interstate shoulder crashAn unfortunate fender bender this past holiday weekend led to a fatal chain reaction traffic accident on the Long Island Expressway. Sadly, the accident involving four vehicles on Saturday around midnight left several people injured, including children, and killed a 31-year-old father from Selden.

After rear-ending a Mercedes going eastbound near Exit 49, the Selden man got out of his vehicle to speak to the driver of the Mercedes. On his way back to his vehicle, the man was fatally struck by another car who did not see him walking on the shoulder of the highway.

The Dangers of Interstate Shoulder Accidents

Interstate highways are becoming increasingly more dangerous to drive on. Traffic accidents taking place on these fast-paced roadways are often catastrophic, ending in severe to permanent injuries and unnecessary fatalities.

For pedestrians and vehicles on the shoulder of these highways, the risks of injuries are even higher. Although the shoulder of the road was intentionally designed for cars to pull off in the case of an emergency, these areas are proving to be deadly.

According to AAA, an estimated 12% of traffic fatalities are the result of shoulder accidents, taking the lives of over 600 Americans a year.

These deadly accidents can be caused by a number of factors including:

  • congested roads
  • distracted drivers
  • aggressive drivers
  • impaired drivers
  • inclement weather
  • poor visibility
  • road rage
  • improper road entry
  • pedestrians crossing into the road

In light of the tragic accident last weekend and to help prevent similar fatalities in the future, Long Island safety officials are warning all drivers about the dangers of walking or parking on the shoulder of the highway, and what you should do in the case of a highway accident.

Getting Out of the Car… A Deadly Mistake

It’s every driver’s first reaction to jump out of his or her vehicle after an accident to inspect the possible damage that was done, but safety officials warn drivers to resist the urge.

Motorists on the highways are typically traveling at high speeds and focused on getting where they need to go quickly. They may be looking out for obvious highway hazards such as construction cones, emergency vehicles, and maintenance trucks, but pedestrians or parked cars on the side of the road can be hard to see and often off the radar.

Secondary Accidents Can Happen

Drivers and passengers who remain inside of a car parked on the shoulder are not out of harm’s way.

Drivers who are drunk, drowsy, distracted, or aggressive motorists known for attempting illegal passes using the shoulder, can easily strike cars parked on the side of the road causing injuries to occupants.

Even more dangerous, most people remove their seatbelts and wander about the vehicle after an accident. In the case of a secondary collision caused by a passing car, these individuals are putting themselves at risk of being ejected from the vehicle and possibly out onto the road.

Accidents After The Fact

One of the most dangerous road maneuvers to pull off is entering back onto a busy highway. Some drivers who take every precaution to avoid being hit while on the shoulder can still suffer injuries from accidents that happen when they inappropriately merge back into traffic.

Cars who are not paying attention and drivers too anxious to get going again can cause serious damage and cause pile-up crashes.

What To Do In A Highway Accident

If you are in an accident or have a maintenance issue that requires you to pull over on the shoulder of a busy highway, follow these safety tips to keep you and your passengers safe:

Stay in the Car

Call the police to report an accident, or a tow truck and/or service such as AAA for maintenance issues as soon as you pull over. Remain in your vehicle until they arrive and have blocked off the scene.

Keep Your Seatbelts On

Ensure everyone in your vehicle remains in their seats with their seatbelts fastened correctly. Seatbelts can reduce the severity of injuries up to 50%.

Turn On Your Emergency Flashers

Always put your emergency flashers on when parked on the shoulder to alert other vehicles that you are stopped.

Pull Over All The Way

Make sure your car is far enough over onto the shoulder where passing vehicles cannot easily clip it.

Take Your Time Merging

Never rush to get back onto the road from the shoulder. Only merge when you can do so safely and pay attention to the cars in all lanes in case someone is lane changing near you.

If the maintenance on your car can wait, it’s best to do so. Make a practical assessment of any maintenance issues you experience on the highway. Only park on the shoulder when it’s absolutely necessary before putting you and others in your vehicle in danger.

Help Prevent Highway Shoulder Accidents

Drivers on the road can help prevent injuries and fatalities resulting from shoulder accidents by slowing down and paying attention. If you see a car or pedestrian on the side of the highway, move over, and encourage other vehicles to do the same to avoid preventable accidents.

If you or a loved one has sustained a serious injury from a highway shoulder accident, the law firm of Siler & Ingber will fight back for you. Our expert team of personal injury attorneys has been seeking justice for driver negligence on Long Island roadways for over 20 years. Contact us at 1-877-LAW-4343 for a free consultation today to review your case and discuss your options.