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After an accident, should you move off the road?

Posted by Allison Ruuska on 2/4/2008 at 1:00 PM

Car accidents can wreak havoc on an otherwise peaceful day. Even if they're minor, they often can create confusion about how to react and what to do immediately following an accident. A common question people have is, "Should I move my car off the road after an accident?" The answer to that question varies.

 

Let's look at some scenarios to determine whether you should move your car or not. Keep in mind that states may have different guidelines around what to do, so call your local highway patrol or law enforcement office to find out what your area recommends.

Fender Benders With No Injuries

If you're involved in a minor fender bender, such as another car rear-ending you or a car changing lanes into you, it's probably best to move your cars out of traffic after verifying no one is hurt. In fact, several states have signs along major highways that advise you to move your car off the road after a minor accident.

Once you move your car off the road, you still need to keep safety at the top of your mind. If possible, park your car in an area that is easily visible to upcoming cars so you don't raise your chances of getting hit by passing vehicles.

If you stay in your car, keep your seat belt on at all times. If you get out of your car, try to exit it on the opposite side of passing traffic, even if that means crawling to the passenger side of the car. When standing outside to exchange information or look at the damage, try to stand in front of or behind your car, but not beside it on the traffic side. Remember to try to stay as visible as possible. If you have flares, set them and stand as far from your vehicle and passing vehicles as you can.

Remember to keep your distance, even after law enforcement or other help arrives. Other drivers may not be paying attention, which still makes the situation dangerous for you.

Accidents With Injuries

If someone is hurt in an accident, or if a vehicle can't be driven afterward, leave your vehicles where they are — even if they're blocking traffic. Call for help as soon as possible, and be cognizant of approaching vehicles, as well as your own vehicle. You may need to remain in the car for a bit, or you may need to exit quickly. Either way, try to leave your vehicle by the safest exit possible. If you can get out on the opposite side of passing traffic, do so. Remember to keep your seat belt on as long as possible.

Another reason to leave your vehicle in the line of traffic is because law enforcement may need to inspect evidence about the crash for their investigation. By leaving your vehicle where it is — even if it snags traffic — law enforcement officers can try to gauge what happened, as well as who might be at fault for the accident. Depending on the circumstances, speed and point of impact can be determined from the evidence at the scene of the accident.

Safety Is Most Important

If your vehicle can be driven out of traffic, you most likely should move it away from traffic in an attempt to keep those involved safe. If your vehicle can't be moved, keep your seat belt on if you remain in the car, or exit the car when no other vehicles are coming up behind you. At all times, be aware of your surroundings, and remember that help will arrive, so stay calm and don't panic.

For even more safety tips, visit our Driving Safety section.

The information in this blog may vary based on your particular state or situation. Always refer to your insurance policy for your specific coverages.

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