A Highway Accident … And My Thoughts

Fortunately my vehicle was not involved! I was traveling west on a divided highway, Interstate 40 in Arizona. All of a sudden I saw a trailer roll, spew up sand in the median and a vehicle fall to its side. I passed the accident a short distance, pulled to the shoulder of the road and called 911.

Thankfully a highway sign with upcoming exits was in front of me. I shared that information with the dispatcher. They asked if I witnessed the accident. I did not really see the accident happen; I just knew something happened to cause a trailer to roll onto the median and that a vehicle now blocked a highway lane. After 3 transfers on the line to different people … it was hard for me to hear every word due to the highway traffic … I finally gave my name and phone number. As I finished this phone call, I watched others pull people from the sideways vehicle.

Once on the other side of the highway,  I noticed no gasoline spill, propane tanks upside down but solidly in an awkward angle, 2 people okay because they had seatbelts on, one guy directing traffic, another woman organizing, and a truck driver getting his emergency triangles out onto the road. Two ambulances and one sheriff arrived quickly, 15 minutes at most, and I could leave.

My thoughts:

  1. For all the miles I have driven in the last 2 years, I had not had an accident or seen one; however, a few days before this accident I was actually thinking about that fact. And then it happened, an accident fortunately only involving this vehicle pulling a trailer.
  2. Thankfully seatbelts were worn and allowed the 2 people in the car to be pulled to safety and unhurt.
  3. Thanks to the people who jumped onto the car which was on its side, break through and open a door to pull the people to safety.
  4. People seem to be unaware of the power of wind! Whether it is the gust of wind at the moment or the wind produced while another vehicle, especially large RVs or tractor trailer trucks, zooms by your own vehicle, it gives your vehicle a sideways push and requires a strong hold on your steering wheel.
  5. People speed while driving, in and out of empty vehicle spaces with seemingly little care, and not always enough room for them to sneak in. Thus drivers truly need to be defensive drivers to allow space for the driver of the vehicle darting about.
  6. People are probably not aware of the ruts in the road produced by heavy tractor trailers driving these roads all hours of a day, months and years before a new flat road is constructed in the place of this rutted one. When a vehicle is blown off course and catches the side of the rut it gives our vehicle an extra wiggle, again time for a strong hold on your steering wheel.
  7. Despite signs and probably even knowing the dangers of distracted driving, people are reading their phones, books, and reaching for whatever as they drive. Once I pass these drivers I try to stay ahead of them.
  8. I have seen trailers ahead of me wiggling all over the road … maybe due to ruts, wind, distraction or whatever … and I stay behind them till I have plenty of runway, flatness and no barriers to more easily drive around them and stay ahead of them.
  9. Headlights on for safety, use of blinkers when changing lanes, wearing seatbelts, stopping at rest areas to text, etc and maintaining a safe speed while driving can become good habits. 
  10. Did you know there are state laws requiring you to stop for the pedestrian to cross the road? And laws regarding our driving when by a school bus … be sure to know the rules.
  11. I have first aid training and was glad to not need to make use of it on this day; I was glad to see people help out at this accident.

Drivers, take time to think about your driving behaviors while you move a few tons of metal down the road. Keep yourself and others safe!

Good Samaritans, thank you for your aid in emergencies! Always appreciated!

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