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Monday, June 13

Fender bender? Get it off the road!

We've all done it. If not, you will. When we get in that one of 3-5 crashes we'll experience in our lifetimes there are always a few thoughts that run through our minds.
  • First we wonder if everyone is alright (at least, that should be the first thought...).
  • Next we try to recall exactly what happened so we can get our story straight for the police.
  • Then we call the police or other emergency services division, reporting injuries if they exist.
  • Finally we contact our insurance company to report the collision and begin the process of filing a claim.
While these thoughts are good and should be had by a driver who's just experienced a collision, there's a critical step forgotten so often SAPD asked us to begin running public service announcements on the topic.
That's right. Even State Farm recommends including - early - the step of getting out and away from the travel lanes. Allstate as well. Geico and esurance has it as their first bullet point. What's more, it's a state law here in Texas.

That's right: it's a law in the great state of Texas that, after a collision, you are to move your car off the active lane of traffic. If your car is entirely disabled, well ... that's a different story. But if it will still drive, get it - and yourself - out of the way. Here's why:
  • Personal safety. It's really dangerous for you to be standing there while active traffic is zooming by. Get yourself out of harm's way and off on the shoulder.
  • Traffic congestion. Taking a single lane out of commission increases traffic congestion tremendously. Think about it - when you've got, say, four lanes and one is blocked you're adding the traffic from that lane to the other three. It increases congestion by 30 percent. Take two of the four lanes and you're literally doubling congestion. Add to that the rubbernecking which happens ... yeah. It's not pretty. Pretty soon you've doubled everyone's commute times (if not tripled) because you've stayed in the traffic lane.
  • You may be waiting a while. If you've got no injuries and you're waiting for police to arrive to get your statement and file a crash report, you could be waiting a while. While it's important to get your issue resolved, the truth is you're not an emergency situation. Law enforcement will bump you down the list if an emergency arises. Getting out of the way can help your wait be a little less stressful.
Most folks don't pull to the side of the road for fear of disturbing the scene of the crash, thinking they are hurting their chances of a successful insurance claim. This isn't true. Most states - and major cities - have a rule like this on the books, and insurance companies are getting the message. It's telling even the insurance companies are asking you to get the car over to the shoulder and out of traffic before calling the police to get that report.

So ... get with the program. Hopefully today isn't your day for a crash. Statistically that only comes about every 10-15 years. But when it does happen, make sure you know what to do and get your car off the road as quickly as possible.