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Nighttime Car Accidents & Safety

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Whether involved in an accident, running out of gas or having car trouble in general, a busy highway can be especially dangerous at night.  Reduced visibility and potential driver fatigue are factors in many nighttime accidents and deaths each year.  Knowing what do to in a nighttime emergency may prevent an accident and save your life.  Here's some safety steps to take when such vehicle problems occur;

  • Immediately activate your hazard flashers.
  • Get all the way off the road if you possibly can. Disabled vehicles in the roadway tend to get hit, sometimes due to following drivers speeding, failing to keep a lookout, etc. Even if you are innocent and the driver who hits you is grossly negligent in 100 ways, the outcome for you will not be good if you are hit.
  • Quickly note your vehicle’s locations – landmarks, mile markers, etc. – to give to the 911 operator and roadside assistance.
  • Call 911 for police and if appropriate call your auto club for roadside assistance.
  • If your car is disabled in a traffic lane, get yourself completely out of the road. If you are on the interstate, it may be safest to wait on the grassy right-of-way completely off the pavement. Getting cold and wet is better than being hit by a tractor trailer at highway speed.
  • If you must exit the vehicle try to do so from the passenger’s side, away from traffic. If that is not feasible, at least pull as far off the traffic lanes as possible. If you are blocked in by a concrete wall, just don’t get out. Either drive up the emergency lane to the next exit with you hazard lights flashing or sit still with you hazard lights flashing while waiting for assistance. That may be the “least bad” option.
  • If you wait in your vehicle, put up the hood and lock your doors. Exercise discernment about offers of help from strangers. Generally, ask them to call police for assistance. If you are threatened or harassed while waiting in your car, honk the horn repeatedly and flash the lights to attract attention. Don’t leave the engine on for extended periods to heat or cool the vehicle. You could put yourself and any passengers at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • If you have flares, reflective triangles, etc., set them out if you can do so. But be very careful to avoid any oncoming traffic.
  • Place a “Send Help” sign in a window so it is visible to other motorists. Open the vehicle’s hood and leave it open. Tie a light colored cloth to the antennae or door handle.
  • If possible, stay with the vehicle until uniformed law enforcement arrives, especially at night or during bad weather.
  • If you are stuck in an ice storm and slide off the road due to other vehicles stopping in front of you, exercise great caution in attempts to get back on the road. In such situations, calling 911 may be useless as police are already overwhelmed, and staying on the road overnight in the cold carries its own dangers including hypothermia and carbon monoxide poisoning. If you try to push you vehicle back onto the road in the ice, keep a watch out for oncoming hazards.
  • If you need to change a tire, exercise extreme caution regarding traffic. Too often we see reports of people stuck and killed while trying to change a tire in the emergency lane. It is better to ruin a tire or even a wheel by running on a rim to the next exit than to sacrifice your life for a tire. If you have to change a tire on the roadside, make sure you are way out of the traffic lanes. Don’t just park in the emergency lane of an interstate; park with the right side wheel well onto the grass. Better yet, call for roadside assistance so the flat tire can be addressed by a guy in a tow truck with flashing emergency light who will park behind you and both warn and block oncoming traffic.
  • Avoid standing directly behind or in front of your vehicle. Other drivers may not be able to see you, with potentially fatal results.
  • If you decide you must walk, write down: Your name, the date, the time you left, the direction you are going, the plate number of the vehicle you are riding in, description of the vehicle, name and description of the person you are riding with. Notify law enforcement of the location and circumstances in which you left your vehicle.

By practicing these safety steps, you may avoid injury or having a minor car issue to into a major one!  If an accident does arise and you or a loved one are injured, contact the attorneys at LDM&M.   Acting promptly to preserve your rights is essential after any accident.  For over 40 years, the attorneys at LDM&M have been helping individuals across Wisconsin receive the legal satisfaction that they deserve.  Contact our offices for a free, personal consolation.