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Avoiding Accidents with Stranded Vehicles

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December 10, 2017
Edward Smith

Avoiding Accidents with Stranded Vehicles

Preventing Accidents with Stalled Vehicles

As you and your family travel onto the highway this holiday season, please be careful. You may come across a stranded vehicle or worse, experience a malfunction of your own, leaving you and your family stalled out there on the side of the road somewhere. Do you know how to respond to such a crisis? Continue reading to learn some very important safety tips.

Breaking Down on the Highway

The California Highway Patrol (CHP) recommends that drivers attempt to steer their malfunctioning vehicle clear of traffic lanes. Stranded motorists should call for help and remain in their cars with their seat belts fastened while they wait for assistance. Standing, walking, or pushing a vehicle near a highway should be avoided if possible.

Stranded Vehicle Fatalities

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 41 people died last year while working on or standing near disabled vehicles along California’s roads. Over 60% of those accidents were on the state’s freeways. Just last month a Sacramento man, Mark Poss, was killed by an alleged drunk driver after pulling over to help a stranded motorist push their vehicle down the 15th street off ramp from the W/X freeway. Another man was killed by a drunk driver in 2015 after stopping to assist the stalled vehicle of a family member who had run out of gas. These tragedies have left the surviving family members and friends of the deceased parties in so much pain and anguish.

Dangerous Situations

Occupying a stalled vehicle near a high-speed thoroughfare like a freeway is an inherently dangerous situation to be in. While many advise stranded motorists to wait in their vehicles, it can likely be safer to wait as far away from the roadway and car as possible. Experts cite statistics showing the substantial risk of being rear-ended, including the alarming rates of fatal accidents suffered by tow truck operators as high as one death every six days. Considering that tow trucks are larger vehicles than passenger cars and come equipped with a more substantial array of flashing lights, it is difficult to imagine a commuter car with its hazard lights on will offer much protection. While motorists can position road flares to maximize the visibility of their disabled vehicles, it may be advisable to wait in another location.

Move-Over Law

If you encounter a disabled vehicle or other vehicles with illuminated and flashing amber lights, be sure to move out of the adjacent lane if safe and possible. Emergency vehicles marked Department of Transportation vehicles, and tow trucks are also entitled to this courtesy. Drivers are required to approach these vehicles with caution and if necessary must slow to a safe and reasonable speed. Please be safe out there this holiday season and remember to move over if you come across a stranded vehicle.

Related Articles by Sacramento Car Accident Lawyer, Ed Smith:

Sacramento Car Accident Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Car Accident Lawyer in Sacramento. Have you or a loved one been injured in an accident caused by the negligence of another party? I can help. Please reach out to me at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 for compassionate, free and friendly advice. I can also be reached online anytime at

I have served the Sacramento community for over 35 years, helping injured people and their families with personal injury and wrongful death claims. See some of the comments and reviews my valued clients have left on Yelp, Avvo, and Google.

I have won cases worth over one million dollars, earning me the distinction of membership to the Million Dollar Forum. You can find summaries of my past Verdicts and Settlements posted to my website for your review.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Cop Car by ElijahBosley. CC BY 2.0

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