Interstate safety tips

After hearing of the tragic accident that took the life of a father in front of his children and injured others on Interstate 95 at Willis Road, I felt it important to write this article. As a firefighter that served in fire stations that responded to the interstate, I know the dangers associated with these thoroughfares. The dangers to public servants became so great that many departments, including Chesterfield Fire & EMS, send additional equipment to the interstate to set up as safe a work zone as possible for first responders. The first point that I will make is that most ordinary citizens do not have the ability to set up their own personal block. Therefore, if at all possible, do not use the shoulder of any interstate to make repairs to any vehicle unless absolutely necessary. What am I saying? If you have to drive on the rim of your vehicle, then do so to get off of the interstate. No tire or wheel is worth your life.

Here is a list of do’s and dont’s, concerning the interstates:

  • Do not switch drivers on the shoulder of any interstate. Exit the interstate and find a safe parking lot to do this.
  • Do not use the shoulder of any interstate to stop and rest, or have a conversation.
  • If at all possible, get off of the interstate to repair a flat tire or make repairs to a broken down vehicle.
  • If your vehicle dies on the interstate, then you must get your vehicle out of the lanes of travel as soon as possible. If this is not possible, and your vehicle comes to rest in a lane of travel, then you must call state police, and safely get out of your vehicle. Once you exit your vehicle, if it is safe to do so, get on the other side of the guardrail, or walk up the bank to get as far away from traffic as possible.
  • If you have been involved in an accident and can get out of your vehicle, do so. If you have wrecked into the center jersey wall, then you must exit your vehicle with extreme care and get to the other side of the guardrail. You may think it safer to remain against the jersey wall, but remember that the jersey wall is closest to the fast lane of the interstate.
  • Do not remain in your vehicle if it is disabled on either shoulder of the interstate. If you must, then you need state police or state police motorist assist as soon as possible.

The overarching theme of this article is that you must do everything possible to get off of the interstate, when you have a vehicle issue, even if you do a bit more damage to your vehicle in the process. If you must repair your vehicle on the side of the interstate, then you must know that you and your family are in harm’s way, and you must keep your safety and your family’s safety in mind at all times. Do not assume that a vehicle will not veer onto the shoulder, where your vehicle sits. We have seen enough examples of vehicles striking police cars, emergency vehicles and disabled vehicles, while they are parked on the shoulder of our interstates.  

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