Iowa State Patrol offers tips to stay safe during an accident
Car accidents and winter weather often go hand-in-hand. With several more inches of snow forecasted to hit the Quad Cities region this week, troopers are advising you to stay in your vehicle if you get in an accident.
“The most dangerous thing every one of us does on a daily basis is get in a vehicle and travel,” said Trooper Dan Loussaert with Iowa State Patrol.
For some, that means a short drive to work or the grocery store, but for others like Rick Moore, it can mean a long-haul.
“I moved to Elgin about four years ago, so yeah every month I drive back and forth,” Moore said at a rest stop along I80 in Bettendorf, Iowa.
He's traveling to the Chicago suburb from Omaha, Neb. Although he has not been in a crash in years, he says he has thought about what he would do.
Lucky for him, he says he hasn't been in a crash for several years.
“Normally I try to use my phone to call someone to start with, let them know what's going on,” he said.
“Probably get out of the car and see what kind of damage there is,” Moore continued.
Trooper Loussaert said it is a normal response.
“A lot of time they're in shock and kind of panicked, and yes it's a self, they're checking themselves,” he said of victims post-crash.
But he warns getting out of the vehicle means leaving an object designed to protect.
“If possible we want you to stay in the vehicle,” Loussaert said. “It's even a good idea to be seat belted until emergency vehicles arrive.”
Of course, each situation should be evaluated on a case by case basis.
“Now sometimes you may be in harm's way right in the middle of traffic, sometimes there may be a fuel leak or a fire something like that where you need to get out of the vehicle,” he said.
In cases like this, he says it is important to get as far away from the vehicle and highway as possible. He advises finding a ditch or field away from traffic.
“If you can get to the right, get to the ditch and you may still have a crash but you're less likely to hit another vehicle, and the chance of you getting injured or killed are lessened,” Loussaert said.
Moore says it is advice he will take with him as his regular trips continue.
“[I’ll] think twice about it now,” Moore said before hitting the highway again.
Loussaert advises avoiding travel when road conditions are not the best. An example he used was the snowfall in the Quad Cities region Monday, Feb. 5.
That day Iowa State Patrol cars were involved in secondary crashes. They were hit while responding to crash scenes. Troopers responded to more than 200 traffic accidents that day.