The days are short. The air is cold. And, roads are often slick with rain, snow or ice.
It’s winter driving season in Texas. And, while most people know what to do to try to avoid an accident, many don’t know what to do after one. It’s vital knowledge to have, because the aftermath of a crash can be just as dangerous as the crash itself — especially when it’s cold and snowy.
Here are five things to do (or not do) if you’re in an accident this winter to help keep yourself and others safe:
- Make sure everyone’s OK — then get off the road if you can. The safety of everyone involved in a crash is the first concern, of course. So, check on the occupants of each vehicle and call for emergency assistance if it’s needed. Then, if the vehicles are drivable, get them off the road as soon – and as carefully – as possible.
- Stay in your car if you can’t safely move away. If you can’t get your car off the road, but you can get off the road, wait until there’s no traffic around and then move well out of the way. Otherwise, stay in the car so you’re protected from other vehicles.
- Stay visible — and warm. Turn on your hazard lights and put up road flares so other vehicles know something is wrong. And, grab your vehicle emergency kit (you have one, right?) for blankets and extra clothing. If you’ve run off the road and you’re still in your car, make sure nothing is blocking your exhaust pipe. Otherwise carbon monoxide may build up.
- If you’re stranded, stay put. Running off the road in a remote area is scary, but resist the urge to try to walk for help. You risk getting lost, especially during a storm, if you set off on foot.
- See a crash? Don’t always stop to help. Being a Good Samaritan could cause more problems than it solves. So, if those involved aren’t in immediate danger, call 911 and let the professionals help with medical aid and traffic control.
It’s not always easy, but keeping a cool head after an accident will do more than help everyone get through a stressful situation — it will help keep everyone safer, too.