OHP Provides Tips On Staying Safe If You Are Stranded Along The Road
Ohio Highway Patrol Troopers know the dangers of standing on the side of a busy highway. Even with their flashing strobe lights, reflective vests, and road flares to warn other drivers, sometimes cars slam into cruisers and troopers.
"Most times if you look at deaths of troopers in our history, they've been struck by other vehicles," said O.H.P. Sgt. Vincent Shirey. He said it's just as dangerous for you if your car breaks down on the road - even more so for your stranded teen driver.
Shirey said when there's car trouble, you may have just seconds to act.
"The most important thing to do is get well-off the roadway," said Shirey. "Immediately when you pull off the right side of the road, you got your emergency lights on. Call the highway patrol, let us know where you're at, we will dispatch someone to help you immediately."
The National Safety Council is more specific for teen drivers - recommending teens pull at least 10 feet off the right roadway. Most experts believe they're always safer inside their car. But if they must get out, they should exit through the passenger's side door, and stand on the passenger's side as far from the highway as possible.
When the teen calls for help, they should know the name and number of the highway, the direction in which they were driving, the last mile marker sign they passed, the last exit they passed, and the distance to the next exit.
Of course, those tips also apply to the rest of us, as the Haydal family from Montana discovered when the spare tire on their rental van suddenly dropped to the ground. Shirey spotted their stranded car and offered to help.
"We were up the highway a ways, and we tried to get to this off-ramp," said Greg Haydal.
Shirey said, "See this is perfect, because they're at an exit ramp, at the off-ramp. Traffic is coming by here easily - well off the roadway. This couldn't have been any better for them to be right here."
He quickly helped get them back on the road.
When it comes to a roadside repair or a flat tire, Shirey said teens should never try to fix it themselves. He warns that even adult drivers should be extra careful and he speaks from experience.
"I was traveling through Akron,” he said. "The roadway was very busy. I had a flat tire, so I called Akron Police to come set up behind me so I could change my tire."
Finally, what if a stranger offers to help? Sgt. Shirey said the rules are the same for both adult and teen drivers.
"What I would tell my wife or my daughter would be, hey, thanks for the help. I've called the local authorities, they're on the way. Thanks, but no thanks, you know, I've got the situation take care of," he said.
Another great tip for all drivers - don't stand behind or in front of the car - especially at night. Many drugged or drunk drivers will fixate on other car's rear lights and follow them. And they may mistake your parked car with a moving car - putting you at risk for injury if the car gets hit.