How to Stay Safe When You’re Pulled Over on the Side of the Road
There are various reasons why you may need to pull over to the side of the road. A police officer may stop you for speeding, an accident could have occurred, or maybe you have a flat tire. Accidents can also happen once you have pulled over, so it is critical to understand how and where to pull over, so you can stay safe in a stopped car.
How Safe is the Shoulder?
Pedestrians account for approximately 12% of all interstate highway deaths in the roadway or on the shoulder. To avoid being one of these unfortunate people, it is best to follow these safety tips.
Pick a Safe Place to Stop
If you are able, try to find a safe place to stop. Look for somewhere that is well-lit and leaves plenty of room between your car and the moving traffic.
If the police are pulling you over, it is acceptable to go a short distance to find a safe place to stop. Slowing down and turning on your hazard lights lets the officer know you intend to stop when it is safe.
On a highway, try to choose an area with a large shoulder, so there is plenty of space between you and the oncoming traffic.
If you are involved in an accident, pull over to the shoulder but as far as possible away from the road and the vehicles.
Make Sure Your Vehicle Can Be Seen
According to the National Safety Council, one of the best ways to avoid an accident when pulled over is to make sure the car is visible.
Turn on your hazard lights, and if you have flares or reflective triangles, you should set them out so your car is visible but does not obstruct traffic.
Stay in Your Car if You Can
Unless it is necessary, don’t get out of your car. Another driver is more likely to see your car (especially if your hazard lights are on) than they are to see you. If you need to exit your vehicle, exit on the side of the car furthest away from traffic and ensure the road is clear.
If a police officer has pulled you over, always remain in the car while they run your license plates, and never exit the vehicle unless they direct you to do so.
Move Over to the Next Lane if There is a Car on the Shoulder
Whenever possible, you should move over to the next lane if a vehicle is on the shoulder.
This was originally designed to protect emergency workers, but it is now standard driving protocol.
According to the CDC, one law enforcement officer is killed almost every week in the United States in an auto accident, making these accidents the leading cause of death for police officers.
What to Do if You are in an Accident on the Shoulder
If you are injured on Missouri roads, you should know state laws that could impact your claim. In Missouri, the statute of limitations depends on whether the accident caused property damage, injury, or death.
- Under Missouri Revised Statutes section 516.120, anyone injured in a car accident must file a lawsuit within five years of the date of the accident.
- The same five-year deadline applies to an accident that caused vehicle or other property damage.
- If the accident caused the death of someone and the family wishes to bring a wrongful death claim, the lawsuit must be filed within three years. Time starts to run from the person’s death which may be different from the date of the accident, per Missouri Revised Statutes section 537.100
If you try to file a lawsuit after the deadline, the defendant can apply to dismiss your claim.
If you are partly or even mostly at fault for the accident, you may still be able to make a claim. Missouri has a comparative fault rule that allows for financial recovery even if the party is partly or mostly at fault. The amount of damages you can recover is reduced by your level of fault in causing the crash. So if you were 50% to blame, then the amount of your damages would be reduced by 50%.
Contact Cofman Townsley if You’re Injured in a Car Accident
If you have been hurt in a car accident, you need guidance on the complex procedure of collecting evidence, dealing with insurance company lawyers, and making sure you get the compensation you deserve.
The St. Louis car accident lawyers at Cofman Townsley can help. We pride ourselves on building trusted relationships with our clients and have been active members of the St. Louis community for over 40 years. To understand what compensation you may be entitled to after a crash, contact us today for a free consultation.