By: Micca Terrell
Sadly, many drivers still do not know what to do when they roll up on a traffic accident, and even more tragically, 44 emergency responders have died so far in 2020 while doing their jobs helping others on the road. To help bring attention to the need for education for traffic incident safety, local and state authorities are taking part in this year’s National Traffic Incident Response Awareness Week. It’s the fourth year for this safety program.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation’s HELP Unit for Region 3 has some safety tips to help everyone when they approach a traffic incident, whether it’s an automobile crash, a road construction zone, a driver with a flat tire or mechanical breakdown, debris in the roadway, potholes, an infrastructure problem, or a weather-related closure.
According to John Sullivan, TDOT HELP Unit Region 3 Driver, motorists can check traffic reports before departing and plan to take an alternate route around the incident if possible. Drivers who unexpectedly find themselves in a huge traffic jam while heading to their destination need to slow down as they approach the wreck or road closure, and by moving over for emergency crews who are trying to make their way to the scene, Sullivan said.
On rare occasions, motorists might find they are the first ones to spot a traffic incident, and in that case, Sullivan recommends they call 911 or *847 using hands-free devices and giving emergency dispatchers the location of the problem, using nearby mile markers or landmarks to give an accurate location. While some may be tempted to turn around or use the shoulder of the road to go around the emergency scene, this is dangerous, he explained.
“These actions put you, other motorists, and first responders at risk of death and injury,” Sullivan said. “Remain alert, even if you have to sit in traffic. Now is not the time to let your attention wander or use your cell phone. Unexpected events can happen at emergency incidents and you must be alert so you can react,” he added.
For more information about National Traffic Incident Response Awareness Week, visit https://www.respondersafety.com/.