Road Safety is Everyone’s Responsibility

January 4, 2012

A person was killed today on San Diego's Freeway's, and regrettably, it appears that the death may have been preventable. A white sedan stalled near the center divide and was later rear-ended by another vehicle.

Everyone that drives on a California highway needs to be aware that safety considerations don't stop when your vehicle does.

If your car stalls on a busy freeway you need to know what to do. Unfortunately, there is not a one-size-fits-all response to this need, as there are many different conditions on the road that can significantly increase or decrease the danger of your situation. However, the State of California Department of Motor Vehicles has some basic advice for drivers:

  • If you are driving in heavy traffic, and your vehicle loses engine power, do not try to slow yourself down, as you need every bit of forward momentum to carry you to the shoulder or an area where you can safely stop. Stepping on the brakes might seem to be the natural thing to do, but in certain situations it can be the last thing you should do.
  • Always do whatever you can to get your car out of a traffic lane. It is best to pull over to the right shoulder, but if that is simply impossible then the center divider is better than being in traffic. If stuck in the center divider, stay in your car, fasten seatbelts, make sure that your headrest is set up right, and stay calm.
  • If you cannot reach either the right shoulder or the center divider, and your car is stuck in a lane in traffic, you need to do everything you can to protect yourself. Make sure your seatbelts are securely fashioned, and under no circumstances should you attempt to get out of your vehicle and run across moving traffic in an attempt to reach the shoulder or the divider.
  • If your car is stopped in a traffic lane, point its wheels in the direction of the road so that it follows the lane and the flow of traffic.

Keep this in mind whenever you must stop your vehicle along the highway. Whether it is for a flat tire or other engine trouble, if you are able to get the car out of the lanes of traffic make every effort to do so. The further off the road the better. Even in this safe location, there can be times where getting everyone out of the car and to a safer location may be prudent. If there is a concrete divide providing shelter, consider getting everyone behind it. If there is an embankment that is safely accessible, consider waiting there until help can arrive. For more information, please see the California DMV pamphlet.

It could save your life.