What To Do When You Approach An Emergency Scene on the Road

Many drivers who approach an emergency scene on the roadway do not know how to react or what to do. This confusion can be deadly for first responders, vehicle crash victims, and other motorists approaching the scene. Here are tips for what to do when you are approaching an emergency scene on the roadway.

  • If at all possible, avoid the area and take an alternate route. Do not make an illegal turn to avoid the incident, but instead plan a different route when you hear there is an issue.
  • SLOW DOWN as you approach and pass the incident. Remain alert for unexpected occurrences, as this is a different situation than normal roadway driving.
  • MOVE OVER any time you approach a stopped emergency vehicle. Move your vehicle over a lane away from the incident, as long as it is safe to do so. This gives first responders room to work on the incident.
  • Look for and obey all temporary traffic control signs and direction from first responders, including lane closures. Temporary traffic control creates a safe work area for first responders to treat victims and remove damaged vehicles.
  • Never attempt to go around an emergency scene on the shoulder, drive through it, or turn around to avoid it or the traffic queue. These actions put you, other motorists, and first responders at risk.
  • Do not take photos or video of the incident as you pass it and do not post on social media. This distracts you from driving, which may cause an accident. It is also disrespectful to the victims and their families, who are going through a traumatic experience.
  • Do not pick up your cell phone to notify friends, family, or others of the emergency scene or that you will be delayed. Distracted driving kills 3400 people every year according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
  • Remain alert, even if you have to sit in traffic. Now is not the time to let your attention wander or use your cell phone. Unexpected events can happen at emergency incidents and you must be alert so you can react.

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