Guest Editorial: Week of 5/6/19

By: 
Ron Craig

Crime Prevention Corner

What to do—and not do – if you are involved in a crash

There have been three incidents in Wood County over the past 18 months in which someone has been involved in a vehicle crash, and then was killed as a pedestrian because the person got out of the vehicle and was struck by another vehicle.
Last summer, a person was struck and killed on the on-ramp to I-475 from State Rt. 25 in Perrysburg after he exited his vehicle, and last November another person was killed on I-75 at the turnpike near Perrysburg during a snowstorm when that person was involved in a minor crash and exited the vehicle to check for damage.
Less than two months ago, a third person was killed as a pedestrian on I-75 near State Rt. 582 south of Perrysburg
It is human nature to want to exit a vehicle to check the damage to your car or truck. Remember, however, the extent of the damage is not going to change whether or not you visually check it.
The chances that you can be struck by another vehicle if you get out of your vehicle also dramatically increase if it is dark or there is some other reason for reduced visibility, such as rain, snow, ice, or fog.
Keep in mind most of the information in this article also applies if your vehicle becomes disabled.
First, make sure you and your vehicle are in a safe place. If your vehicle has come to a stop in or very close to the roadway, move it to the edge as soon as possible if it will run. Activate your vehicle’s four-way flashers and keep your seatbelts on as you wait for the first responders and other assistance to arrive.
If you are unable to move your vehicle off the roadway, keep a very close eye on traffic so you may prepare yourself for another impact if another vehicle is unable to stop in time.
If the situation involves a crash, check yourself and any other occupants of your vehicle for possible injuries as this is a priority. Even if you’re not sure someone may be hurt, you should call 9-1-1 to get EMS, fire personnel, and law enforcement authorities headed your way. If you can communicate to those in any other vehicle involved in the crash without getting out of your vehicle, check to see if there are any injuries to those people.
When the first responders arrive on scene, stay in your vehicle until they tell you to exit. They will most likely want to check you for injuries before you move, and they will assess the crash scene for safety concerns before they ask you to exit the vehicle.
When police, fire, and EMS arrive, they will ask you what happened. Fire and EMS personnel need to know this so they can ascertain “mechanism of injury” to help determine what injuries, if any, you may have incurred.
We’ve all seen the attorneys’ commercials in which they tell you not to discuss details of the crash before you contact them. This does not mean you should withhold information from first responders, including law enforcement personnel. You don’t have to admit fault to inform them of the information they need.
After you and others in your vehicle have been checked by fire and EMS personnel and you have made your first contact with law enforcement personnel, you can take the time to call a friend or relative to inform them of the incident. Let that person know what police agency is handling the crash and what hospital to which you will be transported if you are injured.
If you are not injured and are not going to be transported to a hospital, you may contact your auto insurance carrier.
Law enforcement personnel will take care of arranging for a tow truck, if one is needed. Even if you have a personal preference for a towing company, remember the officer may wish to contact another towing company that may be closer or better suited to handle the call.
One of several factors officers must take into account in a crash is to get the roadway cleared quickly to avoid causing another crash. This is one reason the officer may want to contact a particular towing company to have your vehicle removed from the scene.
It may be a good idea to take pictures of the crash scene and all vehicles involved, but it is paramount to do this in a safe manner. Never enter moving traffic for any reason.
Keeping these few safety tips in mind will allow you to avoid tragedy that could compound the situation of the initial crash or situation involving a disabled vehicle.

This article is a public service from the Crime Prevention Division of the Lake Township Police Department. Township residents may obtain further information on crime prevention and public safety topics by contacting Ron Craig, crime prevention specialist/community policing officer, at 419-481-6354.

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