash is steer it and clear it get out of the roadway, get onto the shoulder get to the new crash investigation sites that we have around southeastern Wisconsin and await for law enforcement response.”
Learn more here about what you should do if you’re in a crash.
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