06 August 2010

The shoulder is not safe: get right off the road!

Today’s lesson: if you stop to help at an accident, PULL RIGHT OFF INTO THE DITCH IF YOU CAN!

On the highway today, I noticed a dust devil in the centre median … which seemed odd as there was no car around. I looked into the median … nothing. Looked in the rear view mirror at the ditch … ah, there, way in the trees, down the ravine, was a car, stuck. Clearly they’d just gone off the road.

We had time, we had a cell phone, we knew what to do, so we stopped.

The people were okay – banged up and shocky, and their car was embedded in trees and swampy muck, but they were okay. We called 911, got them checked over, got the RCMP on their way, and The Boy (who was in better shoes than I was) cleared a path from their vehicle up to the side of the road.

As we were waiting for the RCMP to arrive, we heard a bang.

Even with our flashers on and being well off the road, our car got nailed. A big semi (we think it was a flat bed with a second flatbed on top) was, presumably, checking out the original accident, looked up and saw he was almost in top of our little car, swerved to miss it, didn’t miss it, swerved back into his lane … and then didn’t stop, either. We looked up to see him weaving a bit and were all expecting to see him pull over … his brake lights were on, then off, and … and he kept going! Wow. Bad choice on his part. I mean, maybe he didn’t hear the bang (hauling a big trailer is noisy business), but, he should’ve checked to be sure. A commercial vehicle stopped later and radioed other trucks in the area to be on the lookout for sideswipe damage, so maybe the driver will stop later on and turn himself (herself?) in.

The whole passenger side of the car (given the reverse orientation of our Japanese vehicles, the passenger side was next to the road) is scraped, the rear corner is dented in, the front passenger tire is completely flattened and whacked out of position, the mirror is gone … it’s rather nasty. Had The Boy been in the car he probably would’ve been hurt (but he was out with me, helping the original folks).

We did have an EMT stop by and check out the accident victims (nice lady in an industrial EMT vehicle - good of her to stop on her way to or from her other job) and the RCMP officer who came by was very helpful as well.

So, no damage except to vehicles, thankfully – but the lesson is clear: park *ahead* of the original accident (in case someone hits you and does a bump and raise) and even if you think you’re far enough off the road … you probably aren’t. Get RIGHT off if you can: onto the grass, the dirt, whatever. Be way out of the way.

A few minutes or a few feet different, and our family could be in a waiting room at the hospital, wondering.

Be careful – slow down and go around accident scenes!


  1. Anonymous6:53 pm

    We are so glad you are all o.k. If you were on the 4 lane highway he should have had plenty of opportunity to avoid your vehicle!

  2. Rubbernecking tends to make you swerve in the direction you are looking. I'm sure it had nothing to do with space on the road.

    As a professional driver, you'd think he'd (she'd) see enough accidents not to be staring at them every time. I'm glad everyone was okay, but what a hassle it is to have to fix vehicles.

  3. flannelberry9:00 pm

    I'm so glad it wasn't you. When I was in Kelowna a few years ago there was a really bad accident in which a person went to help at an accident scene and was killed in just that way.


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