When driving on the highway in Texas, the last thing that you expect is to be involved in an accident. But even if you are operating your vehicle safely, there are others on the road who may be engaging in distracted driving or otherwise negligent behavior that puts you at risk of being involved in a collision on the highway.
Highway accidents can be particularly worrisome for a number of reasons, including that they often happen when vehicles are traveling at high speeds, and therefore involve greater amounts of force. Another reason that these accidents are so scary is that after they occur, drivers are often unsure of what to do, as cars may still be whizzing by, making exiting the vehicle dangerous.
If you are involved in a highway accident, it’s important to know what to do to protect your safety and your best interests. At Ketterman Rowland & Westlund, our lawyers want to help you if you have been hurt in a crash. Contact us now to schedule a free consultation.
Stop on the side of a highway only if it’s the last resort.
On a road where traffic is moving slowly, stopping and putting on your emergency flashers may not be a big deal. However, in a highway crash where traffic is moving quickly and cars are whizzing by at speeds of 55 miles per hour or more, stopping on the side of the road can be very dangerous.
If you can exit the highway safely ─ i.e. the crash occurs near an exit ramp ─ do so. Then pull over to a safe location. If stopping on the side of the highway is your only option, pull your vehicle as far over as possible and be sure to put on your emergency flashers.
If you can get off the highway, look for a parking lot.
Of course, your vehicle may be so badly damaged, or you may have suffered such severe injuries, that continuing to drive to look for a safe place to stop is not only unwise but impractical. However, if you are able to drive safely, you should find a safe location to stop your vehicle.
Look for a parking lot or another area where traffic will not be passing by, especially at high speeds. Be sure to indicate to the other driver involved in the vehicle your intention to stop ─ roll down your window and signal to the other driver, turn on your emergency flashers, and move slowly so that the other driver doesn’t think you are trying to leave the scene.
Also, if the other driver is unable to exit the highway for whatever reason ─ i.e. serious vehicle damages ─ it is your duty to remain at the scene of the accident as well. Leaving the scene of a crash is against the law in Texas.
Don’t stop near curves and turns. Instead, try to stop on a straight stretch of roadway.
If you do have to stop on the highway, try your best to pull off on a section of the roadway that is straight, providing oncoming drivers with a clear view of your vehicle up ahead. If you stop on a curve or a turn, then drivers who are making that turn may not see your car, increasing your risk of being involved in a secondary collision.
Note that no matter what, you must stop as close to the accident scene as is safely possible.
Don’t get out of the car on the highway. Remain inside the vehicle with your seat belt buckled.
If you do have to stop your vehicle on the highway, note that getting outside of the vehicle may be dangerous. Even if traffic isn’t heavy, it only takes one vehicle passing by with a driver who doesn’t see you to cause a traumatic accident. Instead of getting out of the vehicle, stay seated within your car and leave your seat belt on. Ensure that everyone else in your car stays buckled, too. It may sound like overkill, but in the event that you are struck by another driver who doesn’t see you, having your seat belt buckled could be life-saving.
Hopefully, you have your cellphone handy after a crash, or someone else in your vehicle is equipped with a mobile device. Once you have moved your vehicle to a safe location, call 911 to report the accident while you are still within your car and remain buckled up. When you call the police, be prepared to provide details about the accident, including:
- Your location
- The make, model, and color of the vehicles involved
- Whether or not you suspect that anyone is injured
If you have not been able to communicate with the other driver involved in the crash yet due to your location in an unsafe area, let the operator know this. The operator will send a police officer, as well as any necessary emergency personnel, to the scene of the crash.
Stay with your vehicle until emergency responders arrive. Police can cordon off the area surrounding your crash and direct traffic around your vehicle to keep you safe.
Don’t use road flares. This requires you to exit the vehicle, which is dangerous.
If you have flares within your vehicle, you may be tempted to use them to block off your vehicle and signal to other drivers that they should go around. However, this is a bad idea for a number of reasons.
First, you likely do not have any training in directing traffic, and trying to get traffic to move in a certain way may increase congestion and put others at a risk of being involved in a crash. Second, by setting up road flares, you will need to exit the vehicle, which is dangerous in itself.
Rather than taking the situation into your own hands, wait until the police arrive. Once the police show up, they can handle directing traffic for you, helping to keep everyone safe.
Turn on hazards and interior lights when it is dark outside.
