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Posted in Law on March 2, 2017   |  by Gary Burger

What to Do if You Have to Stop on the Highway

Hi! I’m Gary Burger of Burger Law. I’ve had occasions in the past where I’ve been asked and I’ve recently been asked, “What do you if you have an emergency and you have to stop on the highway? What’s the safe way to do so?” Well, that can occur if you have a flat tire, if something happens, run out of gas, or something emergent happens, what do you do and what are the rules of the road for doing that?

Well, thankfully, we’re informed by the drivers’ guides in Missouri and Illinois and other states about how to do that. The main rule is never stop on the highway, and many highways have rest stops and service areas. So, if it’s not an acute emergency, wait till you get to the next rest stop, wait till you get to the next exit, get off there and deal with your emergency there. If it’s a sudden flat tire or something else emergent — I had this last month — then what you want to do is move off the highway.

Be alert, and I can’t say it any better than this. Be alert so that you know well ahead of the time when you’ll have to stop. Stopping suddenly is dangerous. Braking quickly could cause you to lose control of your vehicle. Braking quickly and stopping quickly makes other drivers behind you stop without meaning to and they also may hit you. Avoid panic stops by seeing events well in advance. By slowing down and changing lanes you may not have to stop at all if you encounter an emergency or a vehicle stop or a box or something on the highway or a tire from a semi, and gradual and safer stops are better.

You can stop on the shoulder of a highway in an emergency. If you do so, alert other drivers by turning on your emergency flashers. It’s also helpful to raise a hood or tie a white cloth to the antenna. If you’re going to be there for a period of time, those are great things to do. The other thing is if you have other passengers and you’re changing a tire, have a spotter or someone back on the roadway that a driver coming will see you. Move off the highway plenty of distance to change a tire. Call AAA or whatever your emergency roadside service is.

In changing a tire, move way off the roadway. Hopefully, it’s the tire opposite of the roadway. Changing tires is a whole another thing I really don’t want to get into that too much in this video to avoid boring you, but be careful. Turn on flashers, turn on lights, and try to limit your time on the side of the highway. Being on the side of a highway is only to deal with emergency situations. I can’t emphasize that enough. Go to another rest stop or get off the highway if you have any other need for that.

If you have any questions about this, please call the personal injury attorneys of Burger Law at (314) 542-2222 and be careful out there on the roadways. Remember that highway speeds and force equals mass times acceleration. These vehicles 5,000, 6,000-pound SUVs are going at 60 miles an hour, having an incredible amount of force. That says nothing about 50,000-pound tractor-trailers who also may drift, and drivers aren’t always paying attention, so you need to practice defensive driving especially when you’re on the side of a roadway. Thank you.