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Mitigate roadside risk if you are in a car crash

Do we all struggle to find “something good” coming out of even the most horrible of circumstances? I do.

And in the case of road traffic fatalities, there is always a lesson that can and should be learned by the motoring public.

If the lesson is learned, the loss of life might be viewed as a sacrifice that helps keep the rest of us safe.

There was a sudden change in weather and road conditions on the Coquihalla on Sunday, April 2, 2017. A multi-vehicle crash occurred as unprepared motorists encountered that sudden change. One woman was killed – view the full article here.

A lesson reminder from the RCMP is that even though it’s April, sudden weather and road surface changes can still occur on our mountain passes. We should continue using good winter tires through those passes this time of year and be vigilant about adjusting our speed as we encounter changes.

We shouldn’t need reminding, but we do.

There is another critical road safety lesson to be learned. If you are involved in a crash on an icy road, you are safer inside your car than out.

The fatality would not have occurred had the deceased stayed within her vehicle, mitigating her roadside risk.

I found a helpful web site ( with important advice of what to do if you are in a crash on an icy road.

If your vehicle is still driveable, keep moving until you arrive at a safe place to pull well off the road. An icy road is inherently dangerous. A stopped vehicle blocking traffic multiplies that danger not only for you, but a roadside risk for approaching traffic.

If your vehicle is disabled, stay put if traffic is approaching. Your vehicle can absorb a vehicle impact much better than your body can.

Once you are certain that no traffic is approaching, get out of your vehicle and immediately get out of the way of danger. You are safer on the other side of a guard rail or up an embankment than sitting in your disabled vehicle in the path of approaching traffic.

Of course, if you’re on a mountain pass with a rock face on one side and a cliff on the other, with no way to get out of the way of danger, stay in your disabled vehicle.

Please share this safety lesson with everyone you care about.

A more likely crash related road hazard we might encounter in coming months is a wildlife carcass.

Do you know what responsibilities you have as a motorist if, through no fault of your own, you strike and kill a deer or other animal large enough to be a hazard to approaching vehicles?

I will review the law on that point next week.

Once you have mitigated the risk of further injury, it is important to:
Gather as much information as possible at the scene of a crash

Next column: Roadkill: Court decision says mitigate the road hazard


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