Having your car break down is never a good experience, but it can also be deadly, particularly if it happens on the highway and you don't act appropriately.
Our Knoxville car accident attorneys understand that a recent four-car pileup on I-40 E on a Friday evening was the result of a domino effect, kicked off by a blown tire.
According to local police, the tire came completely unhinged from the first vehicle in the midst of rush hour traffic. The vehicle ground to a halt, with the wheel ending up next to it and obstructing another lane.
As officers raced to the scene, another vehicle braked hard to avoid hitting the broken down car. Behind that driver was another who had reportedly been following to closely and the two collided, with two others slamming into those shortly thereafter.
Rescue crews had to use specialized equipment to pull the accident victims from their vehicles, and three were rushed to the hospital. Thankfully, no life-threatening injuries were reported.
Officials said the crash is a cautionary tale of the importance of maintaining your vehicle and knowing what to do in the event of an emergency. The fact is we're likely seeing more of these incidents these days, as cash-strapped Americans are hanging on to older vehicles longer. Researchers at R.I. Polk conducted a study last year that found drivers of used vehicles were keeping them on average for 50 months - compared to the average 32 months recorded in 2003.
Still, the money you save by refraining from purchasing a new car should really be put into the maintenance of the one you have. As this case shows, such action may be critical. Other preventative measures include mapping your route before you leave, keeping abreast of inclement weather conditions, minimizing your distractions and remaining alert.
If you do break down, AAA recommends the following action:
- Make a quick assessment of where you are as you realize your vehicle is causing problems and may break down. This is going to be important when you call for help.
- Get off the road. In most cases, you want to get as far off the street to the right as you possibly can. If you're on the highway and you're closer to the left median, go there instead but only if necessary.
- If you can't get off the road, turn on your emergency flashers. If you think you may be likely to be hit from behind, get out.
- If you do get out, make sure you are watching for oncoming traffic, as the other drivers may not be able to see you fast enough to stop.
- Don't take the risk of trying to push the car off the road if there's a probability you could be struck while doing so.
- Whatever you do, don't stand directly behind or in front of the car. What will happen is you will end up potentially blocking your lights and reflectors, putting you at high risk for injury.
- Use a cell phone to call for help from a safe location - whether that is in your vehicle or well out of the way of oncoming traffic.
Tennessee car accident victims may contact Hartsoe Law Firm, P.C. at (865) 524-5657.
Crash causes 4 car pile-up on I-40 E near West Hills, Feb. 1, 2013, Staff Report, WBIR Channel 10
More Blog Entries:
Tennessee Traffic Accident Prevention -- Tougher Laws Needed, Jan. 24, 2013, Knoxville Car Accident Lawyer Blog