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Is it safe to pull off on the shoulder when you’re having car problems?

You’re driving down I-66, minding your own business, trying to stay calm amidst the busy rush-hour traffic, when all of a sudden your left rear tire blows. By great fortune, you managed to keep your car straight and not veer into the fully loaded SUV next to you. However, now you’re at an impasse. You know you won’t be able to maintain control for the next 15 miles until your exit, so what do you do? Should you drive on a flat tire until the next exit in five miles, or should you attempt to change it on the shoulder?

Shoulder Accident Dangers During Emergency Pull-Offs

Highway shoulders are exceedingly dangerous places for both pedestrians and motorists alike. Although they’re specifically meant for emergency situations, and emergency vehicles, a staggering number of people are actually killed on the very shoulders in which they’re supposed to be protected from harm.

According to recent data taken from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, approximately 12 percent of all interstate highway deaths result from shoulder accidents. This means that an estimated 600 people a year are killed—and thousands more are injured—while making emergency stops off the highway. Think about that. These victims made the lawful decision to pull off the highway in order to protect themselves and others during an emergency situation, and they wind up getting severely, if not fatally, wounded anyway.

So, what is it about shoulders that are so risky?

  • Decreased visibility. Due to the speed in which traffic is whizzing by you, it can be extremely difficult for drivers to see you bent over a tire, or walking around a car. If they can’t see you, they can’t avoid hitting you.
  • Driver confusion. Although they’re meant for just that purpose, drivers seldom expect to see cars on the side of the road, let alone pedestrians wandering around so close to the highway. This confusion can lead some drivers to overcorrect into you, swerve toward you, or completely ignore your presence and cause a tragic collision.
  • Pedestrian accidents. Standing near your vehicle while on the shoulder increases your chances for fast-moving traffic to fatally injure you.
  • Side-swipe accidents. When you slow down to pull off onto the shoulder, cars behind you could potentially rear-end you, side-swipe you, or collide straight into you.
  • Debris and wind shear injuries. You never really know how fast 60 mph is until you’re standing three feet away from a speeding vehicle. Speeds such as these can produce a lot of wind shear and cause small particles of debris to come whipping toward you at blasting speeds.
  • Re-entering collisions. If you successfully manage to fix your problem without suffering any injuries, you still must be able to re-enter traffic and get back up to speed with dozens of cars racing past you. If you’re not careful, the few seconds it’ll take to match speed could be your last.

Reclaiming Your Future Following a Shoulder Accident

When you’re faced with an emergency situation on the highway, and are unable to get off safely, your best option is to move onto the shoulder. Unfortunately, careless, oblivious, and reckless drivers can still put you in a lot of danger. Try to remember the dangers we listed above, and take proper precautions to avoid risk.

If you or a loved one becomes seriously injured during a shoulder accident despite efforts to stay safe, you’re entitled to compensation. Let us evaluate your case in order to help determine the amount of damages you deserve for treatment and suffering. Don’t allow someone else’s mistake to disrupt your future. Contact us now to make the first step toward reclaiming your future. You won’t regret it.

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