If it’s dark outside, make sure that you do everything possible to help other drivers be able to see your car. This could be the difference between being involved in a secondary crash or not. In addition to turning on your hazard lights/emergency flashers, you should turn on the interior lights within your vehicle.
In the event that it is dark outside, we strongly recommend staying within your vehicle and waiting for the police to arrive, as attempting to exit could be very dangerous. If you have to exit, make sure you use a flashlight. Wave the light over your head so that drivers have some indication that there is a person on the road.
If the car is in a dangerous location, get out of the vehicle but go over to the guardrails, up berms, and as far away as possible from the road.
Sometimes, a motor vehicle crash on the highway is so severe that moving the vehicle isn’t possible. You may be injured, and driving any farther may be unsafe. Or the vehicle may be damaged and unable to move. If your vehicle is stopped in a dangerous place on the highway and moving it is not possible, you may need to exit it. Staying within a vehicle that is in a prime location for a secondary accident can be very dangerous.
However, getting out of the vehicle can also be dangerous, as can waiting on the side of a highway where traffic is moving quickly by. As such, if your car is stopped in a dangerous location and you have to exit, get out, but go over to the guardrails or berms and get as far away from the road as possible.
As you exit, take precautions. Turn on your vehicle flashers and use a light (even the flashlight on your cellphone) to help other drivers see you. Look and listen for oncoming traffic, and don’t try to quickly dart past an oncoming vehicle. Be patient, wait for traffic to cease, and then make your way to a safe location. If it is dark or conditions for visibility are poor, take extra caution.
Don’t try to perform repairs on the side of the vehicle that is exposed to traffic.
If your vehicle has been damaged in a crash, or even if you get a flat tire in an incident that is unrelated to a collision, you may be tempted to pull over to the side of the road and perform simple repairs to get your car moving again. While this may seem sensible, it can actually be very dangerous, especially if repairs are necessary on the side of the vehicle that is exposed to the traffic.
Rather than attempting repairs, call for service and wait for help to arrive. It is not worth risking your life to repair your vehicle yourself on the side of the highway.
Do not risk your safety just to save vehicle’s hubcaps or other parts that may have fallen off.
Parts of your vehicle may have come off as a result of a crash. Do not risk your safety by running out into the road in an attempt to recover vehicle parts. Even larger vehicle parts, such as a tire or bumper, are not worth recovering if it means putting your safety at risk.
When police arrive, they will be able to divert traffic safely to clear the road and collect the parts.
Accept a ride to the hospital for medical treatment.
If you are involved in a collision on the highway, the chances are high that you are injured and need medical care. When the police or first responders arrive, they will likely offer to take you to the hospital (or to another location if your injuries don’t seem serious). You should accept this ride.
In fact, even if your injuries are not immediately apparent, going to the hospital for a medical evaluation is a good idea. Seeking medical treatment soon after being involved in a crash will ensure any injuries are diagnosed promptly and that you receive proper care. This will also ensure your injuries are documented, which is crucial if you need to file a personal injury claim for compensation.
Contact an Attorney Now If You Have Been Injured in a Highway Crash
If you have been hurt in a traffic crash on the highway, do not try to handle a personal injury claim on your own. Work with an experienced motor vehicle crash attorney to ensure your rights are protected. A knowledgeable car accident lawyer from Ketterman Rowland & Westlund can:
- Give you a straightforward explanation of your legal rights and options
- Advise you on what steps to take
- Gather all the necessary evidence to support your case
- Calculate the full extent of your damages, including anticipated losses in the future
- Determine and prove fault
- Manage all the paperwork and communication with the insurance company
- Aggressively negotiate for a fair settlement
- Take your case to trial if a full settlement is not offered
You can reach our car accident attorneys at Ketterman Rowland & Westlund by phone or online. Our legal team offers free initial consultations, so you can get your questions answered without feeling any pressure. Our law firm handles all personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis, which means you only pay us if we win financial compensation for you.
If you are ready to get started on your case, please contact our team today.
Douglas D. Ketterman is the originator and founder of Ketterman, Rowland & Westlund where he currently serves as President and Managing Shareholder. Douglas has extensive experience in handling all types of civil litigation. He graduated with honors from St. Mary’s School of Law in 1989 and has been Board Certified as a Specialist in Personal Injury Trial Law since 1998 by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.