Advice From MHP on What to Do if You Get Into a Winter Accident
Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - You’ve just slid off the icy road and into a guardrail. Should you get out and check the damage, or should you stay inside and wait for help?
Sergeant Jay Nelson with the Montana Highway Patrol spoke to KGVO News on Thursday morning as the latest winter storm brought snow and icy roads to western Montana.
It was Another Tough Winter Morning on Western Montana Highways
Nelson said there were a high number of accidents in the Missoula area during Thursday morning’s commute.
“Winter is definitely upon us,” began Sgt. Nelson. “Our men and women with the Montana Highway Patrol have been out through the night and are continuously busy throughout District One which encompasses Missoula, all the way to the Idaho border on Lookout Pass. We are also getting quite a few crashes up on highway 200 into that area coming out of Missoula as well. So winter is upon us. We've got a pretty good storm coming at us with a mix of snow and rain and definitely causing some slick roads out there.”
If You're in an Accident, Here's what to do and what NOT to do
For those who get into an accident, Sgt. Nelson says it’s perfectly normal to feel nervous or angry, but staying inside your vehicle is the smartest way to stay safe until help arrives.
“The biggest thing is to stay safe, and so the biggest thing is to before you get out of the vehicle, look around,” he said. “We train our troopers that if one person has crashed, somebody else could easily crash there again, so look around before you get out of your vehicle. If you don't feel safe getting out, make sure you call 9-1-1 and let authorities know that you're in the roadway and blocking traffic.”
Sgt. Nelson said the next step was very important.
“If it is possible for you to get off of the roadway, if there's not any injuries or you're not going to cause any more danger, and you can move that vehicle off the road, we always encourage that as well," Nelson said. "Make sure you put your hazards (hazard flashers) on and anything else that you can do to warn the motoring public that you've been involved in a crash and hopefully get them to slow down so that we don't have a secondary crash. That’s one of our big concerns.”
The Safest Place is INSIDE Your Vehicle
Sgt. Nelson said staying inside your vehicle is of the utmost importance if your accident has occurred on the interstate or a major state highway.
“You should definitely stay in your vehicles, especially if you are out on the interstate or some of our primary secondary roads,” he said. “Even in town, you are going to fare much better if you're inside of a vehicle and get hit versus being outside of a vehicle. If you can just stay in your vehicle, stay warm, prepare for the emergency responders to be there, then that's the best thing that you can do.”
Sgt. Nelson said despite the numerous slide-offs and accidents in western Montana on Thursday, there have been no reported fatalities.