An officer with the Mississippi Highway Patrol experienced firsthand the danger that can come with sitting on the shoulder of a road. A spokesperson for the MHP said that last month an officer and his K-9 were injured in a serious accident that occurred one afternoon. The patrol vehicle the two were sitting in was struck from behind while parked on the shoulder of Mississippi 45 in Tupelo, MS.
Authorities say that the trooper was taken to a local hospital for treatment of his injuries, but is expected to make a full recovery. The K-9 was also injured in the crash and was transported to a veterinarian to be checked out. Thankfully, he too is expected to survive. Given that the accident was from behind, which is an especially dangerous and frequently deadly variety of collision, and given that the K-9 was not restrained at the time, it’s a miracle the injuries weren’t worse.
Though shoulder of the road accidents may not be something you’re used to hearing about, the reality is that these types of accidents occur with alarming regularity and, when they do, are far more likely to be dangerous than many other more common types of accidents. Why do shoulder of the road crashes happen in the first place? Most accidents occur because either a worker has stopped on the road (such as cleaning crews, police officers, maintenance people, emergency responders, etc.) or because a driver has suffered a problem. Examples of common problems that lead to drivers on the shoulder of the road include mechanical trouble, flat tires, empty gas tanks, etc.
The danger occurs as other vehicles approach the vehicles stopped on the shoulder. Too many motorists fail to give enough room to those stuck on the shoulder. This is why many states have passed “Move Over” laws, an attempt to force drivers to do the sensible thing and scoot over if emergency responders are operating on the shoulder of a road. Though Move Over laws don’t apply to those stalled due to car trouble, motorists should be no less cautious just because it’s not a police vehicle. When someone is stopped on the side of the road oncoming motorists should leave sufficient room in case someone were to step out of a vehicle or attempt to walk around the car.
Those stopped on the sides of the roads must also do their part to reduce the risk of harm. If possible, try and exit the road and pull into a parking lot or garage, anything to get out as far out of the lane of traffic as possible. If that isn’t possible, then you need to try and pull as far over as is possible, ensuring to give as much space as possible between your vehicle and passing traffic. Additionally, put on your emergency lights, a way to indicate to other cars that you are experiencing distress and an attempt to draw attention at night when it can be hard to see stopped vehicles. Finally, never exit your car into oncoming traffic and make sure not to open any doors into the paths of other vehicles. Doing this would increase dramatically the odds that you’ll either be hurt or that other motorists will swerve to avoid you and cause harm to others.
If you have been injured in a Mississippi car, motorcycle or tractor-trailer accident and think you may have a personal injury claim, please contact the Mississippi personal injury attorneys at Kilpatrick & Philley at 601-707-4669.