Staying Safe in a Crash on the Highway

Some say it's best to not get out of your car

FARGO, N.D. — One of the first things people do when they get into an accident on the highway is get out of their car.

“They want to get away from the damage, they want to make sure they’re ok, it’s a panic situation,” said Sgt. Tim Coughlin with the North Dakota State Highway Patrol (NDSHP).

But even for state troopers, stepping out into traffic is not an option.

“It’s the number one no–no for us,” Coughlin said.

Authorities say if you get into an accident, the best thing to do is always stay in your car. But if you do decide to get out, always check your mirror first.

“As troopers, when we make traffic stops on the interstate, the very first thing we do when we stop is we check out mirrors to make sure it’s safe for us to step out of our vehicle,” Coughlin said. “Be very, very cautious in a crash, breakdown, anything like that. You really have to be cognizant of the traffic around you. Don’t assume that people see you.”

Especially at night when it can be even harder to see what’s on the road which is why state troopers recommend changing up your wardrobe.

“The headlights on a vehicle have to catch you just right. People aren’t expecting to see you there. Wear brighter clothing. If you’re depending on drivers to see you, dark clothing is not a good idea,” Coughlin said.

If you do have to get out of the car, some say it’s also best to walk as far away from the road as possible.

“Stay well away from the roadway itself, close to the grass, if not down in the grass if you can,” Coughlin said.

But of course, you can’t forget the most important things highway patrol says you should do first.

“Obviously you’re going to call 9–1–1 right away, property crash is the same thing. You’re also going to want to make sure the other people in the other vehicle are ok if it’s a two vehicle crash,” Coughlin said.

With accidents happening on the highway all the time, it’s why some say you can never be too careful.

“One is too many. It does happen and it does happen every year. You have to be very, very careful,” Coughlin said.

NDSHP does give out tickets to people who just choose to walk on the highway and have no reason to be there.

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