Our Northwest

Disabled car: stay inside, or get out?

Friday, August 30, 2013by  Jon Osterberg

A 24-year-old woman died on
I-405 in Bellevue Aug. 26 when a semi-truck rear-ended her disabled car.
   The woman had stopped in the southbound middle lane and reported to 911 that she’d struck a deer. Shortly after, the truck hit her Toyota Scion.
   KIRO-FM host Dave Ross asked police the following day what drivers should do if their car breaks down on the roadway – stay put, or get out. Answers were mixed.
   Staying in the car buckled up is usually the best way to avoid being injured if your car is broken down, Ross said, before adding that a trooper told him it’s best to move your car as far out of traffic as possible, even if it means driving with deflated tires.
   “Every situation is different. No situation out here is 100% the same,” said a state trooper. Ross played another sound bite from a trooper saying, “Put the hazards (lights) on. I’d leave the vehicle. I’m not staying in the vehicle.”
   One factor guiding a driver’s choice is the relative speed of nearby traffic. In slow, congested traffic, staying put might be less dangerous. In the Bellevue accident, which happened at 4:30 a.m., the truck was moving at freeway speed.
   Until all factors are known, it’s premature to second guess the victim, who told 911 her car was disabled. Read the story on MyNorthwest.com.
   Generally speaking, the National Safety Council advises motorists to “stand away from the vehicle” if your car breaks down on the roadway. Read “What to do if your car breaks down on the highway.”

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