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Interstate Shoulder Safety Tips


A recent car collision on Interstate 12 in Louisiana illustrates the risks of stopping on the shoulder or median of a high speed roadway.

A man and woman who stopped their vehicle Monday on the side of Interstate 12 to recover a disabled car were struck by another vehicle, killing the woman.

Shortly before 4 p.m., the couple were stopped on the grass portion of the shoulder of I-12 westbound east of La. 447 in Livingston Parish in a 2000 Ford F-250 pulling a trailer.

They were outside of their vehicle attempting to load a 2006 Chrysler PT Cruiser onto the back of the trailer when a car ran off the right side of the road, striking both.   Impairment is not suspected as a cause although speed may be a factor.  Sadly, the woman was killed and the man seriously injured in this crash.

Certainly, the couple was beyond the paved shoulder and on the grass when hit.  They were apparently responding to call to retrieve a disabled car at the time so could not choose where on the shoulder or grass to park.  But each year, a staggering number of people are killed on the shoulder of interstates.   Approximately 12% of all interstate highway deaths are pedestrians in the roadway or on the shoulder.  So a few safety tips are worth mentioning.

1.         If there is not an emergency, don’t stop on the shoulder.

The side of a highway is very dangerous, especially at night.  Drivers can be fatigued and vehicle lights can cause driver confusion.

2.         If you have a flat tire, drive to the nearest exit if possible.

The cost to replace a rim damaged by driving a short distance with a flat is about $400.  Every life is priceless.  Drive to the nearest exit to change a flat, if you can safely do so.

3.         If you must stop on the shoulder for an emergency, pull as far off the road as possible.

Make sure to get all passengers out of the vehicle and get them away from the vehicle as quickly as possible. Do not stand around your vehicle. Climb over the guardrail if there happens to be one, and wait on the other side.   If you are in an accident, pull off on the shoulder but get away from the roadway and vehicles if possible.

4.         Stop on the right shoulder, not the left, if possible.

“It’s traditionally safer to be on the right shoulder than on the left,” according to a police source. “The key is to get out of the active lane of travel and to the shoulder as quickly and safely as possible.”

5.         Make your vehicle visible and warn other motorists that you are stopped.

Turn on your hazard lights.  If you have flares, use them also.

6. When a vehicle is on the shoulder, move over to the next lane if possible.

Whenever possible, you should move over to the next lane is there is a vehicle on the shoulder.   Doing so allows a greater margin for driver error.  Perhaps enough of a margin to have avoided the tragic Interstate 12 crash in Louisiana.

The shoulder of the highway can be a very dangerous place.  Please drive responsibly and be aware of the dangers, so that we can all get where we are going safely.


Bryan Fisher

Bryan Fisher Top Accident Attorney